EXCLUSIVE: What Lib Dem members say about the party’s direction and Nick Clegg’s leadership

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 570 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

70% say Lib Dems on right course, highest figure since July 2010

LDV asked: Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track? (Comparison with December’s figures.)

      70% (+6%) – The right course

 

      21% (-6%) – The wrong track

 

    9% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

There seems to be a bit more of a spring in the step of Lib Dem members, according to our survey. Seven-in-ten of you believe the party is on the right course, the highest figure in our surveys since July 2010 (when it was 71%). The net figure of +49% is the highest since August 2010. It looks like The Guardian’s Martin Kettle may have had a point: Liberal Democrats can again enjoy the reflection in the mirror.

Nick Clegg’s personal ratings recover to 15-month high

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

      17% – Very satisfied

 

      51% – Satisfied

Total satisfied = 68% (+3%)

      20% – Dissatisfied

 

      10% – Very dissatisfied

Total dissatisfied = 30% (-3%)

    2% – Don’t know / No opinion

Our latest survey shows Nick Clegg with a net approval rating among Lib Dem members of +38%, an improvement of 6% on December’s figures. This is double his ratings of a little over a year ago, in January 2011, when Nick’s net rating was +19%; in April 2011 it slumped to +17%.

Our December survey was conducted during the controversy over David Cameron’s European summit ‘veto’ at a time when Nick Clegg was under attack from the right-wing media for perceived inconsistency in his response, and I suspect his personal rating dipped as a result; his net rating was +37% in September 2011, after the party conference. The previous highest net rating for Nick Clegg was +40% in November 2010.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 570 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 31st January and 4th February.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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23 Comments

  • I suspect these numbers would look very different if the membership of the LibDems stood as it was in May 2010, in other words with the views included of members who have left the Party since then. There seems a reluctance to admit that the the loss of many Party members since the General Election has (inevitably) changed the “centre of gravity” of members’ collective view. I make no judgement as to this being a good or bad thing, I am simply pointing to something that, to me, is quite obvious.

  • LondonLiberal 15th Feb '12 - 12:50pm

    that is, of course, a poll of those members that remain. i would like to see one done of those who have resigend since, ooh, i dunno, May 2010?

  • As a Lib Dem Voice/Lib Dem member who answered these – until my membership lasped 12 months ago my views now of course are not now reflected.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 15th Feb '12 - 5:25pm

    My membership lapsed in September. I, too, wonder to what extent the apparent improvement in members’ satisfaction is a reflection of dissatisfied erstwhile members deciding not to subscribe to a party which they consider no longer to be worthy of their support.

  • Martin Pierce 15th Feb '12 - 6:08pm

    I agree the ‘centre of gravity’ of the remaining party membership is likely to have shifted right-ward and towards sympathy with Clegg and the Coalition as a result of membership resignations and lapses. However I also think that after the leadership-induced catastrophes of the Rose Garden Press Conference, Tuition Fees and the AV referendum, the Party has been doing much better since the grassroots-induced rebellion on the NHS (but indicative of a wider discontent too) at Spring Conference 2011 started the process of Nick and the MPs adopting a more independent (and successfully so) line within the government.

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Feb '12 - 8:51am

    As someone who has voted Lib Dem in every election bar one, in a Tory marginal, these results give me little hope.

    Please let there by a Green Party candidate stands at the next election so that there is an alternative to Toryism.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 16th Feb '12 - 9:02am

    The answer to the question “are we on the right course?” might depend on what the respondent perceives to be the final destination.

    Clegg for captain of the Costa Concordia?

  • Our Tory Leader is popular with the membership. Depressing

  • part of me is sorry when members lapse but, given our internal democracy, it can only be those who don’t respect the majority view on our direction, or fairweather friends, who leave us and we are stronger as a result.
    It would be informative to ask in all surveys where respondents get their news from, and see what interesting correlations on opinions that throws up…

  • Nick (not Clegg) 16th Feb '12 - 12:32pm

    I was going to respond to Peter’s comment but, having read that 62% of LibDem members apparently think that Cameron is doing a good job, I thought, “oh, what’s the point?”

  • @peter. It is interesting that you mention a ‘the majority view on our direction’. This is crucial. It seems almost universally agreed that the political direction of the LibDems has changed in the last 18 months, this did not occur because a majority decided it should – it just sort of happened. Hence, I would suggest, the factionalism.

  • Richard Boyd 16th Feb '12 - 2:48pm

    As a semi-detached, and pensioner member of the party, I look back over the dreams and aspirations of a party
    that I joined in March 1962 ( 3 or 5 MP’s as I recall). We have always had resignations from the membership by
    those who feel upset that one of two, for them, vital policies have been comrpomised by “the leadership”. Equally we have also had new members from other parties who have made a similar decision.

    Accepting that I am a “Yesterday’s Man” I think that the price of hands on the levers of power is, and always will be, that those who theorise about, but have never practiced, leadership and selecting choices of what is achievable, will always have unblemished hands, because they do not get their hands dirty by touching the levers. Thus, their views are untarnished by reality.

    I still carry the scars of leadership of LD administrations at District and County level; Chairmanship of a Police Authority; and 30 years in the saddle as an elected councillor.

    Richard Boyd

  • I’m another one who let his membership lapse – not that I want to dispute the findings. But it would be interesting to know how many lapsed/resigned members there have been and how many new members the party has gained since the 2010 election. Seems to me there must either be a major shift in the political views of the membership (by conversion or turnover) or else there has been a major drop in membership and it was only die-hards answering these questions anyway. Still, interesting to keep track of these things.

  • @Dave Page. I am genuinely baffled. Can a person doing ‘wrong’, do the ‘wrong’ well?

  • Roger Harcourt 16th Feb '12 - 8:55pm

    Nick was dealt a difficult hand and in my view has played it intelligently and well.

    Just before Christmas, he was pilloried in the Daily Mail in consecutive weeks. Firstly, across two pages inside the paper ran in capital letters: THE HUMILIATION OF NICK CLEGG. The following week, when Nick was trying to rebuild relations with Europe, following the so-called veto of David Cameron: THE TREACHERY OF NICK CLEGG. (And I trust we all remember how the Mail treated him after he “won” the first prime-ministerial debate.

    Throughtout all this hios has retained dignity and composure. Nick deserves a badge for service to civilised democracy. but as for the Daily Mail …

  • ………………it can only be those who don’t respect the majority view on our direction, or fairweather friends, who leave us and we are stronger as a result………..

    I thought that, in any party, size mattered. “Respect the majority view”.??? I voted for the LibDem policies, espoused pre-2010 election, not the Tory policies implermented since. I’m surprised that those who now hold, “the majority view”, ever bothered with a party whose policies pre-election appear so at variance with those of today…It’s a ‘bit much’ that it’s a LibDem leader voicing the loudest supprt for the current NHS shambles….

  • Two observations, both anecdotal:

    1. As someone who still wants to build and maintain a free, fair and open society (ie I have remained a member), I was very angry indeed about the way things especially tuition fees were mishandled in late 2010 and early 2011, but am less so now, primarily because my anger is increasingly directed at the other parties (hypocritical, opportunist, and often just plain nasty Labour/Greens included).

    2. In my local party, we are beginning to see lapsed members rejoining.

  • @ Paul K.
    I am delighted you have seen lapsed members rejoining, in my local party all I see is existing members losing all enthusiasm for the Party. I cannot persuade anhyone to stand as a paperless candidate and only one person to fight for a seat.
    For me the day we joined the coalition without the reassurance of the establishment of a fair voting system was tbhe day we lost our way.

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