Official: 4,500 new Lib Dem members have joined party since election and coalition agreement

Lib Dem party membership is up a remarkable 14% this year, according to official figures released by the party in England. 4,500 new members have joined the party since the election and the coalition agreement was reached, and the party is having greater success in retaining current members than in previous years.

Lib Dem Voice reported last week the anecdotal evidence of one parliamentary candidate, Gareth Epps in Reading East, that Lib Dem membership has been on the increase, with a ratio of 10 new members for every one member leaving.

Well, it’s now clear that the experience in Reading is shared across the rest of England. Jonathan Davies, chair of the Lib Dems’ English Party, has realeased the following figures for Lib Dem party membership:

In the first half of this year (1st January to 30 June), Party membership increased by 14%. There were increases in every Region. This compares with the last General Election year (2005), when there was membership increase of just 1.6%.

Membership has continued to grow since the Election and the coalition agreement. There have been 4500 new members and just 450 resignations. In June, which might have been expected to be a quiet month, there were 907 new members and 260 lapsed members rejoined. What’s more the renewal rate for the third quarter is already 70%, compared with only 54% at the same time last year. So there is no truth in the rumours that the coalition is leading to mass loss of membership through either resignation or members not renewing.

Over 80% of the Party’s new members joined over the internet. This means the new members are more evenly spread over the country than in the past where members only joined where there was an active local party to recruit them. We believe the new members have also reduced the average age of the Party. We also now have email addresses for 60% of the Party’s membership – greatly increasing the opportunity for member communications

Jonathan Davies
Chair of the English Party (and because I write in that capacity, all these figures are for England only).

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This entry was posted in News and Party policy and internal matters.


  • Stephen Almond 15th Jul '10 - 12:27pm

    But how many have left, or are simply going to let their membership lapse? Let’s not kid ourselves.

  • Stephen Almond 15th Jul '10 - 12:29pm

    That should have read:

    But how many are simply going to let their membership lapse? Let’s not kid ourselves.


  • At last night’s members’ meeting I had to read out two resignations; but also welcomed four new members who joined at/ since the GE.

    In response to Stephen Almond does not the post above indicate that renewals are running above previous levels?

  • paul barker 15th Jul '10 - 1:46pm

    Interesting that the % rise in membership is the same as the Labour Party, suggesting that the effect of the coalition is pretty neutral.
    The obvious explanation for both rises is the renewed enthusiasm for politics following the TV debates. Good news for Democracy.

  • Dont let these FACTS deceive you. What is more important than FACTS is Labour Party frothing. The Labour Party says that the coalition is a disaster and therefore that is what we must believe.

  • @Stephen
    Might be worth checking those figures.
    If correct those figures are excellent. I say if correct because of the odd wording of the statement and also because of my own experience with local membership. It mentions 4500 but does not actually say they have joined since May 6. In fact if 907 have joined in June it means we must have gained 3500 or so members in the last three weeks of May. All of which are unlikely. My guess remains that we have retained core members and activists but are losing supporters. In my constituency we have a minimal net loss of members since the election but no discernible influx.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Jul '10 - 2:19pm

    “It mentions 4500 but does not actually say they have joined since May 6. In fact if 907 have joined in June it means we must have gained 3500 or so members in the last three weeks of May. All of which are unlikely.”

    I agree the figures are very difficult to make sense of. The other puzzling thing is that if 4500 relates instead to the whole period Jan-June, then the 14% figure implies membership was only 29,000 at the beginning of the the year, compared with more than 60,000 in late 2008. So I don’t think that can be right either.

  • Andrew Suffield 15th Jul '10 - 2:29pm

    Interesting that the % rise in membership is the same as the Labour Party, suggesting that the effect of the coalition is pretty neutral.

    I suppose it just confirms the same thing we usually see: despite all the media drama, all the posturing, all the loud declarations and the best efforts of everybody involved, UK politics doesn’t ever change at anything more than a glacial pace.

    Or, more pithy: people love drama but they don’t think it’s important.

  • I find all the pointing the finger at the labour all a bit sad and makes you look like half baked tories. You are still no. Near to ever beating them with votes.
    Let’s face it Clegg and Cable have the backbone of a rattlesnake

  • From a local party view here our membership is up over 30% since Jan 10 – and still growing since the General election. Long may it continue.

  • Rubbish. You lot are bleeding memberships at a rate you dare not mention – so cover it with statistical smoke + mirrors like this.

    “Never mind the rank hypocrisy of our leaders – we’re the most popular political party ever!”

    I wonder why you haven’t published UK-wide membership figures? I wonder why you’re so keen to paint this as “new members since the election”? I wonder why you haven’t published total UK party membership numbers in comparison with last year and have decided to concentrate solely on percentage increases in one country? I wonder why you haven’t seperated total resignations in the first half and third quarter, deciding instead to concentrate on renewals (even so – 30% of your members don’t renew!)?

    There’s so many holes in this post it’s impossible to mention them all.

    One thing’s for certain though – you’re hiding more than you’re telling.

    You’ve definitely learnt how to play the PR game from your Tory masters…

  • The way these figures are worded, this appears to be a piece of spin that only a Lib Dem press office could come up with!

    Why does it only include membership details for England?

    And Isn’t it quite obvious that membership is only up 14% because they’ve included new members from pre election? When you were polling 30% not 13%!?

    What a fudge. Press office at it’s best.

    Conclusion. Lib Dems have lots of seats and members in Wales and Scotland. If you add them to the England figures of 4’500 it’s probably a big loss………….!

  • Yeah, I’ve read the article Stephen.

    Still don’t get it. I take it you mean as Jonathan is only the Chair for England. Uh-huh.

    The thing is, why are the figures only for England?

  • Barry George 15th Jul '10 - 4:49pm

    “It mentions 4500 but does not actually say they have joined since May 6. In fact if 907 have joined in June it means we must have gained 3500 or so members in the last three weeks of May. All of which are unlikely.”

    Yes I am confused too… Any clarity to add Stephen ?

  • “It mentions 4500 but does not actually say they have joined since May 6. In fact if 907 have joined in June it means we must have gained 3500 or so members in the last three weeks of May. All of which are unlikely.”

    Or, to spin it like it wants to be spun, 3,500 new members since May 14th when the Coalition was announced. That’s 3,500 new members in two weeks. Two Weeks!

    Chairman Mao would be happy with that uptake!

    Why are the numbers only for England?

  • Andrew Suffield 15th Jul '10 - 5:02pm

    I take it you mean as Jonathan is only the Chair for England. Uh-huh.

    The thing is, why are the figures only for England?

    Because unsurprisingly, the chair of the English federal party doesn’t have the authority to release the figures for the others. It’ll take a little time to round up the others and get them to do the same. The federal structure of the party means this data is not trivial to collect, it takes some effort, and day-by-day updates to the membership total are not made.

    And Isn’t it quite obvious that membership is only up 14% because they’ve included new members from pre election? When you were polling 30% not 13%!?

    In January the party was polling at 17%. It has not been as low as 13% since 2007, which is not included in these figures. Please don’t just make numbers up.

  • Andrew Suffield “The Chair of the English federated party can’t release numbers for the UK?”

    Why hasn’t the UK party released figures for the whole UK? Why has just the English Chair – has there been pressure to do so? Why is there pressure to release the figures now instead of “taking a little time to round the others up”? Why do the Welsh + Scottish Chairs take “a little time ” to get the numbers together if the English chair can do it so quickly? How does the federal structure prevent individual federated parties from getting what should be readily available data? Why isn’t it on a computer?

    Why have they not split the numbers to pre and post election or Coalition announcement? Why aren’t the total membership numbers not published with year-on-year comparisons? Why haven’t the total resgination numbers been published, again with year-on-year comparisons? Johnny Nash Comes to mind…

    “There are moooorrreee….questions than answers…”

  • David Allen 15th Jul '10 - 5:16pm

    An upsurge in membership always happens around election time, for obvious reasons. How does 2010 compare with 2005 I wonder?

    No doubt we are also now able to attract some rather right-wing new members, who previously wouldn’t have touched us with a bargepole, but can now see that Clegg has moved us as far rightwards as Blair moved Labour. It was pitiful to see what happened to the Old Labourites in the wake of the Blair putsch – unable to fight back, but nowhere else to go. The same must not happen to the Old Lib Dems!

  • vince thurnell 15th Jul '10 - 5:26pm

    Its not how many new members you recruit its how many voters you lose and all the opinion polls point to you losing a lot of votes.

  • David Allen 15th Jul '10 - 6:01pm

    That’s a fair cop!

  • paul barker 15th Jul '10 - 6:18pm

    Can we just ignore the blood-soaked troll, or just swear at him.
    Stephen, looking more carefully, these figures dont make any sense. 4,500 is 14% of 32,000, implying that English membership is barely more than half the British total. That cant be right surely ?
    Incidentally Labour dont seem to be releasing any new figures for British membership either, the last figures being for Xmas 2008, at 166,000. Harman has been implying that the current figure is 175,000 ish; but she hasnt been explicit.

  • Hi Mark.

    In answer to: ” “You lot are bleeding memberships at a rate you dare not mention”, so would you care to share what the source of your statement is? ”

    There’s no source – It’s a reading of the next conclusion to draw from the missing information in the rather spun statement: “Lib Dem party membership is up a remarkable 14% this year, according to official figures released by the party in England”.

    I notice that rather than deal with the rather obvious questions I and others have put i.e. what aren’t you telling us, you prefer to give wooly statements about growth.

    A bit like your Chancellor! Boom Boom!

    Seriously, the statement on membership in England does come across like using partially good news to defend worse news elsewhere. I’m surprised your party feels the need to do that, 7 weeks into such a party-supported Coalition…

  • 4,500 is 14% of 32,000, implying that English membership is barely more than half the British total

    It is and that’s the point.

    If you’ve had a small increase in the English numbers…God alone knows what’s happened in Scotland + Wales after your Coalition with their natural enemy the Tories and your Road-to-Damscus conversion to defecit slashing Thatcherism….

    Care to take a guess?

    Swear at me all you like. I’m a big boy.

  • norfolk boy 15th Jul '10 - 6:41pm

    You’ll get an idea of the situation when you next need the public’s votes

    I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

    Mark Pack, the fact that you take delight in an ‘increase’ in members, after selling out pretty much everything you believed in clearly marks you out as a hero of modern politics,. You will go far.

  • There are bound to be plenty of new members after an election. The question is, who are they? Obviously they’re now going to be the kind of people happy about an alliance with the Conservatives. Suspect the party membership is shifting to the right..

  • paul barker 15th Jul '10 - 6:53pm

    O.K, sorry, it makes sense if the net increase since January is around 7,000 of which about 3,000 came in May & 1,000 in June. Sorry for the confusion but it is badly expressed.
    Unfortunately, membership tends to fall between GEs so National figures are probably still around 60,000.
    On the Trolls point about us failing to get anywhere in catching up Labour in votes.
    1997 the vote gap is 26% (43% -17)
    2005 13% (36 -23)
    2010 6% (30-24)
    That looks like catching up to me.

  • How is the resignations figure calculated ?

    If it’s people that have actively resigned – not that big a deal
    If they have allowed their membership to lapse – terrible

  • Andrew Suffield 15th Jul '10 - 9:13pm

    Why hasn’t the UK party released figures for the whole UK?

    Why do the Welsh + Scottish Chairs take “a little time ” to get the numbers together if the English chair can do it so quickly?

    The English chair thought it would be interesting and decided to do it. I doubt he consulted with the others. If they want to follow suit, they can – but don’t expect it to be immediate. Particularly since there is not and never has been any pressure for them to do so. Curiously, for all their talk about Lib Dem party membership numbers, Labour activists have never shown any interest in actually finding out what they are.

    If you want to learn more about how the Lib Dem party operates, stop lazing around expecting us to answer all your questions and make an effort to find out for yourself. (I for one am not interested in educating the sort of person who would interpret a gift horse as profound evidence for the impending extinction of horses)

  • Jonathan Davies 15th Jul '10 - 9:48pm

    Membership figures for the whole Party across the whole of Great Britain are included in the annual accounts, and the report including the membership figures is reviewed by the Party’s auditors. But given comments which were being made and mis-information being circulated, I thought it appropriate to share the figures collated and reported to English Party committees at the half year point.

    As has already been pointed out, most of the questions which were raised were actually answered in my original report. But to confirm the figure some people disbelieved, there were 3507 completely new members in May, plus 427 previously lapsed members rejoining. A “resignation” is someone who tells the Party he or she is leaving the Party, and does not include people who just let their membership lapse. But as I said, the renewal rate is considerably higher than it was this time last year. The total membership, after lapses and resignations, is up 13.9% since the beginning of the year. For those who believe the glass is half empty, it is true that 30% of those who were due to renew their membership on 1 July have not yet done; they have until 30 September to do so before their membership lapses.

    Jonathan Davies
    Chair of the English Party

  • Terry Gilbert 15th Jul '10 - 11:55pm

    Of course, what Jonathan did not tell us was that there was a major telephone recruitment campaign in the week after the election. I forgot to renew at the end of March, and was rung several times, even after I’d renewed. For the minimum sub, to preserve my voting rights, not because I support Clegg. I had cancelled my DD last year because of him.

  • Mark Pack
    “referendum on changing the electoral system”: Nick Clegg “AV is a miserable little reform”. DOes that include changing boundaries as well to suit your Tory masters? That’s not reform. That’s gerrymandering.

    “a democratically elected Upper House”: Mainly elected. Plus 100 new peers – mostly to prop up Tory + Liberals

    “a large increase in the basic income tax allowance”. £1,000 is not a large increase. Funnily you don’t mention either that that is entirely wiped out by the 20% VAT increase. Nick Clegg pre: GE “Tory VAT bombshell – it’s what they always do”. Funny that no Lib Dem ever wants to mention VAT – the most regressive tax possible. Good work guys.

    “more powers devolved in Scotland and a referendum on doing the same in Wales”. Nice that the Lib Dems have taken credit for the Calman Commission. Nice that your Scottish secretary has only hinted at devolving more powers and you’ve clamied them as done.

    “an increase in Capital Gains Tax” – diluted by Tory masters after their backbenchers rebelled. Big victory.

    “the ending of detaining children for immigration purposes”. Yup. You got it.

    Funny how you’re not talking about the Coalition’s NHS pre-privatisation; the cancellation of school buildings, the disappearance of the pupil premium; Vincent’s raid on graduate incomes to cover the tuition fees promise. etc etc.

    You’re right. We’re all in this together!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Jul '10 - 8:52am

    “But to confirm the figure some people disbelieved, there were 3507 completely new members in May, plus 427 previously lapsed members rejoining.”

    What people found difficult to believe was that this was the figure for people joining “since the Election and the coalition agreement”, as your statement suggested (though without stating so explicitly). Evidently they were quite right to doubt that, because the coalition agreement was reached in the middle of May, and you say these figures are for the whole month. As I suspected, they include people who joined at the height of the campaign. And if, as Terry Gilbert says, there was a major telephone recruitment campaign in the week after the election, much of that would also have been before the coalition agreement was reached.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Jul '10 - 10:27am

    No doubt Stephen will amend the title of this thread to read “since May 1″…

  • Cuse – has your party changed it’s policy of active involvement – not just complicity – in the rendition & torture of UK citizens yet?

  • @ColinW. Do not presume to guess my political allegiance. Part of the reason why I am so angered by the Liberal party is because of this tribal arrogance inherent within the party – strangely ignored by the leadership in general.

    I have voted LD in the last 2 GEs. Since this outrageous coalition – I would seriously rather vote BNP. Your leaders have shown their utter contempt for the electorate. It is simply unsatisfactory to pimp for votes based on a manifesto that is ejected at the first chance of power. It is deeply immoral to claim that this is OK in the name of Coalition – it is purposefully misleading. If people would only bother to look at European Coalitions, they would see that they are not built upon abstention + capitulation – as ours is. Finally – I am ashamed with Clegg’s utter adoption of Thatcherite principles + policies – most obviously shown in the recent outrageous NHS white paper.

    Contributors to this blog may want to hide behind Clegg’s assertion that Liberal principles fill this Government’s every thought and highlight woolly liberal policies. It is all too obvious to the electorate that if you voted LD – you gave your vote to the Tories. If it wasn’t already embarrassing enough – Clegg has even suggested AV will allow the LDs to persuade their followers to place Tories as 2nd preference automatically. It is sickening.

  • Paul McKeown 16th Jul '10 - 5:48pm

    @Excuse Me?
    “If it wasn’t already embarrassing enough – Clegg has even suggested AV will allow the LDs to persuade their followers to place Tories as 2nd preference automatically.”

    Haha. Citation needed. Love it, the way they just imagine things.

    Keep ’em coming, this barrel of laughs.

    Belly heaving.

  • Yes, there are trolls on all webforums – and damn sure we get some of them here. But for goodness sake keep cool heads. There are many Lib Dem supporters who feel very strongly about the actions around coalition formation and what has happened since. It is no good denying this, and suggesting that they are somehow NOT Lib Dems (or recent supporters etc). We all need to be quite patient with one another, but at the same time, try to explain how we feel.

  • john martin 17th Jul '10 - 9:31am

    The progress of decline starts with the electorate and a drop in the Lib Dem vote; disillusionment follows; and, then membership drops. Not the other way around.

  • John Fraser 18th Jul '10 - 8:33am

    As a party member for 25 years I share your concerns about the leaderships apparent capitulation.

    I fear however that it is more serious than this and that several of our leading lights (including some that contributed to the Orange book ) are actually quite at ease with these Thatcherite shifts . (A;though please remeber in Mrs Thatchers defence that she did not go as far as to propose some of these ideas !! :)) . For those that need a citation look no further than the fact that Cleggs luck warm support to our opposition to student fees. If I am correct it could well be a long and bitter struggle for the soul of the party. I deeply fear for the parties future as things stand today .

  • Poppie's mum 18th Jul '10 - 3:49pm

    What use are 4,500 new members when the party is plummeting in the polls here in Wales ?

    YouGov/ITV Wales Voting intentions for the Welsh Assembly July 1st 2010

    42% would vote Labour, 20% Plaid Cymru, 19% Conservative, 12 % Lib Dems and 6% for other parties.

    Compared with the General Election % votes on May 6th Labour up 5.8%, Plaid up 8.7%, Conservatives down 7.1%, Lib Dems down 8.1%

    Compared to the last Assembly election in 2007, Labour up 10%, Plaid down 2% and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats down 3% each, and other parties down 2%.

    No wonder the Welsh Lib Dems are accepting they will have no chance of a role in the next Welsh Assembly government.

    Also up is the voting intention for more law making powers for Wales – the yes vote intention is 55%, up 6% from April. Can you blame Welsh people for wanting to insulate themselves from the Westminster Tory wrecking crew aided and abetted by Clegg ?

  • The Labour party has gained 30,000 new members since the election! Those 4,500 or so that have since joined the Lib Dems might as well of joined the Tories. Nick Clegg has destroyed everything that the Lib Dems stood for so that he can have his time in the sun, which will soon turn cloudy for him when the cuts start to bite.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 12:41am

    Only an idiot pays any attention to opinion polls two months into a new parliament. The poll that counts is in 5 years time, work to that timetable. Ignore the moaning minnies and govern.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Jul '10 - 8:59am

    “The poll that counts is in 5 years time, work to that timetable.”

    So you keep saying. But did you not notice that those voting intentions were for the Welsh Assembly, for which there will be an election next year? Of course the national party’s unpopularity will have very tangible consequences for its representatives there, and in the Scottish Parliament, and on local councils, and in the European Parliament.

    And of course the other thing that will be happening next year is the referendum on AV. Support for AV seems to be fragile enough anyway. If by that time the government is deeply unpopular and the Lib Dems are being blamed for bringing it into being in the first place, then a “Yes” vote will be very unlikely, and it will all have been for nothing. But by that time the damage will have been done.

  • Poppie's mum 19th Jul '10 - 10:07am

    Thank you Paul McKeown, if you are calling me an idiot then I take that as a compliment.

    You appear to be living in a dream world, as a lot of Lib Dem supporters are.

    The Welsh Assembly government may be of no importance to you, but it is to the millions of people who live here and are showing that have disdain for the coalition and its policies. Talking to people day in, day out who voted Lib Dem in my constituency shows their views are very different from the Westminster leadership.

    Even the chief executive of the Welsh LibDems seems to have conceded that the party will not stand any chance in playing a role in the Welsh government next year. Looking at Kirsty Williams face in most photos now, she too knows the game is up.

    It isn’t too late for Clegg and Cable to show some individuation from the right wing policies.
    That they don’t only alienates the ordinary voter more.

    There is also a sentiment building among people that they will vote No to AV, even though they have been in support of electoral reform in the past. As one neighbour put it over a glass or two of wine ‘If that’s the only way I can give a direct message to Clegg about how I feel let down by giving my vote to the LibDems to support Thatcherite policies I will’ That’s from a lady who has voted LibDem for over 30 years and her words were nodded to by other people who helped our Lib Dem MP raise his majority massively.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 10:33am

    If people wish to vote against AV out of spite, it is a form of blackmail and should be resisted. It is not logical, the logical response is to campaign for AV on its own merits, anything else is foolish and politically immature. There is a certain type of “supporter” who is unable to cope with the demands of government rather than opposition. So be it: govern regardless.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 10:36am

    @Poppies Mum

    It is those whinging that “Oh it’s orrible, it’s really ‘orrible, it was so much easier when all we did was moan about ‘ow ‘orrible everyone else is” that’s living in a dreamworld. Difficult choices have been taken and will continue to be taken. That is the nature of government.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 10:44am

    In the long term, for every whinging “o it’s ‘orrible” handwringer lost, there is likely to be two gained from the respect earned from taking difficult decisions and sticking to them. Gaining credibility as a party of government is more important than any short term electoral considerations. Pandering to the soft hearted is not credible politics. And anyway, the sooner that the handwringers get the message that the Liberal Democrats are not going to pay any notice, the sooner they will stop their blackmail.

    Elections to the Welsh Assembly and to the Scottish Parliament should be fought on devolved issues. Elections to local government should be fought on local issues, as should mayoralty elections. Elections to the European Parliament should be fought on European issues. A plebiscite on the electoral system should be fought on its merits or otherwise. Responding at all to national issues when fighting these elections just opens the party to further blackmail. If people want to vote Labour to every council in the land, let them, it’s their look out. It won’t change a thing at Westminster, nor should it.

  • @PaulMcKeown

    Your views are just staggeringly naive.

    People don’t vote because difficult choices are taken. If only it were that simple! They vote for a multitude of reasons.

    Gaining credibility – where? The Observer ran an excellent piece at the weekend which highlighted the fact that in every broadsheet – Clegg has become a figure of mockery. He’s either a fag or a primary school child. Even Clarkson calls him the ‘Tea boy’. To see the impact of this – you need to look no further than John Major who never recovered from the Guardian depicting him as wearing his pants on the outside. The Lib Dems

    Scottish + Welsh elections should be on devolved issues??? Of course, in the land of milk + honey. But General elections should also be fought on this, on the basis that you are voting for your MP NOT your prime minister – but are they? In my constituency, if the local tory MP was a rhesus monkey who was found to be murdering the first born child of every constituent and the Lib Dem the re-incarnation of Jesus Christ with the power to turn lead into gold – the Tories would more than likely still increase their majority. Your views are highly principled but devoid of realism.

    Local politics has no impact on National??? Are you mad??? If Lib Dem councils are wiped out – which they surely will be – who do you think will do the groundwork for the National Party? There’ll be no-one to press the flesh, leaflet or cover the miles talking to voters. We’ll be dead! the Lib Dem party more than most depends on it’s activists to get the message out.

    Wake up Paul – views like yours are dangerously ill-advised.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 11:21am

    And for those wondering why a Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury is treating government spending with an almost unprecedented brutality, here’s a reminder. The Republic of Ireland, the only country with which we share a land border, has just had its sovereign debt downgraded for the second time by Moody’s, vid.

  • @poppies mum

    Its a shame you feel that you may vote against AV just to punish the Libdems. You will also stuff up the Greens, Plaid, and every other party that has suffered from the ‘don’t vote for them here – its a wasted vote’ squeeze tactic.

    By the way – Labour support AV because they reckon they would get more seats that way. Shame they did not have a referendum while they had the chance, they might be in coalition now with the Libdems.
    But probably not- as they did not want to be taking the hard decisions about cuts.

  • Poppie's mum 19th Jul '10 - 2:26pm


    Read my post properly.

    Where do I say that I am in agreement with what my neighbour said about punishing Clegg ?
    I am merely reporting a strong feeling that people are expressing, and they were people who voted Lib Dem in May and in most cases had voted LibDem for many years.

    Clegg’s arrogance and daily attempts to alienate Labour voters who may hold the key in gaining a yes AV result is
    either bad politicking on his part, naivety or stupidity. If he is also losing support for AV from some of his regular voters then trouble lies ahead.

    Any amount of insulting people as ‘tribal’ will not help when some of Clegg’s own ‘tribe’ are unhappy with what is going on in Westminster.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Jul '10 - 2:47pm


    I’m afraid you’re losing touch with reality. Of course people will take the opportunity of other elections to punish a party that is unpopular because of its actions at Westminster. And your response is to accuse the electorate of “blackmail”? Bizarre.

    As for the referendum, the actions of the Lib Dems in a hung parliament are obviously intimately connected with that. After the way the party has acted, I think many people may quite legitimately feel that any constitutional change that increases its representation is undesirable.

  • Good news on the face of it, given Labour has been trying to spin the mass exodus line. The real test however will be where we are in nine months, after some more coalition faux pas, a spending review that shuts down your local school, and the VAT “bombshell” paster which comes back to haunt us (again).

  • Good news on the face of it, given Labour has been trying to spin the mass exodus line. The real test however will be where we are in nine months, after some more coalition faux pas, a spending review that shuts down your local school, and the VAT “bombshell” poster which comes back to haunt us (again).

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 5:35pm

    @Anthony Aloysius St.

    No – I’m accusing you and others of blackmail. Keep screeching and maybe the Liberal Democrats about loss of voters, how you’re going to vote against the party, how you know so many people opposed who used to support the party – that is blackmail. I say, ignore the polls, ignore the Jeremiahs. In fact I consider the position of the Handwringing Tendency risible. Complain that the Liberal Democrats do not get a chance to pursue their national agenda, then when they get the chance scream blue murder about the compromises that government, particularly coalition government, entails.

    If people wish to use AV as a means to punish the Liberal Democrats for participating in government, then there is nothing that can sensibly be done about that. It is an entirely emotional response and, indeed, electoral blackmail. If the plebiscite should be lost, then, if anyone actually supported the concept, but voted against it for reasons of temporary dislike of government policy, they should only blame themselves. I doubt they will see it like that, of course, because it is clear that in voting as they would have done that they were rather stupid anyway.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 5:46pm

    @Anthony Aloysius St.

    Decreasing the Liberal Democrats share of the vote, will naturally increase the Conservatives share of the vote.

    The idea that the Liberal Democrats should be free to form a government in coalition with Labour (who have never shown themselves genuinely capable of sharing power), but must under no circumstances share power with the Conservatives is fundamentally idiotic. It reduces the Liberal Democrats to being a vassal of the Labour Party, rather than a truly independent party.

    I reject this “evil Toriez” shtick. There are considerable elements of both Labour and the Conservatives that I detest; that does not imply that I believe that the Liberal Democrats should fastidiously reject power until such time as they might form their own majority government.

    If the British public is so politically immature that it cannot understand this, then so be it. It would clearly not be ready for anything other than bipolar government.

    Reading many of this “evil Toriez” garbage, frankly suggests to me that many only the political left would only be satisfied with a red one party state, or would rather have an unadulterated Tory government to rail against and then spend years in government reversing its “damaging” policies. Frankly daft.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 19th Jul '10 - 10:50pm

    Any marketing man will tell you rebranding a product without any substance will lead to a temporary rise in sales but is unlikely to lead any permanent improvement. Anyone want to predict that the LibDems membership will be higher in 5 years time? Oh and where are the Scottish and Welsh figures?

    Paul McKeown
    I think you should look closer at what has happened in Ireland – the government introduced a programme of savagfe cuts and yet the debt continued to rise and the government debt continued to rise – and now their sovereign debt has been downgraded. Presumably they didn’t cut hard enough for you and your Tory friends. You may also wish to look at Japan where they tried a similar experiment of making cuts before growth was established – or 1930s Britain if you want to go further back in history. Of course you don’t find Tories evil since they now appear to form you only source of economic thinking.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 19th Jul '10 - 10:56pm

    Oh and since the LibDems used to be a virtue of being unideological are there any LibDems out there who may thing that the proposals for schools and Health Service are being somewhat rushed and not properly thought through. With the result that whatever the ideological objectives they are likely to end in a mess. I would have thought that if the LibDems were to have a sliver of constructive influence and purpose within the Coalition they could at least be making this point.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Jul '10 - 11:00pm


    Now you’re just being hysterical. I suggest you re-read what I actually wrote.

    It’s a bad sign when people start frothing at the mouth and trying to deny the truth of even the most self-evident propositions – in this case, that the party’s unpopularity will have very tangible effects in elections other than parliamentary ones.

  • Paul McKeown 19th Jul '10 - 11:38pm

    @Anthony Aloysius St.

    I don’t deny that it may be a result, but fundamentally I don’t think government should be in the business of worrying about such trivia. I also suspect that there are a lot of people simply talking up the idea, either because they worry about the future of the Liberal Democrats, or because they believe that they can put pressure on the Liberal Democrats to change the course of the government, or because they actually wish to damage the Liberal Democrats in the long term.

    Not frothing, just don’t believe that governing parties should allow themselves to be hostage to such manipulation. And I am willing to bet that the ability to carry unpopular decisions through will bring the Liberal Democrats more electoral success in the long term than any short term relief that bending to pressure might.

    As for the @labourtrollsareimmature, I think that the Liberal Democrats gaining seats in the 2015 General Election is quite likely. Perhaps more likely than not, as the “irrelevance” and “wasted vote” arguments will have been quashed.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Jul '10 - 12:05am


    Of course what happens at the next general election remains to be seen. Needless to say, I don’t agree with your optimistic assessment.

    But to get back to the point, the potential loss of large numbers of Lib Dem councillors, AMs, MSPs, MEPs and so on can’t just be characterised as “trivia”. It will have a real effect on the party, and it will even have a real effect on the party’s prospects at the next “proper” election, as you would see it.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Jul '10 - 7:49pm

    Some interesting statistics from Peter Kellner at YouGov:
    Among those who voted Lib Dem on May 6, opinions are divided: just 40% approve of the coalition’s performance, while 36% disapprove. No wonder Lib Dem support has slumped since the coalition was formed. Indeed, of those who voted Lib Dem on May 6, just 46% would vote for the party if an election were held now, while 18% would vote Labour, 9% Conservative and 5% for other parties; 22% are ‘don’t knows’ or ‘won’t votes’. To be sure, the Lib Dems have picked up some support from voters who like their involvement the coalition, but there are too few of these to offset the deserters. Overall, Lib Dem support is down by one-third since the election.

    Of course, it’s early days yet.

  • The problem may be of course that we have spent many years using tactical voting with those “Only the Lib Dems can beat Labour/Tory here” graphs that we no longer know who our true supporters are. From these figures less than a fifth of our supporters are true centrists,whilst the rest are more or less evenly left or right leaning and so ar either happy or pissed off.

    If the more left leaning lib dem voters are indeed abandoning us in droves, this will have a drastic effect on the composition of our party. It could lock us into being a centre-right party as the centre-left voice drifts away. This would be tragic for us, for Lib Dem MPs such as Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone and many AMs and MSPs, but also for British politics.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Jul '10 - 12:15pm

    And the latest YouGov poll has the Lib Dems at a new post-election low – in fact the lowest Lib Dem rating from YouGov for nearly 18 months:
    The overnight YouGov figures for the Sun had voting intentions of CON 43%, LAB 35%, LDEM 14%(!). The changes are well within the margin of error of the recent levels of support that the parties have been showing and it is the sort of figure we’d expect to pop up occassionally with the Lib Dems floating around 15% in recent polls, but it’s worth recording that this is the Liberal Democrats lowest level of support since well before the general election. On a uniform swing it would reduce them to a rather sorry 16 seats, though in practice incumbency does tend to give Lib Dem MPs some degree of protection.

  • Blanche Haringey 21st Jul '10 - 12:16pm

    Again, the trouble will come when you try to get next years membership fees from current members. A lot of the new ‘post-election’ members may just be those who joined in the weeks and days running up to polling day and it took a few days for their memberships to be processed.

  • Richard Coe 21st Jul '10 - 4:11pm

    Peopl are playing a bit fast and loose with those stats.

    The headline says:”Official: 4,500 new Lib Dem members have joined party since election and coalition agreement”,

    then you say, “Lib Dem party membership is up a remarkable 14% this year”

    after a couple more dodgy figures we finally get to the truth:

    In the first half of this year (1st January to 30 June) (ie before the election and coalition), Party membership increased by 14%.

    In June, which might have been expected to be a quiet month, there were 907 new members and 260 lapsed members rejoined.

    So infact in the first proper month since the election 900 new people have joined.

    However we are missing a prime point – New Labpur experienced significant membership growth to start with, but at the same time it lost or demotivated more valuable members at the heart of its activist base.

    I can only speak for myself and my own experience – but having been an activist since just before this party started – I feel demoralised and I do not think the coalition or our parliamentary party belive what I believe or that they share my experience of life. Contrary to what he may think, Geogre Osborne is not in this with me, his rich friends buggered the economy and now my taxes are going up and my wages are going down, whilst they are still getting six and seven figure bonuses for being geniuses!

    In short as an activist I feel demoralised. Worse still as a constituency Data officer I can confirm that our members hip has gone up around by 12-15people (12-15%) in the last couple of months, however over the last couple of years we have lost 3-4 activists, who like me think Clegg and Co have moved the party to the centre right.

    Although this is is where many european liberal parties sit, it is not where we have traditionally been.

  • Thankyou for that Richard. There are many of us out here who would simply not welcome being a German FDP-lite.

  • Paul McKeown 21st Jul '10 - 6:04pm

    @Richard Coe

    So what should happen to make you feel happy again?

  • Lets face it – anyone in government right now has ahrseh choices to make to rectify the recession and turn our country around again.

    Therefore this is no time for feint hearts especially after almost 100 years in opposition.

    So to those who decide to give up the fight right now I say they are simply fooling everyone, especially themselves and in turn will let both the Party and more importantly the country, down.

    Our MPs more than ever need and our deserve support during these dark days for everyone. They should be commended for engaging with our most obvious rivals not pilloried – lets leave that to the ever hostile media and the LayBore Party

    I have fought the Tories for the past 40 years and will continue to fight them at every election, from within the Liberal Democrat party. During that time the party has grown significantly to the point we are now taken seriously so dont be put off by these Labour snipers.

    Liberal for Life

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