Britain has "no God given right" to a decent standard of living and faces a "moment of reckoning" amid the rise of Asian economies, a Home Office minister has said.
Liberal Democrat Jeremy Browne made the warning as he launched a defence of his party's performance amid consistently low poll ratings and claims from pundits that it would endure significant losses at the next election.
He insisted the Lib Dems were making a "huge contribution" to getting Britain back on its feet and were "doing the right thing" by power sharing with the Tories.
Mr Browne admitted the party had gone into the 2010 election with some policies that lacked rigour, and conceded government had proved a "growing up process".
"When we came to office we had a bigger deficit than Greece," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One. "We have no God given right in this country to have a decent, prosperous standard of living. We have to earn it.
"This is a real moment of reckoning for not just our country, but countries right across Europe especially as countries in Asia rise in importance. Some countries will make that transition successfully and will be viable strong economies in society in the middle of this century and some won't.
"And the question for politicians in this era is what did you do about it in 2012 and 2013 to get our country back on its feet again and to make us fit for the generations ahead, and I think we are making a huge contribution."
Peter Kellner, president of the YouGov polling firm, said party leader Nick Clegg was a "toxic brand" and predicted the party would lose "quite a lot of seats". He told the programme: "I find it hard to see how the Liberal Democrats could recover with him leading the party into next election."
Mr Browne dismissed polling data as similar to football predictions and insisted they were often wrong.
He added: "He (Mr Clegg) was right to recognise that he had made, and the party had made, an unrealistic pledge and the party has undergone a big transformation. If you are a party in opposition you get used to being oppositionist."