When will the Coalition end? Here’s what Lib Dem members say…

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum before conference to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Four-in-five say Coalition will be bad for Lib Dem prospects in 2015

LDV asked: Do you think the Coalition Government will be good or bad for the Lib Dems’ electoral prospects at the next general election? (Comparison in brackets with August’s figures.)

    6% (-3%) – Good
    79% (+2%) – Bad
    11% (n/c) – Neither good nor bad
    4% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

This figure of 79% (taken before conference season) is the highest we’ve yet recorded. A year ago, in September 2011, the figure was 59%. Just over 1-in-20 members remains optimistic, and about one-in-10 reckons the outcome will be more or less neutral for the party.

Three-quarters say Coalition will last the course

(Comparison in brackets with August’s figures.)
LDV asked: How long do you expect the coalition government will last?

    0% (-1%) – It will end this year, 2012
    5% (-1%) – It will end in 2013
    18% (+3%) – It will end in 2014
    75% (n/c) – It will last the full term, until 2015
    3% – Don’t know / No opinion

Two-thirds want Coalition to go on into 2015

LDV asked: When would you like the Coalition to end? (Comparison in brackets with August’s figures.)

    12% (+2%) – As soon as possible, definitely this year
    5% (+2%) – It should end in 2013
    15% (+6%) – It should end in 2014
    38% (-2%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans
    26% (-9%) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election
    3% (n/c) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election
    1% (+1%) – Don’t know / No opinion

It’s interesting to compare the two tables above asking, respectively, when people think the Coalition will end and when they would like the Coalition to end. The results aren’t all that different. Three-quarters, 75%, expect it to last a full term (exactly how that’s defined is a moot point) until 2015. A cumulative 67% would like it to last into 2015 or even beyond. Likewise, our most recent tracker question asking about support for the Coalition showed Lib Dem members remain in favour by 74%-21%. And as we see above 17% of members would like it brought to an end within the next 12-15 months — though only a minority (5%) expect that to happen.

For first time, majority of Lib Dems believe party lacks influence within the Coalition

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. (Comparison with August’s figures in brackets.)

    1: 1%
    2: 7%
    3: 19%
    4: 14%
    5: 12%
    Lacking influence = 53% (+10%)
    6: 18%
    7: 20%
    8: 7%
    9: 1%
    10: 1%
    Achieving influence = 47% (-14%)

This is the fourth time we’ve asked the question of what level of influence you think the party is exerting within the Coalition. This is the first time, though, that it has shown a majority of members (narrow, but still a majority) believing the Lib Dems lack influence in the Coalition by a margin of 53%-47%. As recently as June, our survey showed Lib Dem members believing the party was achieving influence by 68%-32%. That is a big turn-around in just a few short months. A blip, mid-term blues, or part of the long farewell to Coalition?

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. More than 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 19th and 22nd September. NB: most responses received before Nick Clegg’s apology broadcast.
  • 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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    11 Comments

    • Stephen Tall 11th Oct '12 - 7:46pm

      Ahem. Yes. Now corrected.

    • Absolutely amazed that more than half of our members think coalition should continue till 2015 – political judgment? Where?? Lemmings come to mind.

    • I am thinking that actually, there are ways to look at the 2010 result, and the Coalition as good for the country beyond the simple argument of “the only viable Coalition”, and the fact that at the time the economy really demanded we get a stable Government.

      People can see what the Conservatives are like, without them actually having a majority to do whatever they want. There is all the younger voters who have turned 18 since 1997, and anyone who might have been hoping they had learned not to be too extreme. As it is, they are not going to be able to campaign on having learned to be nicer now.,

    • Carmel Townsend 12th Oct '12 - 10:42am

      I am a former Lib Dem councillor in Newport, South Wales and add my name to the 79 per cent of people who think the coalition will be bad for the party in 2015.
      And I wholeheartedly agree that the Lib Dems lack any real influence within the coalition.
      Sure, they dampen down the “worst excesses” of the right wing Tories, but as a social democrat, that’s not enough for me.
      The party finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place in that it can’t get out of the coalition, but knows that if it runs the course, we are dead anyway.
      Even if Nick Clegg were ousted as leader, the party would still be crucified by the media. Damned if we do; damned if we don’t.
      There are many things that I don’t like about the coalition, but putting the knife into some of society’s poorest people is not something that I want to be associated with.
      Many of my closest colleagues are unhappy too, but are prepared to stay the course and see if prospects improve. They point out that the Lib Dems are a steadying influence on Cameron and his cronies, but I feel there is little evidence of that. I would like to see a real, clear and emphatic rebuttal of ALL Tory policies.
      Here in Newport, eight of our nine councillors lost their seats. Not because they were useless representatives – but because of the seeming “treachery” of Lib Dems who have always been seen as principled people. This is what I find hard to defend .
      Labour candidates went door to door, telling lies and frightening people about their benefits; their jobs; their living standards and it resonated with people.
      On the doorstep some people said: “You’re doing a great job. You always represent us well and have done for four years… BUT …”
      Our election was lost because of national politics , not local. One of our councillors who had the highest number of votes on the council (of any party) eventually held on to his seat by one vote, after three recounts.
      The coalition is toxic.

    • The Tories helpfully reminded everyone why they are still so toxic at their conference. Eg they agitate for a tax sop for marriage (at great cost and no impact) whilst targeting cuts at the benefit that provides for deprived children. Their spokesmen on social policy are apparently George Carey and Anne Widdecombe. They remain the enemy… The LDs have done a good job blocking the most egregious Tory plans, but by the time of the next election they need to be ready to be aggressive. If they can do that they will recover lost ground. It seems to me the coalition must end in advance of the election to do this.

    • paul barker 12th Oct '12 - 6:59pm

      If we have so little influence in the coalition you have to ask why so many tories (& tory papers) think we have a lot ?
      I think one reason there was such hysteria around Boris was because he represents an imaginary “pure tory” government.
      On the election, I come back to the point that we have no idea whats going to happen & its a waste of energy agonising about it. We will find out whats likely to happen in march/april 2015 when most voters begin to think about it.
      For now all we can do is prepare for a wide range of possibilities.

    • Yellow Bill 14th Oct '12 - 3:06am

      @ Tim13

      Whilst staying in the coalition would be bad for the Lib Dems, leaving it before the next election would be worse. They already have a problem with the perception about keeping their word, leaving the coalition prematurely would only exacerbate that perception

    • Carmel Townsend. Parties in national government lose council seats. This is an unfortunate fact of life; 70% of the population are not interested enough in local politics to bother to vote. Those who are bothered are usually only motivated by national politics. Sad … but there it is. Local civic culture has been weakened by years of labcon centralizing.

      The corollary of this is that many of our local votes only come because of our national profile, so we can’t have it both ways.

    • “On the election, I come back to the point that we have no idea whats going to happen & its a waste of energy agonising about it.”

      Unless you’re in a position to do something about it, of course!

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