+++ 91% of Lib Dem members back Lib-Con coalition agreement, says LDV poll

Lib Dem Voice has been conducting a survey of party members registered on our members’ forum asking them for their views of the coalition government agreement between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. Over 600 have responded, and here’s what you told us …

LDV asked: If you were able to vote, would you choose to support the motion proposing the Lib Dems enter into a coalition government with the Conservatives?

91% – Yes, I would support the motion
9% – No, I would not support the motion
(excluding Don’t knows, 4%)

Our survey suggests there will be an overwhelming endorsement of Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems’ decision to enter into a coalition government with the Conservatives at the special conference on Sunday.

If you’d asked anyone even 10 days ago if it seemed at all likely that nine-in-ten Lib Dem members would back a deal with the Tories they’d have said absolutely no way. It’s a real tribute to the Lib Dem negotiating team – who 95% of members believe did an effective job – and to the agreement which includes so many liberal policies, that there is such strong backing from the grassroots.

However, it’s also clear from our survey that there is a small-but-significant minority of party members who are opposed to the coalition agreement. Indeed, our survey results released earlier today indicate up to 4% of members are considering resigning their membership. The party will be hoping that those who actually take that decision are offset by the hundreds of new members who have reportedly joined the Lib Dems in the days since the coalition was announced.

* You can read in full the comments of members to this survey question in our discussion forum here.

Lib Dem Voice e-mailed the survey to over 1,200 party members registered on our members’ forum on Friday. As of Saturday evening, over 600 (c.50%) had responded. Please note: we make no claims that the survey is representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole, let alone of conference representatives who will have a vote at Sunday’s conference. Indeed, the survey seems skewed towards male party members living in the south of England. However it is the largest survey yet published of the views of Lib Dem members.

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37 Comments

  • I suppose activists may have been convinced to support it – but what of theless committed tactical voters/anti Tory voters who’ve been voting Lib Dem in the hope of keeping Tories out? I don’t think they will ever vote Lib Dem again – and I can’t see where votes will come from to replace them? No Labour/Anti Tory voter will vote Lib Dem again, and the soft Tory vote is either already back with the Tories or will feel able to vote Tory next time as the Lib Dems have softened Tory excess and made them more palatable. I just don’t see who will replace the lost tactical/anti Tory votes?

  • One of those against this deal is Charles Kennedy but you will have to read about it elsewhere.

  • We have five years to prove our worth and demonstrate the benefits of our policies.

    Hyping up potential election results now is plain ridiculous.

  • But there are local elections every year as well as elections in devolved areas long before the proposed General Election date. So it’s not really five years to see how things pan out – votes need to come from somewhere for other elections too.

  • Andrew Suffield 15th May '10 - 11:56pm

    No Labour/Anti Tory voter will vote Lib Dem again

    Who are they going to vote for instead, the Tories? It’s just posturing.

  • Anna – Local elections depend a lot more on the individual candidates than Parliamentary ones. People don’t just ditch a local councillor, and just in case you are that far removed from the real world – local councils deal with coalitions all the time. The electorate aren’t stupid, they usually know whether or not a local council is doing a good job!

  • @mac funny that seeing as all of our MPs voted in favour of the coalition which therefore included Charles Kennedy

  • Strike that seems I was misinformed, he must have abstained and no MP or peer voted against

  • I think it is highly possible, that less Labour voters will vote tactically for Lib Dems in Con/LD marginals, but on the other hand, I think it is also highly possible, that more Conservative voters will vote tactically for Lib Dems in Lab/LD marginals. So you’ll lose some, you’ll gain some. But of course only time will tell how much.

    And if the AV will be approved in the referendum, that probably will also change the voting behaviours, but it’s way too early to say how.

  • Andrea Gill wrote:

    “The electorate aren’t stupid, they usually know whether or not a local council is doing a good job!”

    Really? They make regular inspections of the Audit Commission and OFSTED websites?

    Local government is now so constrained by central government that political control makes little difference. Elected members have hardly any discretion left. Almost every innovation is directed by a Whitehall initiative, and changes in practice are usually the result of criticisms and micro-criticisms of inspection agencies. I wonder how many voters know that Directors of Finance are under a statutory duty to stop Members doing things that are not inherently unlawful but where he/she considers there is a risk? And how about the latest wheeze – administrations are now forbidden from changing their leaders during the lifetime of a council! The electorate would have to be more than not stupid, they would have to be really, really clever to know just how emasculated elected councillors have become.

  • Bill Dowlng 16th May '10 - 2:27am

    Frankly I am sick to death of “party politics”, and Punch and Judy politics in particular.
    For goodness sake! – formulating Party Policy is not an exact science!
    There is no perfect party and there is no perfect set of policies and if only one could cherry pick the best from each and put them all together one might just come close to the perfect party. and the perfect set of policies
    In the end each individual can only pick the best fit for oneself and go with that.
    That is why I am a liberal democrat.
    Basiccally because to me we represent the centre ground between the extreme left and the extreme right.
    We are the party with policies closest to a sensible compromise in the most policy areas.
    However IMHO we have been inclined to drift a bit too far to the left, so a bit of a pull to the right for a while wont do us any harm at all.
    This coalition with the Conservatives is like a breath of fresh air and I sincerely wish it every success.
    Everyone, hence every political party, is entitled to have and express an opinion on everything.
    That Is why I am so much in favour of PR, because the wider variety of opinions being brought to bear makes identifying the centre ground compromise position more possible and more accurate.
    Even UKIP, BNP , the Green Party and other minority Parties have some extremely valid arguments that need to be heard, and weighed in the balance when formulating our own party’s policies, without prejudice.
    I look at it this way, If you chose roughly the middle course every time, you can only every be half as wrong as if you go off to the left when you should have gone off to the right, and vice versa!

  • Splits happen. You can’t please everyone all the time.

  • I forgot to take part in the survey – put me down as in favour of the coalition.

    BenD – yes, not much has been said re. the likely Con vote in Lab/Lib marginals.

    Like One SalientOversight, though, I can’t wait to see the end of tactical voting, or at least less of it.

  • I am increasingly not buying into the claim that if we don’t have a formal coalition the Tories could call another General Election and obtain an overall majority. How does this sit with what Michael Heseltine said on “Question Time”, that very soon the government would become extremely unpopular because of what it would have to do? If Heseltine is right, and the self-deceiving casuists are wrong, look at the opportunity left open to whichever Miliband takes over the Labour Party.

    BTW, the last time a minority government called a second general election within a year was Harold Wilson in October 1974. All the polls indicated that Labour would get its overall majority, and by a big margin. Until the final week, that is, when Labour’s lead slipped, and Wilson ended up with the barest of majorities – and the Liberal vote dropped only slightly. Then came the Lib/Lab Pact – anyone want to go there?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th May '10 - 9:09am

    Here’s a link to Charles Kennedy’s article on the coalition in the Observer:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/16/charles-kennedy-coalition-views

  • Lorna Langdon 16th May '10 - 9:47am

    I wonder how many supporters of the coalition are aware of the full facts? Take a look atthis artice, printed in The Daily Mail in Feb 2008 entitled :”Lib-Con pact? Clegg offers to prop up a Tory government if Cameron agrees power-share deal”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513240/Lib-Con-pact-Clegg-offers-prop-Tory-government-Cameron-agrees-power-share-deal.html#ixzz0o51RwNMx

    This does make me wonder if there was a VERY long term strategy on the part of Nick Clegg & David Cameron to do what he has been done. I wonder how many cosey chats had occured with David Cameron prior to 2008 about how they could share power in govt. It looks like one big stich up to me, and might also explain why the Cons didn’t get an overall majority, because David Cameron didn’t actually want one! Nick Clegg is a Tory!

    I could be wrong of course, but I honestly don’t think I am! Anyway, why don’t you make up your own mind?

  • @ Sesenco:

    I am increasingly not buying into the claim that if we don’t have a formal coalition the Tories could call another General Election and obtain an overall majority. How does this sit with what Michael Heseltine said on “Question Time”, that very soon the government would become extremely unpopular because of what it would have to do?

    This government, being a coalition with a majority of nearly 80, will likely make serious cuts quickly in order to get the unpopularity out of the way as soon as possible, allowing time to recover before the next GE. But an unstable minority government with its eye on an early GE in order to win a majority wouldn’t do that – it would make a few cosmetic cuts, introduce some populist legislation (probably the immigration cap), then find an excuse to call an early election complaining they couldn’t get the rest of their agenda through.

  • Catherine wrote,

    “This government, being a coalition with a majority of nearly 80, will likely make serious cuts quickly in order to get the unpopularity out of the way as soon as possible”

    So the government will likley do exactly what we, as a party, warned would be disastrous for Britain during the election campaign.

    Rantersparadise,

    If you really care about progressive politics in Britain, the smart thing to do is stay and fight, not waste your time with the billionaires’ benevolent party No 2 (Labour) or the “small is beautiful” Greens. The Liberal Democrats need clear-headed progressives more than ever. I solemnly predict that in 6 months time the contributors to this thread mouthing casuistic drivel about the Lib Dems having real power under Cameron will be wanting out. Let’s ensure that the Party stays in a fit state to receive them.

  • Patrick Smith 16th May '10 - 2:15pm

    As a founder member Liberal Democrat I support that the progressive new deal `Coalition Government’ be given a chance to coalesce around the L/D Manifesto pledges led by Nick Clegg in the Election.However, the sine qua non, is a robust national debate and vote in the Referendum for AV.

    My hopes are high that with a full mobilisation of supporters across all parties in progressive debate, an epoch breaking Voting Reform will then be passed by this Parliament and used to widen democracy for the next General Election on May 7th 2015.

    The opportunity exists today to foment the first Liberal Government reforms, albeit with the help of liberal inclined Tories, for the first time since 1910, when the passage of the `Peoples` Budget’ and reform of H of L`s under Lloyd-George involved national campaign to all regions and corners of the UK.

    I believe that the much overdue Voting Reform will join all progressive forces and supporters for this Fair Votes change.

    Our antiquated FPTP voting system has required reform since 1867 and will now become the target for the next great Reform Act for the British people, as a result of the `Coalition Agreement’..

  • Andrew Wimble 17th May '10 - 4:21pm

    I am glad to see that the party does seem to be united over this. There have already been press reports talking about the way that the coilition splitting the party into two factions. The results of this poll and the conference show that this is simply not true. Given the scope of what has been agreed I think the level of agreement is remarkable.

    On a personal note beling so closely linked with the Tories makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but given the ballence of seats I think it was the best deal we could have hoped for.

    The coilition gives Britain the stable government we need , promises to roll back at least some of labours attacks on civil liberties, promises to free our schools, hospitals and police from central beaurocracy, at least to some extent and is even taking the first steps on the road towards electoral reform.

    We have been forced to accept some elements of Tory economics that I would have prefered to avoid, but at least we have obtained agreement that a tax cut for low and middle incomes takes priority over a tax cut for the rich. It looks like the Tories have pretty much got their own way ove Europe and Trident, but they did get the most votes and seats. We have to accept that they have the right to insist on at least some of their policies as part of a coliltion deal.

    As far as nuclear power goes, that is one area where I disagree with Liberal Democrat policy, as I have always felt that a ballenced emergy supply from many different sources is the best approach, although it should move more and more towards truely renewable resources as technology allows.

  • Andrew Suffield Says;
    Posted 15th May 2010 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
    No Labour/Anti Tory voter will vote Lib Dem again

    Who are they going to vote for instead, the Tories? It’s just posturing.

    Andrew, Take note: WE, THE TACTICAL VOTERS WILL VOTE LABOUR, GREENS OR OTHER PROGRESSIVE PARTIES. AFTER ALL A VOTE FOR LIB-DEMS IS A VOTE FOR THE TORIES. GET IT?????

  • Lady J:

    What makes you think that Labour is a “progressive” party?

  • Ben D
    Posted 16th May 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink
    I think it is highly possible, that less Labour voters will vote tactically for Lib Dems in Con/LD marginals, but on the other hand, I think it is also highly possible, that more Conservative voters will vote tactically for Lib Dems in Lab/LD marginals. So you’ll lose some, you’ll gain some. But of course only time will tell how much.

    And if the AV will be approved in the referendum, that probably will also change the voting behaviours, but it’s way too early to say how.

    BEN,
    YOU ARE ON A WING AND A PRYER IF YOU THINK A TORY CAN BRING THEMSELVES TO VOTE FOR A LIB-DEM PPC. STOP LETTING THE ‘ORANGE BOOKERS’ LIB-DEMS PULL THE WOOL OVER YOUR EYES. THE ‘ORANGE’ DEMS HAVE HIJACKED THE PARTY JUST LIKE THE BLAIRITES DID. WAKE UP BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

  • Lorna Langdon, I suspect you are 100% right. From my observation of the Cameron leadership leads me to believe that David Cameron probably came to power in this way:

    1. He had approx 60 meetings witth the Unions and promise them that a Tory government led by him will work with them, to the point where Unite attempted to discredit Goirdo Brown over Leyland.

    2. He met with various celebrites and promise them that a Tory government led by him will work with them.

    3. He had meetig with various opposition parties and promise them that a Tory government led by him will work with them. Look back on a interviews held by members of the Lib-Dem Front Benchers. There was a concerted effort not to criticise Cameron. All the Lib-Dem fire power was directed at Gordon Brown. The Lib-Dems were bought long before the elections. You are just Clegg’s pawns in his efforts to assume power.

    4. He met with the Blairites and help them in their attempts to destroy Gordon Brown.

    4. He fired warning shots at the BBC and scared them ito supporting him and dangle the carrots of giving a portion of the BBC’s remit /license fees to Channel 4, ITV and Sky.

    Yes Lorna, You are right. Do not forget Nick Clegg worked for Ken Clark. He is a Lib-Dem first, a conservative second. He is no progressive.

  • If you look at the comments that were made along with the Yes/No (http://forum.libdemvoice.org/viewtopic.php?p=30052#30052), the general tone seems to be that while 91% voted that they’d back the party, their choice was as much to do with the circumstances than a genuine satisfaction with the coalition.

    The headline figure does appear to disguise a greater sense of reluctance to knock boots with the Tories, which (if so) could mean the 4% who want to quit over the issue might not be a hardline minority, but the thin end of a wedge, depending on robustness of the members’ sense of pragmatism.

    Perhaps the ballot should’ve had been laid out : “Yes” / “No” / “Don’t Know” / “Yes, but…”

    Kif

  • It must always come as some reassurance when you’ve decided to back a particular course (in my case, and that of the other 91%, backing Nick’s decision to form a coalition as the only reasonable thing to do under the circumstance) and those who favour an alternative make claims which are self discrediting. Before pointing out the flaws in Lady J’s claims I’d just like to mention that Norfolk Blogger has been engaging in sustained and more reasonable criticisms of the decision. I don’t buy his arguments either (I think most people are overlooking the fact that the comparison case; letting a Tory minority government rule, would have been worse as it would forseeably have led to a Tory majority) but I’d suggest those who wish to feel intellectually secure in their decision to support Nick should at least check out his arguments.

    Now

    1: Strikes action often precedes general elections and especially when Labour governments are in power. This is not because the strikers wish to put Labour out of office but rather because the perceive (perhaps rightly, perhaps not) that they have more leverage over a Labour government who will be under more pressure to settle quickly rather than look as if they are in hoc to the Unions. Go look at the 2001 or 1987 elections. The idea that Unite somehow engaged in strikes to undermine Labour is preposterous; why did they encourage their members to vote Labour? Why did they make their usual, sizeable donation to the campaign. Why would Charlie Wheelan, after a lifetime of the most tribal allegiance to Gordon Brown, suddenly turn on his master and support David Cameron. To make this claim demonstrates a detachment from any facts of the case.

    2: The only celebrity endorsements (though I’m sure they got others) I can remember the Tories getting were Simon Cowell towards the end of the campaign and Michael Caine. The latter was a targeted endorsement of their ‘national service’ policy (a silly bit of Red Tory whimsy which sounds like fascism but in reality is ‘optional training in running community programmes’ (why not just learn by doing)) and Caine has a long history of being ‘opposed to taxes’ so it isn’t at all surprising. By contrast Labour ads were celebrity packed and Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey and Ross Kemp were featured prominently throughout the campaign. That said I’m fairly sure celebrity endorsements are a bit of whimsy. We should have made more of the big name left-liberal names who wrote to endorse us in the Guardian IMHO but no matter ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/28/lib-dems-party-of-progress ). The celebrity claim makes little sense.

    3: The most enthusiastic backers of the ‘progressive alliance’ coalition, alongside members of the LibDems, were the SNP and to a lesser extent Plaid. The idea that they were in hoc with Cameron is ludicrous. This has even less plausibility when one considers Salmond (and the SNP) had more than anyone party leader outside David Cameron to gain from a Tory government and nevertheless threw his weight behind the progressive coalition, and now rightly is placing the blame on Labour for it not going ahead. What the campaign in your area targeted will have dependent on what the strategic considerations for your constituency were. I can tell you that the strategy for the second and third debates was (wrongly, in my view) to concentrate on attacking Gordon Brown, but this was to consolidate our gains made in the polls at the expense of Labour, not as some sort of arrangement with David Cameron.

    4: The ‘Blairites’ were those most actively engaged in supporting the Lib-Lab coalition talks (surprisingly), despite what Paddy is apparently now saying. The ‘Brownites’ in the form of Ed Balls were engaged in blocking it within talks and the backbenchers who came forward to say they wouldn’t support it were either from the left, Scottish and/or anti-electoral reform groups of the party (Tom Harris, John Reid, Diane Abbot, most of the other backbenchers who voiced opposition) or were independent Labour tribalists eager to regain some of their lost reputation (David Blunkett). Once the resignation of Brown had been secured the Blairites were the ones most enthusiastically backing the deal as the most likely candidate to take over from Brown would have been a charismatic centrist with credible credentials – David Milliband. You clearly (a) weren’t paying attention to who was saying what and (b) haven’t thought much about the internal dynamics of the Labour party.

    5: The right wing of the Tory party have hated the BBC for years; Thatcher was all set to dismantle it and had to be talked down by Willie Whitelaw. The BBC had more than anyone to lose from backing Cameron, why on earth would they have been ‘scared into supporting him’?

    6: Nick Clegg is not a conservative. He might be describable as a ‘market liberal’ (though that’s a term with dubious application these days) but this idea that anyone who contributed to the Orange Book is a closet Tory is an idea put about by a) journalists, b) people who haven’t read the Orange Book, c) people who don’t know the LibDems in question or d) all of the above. It’s true he’s not a fan of the state but then we’re a decentralizing party by nature, there’s nothing wrong with that. His major piece of EU legislation was to prevent deforestation as a result of illegal logging; hardly ‘pro-business conservatism’. If you can see parallels between where he and perhaps David Laws stand on the political spectrum and, say, Ken Clarke it is because Ken Clarke is an oddity in the Tory party and, it should be added, is socially conservative which neither Nick or David are. Both have been offered the prospects of rapid advancement in the Tory party before and both have declined on the grounds that they are liberals not conservatives. Nick, like a lot of liberals, is opposed to unnecessary state intervention in any level of government but is not, as most so-called market-liberals in the conservative party, against big government as an end in itself but is so only in so far as state intervention causes inefficiencies, waste or inadequate delivery of public services to the people who benefit from them. The pupil premium, I believe I’m right in saying, is Nick’s down policy inspired by Europe. I’d hoped this ‘Nick is a Tory’ rubbish is something we were rid of internally after the leadership election.

    Your claims hold no water, they demonstrate a lack of engagement with the facts please have a sit down and a cup of tea and stop needlessly whipping up hysteria.

  • “The general tone seems to be that while 91% voted that they’d back the party, their choice was as much to do with the circumstances than a genuine satisfaction with the coalition.” – This is true but you should bare in mind that many of the independent polls currently out (wrongly) pain the circumstances as having been a choice between Labour and the Tories. Now given that eventuality I’m not sure which I’d have picked (would you rather the devil or the deep blue sea?) but it’s an important detail that this wasn’t the choice at the time and that the choice was between a minority Tory government in the meantime with very plausibly a majority Tory government in the near future with no LibDem intervention or policy and the coalition deal we got. Given that I’m surprised the figure is as /low/ as 91%. I worry that the 9% may have been predicating their reluctance on one-or-other fantasy that either a Tory minority government would have upped and gone away in a few months, that a coalition with a disunited, discredited, stubborn and clearly recalcitrant Labour party was possible or that… what, the choice was a Lib-Con coalition or a Liberal majority?

    We’ve done great to get the policy concessions we’ve got thus far. And the amendments just passed will, I hope, act as indicators for those involved in managing the coalition what the party thinks are the further issues we wish to push on: we’d like the egregious parts of the DEbill repealed, we’d like LibDem MPs (perhaps just those not in ministerial posts might be a possible concession) to oppose rather than abstain on tuition fee increases, we aren’t happy about the homophobes the Tories keep appointing to various roles, we need to fight for the continued existence of the Human Rights Act and (if possible) for STV to be included as an option in an electoral reform referendum. These all seem like attainable objectives and I’m proud of my party for the way it’s handling this situation.

  • Duncan – I agree with your thinking that, given what the LDs are (or rather could be) getting out of the coalition, everyone in the party should’ve backed the deal. However, a lot of people just don’t like the Tories, and while the logical thing would be to snuggle up with them, people’s preferences aren’t always based on pure logic – otherwise everyone would vote tactically. Cameron recognised early on that the Tories were considered ‘The Nasty Party’, and I guess to many people they still are; for instance, I personally don’t have fond memories of being unemployed under the Tories.

    Twice.

    Beyond Cameron’s soothing words (which I think are probably genuine), the backbenchers in contrast seem no more progressive than before; the clue is in the name – “Conservative”. No sooner had the AV referendum been announced than the BBC were reporting that they were looking to block it. That’s not a good start. And how co-operative are they going to be on other issues? It seems not to be in Tory nature behind the Front Bench to cherish reform, less so if it comes from outside, and so I can sympathise with those who simply don’t trust the Conservatives sufficiently to want to be allied with them.

    The acid test, I suppose, is when we see LD policies entered into law, because at the moment we just have statements of intent. The Tory whips could be busy bunnies keeping the likes of Bill ‘Foaming Mouth’ Cash sedated for the next five years, while LD policies go before the House. It’ll be good to see, I agree, but I fear some Tory patiences will be sorely strained.

  • tony garstang 22nd May '10 - 12:01am

    I’m a Labour supporter who has often voted tactically to defeat the Tories (e.g. Southport 1997).
    My wife and I will never ever vote Lib Dem again.

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