Ed Balls is as unpopular as the Conservative Party with Lib Dem members.

Ed Balls MP, Denton - (Labour Leadership Campaign) - 2010Lib 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. More than 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

95% of Lib Dem members view Ukip unfavourably, compared to 85% for Tories, 71% for Labour and 37% for the Greens

I’m a fan of the polling company ComRes’s ‘Favourability Index’, which asks the public whether they view the parties and their leading figures favourably or not. It gives a much more accurate read-out of perceptions, I think, than asking (for instance) if people think X is doing a good job as leader of Y. After all, it’s quite possible to think that Nigel Farage is doing a pretty good job for Ukip (the occasional interview car-crash excepted) while still never, ever wanting to vote for him.

So I thought I’d try it in our recent survey, asking our sample of Lib Dem members the following question – Please indicate whether you have a favourable or unfavourable view of each of the following political leaders and parties… – about the major parties (Conservative, Labour, Ukip, Green, SNP) and their leaders (Cameron, Miliband, Farage, Bennett, Salmond) as well as the Chancellor / Shadow Chancellor (Osborne / Balls) and Home Secretary / Shadow Home Secretary. (I forgot to include Hague and Alexander as Foreign Secretary and his shadow: will add next time we ask this question.)

Here’s the topline Net Favourability ratings – ie, the total number of people favourably inclined minus those unfavourably inclined. As you’ll see every party and every politician we asked about has a negative net favourability score among Lib Dem members:

lib dem members favourability index april 2014

No surprise that Ukip and its leader are viewed most unfavourably – though interesting that Ed Balls is rated only slightly more favourably than Nigel Farage and ties with the Conservative Party, both on -81%!

Overall, Labour (at -60% net favourability) is a little less unpopular among Lib Dems, though pretty much on a par with George Osborne, a result which surprised me. Ed Miliband, however, is less favourably rated than David Cameron.

The Green Party and its leader Natalie Bennett are the least unfavourably viewed pairing by some distance (though in the case of Bennett only 38% expressed a view at all).

You can see the breakdown of the favourability ratings in the graph below (red denotes unfavourable, green favourable):

lib dem members favourability index april 2014 - 1

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
  • 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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    15 Comments

    • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 17th May '14 - 8:17am

      I’m absolutely gobsmacked at the highly negative rates for Alex Salmond. The Government he leads still pretty popular north of the border. His own personal popularity is taking a bit of a dive, but he’s still the most popular politician in Scotland.

      The reason I’m gobsmacked is that so often Lib Dems from England and Wales have told me that the SNP and Salmond come across very well to them. Their opinion was very favourable and they would generally have none of any idea that the SNP was not a bunch of cuddly teddy bears. They’re actually a broader church than we are and that’s saying something. On the fringes, you have the nasty side of nationalism, but the mainstream goes from right to left with independence uniting them.

      By the way, I will not name the senior parliamentarian I saw shin up a lamppost once to nick one of their posters during a by-election because they thought it was such a good logo.

      I wonder what happened to change minds and give such a negative result for both Salmond and the SNP.

    • Richard Church 17th May '14 - 9:31am

      I am gobsmacked that there are about 16 Lib Dem members in your survey (2% of 830) who view UKIP favourably.

    • I always thought that I might vote SNP if I lived in Scotland, but having seen the many spectacularly illiberal measures they have brought in while in government, my opinion of them has fallen spectacularly. And, viewing the referendum from afar, Alex Salmond seems like either a liar or in denial, promising the world to Scots, even though this has no basis in reality.

    • George Carpenter 17th May '14 - 11:23am

      Surprised that Theresa May is more popular than Ed Balls.

    • @Helen Tadcastle 100% agreed on Boris, you sum it up very well. I live in London incidentally.

      @Caron Lindsay Also agree on Alex Salmond. I have found the ‘no’ campaign patronising and often downright nasty – through all that he has largely conducted himself with dignity, delivering his message calmly. I admire that.

    • I think George Potter has got it right with regard to how Salmond may be regarded by LibDems, which is one of the problems with this sort of question. ‘Favourable’ doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to everybody answering the question. Having said that, nationalism should be anathema to anyone who professes to be a liberal.

    • John Probert 20th May '14 - 7:26pm

      Pace Tony Hill, nationalism is a perfectly honourable sentiment for Liberals. Let us be clear about this. Of course, like patriotism , nationalism itself is not enough and I’ve no doubt most that Liberals are committed ‘one world’ internationalsts.

    • Jayne Mansfield 20th May '14 - 7:54pm

      @ Helen Tedcastle.
      I totally agree with you about Boris Johnson.

    • Jayne Mansfield me too!

    • Richard Underhill 17th Jan '17 - 11:28am

      After losing his marginal Commons seat in 2015 Labour Party member Ed Balls appeared on BBC TV “This Week” and sought advice from former Conservative Party member, former MP Michael Portillo. Portillo had returned to the Commons while the Tories were in opposition and took a front bench role. His advice to Ed Balls was not to return to politics, which was accepted.
      Ed Balls openly and frequently said that he had voted against Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
      Ed Balls has not shown any interest in any of the current by-elections in Labour held seats. On BBC Radio 3 on 17/1/2017 the presenter described Ed Balls as a politician in the present tense, but the former MP used the past tense.
      He did get large votes from the public on Strictly Come Dancing, despite the scathing opinions of the judges, but he has not, as yet, turned professional.
      His first choice today was “Zadok the Priest”.

    • Richard Underhill 17th Jan '17 - 12:23pm

      Ed Balls did have something to say to those who stammer. He did not mention the film “The King’s Speech”. He said that it happened “under pressure” in the Commons.
      He then received a telephone call from his father who said that they both had the same problem. A parliamentary assistant contacted a relevant charity. One tip is to say ” A brief stammer there”. This relaxes the audience and the person who stammers.

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