EXCLUSIVE POLL: As Lib Dem conference begins, here’s what members think of the Coalition so far

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. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 80% to 17%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Changes since last time question asked, April 2014).

    80% (-1%) – Support
    17% (+1%) – Oppose
    3% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

No matter what the travails of the Coalition — and there have been plenty in the past four-and-a-half years — the high support for the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Conservatives hasn’t shifted significantly. We’ve asked this tracker question 20 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 pretty much bang in the middle of those, at 80%. The net support of +63% is the same as we recorded in December 2013.

Clegg’s leadership: net +2% satisfied

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

    12% – Very satisfied
    38% – Satisfied
    Total satisfied = 50% (-3%)
    25% – Dissatisfied
    23% – Very dissatisfied
    Total dissatisfied = 48% (+3%)
    2% – Don’t know / No opinion

Satisfaction among members with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party has dipped again: having plunged to just +1% a year ago, it recovered to +12% in December 2013. In April, before the local and European elections, it stood at +8% and now it’s just +2%.

clegg satisfaction sept 2014

54% 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?

    54% (-5%) – The right course
    36% (+4%) – The wrong track
    10% (+2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

The overall net satisfaction rating of the Lib Dems according to party members stands at +18% – down significantly on April’s +27% and the second lowest figure we’ve recorded during the Coalition. As recently as February 2012, the net satisfaction rating stood at whopping +49%: the month before the NHS Bill row. On the plus side, it’s not yet hit the rock bottom +9% recorded in September 2012 after the collapse of Lords reform.

Net +24% approval rating for Coalition’s record

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

    56% (-6%) – Approve
    32% (+4%) – Disapprove
    12% (+2%) – Don’t know

Approval of the Coalition Government’s record has taken a big hit since April – down from +34% to just +24%. That’s the same as it was a year ago, though better than the +4% of September 2012.

80% want the Coalition to last well into 2015

When would you like the Coalition to end?

    9% (n/c) – As soon as possible
    5% (-3%%) – It should end this year
    41% (+1%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans
    40% (n/c) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election
    3% (-1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election
    1% (+1%) – Don’t know / No opinion

As you might expect, given the strong continuing overall support for sticking with the Coalition, 4-in-5 (81%) party members actively want the Coalition to last well into 2015 — though there is a pretty even division on whether it should continue right up to the dissolution of parliament, or cease a decent interval beforehand to allow for full-on differentiation. Interestingly, though opposition to the Coalition stands at 17% according to our survey (see above), just 9% actually want the Coalition to come to an immediate end.

67% of party members expect Lib Dems to slip below 40 seats in 2015

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

    2% (n/c) – More than current 57 MPs
    6% (-5%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs
    21% (-7%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs
    37% (+6%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs
    30% (+7%) – Fewer than 30 MPs
    4% (n/c) – Don’t know

This is the sixth time we’ve asked this question. The first, in March 2013, was immediately after the Lib Dems’ tightly-fought 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 just 8%. In December 2013, a majority (52%) expected the party to hold at least 40 seats. This has now flipped, with two-thirds of Lib Dems (67%) now expecting the party to slip back below 40 seats in May 2015.

60% of 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 = 6%
    3 = 13%
    4 = 11%
    5 = 9%
    Lacking influence = 40% (+2%)
    6 = 20%
    7 = 25%
    8 = 11%
    9 = 3%
    10 = 1%
    Achieving influence = 60% (-2%)

By a pretty solid 3:2 ratio Lib Dem members are more likely to rate the Lib Dems as achieving influence within the Coalition – the 60% taking a positive view is a bit down on April’s 62%, but a bit up on a year ago (58%). Party members, in the main, seem to be buying the idea the Lib Dems are making a real difference – the question is whether the voters will do so by May 2015.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th 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 was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    51 Comments

    • I’m staggered at these results which doesn’t bode well for the future of the party. There are far too many coalition policies that run against basic Liberal Democrat principle and practice. I can only conclude that the vast majority of disgruntled members are no longer supporters of the party and have taken their membership elsewhere to leave the 80% (of what figure?) of Tory apologists. However the bigger issue remains in how the party will persuade voters to believe a word its says in the run up to the election after the humiliation of recanting on a signed pledge to scrap tuition fees.

    • Joshua Dixon 3rd Oct '14 - 11:26am

      48% dissatisfied with Clegg, ouch! However the really damning figure here is the one on the Coalition. If over a third of our members disagree with the course we’re being taken on and the record we have then that means we may have huge difficulties in motivating thousands of our members to go out and campaign on that very record.

    • @Vern

      Not Tory apologists, but those of who us think a solely Tory government would be worse than a government with LibDem influence.

    • It’s like chilling with the dinosaurs just before the meteor strikes, but by this point its entered our atmosphere and everyone’s getting an idea of what’s ahead! I think we’ll be able to go over these numbers after the election and have a percentage by which Lib Dems are predisposed to an unrealistically positive view (or perhaps what a miserable pessimist I am)!

    • David Allen 3rd Oct '14 - 12:00pm

      ATF,

      No doubt a substantial number of Lib Dem members think that the Lib Dems have a reasonable “excuse” for propping up the Tories. But how many people outside the Party, who don’t have to seek justification for what the Party has done, actually share those views?

      Last night’s Question Time saw, as usual, some loud pro-Tory cheers, some loud pro-Labour cheers, and some louder pro-UKIP cheers. But the loudest of all was a cheer for the view that the Lib Dems deserved to be punished at the next election for what they have done.

    • @David Allen

      It is clear that not many of them do share them, no denying that. I’d also say it is not an excuse, though I would of course say that, as I feel that we’d only need to make excuses if we had let the Tories try and govern solo. Would have been 1974 MkII but with a Tory majority later in ther year, with Cameron now at the beck and call of his most right-wing members. A tough message to sell? Without a doubt, and one we shouldn’t focus on – the next election is not about a current crisis like 2010, but the future.

      That means we must campaign harder than ever (which is a tall order for a party membership that already works incredibly hard to the point of insanity 🙂 ) and set out some radical, Liberal policies next week that show a) why a government with Liberals in is better than one without and that b) a soley Tory or Labour government would be a step-backwards.

    • Peter Chegwyn 3rd Oct '14 - 12:50pm

      Almost half the party’s own members dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their own leader.

      A third disapproving of the coalition’s record.

      Over a third saying the party is on the wrong track.

      Two-thirds expecting us to lose at least a third of our seats next May.

      All this after many thousands of disillusioned members have already quit the party since 2010.

      And with the party support falling as low as 6 per cent in this week’s opinion polls.

      All pretty depressing really.

      Still, at least there’s the Clacton and Heywood by-elections to look forward to next week.

    • John Roffey 3rd Oct '14 - 1:54pm

      These are the odds currently offered for the various categories on ‘number of seats’:

      2% (n/c) – More than current 57 MPs [25/1]
      6% (-5%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs {20/1]
      21% (-7%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs [7/1]
      37% (+6%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs [ 7/4]
      30% (+7%) – Fewer than 30 MPs 21-30 [9/4] 11-20 [5/1] 0-10 [14/1]
      4% (n/c) – Don’t know

      As you can see there is plenty of cash to be made for those who are convinced the Party will hold more than 50 seats – 33 to 34 seats has the lowest odds.

      With the latest polls showing CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%.[? Greens] and Heywood and Middleton showing – CON 13%(-14), LAB 50%(+10), LDEM 4%(-19), UKIP 31%(+28) – I do wonder what members believe is going to happen between now and the election that is going to improve the Party’s fortunes rather than them to continue to decline.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 3rd Oct '14 - 2:27pm

      Now the Tories are going to remove our Human rights and force benefit claimants into the 21st Century equivalent of the Truck System. Do 80% of the Liberal Democrats really support these people? Do they really wish to continue with them right through until the next election? If so, it’s no wonder that Charlie Kennedy’s once decent and humane party is now languishing at 6% in the polls.

    • Paul In Wokingham 3rd Oct '14 - 2:31pm

      @Peter Chegwyn : Still, at least there’s the Clacton and Heywood by-elections to look forward to next week.

      Is there a hint of sarcasm there?

      This morning I tried googling “Lib Dem Heywood by-election”. I found virtually nothing – the top links were to LDV. Our candidate, Anthony Smith has clearly had his own website for some time at http://www.anthonysmith.org.uk and he has modified the front page to say that he is our candidate.

      With the greatest respect to Anthony Smith who I am sure is a good candidate, what is the central party doing to prevent what the polls are predicting will be yet another lost deposit in a seat where we won 23% of the vote in 2010?

      And as Bill Le Breton asks elsewhere – what exactly is Ryan Coetzee doing? He appears to be the Scarlet Pimpernel of LibDemmery.

    • @mack (Not a Lib Dem)

      “Do 80% of the Liberal Democrats really support these people? ”

      As I wrote above, no. We support the idea that a government with LibDems in is better than one made up solely of Tories. One thing we can certainly agree on though Mack is that the Tory party conference was horrific viewing and showed further evidence why there should never be a solely Tory government.

    • jedibeeftrix 3rd Oct '14 - 3:24pm

      @ mack – ” Now the Tories are going to remove our Human rights”

      Lol, a trifle melodramatic doncha think?

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 3rd Oct '14 - 4:29pm

      @ATF

      “We support the idea that a government with LibDems in is better than one made up solely of Tories”

      Better for what? Imposing the Bedroom Tax? Privatizing the NHS? Reneging on the Tuition Fees pledge? Creating a million people dependent on food banks? And that’s just for starters! Without the Liberal Democrats there would not have been a Tory government. The Liberal Democrats are there purely as lobby fodder. Apparently, Nick Clegg wasn’t even consulted by Cameron before he announced in Downing Street on the morning after the referendum that enhanced Scottish devolution was to proceed in tandem with the solving of the West Lothian Question and English votes on English Issues by English MPs.

      But the British public certainly know what the Liberal Democrats have been doing these past five years. That’s why you are at 6%.

    • Frank Booth 3rd Oct '14 - 4:44pm

      People need to get real. 30 Lib Dems won’t have a huge influence in a coalition with 300 Tories. They’ll have most of the government jobs and get most of what they want. Is it possible that some Lib Dem MPs could leave the Party and stand as independents in their constituencies? If they have a strong personal vote, might they not win? It might prove a better anti-tory unifier.

    • “Better for what? Imposing the Bedroom Tax? Privatizing the NHS? Reneging on the Tuition Fees pledge? Creating a million people dependent on food banks? And that’s just for starters! ”

      I hate the Tories , and think the Lib Dems are a sad joke, But the idea that your party in Gov’t will do any better is absurd.

      We are currently spending £95 billion more each year than raising in revenue. Our overall debt is approaching one and half trillion, And your leader forgets to mention it in his big speech.

      God help us when you form the next Gov’t which you will. It will be tax and spend from you guys. Spending other people’s money, pi**ing it away. Always has been with Labour, always will be.. And the debt will balloon. And since you will lose the confidence of the international markets our interest payments will become unaffordable, and sterling will crater.

      That’s what you will do. But all three mainstream parties have totally lost the plot. There has been a catastrophic failure of the entire political class. And none of you, no-one, has a realistic way forward.

    • Frank Booth 3rd Oct '14 - 5:09pm

      simon – Labour’s fiscal plans are no different from the Lib Dems. They’ve been cowed by the media and other forces from offering anything radical even if they wanted to. Silly of Miliband to forget it in his speech but I do have sympathy. The narrow minded focus of the coalition strategy of deficit reduction has understandably seen the left reluctant to talk about it. They don’t want to play the Tories on their own barren turf. If the great John Maynard Keynes was still alive he’d point out that the real crisis in 2010 was the threat of a long term slump not an immediate government borrowing crisis. It’s sad to see his own party abandoning his ideas, although they at least live on in another, admittedly flawed party, Labour.

    • Paul in Wokingham repeats the question from Bill Le Breton – what exactly is Ryan Coetzee doing?

      Nobody here seems to know the answer. Is anyone ale to offer an answer??????

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 3rd Oct '14 - 6:13pm

      @ Simon
      “There has been a catastrophic failure of the entire political class.”

      No. There has been a catastrophic failure of the banking and financial system. That’s why we’re in this mess. The bankers took our money and gambled with it at the banking sector equivalent of the casino tables and lost big time. Yet, the Tories aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, have managed, quite successfully, it must be admitted, to convey the notion that this catastrophic global failure was somehow Labour’s fault. They both recite the tired old mantra “It was all Labour’s mess.” Thankfully, like so many chimeras promoted by the Coalition, the public don’t believe it. Which explains why the Liberal Democrats accrued 9 lost deposits; 1,500 councillors and are down to one MEP.

      If the normally discerning British public were so dissatisfied with labour’s economic management why did they give us three successive opportunities from 1997 until 2010 to wreck the British Economy? Each time with huge majorities? I think you’ll find that when Gordon Brown was Chancellor Debt was substantially reduced. Gordon Brown reduced John Major’s public sector net debt from 42.5% of GDP in 1996-7 to 30.7% of GDP in 2001. Even at the time of the global crash public sector debt was just over 35% of GDP. Gordon Brown was famous for his “prudence” Your attempt to characterise Labour as “Tax and Spend” is not accurate. But it sounds good. Just like the Tory mantra that the Global Financial crisis was all labour’s mess. Unlike the Tories and UKIP at the next General Election, Labour will not be promising egregious and unfunded tax cuts funded on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable, impoverishing them even further, whilst the fat cats get away scot free. All Labour’s policies will be costed. Your characterisation of Labour as “tax and spend” is completely inaccurate.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 3rd Oct '14 - 6:15pm

      Should read: “lost 1,500 councillors”

    • John Roffey 3rd Oct '14 - 6:37pm

      @ mack (Not a Lib dem)

      Will Labour be taking action against the multinationals to ensure that they pay their fair share of corporation tax [or equivalent]? Or will they too want to kick the issue into the long grass as Osborne has done?

      Will Labour be supporting the EU in its intention to sign up to TTIP or will they be opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the powers this grants US corporations to over-ride decisions made at Westminster?

      Why did Brown bail out the banks and why did he not offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? Why did he support the invasion of Iraq when our inspectors [David Kelly] knew that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction?

    • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Oct '14 - 6:59pm

      mack (Not a Lib dem)

      Better for what? Imposing the Bedroom Tax? Privatizing the NHS? Reneging on the Tuition Fees pledge? Creating a million people dependent on food banks? And that’s just for starters! Without the Liberal Democrats there would not have been a Tory government.

      Er, no. Without the Liberal Democrats there would have been a pure Tory government. The destruction of the Liberal Democrats WILL lead to that, possibly even after the next election, seeing that the Tories are now in the lead in the polls.

      If you look at Tory discussion sites, you find they are fuming at the Liberal Democrats, and you will find Cameron and the like constantly attacked for “rolling over and giving in to the Liberal Democrats”. Isn’t it weird that while many people are saying “the LibDems have rolled over and given in to the Tories, so I’m voting UKIP next time”, right-wing Tory MPs are saying “the Conservative Party has rolled over and given in to the LibDems, so I’m defecting to UKIP”?

      I’ve made no secret of my unhappiness at the way the coalition has been used and promoted by the leadership of the Liberal Democrats. However, I despair at the impossibility of getting a sensible and constructive discussion on this, and to develop a way forward that gets rid of that leadership and brings the LibDems back to where they should be, due to the fact that so much of the outside criticism of them is completely unrealistic.

      It would be nice to think there was a big left-wing majority out there in the population that would support the sort of policies that you and I would like to see, mack. Sadly, however, look at that opinion poll today. Cameron proposes big tax cuts that MUST lead to policies which are like what you mention above, but even worse, because they can only be paid for by even more spending cuts, and his party goes to the top of the polls. Miliband proposes a very timid form of increased taxation of the sort that is needed to a much bigger extent if we are SERIOUSLY to deal with the social problems that are causing so much misery now, and even members of his own party attack him for it.

      If you want better state services, full subsidy for higher education, and so on, you need to find a majority that will support the taxation needed to pay for it. What you say seems to suggest the Liberal Democrats could have found such a majority in the current Parliament. Can you explain where? Of course, they COULD have voted against tuition fees, but if there’s no majority for the taxation to carry in subsidising universities then what? No money to pay for them, hence they all get closed down.

      A realistic discussion needs to talk along these lines in order to propose a realistic alternative to what we have now, and to gain majority support for it in this country. “Nah nah nah nah nah” without anything else won’t do that.

    • John Broggio 3rd Oct '14 - 7:02pm

      @JR

      What I suspect will happen, if Labour is elected is:
      Not nearly enough; NuLab apparatchiks will; Will likely roll over to TTIP; Because the entire “free” & “independent” media, City & remainder of the Establishment were threatening the end of the world if he didn’t and predicting the end of NuLab in government if he did; Because it paid for him to keep quiet on the inside rather than shouting from the outside.

      I hope to be proved wrong about, at least, some of the above.

    • John Roffey 3rd Oct '14 - 7:39pm

      @ John Tilley

      “Paul in Wokingham repeats the question from Bill Le Breton – what exactly is Ryan Coetzee doing?”

      If you recall RC’s terms of reference were:

      Purpose:
      To develop and lead the delivery of a strategy that will allow the Liberal Democrats to maximise their success in the 2015 General Election and to come out of the election as a party of government for a historic second time.

      There is no obvious suggestion that the number of seats held by the Party should be increased – and judging from the results of this members survey – one might conclude that the members view RC as a top man – at present.

      Whether this view will be retained after the GE is another matter, but he will be better off by around £0.25m.

      Did Cameron recommend that RC be engaged by the Party to NC – it does appear that it is the Tories who have been the main beneficiaries to his employment by the Party!

    • Leekliberal 3rd Oct '14 - 7:47pm

      @ mack (Not a Lib dem) – You are getting seriously sanctimonious! I offer you a deal. How about me not holding you responsible for the death of over 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens plus a number of British soldiers , as a a Labour apologist and you becoming a little less critical about our minority role in dealing with the huge economic mess bequethed to us after the last election by Labour that forced us to accept a number of Tory policies of which we instinctively disapproved.

    • Paul in Wokingham 3rd Oct '14 - 8:05pm

      @John Roffey – that’s a most entertaining suggestion.

      RC is employed to ensure that the Lib Dems are still in government after GE 2015. So his “strategy” is to do absolutely nothing except sit on his hands, hoping and expecting that the dedication and commitment of our remaining activist base (even though many of them are profoundly unhappy with the direction of travel of the party) will ensure that a sufficiently large cohort of LD MPs is returned to meet his defined objectives.

      Bish bosh. Job done.

    • Stephen Hesketh 3rd Oct '14 - 8:09pm

      AM I ALONE IN BEING TOTALLY MIFFED AND NON-PLUSSED BY THE ENGLISH DEVOLUTION OPTIONS PRESENTED TO US IN THE LATEST MEMBERS POLL?

      Not even the opportunity to enter free text!!!

      Some very serious ‘city-centric’ issues with this set of questions.

    • Fifty-five percent do not want the Lib Dems to fight the 2015 elections by the Tories’ side, as part of the coalition government. But as those 55% do not, apparently, include Nick Clegg, their will is unlikely to be heeded.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 3rd Oct '14 - 8:30pm

      @ Leekliberal
      ” I offer you a deal. How about me not holding you responsible for the death of over 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens plus a number of British soldiers , as a a Labour apologist and you becoming a little less critical about our minority role in dealing with the huge economic mess bequethed to us after the last election by Labour that forced us to accept a number of Tory policies of which we instinctively disapproved.”

      I think that’s what’s termed a begged question.

    • Peter Watson 3rd Oct '14 - 8:31pm

      “what exactly is Ryan Coetzee doing”
      Perhaps there are some clues here: https://twitter.com/RyanCoetzee
      Looks like he’s .. errr. Nope. What exactly is Ryan Coetzee doing?

    • Peter Watson 3rd Oct '14 - 8:34pm

      “what exactly is Ryan Coetzee doing”
      Got it: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-coetzee/56/45b/60b
      Since August, he is “Working with the GE team to design and drive a strategy for the general election in May 2015.”
      So there you go.

    • @mack

      “Without the Liberal Democrats there would not have been a Tory government.”

      Tell the public that, more of them voted Tory and elected more Tories than anyone else. It would have been 1974 all over again if the coalition hadn’t been formed. We may not like it, but I’m going to accept a democratic result and not pretend it didn’t happen. You can do as you please.

    • I’m generally supportive of the coalition but regretful for the ineptness shown by the party, or more accurately, its leadership. It’s the fees, pensions and nuclear power self inflicted injuries that have alienated much of the membership and led to the electoral disasters. The slavish unionist stance in Scotland also points to leadership lost to its members. Unfortunately for the ‘grandees’ they will need us soon.

    • John Roffey 4th Oct '14 - 6:25am

      @ John Broggio

      The problem with TTIP is its secrecy. 38 Degrees, a petition campaigning oganisation gives this summary:

      “… one of the most dangerous trade deals you may never have heard of – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP for short.

      It’s a deal between the US and the EU that would make privatisation of our services like the NHS and National Rail irreversible. It’ll also allow big corporations to sue our government if it makes changes to the law which affect businesses’ profits – like raising the minimum wage.

      TTIP is being negotiated behind closed doors. But thanks to 38 Degrees members the secrecy around it has finally been lifted. We took to the streets in our thousands a few weeks ago. And now, finally, the media and politicians have started to talk about it – openly.

      But now we need to take the fight against TTIP straight to the people who have the power to scupper it – our MEPs, the people who represent us in Europe.

      The plan in the UK is simple. Thousands of 38 Degrees members will take to the streets again.”

      Here are some articles which provide more details – I understand that, currently, the Party’s position is supportive!

      http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/09/ttip-biggest-threat-democracy-youve-never-heard

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/14/ttip-deal-british-sovereignty-cameron-ukip-treaty

      http://rosalux.gr/sites/default/files/publications/ttip_web.pdf

    • Matthew Huntbach 4th Oct '14 - 8:32am

      mack (Not a Lib dem)

      The bankers took our money and gambled with it at the banking sector equivalent of the casino tables and lost big time. Yet, the Tories aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, have managed, quite successfully, it must be admitted, to convey the notion that this catastrophic global failure was somehow Labour’s fault

      Yes, and I believe the Liberal Democrat leadership has acted in a contemptible way by doing this. It is just the sort of “nah nah nah nah nah” approach to politics that I have condemned elsewhere when it comes from Labour. I do not believe they had the authority from the party members through its democratic mechanism to do this. The formation of the coalition came about out of necessity because it was the only stable government that cold be formed. Accepting that does not mean we should become cheerleaders for the Conservative Party in all matters of politics, abandoning a neutral approach to both the two big parties which we had before that.

      You are quite correct that there was a global financial crisis, it hit all countries, so to suggest it was just the fault of the Labour government of this country at the time is to throw away any sense of political balance, it is to act in a way that shuts down decent discussion because decent discussion cannot be had if people throw around silly and untrue political insults rather than look at the reality of the situation.

      Labour threw a lot of money into supporting the bank system at the time, but to blame them for the debt consequence is hypocritical when the other parties said nothing at the time which suggested they would not have acted similarly had they been in power then. Attacking them for this is the same sort of thing as Labour attacking the current government for what it has had to do to get the budget books balanced but saying nothing at all about what they would do instead because they know perfectly well that had they been in power they would be forced to do much the same.

      I deliberately did not engage in this sort of destructive knockabout politics when I was Leader of the Opposition to Labour in the London Borough of Lewisham. When arguing with them, I would always look at the situation and think “What would I be doing if I were in their situation?”. And if I realised it would have to be much the same, I would not shout out political insults at them for doing it. I would not say how dirty and rotten they were for making cuts if I could not propose alternative budget possibilities which would have avoided those cuts. Some might have said this was a poor and weak approach to politics, and it is most certainly not the one Labour adopts when it is the opposition to the Liberals in councils. However, during that time we did go up from 3 councillors to 18 councillors.

      So, I apologise for what the leaders of the Liberal Democrats have done here, for their adopting the same sort of “nah nah nah nah nah” approach that I condemn when you adopt it. As a member of the party, I assure you it is not in my name and not with my support.

    • Matthew Huntbach 4th Oct '14 - 8:50am

      mack (Not a Lib dem)

      If the normally discerning British public were so dissatisfied with labour’s economic management why did they give us three successive opportunities from 1997 until 2010 to wreck the British Economy? Each time with huge majorities?

      Huge majority? In 2005 Labour candidates received just 35% of the overall vote, less than Conservative candidates received overall in 2010.

      So, there we have it. You think it acceptable that a party with only just over a third of the vote should have its representation twisted up so that it gets a “huge majority” of MPs. Why then do you think it is so wrong that we have a Conservative-dominated government now when the Conservatives had a bigger share of the vote in 2010 than Labour had in 2005? Even if the Liberal Democrats had just “rolled over and supported the Conservatives” and done nothing at all to try and modify their policies, wouldn’t they just be doing what you seem to think is fine – allowing a party with well under half the share of the vote to have complete power because it is the largest party?

      In the next election it may well be the case that the Conservatives get 35% of the vote (that was the figure they were on in the last opinion poll) and that translates to a “huge majority” of MPs, thanks to the electoral system that the Labour Party supports. Why is supporting that electoral system with this sort of consequence any different from the “propping up the Tories” that you abuse the Liberal Democrats for doing? Because you support an electoral system which in most cases advantages the Tories giving them many more MPs than their share of the vote, and which prevents other parties from breaking through, it is YOU who are the long-term proppers-up of the Tories.

    • Most interesting figure for me is – 3% (-1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election.

      Nick Clegg needs to here this figure- we cannot have another coalition for a while – we will need to rebuild the party

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 1:13pm

      @ATF

      I said: “Without the Liberal Democrats there would not have been a Tory government.”

      You said “Tell the public that, more of them voted Tory and elected more Tories than anyone else. It would have been 1974 all over again if the coalition hadn’t been formed. We may not like it, but I’m going to accept a democratic result and not pretend it didn’t happen. You can do as you please.”

      The vote was a democratic result but what happened afterwards, in my view, was completely undemocratic.. Why? Because the 2010 general election was held under First Past The Post. (FPTP) A system, thanks to Clegg’s ineptitude in accepting only AV, that has now been overwhelmingly endorsed by referendum. The rules of FPTP are brutal but clear: if you don’t pass the winning post (326 seats) you haven’t won. Cameron failed to get past the winning post by 20 seats. (Despite, incidentally, the most propitious circumstances for a Tory leader: after 13 years of a Labour government, with the Tory Press attack dogs in full cry) Instead of taking the democratic route and forming a minority government, Cameron looked around for lobby fodder to bolster up his failed attempt at power and found an enthusiastic group of leading Liberal Democrats who were more than willing to abandon old antagonisms and their principles for the heady aphrodisiac of power. Together the Tories and the Lib Dems stitched together a Coalition Agreement that included, amongst other things, the commitment to democratise Primary Care Trusts; democratise, that is, not abolish them. Unfortunately, the Tory sharks failed to inform the Lib Dem minnows that Andrew Landsley had been working for seven years on the privatisation of the NHS. The Coalition Agreement, a manifesto for government concocted by the Tories and Lib Dems was never put to the electorate for its approval. In a true democracy that should have been sine qua non.. The Coalition formed a government and the Coalition Agreement, an agreement that no-one had voted for, was outrageously reneged on in all areas, but particularly in respect of the NHS, which, despite commitments to no-top down reorganisation, was reorganised root and branch to make it more amenable to privatisation. If the Liberal democrats had not agreed to their Faustian pact with the Tories they would not have attracted the obloquy of being the party who enabled the Tories to privatise the NHS, impose the bedroom tax, create a million people dependent on food banks, deprive the poor, the the sick and the disabled of the pittance they received in benefits whilst granting huge tax cuts to millionaires. That’s why I say that without the Liberal Democrats there would have been no Tory government. The Liberal Democrats may wish to campaign in 2015 on the basis that their Coalition never existed but Labour are not going to allow them to forget it.

    • nvelope2003 4th Oct '14 - 1:28pm

      What a refreshing change to read Matthew Huntbach’s comments but I fear the views of mack (not a Liberal Democrat) will most likely prevail. Why are the voters so likely to be taken in by this sort of thing ? Maybe it is because the press are so overwhelmingly and violently hostile to the Liberal Democrats and this must have some effect on voters. Clearly the Conservatives and Labour hate us with great vehemence because we are a threat to their prospects of one party government. Some of their supporters seem to glory in having 100% control of local authorities even though thousands of voters must have voted for other parties but have no voice in the council chamber.

      I was fairly optimistic about our prospects until recently but support seems to be declining as the election approaches and a miracle will be needed to keep a significant presence in the House of Commons unless something happens which gives the Liberal Democrats renewed public support. The electorate seems to be moving to the right and the Labour and Conservative parties feel they have to reflect that in their policies to stop the advance of UKIP. The Liberal Democrats are being crushed in this process and have not helped themselves by supporting this hopeless attempt to appease the US by assisting in the bombing in the Middle East which will most likely do no good at all.

      The problem is not that we have done wicked things in Government but that the electorate do not find us relevant.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 3:44pm

      @ John Roffey

      “Will Labour be taking action against the multinationals to ensure that they pay their fair share of corporation tax [or equivalent]?”

      I certainly hope so.

      “Will Labour be supporting the EU in its intention to sign up to TTIP or will they be opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the powers this grants US corporations to over-ride decisions made at Westminster?”

      I certainly hope so otherwise we’ll see our NHS obliterated and U.K. governments made impotent by the threat of legal action by global corporations. That’s why I signed the 38 degrees petition.

      “Why did Brown bail out the banks?”

      Use your imagination. Because he wanted to avoid the run on Northern Rock multiplied to the power of I don’t -know -what and the consequent breakdown of law and order throughout society when all the banks shut their doors. It would have made the London riots (which took place under the Coalition, remember) look like a harmless scuffle.

      “and why did he not offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?”

      For the same reason, I suppose, that the Tories did not feel it necessary to offer a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. Or the reason they betrayed the electorate over their promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. There was no constitutional requirement to do so.

      Why did he support the invasion of Iraq when our inspectors [David Kelly] knew that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction?

      I don’t know whether Gordon knew that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction any more than you do. Saddam’s behaviour towards the weapons inspectors certainly indicated that he had something to hide. But WMD’s were apparently not the reason Gordon supported the invasion of Iraq. He thought that getting rid of Saddam was the right thing to do because he would not honour his international obligations .
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8524315.stm Presumably, this was just as the Liberal Democrats and the Tories felt when they tried to persuade the Commons to agree to bomb Syria after those chemical weapons attacks that, at the time, no one could prove were the work of Assad. . Incidentally, I’ve always suspected that Saddam got his chemical weapons out of Iraq and smuggled them to Assad and others in the region. He kept fobbing the weapons inspectors off to stall for time to accomplish this. That’s why we never found any.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 3:51pm

      Correction: should read “….after those chemical weapons attacks which, at the time,

    • John Roffey 4th Oct '14 - 4:38pm

      @ mack (Not a Lib dem)

      I don’t agree with most of your responses, but won’t go into any further discussion on past issues as they cannot now be changed, apart from saying I was very disappointed that the Lib/Dems has been involved in any support for aggression in the Middle East after originally voting against the invasion of Iraq.

      I will, however, ask you to provide any links where leading officials of your party show that they are determined to collect currently avoidable, corporation tax from the multinationals – primarily because if a substantial part of this were collected a far greater amount, as is needed, could be pumped into the NHS and welfare provisions.

      I would also like to see any links showing that your Party is determined to prevent TTIP being agreed – since this deal would scupper the NHS. If this cannot be demonstrated then it is clear that your leader is presently simply feigning concern for the Service for short-term political gain.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 4:39pm

      @ Mathew Huntbach

      “Of course, they COULD have voted against tuition fees, but if there’s no majority for the taxation to carry in subsidising universities then what? No money to pay for them, hence they all get closed down.”

      Do you really think that Labour, that bailed out the banks, would not have bailed out the universities?

      If the Liberal Democrats had let the Tories govern as a minority government instead of going into coalition with them, they could have voted against the increase in tuition fees and then gone back to the country seeking a mandate for that taxation., once the Tories had realised that their government was untenable and called a quick general election. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats could then have gone to the country promising to halve the deficit over a single parliament to avoid unnecessary austerity for those who could least afford it. Instead, despite agreeing with Labour before the election that the deficit should be halved in the course a one parliament, the Liberal Democrats changed their tune, characterised the deficit as Labour’s mess, conveniently forgot their promise to halve the deficit, and threw in their lot with Osborne’s pernicious policy of wiping out the deficit in a single parliament with its corollary of huge cuts in the welfare state. and enormous hardship for millions of people. Where was the mandate for that, other than the one the Tories were given by default by the action of the Lib Dems in bolstering them up in a coalition?

      @Mathew Huntbach
      “Nah nah nah nah nah” without anything else won’t do that.”

      That’s unworthy, of you, Mathew. Such a charge would be justified if I were some Johnny cum lately on this site glorifying in the Lib Dem’s demise. But you know very well that I have been posting on here since 2010, urging the Liberal Democrats after every election defeat, every lost deposit, to extricate themselves from the Coalition. Predicting dire consequences for them electorally if they didn’t and berating them for abandoning their principles.
      Why should I do that? Well, for a start, some traditional Labour left wingers in my family were so disgusted with New Labour that they actually voted Liberal Democrat at the last election. Despite their hope that here was something truly better, they suddenly found that they had been betrayed and had voted, by default, for a Conservative government. But, secondly, there have always been Liberal Democrat policies that I and other Labour people have approved of and there still are. For example, the Lib Dem ideas on prisoner welfare and education that Simon Hughes was adumbrating at your conference earlier. And of course, there is the Mansion Tax, which I am very glad to say that Labour have adopted (Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery). The greatest irony is that when the Liberal Democrats entered into their Molotov/Ribbentrop pact Labour gave them the opportunity to vote in favour of the Mansion Tax and they refused, because they were too frightened of offending their Tory masters. That has been the story of this Coalition and it is the Liberal Democrats’ tragedy. That’s why the “anything else” you speak of is “get out of the coalition” as a first principle. Even now. Then Liberal Democrats like you still might salvage something and give us the kind of country that we both want.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 4:44pm

      @ Mathew Huntbach

      I forgot to add that Osborne’s policy of wiping out the deficit in a single parliament, despite putting tremendous pressure on our social fabric, has completely failed.

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 4:51pm

      @ Mathew Huntbach

      “In the next election it may well be the case that the Conservatives get 35% of the vote (that was the figure they were on in the last opinion poll) and that translates to a “huge majority” of MPs, thanks to the electoral system that the Labour Party supports. ”

      Not just the Labour Party. You seem to have forgotten that an overwhelming majority of British people supported First Past the Post when they were given the opportunity of abandoning it for AV at the recent referendum. And after what I have witnessed of Coalition Politics as practised by the Liberal Democrats I’m very glad they did. At least FPTP reduces the prospect of coalitions to a minimum.

    • paul barker 4th Oct '14 - 5:37pm

      The Tories have been averaging 32 or 33% for a long time now, in fact their level of ” support” has changed little over the last 3 years. Even if they got 35% next May that is nowhere near enough for a majority unless Labour get 24% or below, they need a lead of 11% just to get a bare majority. By far the most likely result is another hung Parliament with both Labour & Tories badly split. Expect more defections & re-alignements.

    • Richard Harris 4th Oct '14 - 5:57pm

      Wow…for me the striking stat is that almost half the party membership think that the LD are not getting a good return in influencing the government. This is why I cannot vote for them again no matter how socially responsible their policies are during conference because i cannot be sure that the party leadership could be trusted to see the policies through. Sorry, but I made that mistake last time.

    • I am frequently annoyed at the LibeDem Parliamentary party, but I’m amazed that party members have failed to include Iain Duncan Smith in their favourability. What is wrong you?

    • mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct '14 - 10:43pm

      @Simon Shaw

      No, I oppose coalitions because they dilute a party’s core principles, as evidenced by what happened to the Lib Dems . If FPTP minimises the possibility of coalitions I am all for it.

    • “mack (Not a Lib dem) 4th Oct ’14 – 10:43pm

      @Simon Shaw

      No, I oppose coalitions because they dilute a party’s core principles, as evidenced by what happened to the Lib Dems . If FPTP minimises the possibility of coalitions I am all for it.”

      In the days of Tory or Lab both getting over 40-45% of the vote, perhaps. But those days are gone. Four party politics is simply a fact of life and I don’t see that changing in the forseeable future. Every party would love to govern alone, but we must follow the democratic mandate. Vive Democracy, etc.

    • Gareth Hartwell 6th Oct '14 - 1:55pm

      > However the really damning figure here is the one on the Coalition. If over a third of our members disagree with the course we’re being taken on and the record we have then that means we may have huge difficulties in motivating thousands of our members to go out and campaign on that very record.

      Yes, this is why we will only get ~30 seats, maybe even lower. All of the higher forecasts are assuming a big boost from the usual Lib Dem campaigning and fail to take account of the fact that half of the party members and supporters are not motivated to put in the effort they usually do.

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