Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.
Farron, Huppert and Oakeshott had best 2012 say Lib Dem members
LDV asked: In your opinion, which Lib Dem MP or peer overall has had the best year?
This question allowed an unprompted, free-text response, which over 400 party members filled in. And here’s what you told us:
- 1. Tim Farron (82)
- 2. Julian Huppert (58)
- 3. Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott (45)
- 4. Vince Cable (35)
- 5. Baroness (Shirley) Williams (17)
- 6. Jo Swinson (13)
- =7. Nick Clegg (12)
- =7. Ed Davey (12)
- =7. Lord (Tony) Greaves (12)
- =7. Lord (Tom) McNally (12)
- 11. Simon Hughes (11)
- 12. Lord (Paddy) Ashdown (9)
- 13. Lynne Featherstone (6)
- =14. David Laws (5)
- =14. John Pugh (5)
You told us Vince Cable was the Lib Dem minister who’d had the best year; and Nick Clegg who’d had the worst. But the overall winner of which Lib Dem politician has enjoyed the best 2012 goes to the party president, Tim Farron.
His popularity doesn’t always mean party members agree with him — he caused a storm earlier this year by controversially co-signing a letter attacking the Advertising Standards Authority for banning a controversial religious advert. Yet Tim’s same day response to the criticisms points to the reasons for his popularity: a frank, hold-my-hands-up apology for the bits he regretted and a clear, concise re-statement of the liberal values that underpinned his point. Then there’s his enthusiastic but honest pick-me-up emails to members after the latest election disappointments, or his real-time, unspun verdicts on events like the reshuffle, or his willingness to listen to party members’ views on key liberal issues.
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is another guardian of the liberal flame, fighting the good fight on the internet snoopers’ charter, against Heathrow’s expansion, reforming drugs laws, or championing science policy in parliament.
Meanwhile Lib Dem peer Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott has been a persistent thorn in the side of George Osborne and the Coalition’s economic policy, arguing in the summer for a wholesale change at the Treasury, and putting forward his own plans to kick-start the economy. His pithy assertions will not always have gone down well with the leadership (especially when implying Nick Clegg should be ditched as leader) and his surprise declaration the Lib Dems shouldn’t appoint more peers to the Lords left me baffled. But there’s no doubt his combative differentiation strategy has gone down well with members: he was voted the party’s most effective non-MP campaigner in the summer by party members.
* 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.