A leading academic has said Nick Clegg faces an uphill battle to recover his credibility as a political leader.
The Deputy Prime Minister's standing with the electorate has fallen dramatically, with Mr Clegg bearing the brunt of public anger over education cuts and other controversial coalition policies.
His damaged public image may take years to repair, Durham University's professor Tim Clark said.
It is a far cry from when the Liberal Democrat leader used a series of televised debates to win over a jaded public. In live clashes with Tory leader David Cameron and Gordon Brown, Mr Clegg presented himself as the voice of fairness and challenged his rivals to be honest with the public.
The tactic in front of 9.9 million viewers turned the general election into a "three horse race", according to former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown. And at last year's Liberal Democrat spring conference, a fresh-looking Mr Clegg boomed: "We see the same old broken promises. No wonder people feel let down."
But Dean of Graduate School and professor of organisational behaviour Prof Timothy Clark said voters no longer trusted Mr Clegg and said his fudging of the tuition fees could be his "Iraq moment".
He said: "His ratings as leader in the elections were high. This was partly down to his tremendous success in the party leader debates and that was about his expertise as a performer. But there is a different set of skills needed in terms of leading a government, leading policy, and getting policy agreed to, and this he is discovering now.
"One of the things people admired in the election was his authenticity, yet he has since been exposed as inauthentic in certain areas - primarily in that of student fees. He promised one thing to the electorate, and said the Liberal Democrats stood for one thing - then they got power and he made a contradictory decision.
"That ultimately could prove to be his 'Iraq moment'. Tony Blair did not fight an election on the basis of Iraq but he made a decision that proved so unpopular it undermined his credibility as a leader.
"Clegg is now seen as an inauthentic leader. It is something that may never go away."