EXCLUSIVE: 81% of Lib Dem members support party being in Coalition with the Conservatives

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKLib 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. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 81% to 16%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Changes since last time question asked, Dec 2013).

    81% (+1%) – Support

    16% (-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 years — the high support for the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Conservatives hasn’t shifted significantly. We’ve asked this tracker question 19 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 81%. The net support of +65% is the highest figure since March 2012.

Clegg’s leadership: net +8% satisfied

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

    10% – Very satisfied
    43% – Satisfied
    Total satisfied = 53% (-3%)
    23% – Dissatisfied
    22% – Very dissatisfied
    Total satisfied = 45% (+3%)
    2% – Don’t know / No opinion

Satisfaction among members with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party has dipped slightly this month: having plunged to just +1% in September, it recovered to +12% in December and now stands at +8%. As you can see, the afterglow of Cleggmania has long since been snuffed out, with his net ratings fluctuating in the range c.0-20%.

nick clegg satisfaction apr 2014

59% 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?

    59% (-3%) – The right course

    32% (-1%) The wrong track

    8% (+3%) – Don’t know / No opinion

The overall net satisfaction rating of the Lib Dems according to party members stands at +27% – down a notch on December’s +29% but higher than the +23% recorded before the Glasgow conference in September. It’s a long way off the +49% of February 2012, though: the month before the NHS Bill row. But it’s just as far off the +9% recorded in September 2012 after the collapse of Lords reform.

Net +34% approval rating for Coalition’s record

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

    62% (+4%) – Approve

    28% (-3%) – Disapprove

    10% (n/c) – Don’t know

There has been another small but noticeable shift in approval for the Coalition’s record: the net +34% approval rating is the highest since February 2012 (+40%). A year ago it was just +14%.

80% want the Coalition to last well into 2015

When would you like the Coalition to end?

    8% (n/c) – As soon as possible

    8% (+1%) – It should end some time in 2014

    40% (+5%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans

    40% (-6%) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election

    4% (+1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election

    0% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

As you might expect, given the strong continuing overall support for sticking with the Coalition, 4-in-5 (80%) party members actively want the Coalition to last well into 2015 — though there is an exactly 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 16% according to our survey (see above), just 8% actually want the Coalition to come to an immediate end.

93% of party members expect Lib Dems to lose seats in 2015

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

    2% (-1%) – More than current 57 MPs

    11% (-4%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs

    28% (-6%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs

    31% (+2%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs

    23% (+8%) – Fewer than 30 MPs

    4% (n/c) – Don’t know

This is the fifth 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 13%. In December, a majority (52%) expected the party to hold at least 40 seats. This has now flipped, with 54% expecting the Lib Dems to slip back below 40 seats in May 2015.

62% 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 = 0%
    2 = 4%
    3 = 14%
    4 = 11%
    5 = 8%
    Lacking influence = 38% (+3%)
    6 = 16%
    7 = 28%
    8 = 14%
    9 = 3%
    10 = 1%
    Achieving influence = 62% (-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 62% taking a positive view is a smidgeon down on December’s 64%, but otherwise is the highest figure since June 2012. A year ago, March 2013, the net figure was +15%; it now stands at +24%. Party members 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. 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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    86 Comments

    • If as we are told 4% (+1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election

      Why no headline saying – 96% say Coalition should end within 12 months ?

    • 56% WANT COALITION ENDED BEFORE WE GET TO GENERAL ELECTION

      When would you like the Coalition to end?

      8% (n/c) – As soon as possible
      8% (+1%) – It should end some time in 2014
      40% (+5%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans

      40% (-6%) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election

      4% (+1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election

      0% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 25th Apr '14 - 9:57am

      According to the last YouGov poll the Right is a very crowded place at the moment. Conservatives 33%, Lib Dems 11% UKIP 13% . One of you is going to get badly squeezed and I don’t think it’s going to be the Conservatives. Which, of course, is very good news for Labour, as long as Scotland doesn’t vote “Yes”.

    • @ John Tilley

      Define “shortly before”. Of course people want it to end before the General Election. We’re hardly going to fight on a joint platform with the Tories, are we?

    • So 59% think the party is on the right course, yet Cleggers only scores +8% in approval ratings. Meanwhile the party is polling in single figures.

    • @Mack (not a Lib Dem)

      So for you “the right” includes a party that cuts taxes for lower earners, puts extra funding towards pupils from less well off families, increases the overall tax burden on the rich, protects investment in green energy, stops immediate renewal of Trident and avoids massive cuts in overall government spending.

      What a mighty strange definition of the “right” you have.

    • @John Tilley The answers about when the coalition should end do not tell the whole story – the reality is that many Lib Dems only want the coalition to continue because the alternative is electoral slaughter and an admission that we can’t make coalitions work.

      The famous Macbeth quote springs to mind – we’re stepped in blood so deep that going back would be as tedious as going on.

    • @ Will Mann

      “Meanwhile the party is polling in single figures.”

      Because many voters have very little information about what the Lib Dems have actually done in government and have a distorted view of what Labour might be able to achieve, based on loads of unfunded spending commitments.

      This was brought home to me by the focus group of Lib Dem>Labour defectors on Channel 4. People have a really hazy, distorted and negative view of the Lib Dems while Labour has been given a free ride in the media and been able to promise lots of “nice stuff” e.g. like being able to increase people’s standards of living (how???) and avoid any “nasty” cuts.

      Until we can challenge some of these, frankly wrong, ideas through campaigning and on the doorstep, the outside world is going to continue to have a different perception of the facts from the way the world is seen by members.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 25th Apr '14 - 10:22am

      I hope that at the next general election the Liberal Democrats will candidly tell the electorate that they prefer to go into coalition with the Tories. Don’t you think they should be told? Surely it will help the voters make up their mind?

    • Stephen Howse 25th Apr '14 - 10:28am

      Headline: “81% of Lib Dem members support party being in Coalition with the Conservatives”

      Small print:”Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole.”

      Naughty!

      “I hope that at the next general election the Liberal Democrats will candidly tell the electorate that they prefer to go into coalition with the Tories.”

      Why would the party do that?

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem): – I see where you are coming from, but that still leaves Labour Tories or Conservative Tories. By the way on t he subject of Tories, is it true that Labour are going to gift Blair’s son one of their rotten boroughs?

    • @ Will Mann
      Yes indeed and things did not turn out too well for Macbeth.
      I just hope our MPs are capable of spotting Birnam Wood four weeks from now.

      ACT V SCENE III  Dunsinane. A committee room in the castle.  
      [Enter Clegg, Laws and Attendants]
      CLEGG Bring me no more reports; let them fly all:
      Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane,
      I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Nigel ?
      Was he not born of UKIP?
      The spirits and Stephen Tall that know
      All electoral consequences have pronounced me thus:
      ‘Fear not, Clegg; no man that’s born of UKIP
      Shall e’er have power upon thee.’ Then fly,
      false thanes,
      …..
      I will not be afraid of death and bane,
      Till Birnam Forest come to Dunsinane
      [Exeunt]

    • @John Tilley Excellent work sir! The bard himself would have been proud.

      @RC We know that the press give us a raw deal, but is that not too convenient an excuse? The u-turn on tuition fees DID actually happen. The decision to support spending cuts far deeper than outlined in our manifesto DID actually happen. We should accept we made some mistakes and work out how to put them right, rather than thinking our policies are all brilliant but voters don’t realise that because of the nasty media.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 25th Apr '14 - 11:20am

      @ R.C.
      “What a mighty strange definition of the “right” you have.”

      Really?

      Massive hiking of tuition fees despite coming to power on a pledge not to.

      Privatisation of the Royal Mail: owned by the people and given away at knockdown prices .

      Privatisation of the NHS.

      Privatisation of the Probation Service.

      Introduction of the “Gagging” Law.

      Extension of “Secret Courts”.

      Architects of the Bedroom tax.

      Bombing of Libya.

      Attempt to bomb Syria (Thankfully thwarted by Ed Miliband).

      Spreading false propaganda that Labour’s public spending on schools and hospitals was responsible for the global banking collapse.

      Allowing private companies on a “payment by results” basis to enter the benefit process to deprive thousands of poor and disabled people of their benefits.

      Sending vans around London to inflame feelings towards illegal immigrants/ asylum seekers.

      Taking away child benefit..

      Introducing a benefit cap.

      Persecuting those on benefits and making a million people dependent upon food banks.

      Forcing people off benefits and into badly paid jobs on zero hour contracts or into badly paid self employment. which again increases their need for food banks.

      Providing 13,000 millionaires with a giveaway of £100,000 each.

      Redistributing huge sums of money from the poor to the rich.

      Etc, etc.

      These aren’t the policies of the Right?

      These are the Coalition Government’s policies and the Liberal Democrats are in the Coalition Government. Without the Liberal Democrats this government would not exist. 81% of the Liberal Democrats support coalition with the Tories. That’s why the electorate should be told this at the next General Election. That’s why the Liberal Democrat preference for a coalition partnership with the Tories in the event of a hung parliament. should be made clear. That would only be fair and democratic.

    • Bill le Breton 25th Apr '14 - 11:34am

      Here’s an exit strategy that is based on Liberal Democracy:

      I am a late leaver.

      A party out of Government having polled circa 10% in the Euros will receive no airtime whatsoever. It will be politically an Oates: “I’m just going outside. I may be some time. viz 40 years.”

      It is well known that I hope the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons calls for a new Leader after the Euro elections with a person emerging from that meeting of the Parliamentary Party as a single leadership nomination. I hope they have the sense to choose someone who is or has been a member of this Government, but they are a canny lot and I for one have confidence in them. I also hope the President and Deputy Leader see it as their duty to the Party to manage this process.

      This would enable the new leader to paint the broad outline of her or his direction for the country in early June 2014 focusing on a number of key issues or ‘avenues’ for Britain which the Party should then take to the country during the summer so that the general public are involved in the setting of policies to move along these avenues (and the formation of something similar to the old Yellow and Green books of the 1930s) which would then be taken to the September Conference for decision.

      I look forward to our ministerial team campaigning openly for our ways forward during negotiations over the Autumn Statement – with MPs and activists campaigning for it at local level. It would be an open process.

      In the 2014 Autumn Statement we should insist that we can only support spending proposals for the financial year 2015/16 and reserve our position on the following years of the next Parliament to the 2015 budget.

      We should continue communicating with, consulting and campaigning for these policies through the winter.

      We should use our access to the Treasury and civil service to draw up our full 2015 budget proposals, again in an open process, and take these to cabinet through February 2015. If we gain suitable agreement then our election campaign and manifesto should be based on those proposals and we should support a final Coalition budget. If the Parliamentary party do not find the Conservative final position acceptable we should resign from government at that time on those issues, asking Parliament to sanction an early election under the terms of the Parliament Act.

      Of course during the process the Conservatives and Labour might combine to bring the election forward, but they would have to combine in the glare of publicity to do this and the likely opinion poll position might prevent them from such agreement.

      During all this our position would be clear. It would be based on attractive and wise policies. It would be in the interests of the general public and not vested interests and have had their involvement. It would be distinctive Liberal Democracy. It would maximise our electoral chances.

      Following the election, and if we are not in Government in the summer of 2015, I would expect the Leader would put themselves to a normal selection process.

    • Bill: do you have someone in mind? I am not sure whether your post is satire or to be meant seriously, there is something in the style that suggests the former.

    • Actually Mack (not Lib Dem), the Architects of a lot of your list was New Labour . The policy may have been introduced in a crueller and nastier form, but they’re right out of the New Labour playbook. Do remind me what was the top rate of tax for most of the time Labour was in government? Did Labour have a manifesto commitment not to raise tuition fees, that it broke? Didn’t the rich do better under Blair and Brown than Major and Thatcher? So whilst there are some appalling things done under this coalition, I’m not convinced things would be much different under Ed.

    • Bill le Breton 25th Apr '14 - 12:33pm

      Martin – sorry but not satirical.

      First no-one with any platform or authority in this matter is going to name themselves or urge what I am urging this side of the Euro results. Nor should they.

      Nor frankly is it really of any importance who I’d wish to see … my point is that change is essential for the party to maximize its 2015 vote and seats. But actually the people who know the qualities of potential new leaders and those who have ‘skin in the game’ are our MPs. They also are the nominators of leadership candidates and so could achieve the politically helpful single candidacy. I’d like to see the Party President lock the door of the room and the Deputy Leader chair the meeting – which I think is his job – and no one is allowed out until there is white smoke issuing from the Grand Committee room 😉

      The important thing is to get the Party campaigning. And by that I don’t mean something like the present Euro campaign. I mean, identify and communicate to the people the issues, give facts and info, suggest potential ways forward, seek advice and involvement by the public – use their wisdom – and use that to involve everyone in integrated campaigns to win backing for our ction plans.

      We have never used the Autumn Statement or the Budget – all decisions have been taken behind closed doors by the Quad or whatever. We have strengthened secrecy, we have closed doors, we have worked with the civil service rather than with the people. We have not opened central government in the way that we traditional have done and do in local Government.

      We have 11 months before the next budget. Let ours be a People’s Budget. Worked in the1900s. Let’s be unmistakeably on the people’s side, not on the Estyablishment’s.

    • Its where you get the votes – not the national %….so all is not lost for the Lib Dems. A new Leader MIGHT energise the members and activists and possible the Public, IF handled well . Recent form points to a probable ‘own goal’ . Clegg would have to go promptly ‘for the good of the party’, which I don’t think he will. If or when he does….who to replace him??? If anyone has taken notice of my comments since the end of 2010 , I predicted Clegg would stand down 6 months before the GE (personal/family reasons), and the Party elect a caretaker (Charles Kennedy – still well liked – voted against the Student fees too I think??? ) to see the Lib Dems through the GE.
      The Lib Dems went into Government knowing full well what the probable outcome would be politically – history is there for everyone to see. The own goals of the Student fee cock up……. Laws expenses…….. Huhne ………. Clegg v UKIP…… (Clegg missed almost every open goal) really have made the Lib Dems job one hell of a lot harder.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 25th Apr '14 - 1:18pm

      @ Fred
      Ah! Now I get it. The last four years were nothing to do with the Coalition: it was all Labour’s fault.

      “I’m not convinced things would be much different under Ed.”

      I hope the electorate get the opportunity to find out how wrong you.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 25th Apr '14 - 1:19pm

      . . .are.

    • Bill Le Breton. —
      “… The important thing is to get the Party campaigning. And by that I don’t mean something like the present Euro campaign. I mean, identify and communicate to the people the issues, give facts and info, suggest potential ways forward, seek advice and involvement by the public – use their wisdom – and use that to involve everyone in integrated campaigns to win backing for our action plans. ”

      Bill, you have said it all really. You offer a plausible and realistic way forward. I hope sufficient MPs heed the call.

      Clegg is tainted by the Coalition in a way that the vast majority of our MPs are not.
      He should step aside for the sake of the party and the country.
      It is not in the national interest for the Liberal Democrats to be swallowed up by the Conservative Party.
      It is not in the national interest for the Liberal Democrats to be condemned to return to the to taxi cab proportions of the pre-Grimond days.

    • I don’t think Labour want to win in 2015…just regain some ground. Ed & Labour should be well into gear by now . Whoever ends up in Government 15-20 has a lot ‘problems’ to face………. perhaps letting someone else do the unpopular things is their strategy hopping for a long run after that.

    • Over a year ago, I thought there was more than a possibility that Nick Clegg would stand down. I really doubt it. If Lib Dems controlled government Clegg would be very well suited to become and EU commissioner, but that will not happen. If opinion poll ratings remain low any replacement would only be more ignored by the media and would fail to achieve public recognition.

      I had forgotten about Charlie Kennedy, who would at least be recognised, but any slip from him would be slaughtered by a media who would scent a kill before he even started. There are worthies who are known on these pages, but are really almost completely unknown in the wider world. Danny Alexander has the position and has had the chance to develop some gravitas and trust over the last four years, but although his performance in interviews may have improved , not enough; it would only replace one politician with negative ratings with another.

      There are real problems for Lib Dems if another election produces No Overall Control and in terms of fighting general elections, even if we can hold most of the Conservative facing seats, these would all be at severe risk if there were to be a Lib/Lab coalition, yet I find it hard to contemplate another Con/Lib coalition and cannot see how in the light of their EU renegotiation stance, an anti-green agenda and regressive fiscal and social measures, a coalition agreement could be sustained. All possible outcomes will be difficult. A Tory majority would be likely to herald electoral boundary changes that would further disenfranchise Lib Dem voters. A Labour majority would be the quickest way to anull the negative consequences of coalition but also produce a swing to Conservatives that might improve Lib Dem support, but do little in terms of gaining seats.

      The upside of a Labour majority would be that there would not be an exit from the EU, so surprisingly I would have to say that the economy would be safer under a Labour administration. Of course the Conservatives in opposition are likely to become even more Europhobic and I would expect hostility to the EU to increase . I would not be surprised if Conservatives in opposition and with a new leader, would build an accord with UKIP.

    • paul barker 25th Apr '14 - 1:50pm

      The 8% who want to pull out of The Coalition may be a tiny minority but they have loud voices & are having a real effect in demoralising the membership & persuading our supporters that there is no point fighting. Just look at yesterdays local byelections – compare East Cambridgeshire where we won from 3rd place with East Lindsey where we didnt stand. That was a seat we could have won, if we had fought. No doubt there were local reasons behind our failure to stand but Nationally the constant chorus of voices running down Clegg & Our place in Government must have a sapping effect.

    • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '14 - 2:13pm

      @ Martin,
      Charles Kennedy is not only recognisable, he is also remembered with affection and trusted.

      I know of no-one who judged him for his personal problems, if anything we felt that his fallibility made him more human, more like the fallible electorate that he represented. He is the only current politician I can think of who radiates an authenticity that could beat Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage in a trustworthy man of the people contest, that is because he really does seem like the real thing and when he says something he really does seem to believe in what he is saying.

      If Charles has managed to overcome his problems, and he himself feels that leadership wouldn’t put him under undue stress, please consider him.

      Revelations about Johnson and Farage have failed to undermine them, there is no reason to believe that the press would be able to do so in the case of Charles.

    • p aul barker
      I am intrigued by your conclusion that four years of poor results in local elections and those local council byelections where the party manages to put up a candidate nowadays is down to some loud voices.
      You say –
      “…they have loud voices & are having a real effect in demoralising the membership & persuading our supporters that there is no point ”
      Who are these loud voices?
      Is this an attack on Jeremy Browne and his “The Liberal Democrats are pointless” front page headline in The Times?

    • David Evans 25th Apr '14 - 2:28pm

      @ Paul Barker. Perhaps if you spoke to some people rather than just parrotted the line ‘It’s everyone but Nick, me and a few others’, you might get nearer to the truth. Tens of thousands have left the party because of Nick’s failure; MEPs are likely to be down to 2 or 3 after Nick’s fsilure in the debates with Farage. Nick even managed to lose us 5 MPs in 2010 because he hadn’t made sure things were organised properely.

      If Nick doesn’t go after May, I fear we will lose most of our MPs as well. Maybe you are happy to sacrifice Liberal Democracy for Nick Clegg. I am not.

    • Peter Watson 25th Apr '14 - 2:38pm

      @paul barker “compare East Cambridgeshire where we won from 3rd place with East Lindsey where we didnt stand”

      Yesterday, Harry Hayfield at politicalbetting.com made this comment about the Sutton by-election in East Cambridgeshire:

      “Unbelievable as it may sound, back in 2003, East Cambridgeshire was under Liberal Democrat minority control. … So when you see that in 2011, Labour managed to outpoll both Liberal Democrat candidates you must think that the Liberal Democrats have no hope of winning this by-election, however with UKIP entering the fray (and given that on average UKIP at the first attempt in a ward take half the Conservative vote) could we have the strange situation of an anti European party allowing a pro European party to gain a seat?”

      It looks like he called it pretty well, but there was also a massive swing from Labour to Lib Dem. I don’t know if this was a local issue or a tactical anti-Tory/UKIP vote.

    • Peter Watson 25th Apr '14 - 2:39pm

      … and now I’ve learnt a new formatting trick for my posts 😉

    • Paul in Twickenham 25th Apr '14 - 2:40pm

      @Paul Barker – post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    • Paul Barker is right to warn against self fulfilling self demoralisation. This in no way should mean a lack of realism, nor even reflection of whether a change in the leadership or anywhere else might be due. Clearly at some time this will happen. David Evans unrealistic slating of Nick Clegg, even it seems to include the vagaries of FPTP that meant th party lost seats in the last election. This sort of thing undermines his other criticisms.

      Actually many thought Clegg performed reasonably well in the first debate. Unfortunately he appeared to have followed ‘helpful’ advice of the sort that appeared on comment pages, which led to a more emotive and less successful performance in the second. I am sure if the Party was not confronting UKIP, the doom merchants would be just as critical of this omission as they are now that the Party is taking this tack.

      Jayne: I do not discount Charles Kennedy: he certainly makes a strong advocate, but even without the Scottish Independence referendum, he would be a very high risk strategy. However, I think that we are kidding ourselves if we believe that the Lib Dems would be taken more seriously and treated less derisively if Nick Clegg were removed. What is important is that the Lib Dem ministers construct a clear narrative to defend their participation in government. Sometimes where there are difficulties they have shied away from this. For example, on the difficult issue of student fees they have not really tried to mount a persuasive case; why can they not embrace the fact that not much more may be repaid and explain that they have produced the most workable system that resembles a graduate tax, leaving poorer graduates less disadvantaged? Perhaps this is not the right argument, but their duty is to take the lead and to find and present the best defence.

    • David Allen 25th Apr '14 - 3:54pm

      John Tilley,

      I will not be afraid of death and bane,
      Till Birnam Forest come to Dunsinane,
      And Danny Boy goes back to hame
      As Tourist Thane of Dunsinane!

    • Martin, I also thought about after this election even if there is a decent result, it will now be very much an uphill battle for every election. Protest votes are out and voters who though that Labour wasn’t left enough are also out.

      “Maybe you are happy to sacrifice Liberal Democracy for Nick Clegg. I am not.”

      The Liberal *Democracy*? Wow. OK.

      I have a suspicion that many posters here would happily sacrifice the Lib Dems if they’re led by Clegg to teach them all a lesson for ‘betraying’ them(the left). There is only so much endless whining one can take in a message board and my god, it’s been four years. Clegg won’t leave, the coalition won’t be over before 2015, the left wing Lib Dem voters are now Labour, the polls will continue to average 9/10 and with luck and hard work the party will keep 30-35 seats. That’s the Liberal Democrat Party, changing leaders won’t change much but make some people happy and you know what, I don’t think I want them happy. Although the fact it would make the Labour leadership unhappy could be somewhat worth it but no way the former LD voters now Labour’s would switch, they like Miliband more than the average Labour voter does!

      It actually makes me glad that Clegg will be fine, I admire him for stepping up for the coalition since everybody seemed to be in panic and thinking that if there wasn’t a solid government right after the election the country would be ruins and for keeping the Coalition going when every paper out there wouldn’t give it a month even knowing he would be *extremely* unpopular as the minor party leader in a Tory Government in the middle of a recession.

      Not that I think he’s a poor victim or a shrewd politician, he certainly enjoys the perks of the office and took him way too long to actually know how the game is played and even then he doesn’t seem a very sharp player, does he? Oh, well, I wish him well, he’s probably going to win his seat and resign the leadership right after, maybe he’ll continue in politics or maybe do something else, we all know he’s not going to be hurting for money/job being rich and well connected. Good for you, Cleggy!

    • Bill le Breton 25th Apr '14 - 4:44pm

      Martin and others – you cannot ignore a Deputy Prime Minister and that is what any new Leader will become. And there is a vacancy for a new Commissioner with good language skills, or so we are told.

      We must remain in Coalition at least until the 2015 budget. It is our platform from which to communicate with the people of this country.. Our continuing chance to shine. Our chance to Put People First. It also provides access to the civil service. Any council administration knows how important that is, let alone those who have now had access to it from within Government.

      It is just that people have to accept that the 2014 Clegg is an obstacle to our ability both to communicate and campaign. Some of you may yearn for the 2009 Clegg or even the 2010 Clegg of the Manchester debate, but that Clegg has been destroyed both by opponents (including the press) and by his own and his advisers’ political naivety.

      The kitchen campaigning team he put in place for the 2010 GE was experienced in commercial marketing but not in political campaigning. It had all the comms experience of Boots, PWC and some Charities, but this resource proved inept and largely silent when the attacks started immediately after Manchester. We did not stick to our guns. We retreated on Immigration and I seem to remember on Europe (that’s ironic now) and everything that the Daily Mail despises. Experienced campaigners would have fought to the last minute before polling stations closed on the messages, content and style expressed at Manchester. You cannot win elections as Liberals if you are worried what the metropolitan elite think of you.

      All this was compounded by the hysteria over the imagined financial Greece-like crisis (at a time when the economy was recovering) and by the decision to ignore party policy and to back within the negotiations ideas which the Leadership had been restrained from carrying forward by the Party in Conference and as represented by the FPC e.g. pace of deficit reduction and those fees. Clegg was told to treat the Party like Blair treated the Labour Party.

      It was also made worse by Clegg’s lack of grip over his brief – his notoriety for not reading his papers and ‘winging it’ – seen to its worst in the signing off of the Lansley White Paper. Again, one should not expect detail from a Leader, but one should expect that s/he appoints people who know party policy, party sensitivity and how real politics works.

      So, things can be made a lot better, very quickly. The window is small. We need a full year. We need to use the summer to campaign. And, for just a couple more months, Labour and the Tories will be so close in the polls that neither will want to force an early election (under the new Parliament Act).

      Just make sure that you remind every MP you know to do his or her duty to the Party that put them where they are, that gave them great opportunities to do good.

    • It’s an inconvenient truth Mack, but most of what the Tories are doing didn’t appear out of thin air. The Tories are building on the foundations carefully laid by New Labour. Let’s face it the Tories are bragging about the fact they’re building on the Blair revolution. Even the odd Labour member admits it, in hushed tones.

    • @Fred Many Labour ‘supporters’ have airbrushed Blair and his policies from history. Even though he won them three elections.

    • Denis Mollison 25th Apr '14 - 5:53pm

      Dear Stephen

      When do we get to see the rest of the results of this survey?

      And, are the full results of previous members’ surveys available? The only link I see is –
      The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at https://www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
      – and that just seems to give one the blog of the time, which like this one only presents a selection of results.

      It would be good to have simple spreadsheets of complete survey results available as well as the blogs discussing them.

      Forgive me if I’m failing to spot a link to them!

    • @Will. Yes, it’s as if New Labour never happened. If Lib Dems are to blame for some of the nastier aspects of this government, then Labour is equally culpable. Labour introduced the principles which the Tories in government, have taken them to their logical conclusion. Almost everything in Mack’s list owes its origins to the last Labour government.

    • Martin you may be correct to suggest –
      “…However, I think that we are kidding ourselves if we believe that the Lib Dems would be taken more seriously and treated less derisively if Nick Clegg were removed”
      But that is not the issue. The party has coped with media derision and attacks from opponents before. Indeed with far fewer resources the party has come through through very lean times (eg 1989) because the Liberal Democrats believed in themselves.
      The confidence and enthusiasm of Liberal Democrat local campaigners overcame enormous odds to go out and win repeatedly and increase the strength of the party in parliaments, assemblies and local councils. This progress continued right up to the beginning of Clegg’s time as an MP.

      As Bill Le Breton makes clear we can be successful again and we can start from this time next month.

      First of all we have to remove the major blocks to our future success one of which is a leader who has had his chance over the years since he switched from MEP to MP and two years later became party leader.

      Whatever else can be said Ncik Clegg has certainly had plenty of chances to get things right.
      He has not got things right.
      His empty boast at the time of the leadership election that he would double the number of Liberal Democrat MPs at the 2010 general election now looks preposterous, but with a different leader and a different strategy we could at least have increased our number of MPs.
      Since 2010 Clegg has continued to miss his opportunities and fail when the big tests have come along.
      So he has to go so that the party can start to climb out of the premature grave that the tiny clique of Cleggistas are still digging for us.

    • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '14 - 7:23pm

      @ Martin,
      There is a something called the ‘ halo or horns effect’ but Nick Clegg seems to have confounded it. After the leadership debates it was clear that he was the beneficiary of the ‘halo effect’, ‘Cleggmania”, but he has now managed to become the object of the ‘horns effect’.

      The polls showed that the general public were in favour of coalition and there were great hopes that political parties could demonstrate that they could work together. So where did it all go wrong? Who is responsible for it all going so wrong? Nick Clegg wasn’t responsible for the loss of trust in politicians, that either started or accelerated during the Blair and Labour years, but he can be held responsible for not giving us the new sort of politics that he promised.

      Some of the people who feel’ betrayed’ were young people voting for the first time. What message has the Lib Dem Party given to them about the trust-worthiness of their politicians? I don’t know what narrative you can build to regain that trust especially as it may turn out that that trust was squandered to introduce a system that in the long run, might not save the taxpayer any money.

    • David Allen 25th Apr '14 - 7:51pm

      Sandy said:

      “I have a suspicion that many posters here would happily sacrifice the Lib Dems if they’re led by Clegg to teach them all a lesson for ‘betraying’ them(the left). There is only so much endless whining one can take in a message board and my god, it’s been four years.”

      And what a dreadful four years. The Clegg coup has turned the Liberal Democrats into a force for harm which actively promotes marketisation, increasing inequality, government by oligarchy, and victimisation of the poor and the weak. It is not “whining” you have to face, it is implacable opposition. It is not about “teaching them all a lesson”, it is about fighting hard-right Tories, whether in blue or orange clothing.

      “Clegg won’t leave, the coalition won’t be over before 2015, the left wing Lib Dem voters are now Labour, the polls will continue to average 9/10 and with luck and hard work the party will keep 30-35 seats.”

      You may be right to suppose that too few of the people who have stayed in the Lib Dems have the courage or the wit to see sense. The polls, which used to be 12-13 and are now often 7-10, tell us that 30 seats is optimistic. Oh, and “where we work we lose”. Clegg’s performance against Farage helped lose us more votes, because whenever he speaks, he now reminds people why they hate him.

      Bill le Breton offers a very sensible alternative, but we have seen false dawns before. It is always the next time that the party are finally going to see sense. When we win zero MEPs, will that be when we see sense? I’m not counting on it. Back in the 1980s, the majority of the SDP were quietly appalled by what Owen was doing but couldn’t bring themselves to say so, until the shock of election disaster brought them to their senses. I fear the Lib Dems are going to repeat history. Those who support the le Breton strategy may have to come up with a plan B if (through no fault of its proponents) it fails.

    • Jayne Mansfield “but he can be held responsible for not giving us the new sort of politics that he promised.”

      Once again, you hit the nail on the head. Let’s face it, Jayne, he took us for mugs :/

    • David Allen “whenever he speaks, he now reminds people why they hate him.”

      Exactly right and one the the main reasons why AV was turned down.

    • Bill L B “the signing off of the Lansley White Paper. Again, one should not expect detail from a Leader, but one should expect that s/he appoints people who know party policy, party sensitivity and how real politics works.”

      He could have won the majority of people round to the Lib Dems and to coalition government if Clegg had simply stopped the NHS reforms. We would have had more reason to believe him when he claimed to have stopped the excesses of the Tories. All he had to do was tell Cameron was ‘sorry Dave, no top-down re-organisation of the NHS ‘. Lib Dem fortunes would not be so bleak now.

    • “why they hate him”
      I do not hate the Cleggster but equally I do not see him fighting for my kind of change, policy led by evidence.
      Instead we have secret courts, police using taser recklessly, no principled position on the NHS, no Glass-Steagle reform for banks, no insistence on keeping the student fees pledge and on and on.
      I do not see Clegg recognising any of these things. The party seems top-down to me

    • David Evans 25th Apr '14 - 8:17pm

      I like Sandy – does irony to a T!! 🙂

    • Billy Boulton 25th Apr '14 - 10:10pm

      Mack (not a Lib Dem)

      I almost regret taking the bait but I felt compelled to respond to this barrage of half-truths and inaccuracies. SOme alternative points of view…….

      Massive hiking of tuition fees despite coming to power on a pledge not to.
      OR devising a system which whatever the rights and wrongs of “the pledge” is generally accepted to involve less cost up front for most students and does not appear to be putting people off HE.

      Privatisation of the Royal Mail: owned by the people and given away at knockdown prices .
      OR while the merits of privatisation can be debated ad infinitum, liberals have never claim to be dogmatic on public v private ownership and in any case let’s not pretend the Labour government did not want to privatise this.

      Privatisation of the NHS.
      As above

      Privatisation of the Probation Service.
      don’t know enough to comment, sorry

      Introduction of the “Gagging” Law.
      don’t know enough to comment, sorry

      Extension of “Secret Courts”.
      don’t know enough to comment, sorry

      Architects of the Bedroom tax.
      OR simply correcting an unfairness in the existing system whereby private and public sector tenants were treated differently. While I appreciate some have been caused significant hardship as a result this is a fault of implementation rather than the policy itself and I think I’m right in sayong that Labour have NOT committed to reversing this change

      Bombing of Libya.
      Attempt to bomb Syria (Thankfully thwarted by Ed Miliband).
      OR introducing parliamentary democracy to these issues so that the UK no longer launches military action without the express support of parliament – a huge improvement from the Blair years.

      Spreading false propaganda that Labour’s public spending on schools and hospitals was responsible for the global banking collapse.
      Really? Getting a little desperate now I think. This is not a claim I’ve heard but on this subject there seems a general acceptance among senior Labour figures that public spending was out of hand towards the end of the Labour Government.

      Allowing private companies on a “payment by results” basis to enter the benefit process to deprive thousands of poor and disabled people of their benefits.
      Don’t know enough to comment, sorry

      Sending vans around London to inflame feelings towards illegal immigrants/ asylum seekers.
      OR, This happened for one day without the consent of the Government as a whole – the Lib Dems used their position in Government to stop a Tory-led department pursuing such nonsense

      Taking away child benefit..
      From high earners. You can argue about the merits of universality but it’s hard to argue that this move is “right wing”

      Introducing a benefit cap.
      OR ensuring the taxes of low earners are not used to subsidise the lifestyle choices of people who don’t work. Again I believe Labour have not pledged to reverse this

      Persecuting those on benefits and making a million people dependent upon food banks.
      Are the Government really doing that or is it spin and mischief making from the media and the opposition (gnuine question)
      Forcing people off benefits and into badly paid jobs on zero hour contracts or into badly paid self employment. which again increases their need for food banks.

      Providing 13,000 millionaires with a giveaway of £100,000 each.
      Redistributing huge sums of money from the poor to the rich.
      OR
      Having a top rate of tax of 45 %, as opposed to 40 % under Labour (not 50 % as they’d like you to believe) and various other tax changes to capital gains, pension contributions etc that mean the rich pay significantly more than they did under Labour.

      Etc, etc.

      This coalition Government is not perfect by any means but to claim it is far far to the right of the previous Labour Government or the current Labour leadership just doesn’t sit well with the facts in my opinion.

      I know no one’s going to read this far but I certainly feel better now

    • Paul In Twickenham 25th Apr '14 - 10:35pm

      @David Allen – When we win zero MEPs, will that be when we see sense? You really think the Lib Dems will win zero seats? As ever, I predict 3. And if that happens (or the party gets 5 or even 6) then of course Lib Dem HQ will spin the result as a glorious victory, because “so many people were predicting a wipe-out”. It seems to me that this is the nightmare scenario: Mr. Clegg clings on because results aren’t quite sufficiently awful – relative to media chatter – to force him out.

      Populus have a poll tonight that shows a dead heat between Labour and Conservatives (35%) with LD on 9%. As a caveat, YouGov also have a poll tonight with Lab 38%, Con 32% and LD 8% – but the steady drift to the Conservatives is unmistakeable as seen in the ukpolling graph here: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2.

      What happens if by this summer the Tories are consistently level with or ahead of Labour? How will the Lib Dems position themselves if it starts to look like the most likely outcome next year is an outright Conservative victory?

    • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '14 - 10:51pm

      @ Billy Boulton,
      Your message does not seem to be getting across to the people that matter. At its peak in 2010 the Lib Dems were polling 50% of the student vote. This month according to a YouthSight survey they are polling 6%.

    • Billy Boulton
      “Introduction of the “Gagging” Law.
      don’t know enough to comment, sorry
      Extension of “Secret Courts”.
      don’t know enough to comment, sorry
      Architects of the Bedroom tax.
      OR simply correcting an unfairness in the existing system whereby private and public sector tenants were treated differently. While I appreciate some have been caused significant hardship as a result this is a fault of implementation rather than the policy itself and I think I’m right in sayong that Labour have NOT committed to reversing this change”

      Gagging law & secret courts are 100% coalition policy & ones I never thought I’d hear a LD support yet support them they most certainly do.

      The bedroom tax has been guaranteed to be abolished by Labour – surely you can’t have missed this ?

      I gave up reading the remainder of your list.

    • Denis Mollison 26th Apr '14 - 8:42am

      Stephen –

      Thanks for the spreadsheet link, but those are actually for me the less interesting questions.
      Can you provide results on other questions – the following were 3 of the 5 headlined when announcing the survey, but I haven’t seen any results:
      1. do you support or oppose Scotland becoming independent?
      2. should we decriminalise/legalise ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs?
      3. hot-topics such as Heathrow expansion, opt-in organ donation, e-cigarettes, 50p top-rate of tax, pension annuities, and Nick v Nigel

    • Bill le Breton 26th Apr '14 - 9:19am

      Paul in T: “What happens if by this summer the Tories are consistently level with or ahead of Labour? How will the Lib Dems position themselves if it starts to look like the most likely outcome next year is an outright Conservative victory?”

      This is precisely the point I have been making for many months now. As someone who ran a successful Parliamentary and local (borough-wide) campaign in 1983, I recall that it requires a different approach to the one that is implicit in the present approach to 2015, which seems slavishly to follow predictions by academics wishing to be some new Nate Silver-Back.

      I have argued that we need at the very least a contingency plan … or to be careful about prejudicing our position in advance of a quite solid Tory majority … I think I have crossed swords with you over 1983 recently. The Falkland’s effect masked for many the underlying reaction to the public’s change of heart over a governing party’s controversial economic policy.

      Those who predict election results need a separate category for elections that follow severe slumps. 1983 is the closest to our present economic ‘history’. Between December ’81 and June 1983 the Tory VI rose from the mid 20%s, declined somewhat in late 1982 and settled at 42.5% on election day.

      The 2015 election is about how two ‘block’ votes distribute themselves; how the Tory/UKIP vote divides and how the Lab/LD vote responds to tactical arguments.

    • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th Apr '14 - 9:20am

      Bill le Breton and others
      Totally support your views on the honourable way to end Nick’s and his team’s failure. They appear to be intent on saving the Tories, saving the ‘agreement to remain’, and NOT saving the party we worked tirelessly to build over decades. Your views are the only realistic way to build local campaigns over the next year, retain our remaining active members, recruit for the future and save some of our best MPs in the process. Surely Nick knows that his own record of failure will lead to him being forced out if he will not go willingly. So much better for him to go voluntarily before an ignominious end.

    • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th Apr '14 - 9:26am

      oops – recruite

    • @Bill le Breton – In your analysis you point out that the Press have played a key role in undermining NC.If the Party were to proceed as you describe do you think that would generate favourable or unfavourable coverage for us in what’ll be an election year.?

    • Peter Chivall 26th Apr '14 - 10:24am

      To come back to the headline: the figures may not lie but the ‘spin’ can often distort the truth. I answered the survey as one of the 81%, but my answer was a reluctant acceptance of the Coalition as the best of worst choices in 2010.
      As for Clegg’s stisfaction ratings, they have shown a steady decline since 2010 and while they have recovered 2 or 3 times in the last year, each ‘peak’ is less than the previous one. The overall picture from Stephen’s colour chart is of a leader whose support from his Party is in secular decline.
      This follows Clegg’s total lack of support in the country at large and it seems such a tragedy, that a Party and a movement that I and many others have given most of our lives to over nearly 50 years should be destroyed before our eyes by the hubris of one man and the entryist neoliberal claque that surrounds him.

    • andrew purches 26th Apr '14 - 10:42am

      This reborn Nat.Lib and Conservative Party,which is what ,under Clegg’s leadership,the Lib Dems have sadly become,has very little to expect in the way of electoral support from the average free thinking voter. There is though one item for hope on the horizon, and that is the possibility of the Scots voting for independence,albeit by a sliver of a majority. If this proves to be so, then the Act of Union will have to be repealed if there is to be any hope to the benighted SNP and its aim of statehood coming to be. I sincerely hope that the Lib Dems would actively condemn such a move to repeal this Act and would vote against such a move within the Coalition. For the Scots to leave the Union would be a betrayal of our birthright, and would be an excuse for the U.K. to tear up another treaty,and to leave the European Union after another treacherous referendum.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 26th Apr '14 - 11:19am

      @Fred
      I do not dispute that the genesis of some government policy always owes its origins to what was partly developed in previous administrations: e.g. the Conservatives’ political necessity to embrace the post war consensus and the mixed economy under MacMillan in the 1950s. Or Blair’s partial adoption of Thatcherism. (When Blair’s first act as Prime Minister was to invite Thatcher into Downing Street and pledged to continue Major’s spending commitments, I promptly resigned from Labour, by the way). Parties of government always humiliate the opposition by reminding them they they are only building on legislation and reforms that they enacted when previously in power. But this Coalition has taken this to a whole new order of misrepresentation: take just one example, the bedroom tax, that Labour has thankfully now promised to repeal. The Liberal Democrats say that it is necessary to impose it in order to get rid of the inequalities between private and public sector tenants and to ensure that tenants in the public sector are encouraged to downsize to enable other public sector tenants in overcrowded accomodation to obtain greater living space. This sounds very worthy but it is an eggregious misrepresentation of the true rationale for a measure which was really designed only to reduce public spending and claw back money from public sector tenants on benefits, the poorest people in our society, and re-distribute this money to the rich in the form of reduced taxes.

      The Liberal Democrat bedroom tax has succeeded only in producing new inequalities . For example, whilst it is true that under Labour spare bedrooms in the private sector were not subsidised, this withdrawal of subsidy was not imposed retrospectively, and therefore did not affect existing private sector tenants, only new ones. If the Coalition had applied its bedroom tax fairly, the government should have phased it in only for new tenants in the public sector and not impose d it on existing ones, many of whom had been tenants of their properties for ten years or more, and many for decades. These were people’s homes and this wicked tax forced them to choose between turning their lives upside down, losing relatively punitive amounts of benefit, or getting into huge amounts of debt to sustain themselves in homes that they had lived in all their lives. Often there was no choice of alternative accomodation, so they simply had to stay put and get into huge arrears. Many of these tenants were disabled and lived in specially adapted homes. It was as great a crime as the Highland Clearances. And what has it saved? All over the country Local Authorities and associations are mired in rent arrears. But the Liberal Democrat arm of government continues to defend the policy with the words “We’re only doing what Labour did”. Completely untrue. The Liberal Democrats and the Tories, and only they, were the architects of this bedroom tax. It is nothing like Labour’s non-retrospective measure.

      When are the Liberal democrats going to stop bleating “It wasn’t me guv, it was the previous lot” and accept responsibility for what they have been doing for the past four years? Sartre described blaming other people for your own freedom to make and take decisions as “bad faith”. It’s this constant “bad faith” which is turning voters off you in their millions.
      For a fuller critique of the Bedroom Tax and its consequences please follow this link: http://julesbirch.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/the-bedroom-tax-only-fair-to-private-tenants/

    • @Mac “When are the Liberal democrats going to stop bleating “It wasn’t me guv, it was the previous lot” and accept responsibility for what they have been doing for the past four years? ”

      Did Labour accept responsibility for the previous 13 years, and the car wreck they left behind?

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 26th Apr '14 - 11:53am

      @Will Mann
      You are obviously talking about the global car wreck caused by reckless, greedy bankers gambling with other people’s money. Why should Labour accept responsibility for the actions of those people? They were unregulated and operating all over the world.

    • @Mack Why should Labour accept responsibility for the actions of those people?

      Because they were the government in power for 13 years? Gordon Brown loved those ‘greedy bankers’, promising them a “predictable and light touch regulatory environment” and praising their “remarkable achievements” as recently as his 2007 Mansion House speech.

      It is laughable to absolve Labour from blame for the crash of six years ago, and Brown himself admitted to a “big mistake” in his handling of financial regulation before 2008.

      And yes, you can say the Tories wouldn’t have done anything differently, but the fact is the crash happened on Labour’s watch.

    • daft ha'p'orth 26th Apr '14 - 12:40pm

      @Will Mann 26th Apr ’14 – 11:29am
      > “When are the Liberal democrats going to stop bleating “It wasn’t me guv, it was the previous lot”
      “Did Labour?”

      OK, so when are the Lib Dems going to stop bleating ‘Labour wouldn’t do it, so why should we?’ As mum used to say, if Labour jumped off a cliff, would that make it ok to do it too?

      @Billy Boulton 25th Apr ’14 – 10:10pm
      “I almost regret taking the bait but I felt compelled to respond to this barrage of half-truths and inaccuracies. SOme alternative points of view…….
      Massive hiking of tuition fees despite coming to power on a pledge not to.
      OR devising a system which whatever the rights and wrongs of “the pledge” is generally accepted to involve less cost up front for most students and does not appear to be putting people off HE. ”

      Speaking of half-truths and inaccuracies, your very first point is a good example of the genre. From http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21769963 , I quote, ‘There has been a “dramatic decline” in the number of people studying part-time for degrees in England […] numbers taking up part-time undergraduate degrees have fallen by 40% since 2010 – that is 105,000 fewer students.’ Your problem here is that you are only interested in full-time students and have failed to look at the impact of the policy on part-time/mature students, who have been kicked right in the nuts by this silly system.

    • I would happily support Charles Kennedy. However the important issue is to have a choice of a leader to take us into 2015 otherwise we shall find that there are many who have spent years raising the Lib Dem profile who will run out of patience so enlarging the ‘none of the above’ vote in 2015.

    • Some of the commentators on here should get out and about a bit more, away from the Lib Dem Voice bubble. The suggestion to change our leader in the run up to the 2015 election is a shambolic nonsense. It is also an insult to our supporters and the wider electorate. Change the leader and everyone is supposed to forget about the decisions we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken?

      Lib Dems who are only happy as a party of perpetual opposition will have to accept that we are now a party of goverment with a record the electorate will expect us to defend. We are certainly not a one man band!

    • Firstly I don’t think Nick Clegg will resign as leader because he believes he should lead the party into the 2015 general election so he can promote our successes in government. I hope this would include recognising and explaining our mistakes.

      @ Bill Le Breton – “It is well known that I hope the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons calls for a new Leader after the Euro elections with a person emerging from that meeting of the Parliamentary Party as a single leadership nomination. I hope they have the sense to choose someone who is or has been a member of this Government, but they are a canny lot and I for one have confidence in them. I also hope the President and Deputy Leader see it as their duty to the Party to manage this process.”

      Bill may have confidence in them, but after the tuition fees and secret court messes I don’t.

      Even if we had a new leader we haven’t a convincing answer to the charge we can’t be trusted. We promised a different type of politics and didn’t deliver. Nick Clegg managed the Coalition badly and he doesn’t seem to have learnt that lesson. A new leader may have but I doubt it. We need to explain why we didn’t veto the bedroom tax, NHS top-down reform and secret courts (I am sure others can add more).

      I believe there is no convincing answer why most of our MPs broke their personal pledge and therefore we will only be trusted again once all of our MPs that voted for the tuition fees increase are replaced and we can say we have cleaned out our house of those who break their pledges. This is not happening and will not have happened by 2015 and so trust will be an issue for us in the general election and no matter how great our new policies are people will say, “but when you get into government we can’t trust you to carry them out”.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 26th Apr '14 - 2:20pm

      @ Will Mann

      You’ll be telling me next that the police are responsible for all the crimes committed. The bankers caught everyone with their pants down. I seem to recall that the American Regulators were a few people with just one office from which they were expected to regulate the whole of Wall Street. What on earth has that got to do with the Lib Dems’ record in government? Their reneging on tuition fees? The Bedroom tax? The gaggin g Law? etc, etc. Of course labour got some things wrong. But I don’t think you can pin the entire Global financial crisis on them. Perhaps, you should re-read my section on “Bad faith” again.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 26th Apr '14 - 3:18pm

      @ Billy Boulton
      And while we are on the subject of half truths and innacuracies:

      “OR devising a system which whatever the rights and wrongs of “the pledge” is generally accepted to involve less cost up front for most students and does not appear to be putting people off HE.”

      Wrong. The massive hike in Tuition fees has reduced student numbers considerably, in some cases by more than 40%
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/9811776/Fees-backlash-leads-to-sharp-decline-in-student-numbers.html

      “while the merits of privatisation can be debated ad infinitum, liberals have never claim to be dogmatic on public v private ownership and in any case let’s not pretend the Labour government did not want to privatise this.”

      Wrong: consult the 2010 Labour Manifesto and you’ll find we promised to continue modernisation and investment in the Royal Mail and keep it in the Public Sector. We also promised to protect Post Offices and turn them into People’s Banks. Some of the Right in our party were keen to partly privatise the Royal Mail but the Trade Unions and the Left saw them off. We would never have sold it at knock-down prices to the City.
      “Privatisation of the NHS.
      As above”

      Wrong, in our 2010 manifesto we promised that the NHS would remain a universal health service and not a second rate safety net. There was never any intention of Privatising the NHS. We founded the NHS: why on earth would we want to privatise it? It’s the Liberal Democrats and their Tory friends who want to do that. Just as they’ve done with the Royal Mail.

      Re: The Bedroom Tax , you said, “OR simply correcting an unfairness in the existing system whereby private and public sector tenants were treated differently. While I appreciate some have been caused significant hardship as a result this is a fault of implementation rather than the policy itself and I think I’m right in sayong that Labour have NOT committed to reversing this change.”

      Wrong. Ed Miliband has promised to repeal The Bedroom Tax. The rest of your assertion is wrong too: I refer you to my lengthy post on the Bedroom Tax below.

      “Attempt to bomb Syria (Thankfully thwarted by Ed Miliband).
      OR introducing parliamentary democracy to these issues so that the UK no longer launches military action without the express support of parliament – a huge improvement from the Blair years.”

      Actually, Tony Blair did seek the approval of parliament for his Invasion of Iraq. Most of the Tories supported it too. The very people the Liberal democrats are shoring up now. Funny how the Lib Dems’ commendable principles concerning Iraq evaporated at the prospect of entering into power with the very people who supported Labour’s invasion.

      I could go on and on correcting your innacuracies but frankly It’s making me lose the will to live: hopefully others on here will correct your other half truths.

    • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 26th Apr '14 - 3:22pm

      Correction: should read “I refer you to my lengthy post on the Bedroom Tax (@Fred) above.

    • David Allen 26th Apr '14 - 7:54pm

      Robert (opposing a leadership change): “Change the leader and everyone is supposed to forget about the decisions we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken?”

      A very good point. So, first, the change must be as soon as possible: second, it must be about political principles, not just because Clegg is our Moyes: third, it must be a fundamental change. It certainly mustn’t be Alexander, who would represent no real change. It shouldn’t be a middle-of-the-road person either. It has to be someone who can articulate real change. It has to be someone who can convincingly offer to work with Labour and who can convincingly refuse to renew Coalition on the current terms.

    • @RC “We’re hardly going to fight on a joint platform with the Tories, are we?”

      As far as I can tell from his comments, that is pretty much what Nick Clegg plans to do. Of course, the Tories, per their usual modus operandi, will be looking to wipe the Liberal Democrats out.

      When this Coalition started, I pointed out that in almost every past instance of a coalition including the Conservatives, the Tories had ended by devouring their coalition partners; that they should be regarded as extremely dangerous, and, if a coalition could not be avoided, the Tories needed to be kept at arms’ length, and the coalition should be ended early enough to allow the Liberal Democrats complete freedom to campaign independently. It seems, however, that Clegg & Co have no awareness or interest in the historical record and are proceeding full steam ahead to repeat the mistakes of the past.

    • @ David-1 “When this Coalition started, I pointed out that in almost every past instance of a coalition including the Conservatives, the Tories had ended by devouring their coalition partners”

      I thought I would post the evidence:

      1806-07 Ministry of all the Talents Whig-Tory
      1852-55 Peelite Conservatives-Whig
      1859-66 Whig-Conservative Peelite – Whigs “devoured” the Peelites to form the Liberal Party
      1895-1905 Conservative-Liberal Unionist
      1912 Merger of Liberal Unionists with the Conservatives
      1915-16 Liberal-Conservative
      1916-18 Conservative-Liberal
      1918-22 Coupon Conservative Liberal
      1931-40 National Conservative Liberal Labour
      1940-45 Conservative-Labour-Liberal-National Liberal
      1951-64 Conservative-Liberal National
      1968 Final assimilation of the Liberal Nationals into the Conservative Party.
      1987 Merger of SDP and Liberal Party

      Therefore once the Whigs “devoured” their smaller coalition partner.
      Twice the Conservative party “devoured” their smaller coalition partners.
      On all three occasions there continued to be MPs who were elected to the parent party of those who were “devoured”!

    • @Amalric — the end of the wartime coalition experiment in 1922 may not have been marked by the absorption of the Liberals into the Conservatives, but in a way by an even more striking success for the Tories — the elimination of the Liberals (the most powerful force in British politics before the war) as a major political party, and their split into factions bent on mutual recrimination, unable to deal with the resilient Tories or rising Labour.
      The National Government of the ‘Thirties was likewise a disaster for the Conservatives’ coalition partners, not just the National Liberals but also the MacDonaldite rump of Labour. In both the ‘Twenties and the ‘Thirties the Tories put up with a PM of a different party (Lloyd George, MacDonald) as long as he was useful, and then dumped him when they felt the appearance of national solidarity had been satisfied and they were ready to resume power into their own hands. Anyone who thinks there will be any residual love for the Lib Dems on the part of the Tories once their votes are no longer needed is engaged in self-deception.

    • Tony Dawson 27th Apr '14 - 3:42pm

      @Mack (Not a Lib Dem):

      “I hope that at the next general election the Liberal Democrats will candidly tell the electorate that they prefer to go into coalition with the Tories. ”

      Would that be Osborne’s Tories of Miliband’s lot?

      For all the opposition rhetoric, let us look at the record of the last few Labour governments which Miliband was a key part of. The gap between the rich and the poor in the UK increased even more than Mrs Thatcher increased that gap.

    • “The gap between the rich and the poor in the UK increased even more than Mrs Thatcher increased that gap”

      But we didn’t have 1million people relying on food banks. Under the Tories we had Cardboard City in the 80s and now are reverting to the same levels of poverty and homelessness.

    • @ David-1 – “the Tories put up with a PM of a different party (Lloyd George, MacDonald) as long as he was useful, and then dumped him when they felt the appearance of national solidarity had been satisfied”
      In 1922 the Conservative leadership wanted to continue with the Coalition while the grass roots and back benchers became disillusioned.
      MacDonald retired and wasn’t dumped in 1935 (by then his health was bad).
      The “MacDonaldites” were always going to find it difficult to return to the Labour Party. By 1945 there were 5 and they while they stood in the general election they didn’t stand as Conservatives but they did support Churchill. It appears that National Labour didn’t have a very good organisation unlike National Liberal who managed to continue for over thirty years. The Liberal Unionists managed to exist for over twenty-five years with one of them Austen Chamberlain becoming Conservative leader.

      I never said that the Tories loved their Coalition partners now or in the past.

    • I reckon it’s a poll of only members who read this site and not of the whole membership. The coalition has been a disaster for the Lib Dems; it has dragged the party to the right and has lost its identity. Clegg has not been able to give the party a national identity something both Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown did and until there is a change of leader I fear the worst in the forthcoming Euro and Local elections.

    • Lib Dems are 81% Tory? That would have shocked me once, but no more.

      The only thing separating the LDs from the Tories these days is the EU.

      In conclusion, if there is a hung parliament (as I think there will be) after the next election (assuming Scotland votes “No”), then the next government will be another LD/Tory coalition. If the price of that is an in/out referendum on the EU, then the LDs will pay it.

    • @JUF – “Lib Dems are 81% Tory?”

      No, that is not what it says above. Lib Dems are there to get Lib Dem policies implemented in full if possible, or, if not, either in part or an appropriate agreed compromise.

      Had Labour been interested at the time – and they clearly weren’t – they could have made a serious effort to form a coalition based on getting agreed Lab/Lib Dem coalition policies implemented. Instead they opted for the opposition benches thus putting the Conservatives into power..

    • @Paul R:

      Strictly speaking you’re right, it’s not what it says above. However, I’m choosing to apply “duck typing” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_typing).

      I cannot see Nick Clegg and his leadership team resigning this side of the GE. Indeed why should they if 81% of LDs are happy with the situation?

      If Scotland votes “No” then I think we will see a hung parliament. On the basis of everything that has happened since 2010, I think that Labour could offer to implement the entire LibDem manifesto in full, and the LibDem leadership would still find some pretext why they couldn’t do a deal and form a new coalition with the Tories. The 81% above would suggest that the party as a whole would back them in this.

      That’s a decision that the LibDems are quite at liberty to take, but I think that they should at least be honest with the public and admit that they are nor “equidistant” but rather have a strong preference for the Tories.

      If Scotland votes “yes” then we will see a Tory majority now and forever and leave the EU 🙁

      (and to think I decided to look at LDV because the Norwich City forum is so depressing at the moment)

    • Adrian Fullam 29th Apr '14 - 9:59pm

      @ Sandy – I agree with virtually all your comments.
      I am a positive person who wants to see a more liberal, empowering approach that rewards effort and enables everyone to have a fair crack at achieving prosperity. I think Labour fails on the first and Tories (and UKIP) fail on the latter. For a lifetime we have had little relevance. For a while we have achieved some of our objectives while holding our noses to Tory policies. However, anyone who thinks we were wrong should look at the list of stuff Tories are wanting to do without our constraint. I think history will be kinder than contemporary comment.
      I am keen to fight for a strong Liberal, Democratic force in 2015 and to build from that base to further successes, equipped with the practical experience of government. I think many on this forum don’t , but I look forward to fighting next to those who do.
      Nick has played a tough hand with no manual. He is living an interesting life and he has had opportunities that generations of Liberal Democrats haven’t. Whenever he leaves the leadership of the party, he’ll be OK – I hope people will then reflect on his dignity and personal commitment when things have been tough and support in short supply.

    • @JUF – “On the basis of everything that has happened since 2010, I think that Labour could offer to implement the entire LibDem manifesto in full, and the LibDem leadership would still find some pretext why they couldn’t do a deal and form a new coalition with the Tories. The 81% above would suggest that the party as a whole would back them in this”

      The Lib Dems are there to see as many Lib Dem policies as is possible at any given time, so, neither the parliamentary party nor the wider party would turn down an offer to implement the Lib Dem manifesto in full (subject to it being possible given the state of the economy at implementation time). The other main parties are only “useful” to the Lib Dems in doing so (and vice versa applies also obviously).

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