What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition with 18 months of it left

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. Almost 700 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Apologies: I failed to publish our regular Coalition tracker survey results owing to the general hecticness of conference season. However, here they are now… Please bear in mind, though, the figures below are a month old. All comparisons are with our most recent survey conducted in July 2013.)

56% of Lib Dems say party on “right course”

Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track?

    56% (-5%) – The right course

    33% (+2%) The wrong track

    10% (+2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

There was a slip in overall satisfaction with the Lib Dems’ direction pre-conference: +23% was the lowest net figure since October 2012. It’s a long way off the +49% of February 2012, though: the month before the NHS Bill row.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 79% to 17%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

    79% (-1%) – Support

    17% (+3%) – Oppose

    3% (-2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

No matter what the travails of the Coalition — and there have been plenty in the past three or more years — the high support for the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Conservatives has barely shifted. We’ve asked this tracker question 17 times, and the range has been 74% (September 2012, after Lords reform was blocked) to 85% (November 2010, our first post-tuition fees U-turn survey). This month’s is stuck in the middle of those, at 79%.

Net +25% approval rating for Coalition’s record

Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

    56% (-1%) – Approve

    32% (n/c) – Disapprove

    11% (+1%) – Don’t know

There has been a small but noticeable shift in approval for the Coalition’s record in the last 3 months: the net +24% approval rating is the highest since June 2012 (+28%) bar July’s +25%.

91% of party members expect Lib Dems to lose seats in 2015

How many Lib Dem MPs do you think will be elected at the next general election (expected in May 2015)?

    3% (-3%) – More than current 57 MPs

    14% (-6%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs

    36% (+3%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs

    29% (+3%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs

    12% (n/c) – Fewer than 30 MPs

    4% (+1%) – Don’t know

This is the third time we’ve asked this question. The first, in March, was immediately after the Lib Dems’ valiant hold in the Eastleigh by-election: back then, 28% of party members expected the Lib Dem to hold at least 50 seats. That proportion now stands at 17%. A majority do, though, expect the party to hold at least 40 seats: 53% now compared with 56% last March; 41% expect us to have fewer than 40 MPs.

6-in-10 Lib Dems say party achieving influence in Government

How would you rate the extent of the Liberal Democrat influence within the Coalition Government, where 10 is highly influential, and 1 indicates no influence.

    1 = 1%
    2 = 5%
    3 = 15%
    4 = 11%
    5 = 10%
    Lacking influence = 42% (+2%)
    6 = 19%
    7 = 25%
    8 = 12%
    9 = 1%
    10 = 1%
    Achieving influence = 58% (-2%)

We’ve been asking this question for 18 months now: it’s the one I think is perhaps most interesting because it shows the array of opinion among Lib Dem members about the Coalition. You can see the hard-core of Coalition sceptics in the 1-3 range (21%) as well as the hardcore Coalition fans at 8-10 (14%). The majority of Lib Dem members lie somewhere in the middle, in the 4-7 range (65%), with a decisive edge towards those who think the party is achieving at least something by being in Government.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 696 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 11th and 13th September.
  • 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 offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • 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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    8 Comments

    • Melanie Harvey 13th Oct '13 - 11:52am

      There is without doubt certain issues which could help further the party next election, In particular against Labour.

    • Alex Perkins 13th Oct '13 - 5:53pm

      I’m on the wrong party

    • Michael Cole 14th Oct '13 - 12:19pm

      We all know now (and many of us knew beforehand) that being part of the coalition would make us unpopular. We could have been a lot smarter in the way we dealt with certain issues and thereby avoided much of the unpopularity.

      Nick has been unfairly demonised by the biased press but in my view he is by far the best of the three leaders of the main political parties.

      I’m hoping that he has ‘a cunning plan’ for the 2015 GE.

    • Like Alex, I think I am too!

    • It remains very uncomfortable to be a Libdem. Well-informed people who are naturally to our right or left, and not-well-informed people can all be against us. In a Labour-facing constituency such as ours, we are liable to be called the Con-Dem party, which is not very enjoyable. It really would help if the various benefits issues could be less clumsily handled and more obviously in harmony with the ‘fairer society’ of our current strapline. Not many disabled people, carers or council-house tenants think well of us.

    • It is pretty unncomfrotable to be a Libdem; we are used to opposition from Lab and Con, but they are joined by former friends who think that we are too close to Tories. A process of greater and clearer differentiation is due.

      I get the feeling that ‘at the top’ the Social Liberals are inadequately represented.

      Paul King.

    • A Social Liberal 14th Oct '13 - 6:02pm

      Paul King said, “I get the feeling that ‘at the top’ the Social Liberals are inadequately represented”.

      You would be right.

    • The LbDem problem is one of unrealistic expectations. Conservatives have been, and still are, our natural enemies. It certainly stuck in my gullet to go into coalition with them but an alliance with Labour was not numerically practicable and it’s a very fair bet that had we let Cameron form a minority government we’d have had a further general election in October 2010 which only the Tories could afford & would probably have won outright. Was Cameron clever enough to foresee that a formal deal with LibDems would provide him with a set of scapegoats? I don’t know about clever but unprincipled low cunning was always a Tory characteristic. Our people made mistakes but every Department which has had huge disasters and massive waste of taxpayer money whilst piling austerity upon us has been led by a Tory. Think NHS for which there was no mandate in the Tory manifesto; Work & Pensions; MoD to name just a few. The public, massively assisted by the media & our opponents and far too many of our own do not distinguish between good policy and breathtakingly incompetent implementation and blame us for not being able to stop it. Cameron’s right wing, the true Tories, aided by fear of UKIP, have succeeded in dragging the whole Conservative party into a place very far removed indeed from the Conservative party that we joined in coalition. That provides the opportunity for us which I hope the LibDem leadership will grasp.

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