The coalition’s approval rating turns negative

Approval rating falls to minus 2, the first time the coalition has scored a negative rating.

It's been a tough week for the coalition, with new warnings of a double-dip recession and yet more evidence that the coming cuts will hit the poorest hardest.

Now, from YouGov, comes news that the government's approval rating has turned negative for the first time. As the graph below shows, net approval (those who think the government is doing a good job minus those who don't) now stands at -2 per cent, with a marked decline in the past week.

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Just as worrying for the long-term health of the coalition is that the Lib Dems are still tanking in the polls. The latest daily YouGov/Sun poll puts Nick Clegg's party on just 13 per cent, with the Tories stable on 41 per cent and Labour on an impressive 38 per cent.

If repeated at a general election, these figures would see Clegg's party reduced to a rump of 17 seats. If Lib Dem discontent isn't to turn into outright rebellion the situation will need to improve -- and soon.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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