EXCLUSIVE: 84% of Lib Dem members back Lib-Con Coalition – but 43% say it will be bad for party’s electoral fortunes

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the Coalition Government’s budget, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Over 350 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results of our survey this week.

First, we thought we should take the temperature of the party membership regarding their view of the Lib-Con Coalition agreement, now some two months old. We asked: Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

Here’s what our sample of party members said:

    84% – Support
    11% – Oppose
    5% – Don’t know / No opinion

That’s a pretty overhwelming endorsement of the coalition agreement after what has been a difficult first few weeks, with the resignation of David Laws and the Osborne / Alexander austerity budget. The figure of 84% suggest support for the coalition is holding up pretty well among members: in a previous LDV survey at the end of May, 86% of party members declared themselves “happy” with the coalition agreement. It is, mind you, down a notch on the 91% who told us they would back the coalition in the middle of May.

Support for the coalition is one thing – but what do Lib Dem members think of the performance of the coalition government? We asked: Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

Our sample of party members said:

  • 74% – Approve
  • 17% – Disapprove
  • 9% – Don’t know / No opinion

It is of course early days for the Coalition Government – but, again, this strikes me as a high approval rating. Here are a handful of your comments:

  • It is better than having a minority goverment at this time.
  • It was the only option, given the particular result of the election, Labour having been in power for thirteen years, their bigwigs lining up to trash the idea of a coalition with us and the actual state of the nation’s finances bequeathed by them.
  • Support, still, but with a heavy heart and deep reservations.
  • I am to the left of the party but understand the situation we are in.
  • My support is highly qualified but I support the coalition none-the-less.
  • At the moment I support the coalition, but will not be able to if the projected cuts are made.
  • There was no alternative. But too many red lines are being crossed and there doesnt appear to be an exit plan.
  • It’s still early to have strong feelings. But early work seems to be sensible
  • It’s going better than I thought – the party is doing well.
  • It is very encouraging given the pace of new policies and fresh thinking.
  • Before the election, I would have been very opposed to such a coalition, but I’m now in favour. It’s necessary for the future of the country, as well as to prove the maturity of the party. It gives Labour an easy target, but, if the Lib Dems do a good job, only in the short term.
  • And finally today to the issue which has caused all Lib Dems some jitters over the past two months – however mature / sensible / inevitable the coalition agreement is, will we lose MPs because of it? LDV asked: Do you think the Coalition Government will be good or bad for the Lib Dems’ electoral prospects at the next general election?

    Here’s what you told us:

    • 23% – Good
    • 43% – Bad
    • 17% – Neither good nor bad
    • 18% – Don’t know / No opinion

    So a plurality of you (43%) reckon the Lib Dems will take a hit for signing up to the coalition. On the plus-side, almost one-quarter (23%) of you reckon we wll benefit while a further 17% reckon the effect will be neutral. Understandably, almost one-fifth of Lib Dem members in our sample have no idea what might (or might not) happen in the course of this Parliament, and how it will affect, positively or not, the Lib Dems.

    Here’s a sample of your comments:

  • Need AV to go through to lessen effect of being in coalition in a country not used to coalitions (yet). I do think the Lib Dems being in government is a good thing though – we’re finally implementing policies on a national level – it’s just a shame about the timing.
  • I don’t feel this will be clear until the effects of the budget is known down the line. It will also depend on the outcome of electoral reform.
  • It’s very hard to tell at the moment; one thing is sure, to stop now or in the immediate future will certainly damage our election prospects. If we can show we can act responsibly as a Govt then we should benefit from that.
  • This one is very hard to call, but it will be good for the country.
  • One problem for the Party is money – given we no longer receive Short money. I believe all our government ministers, who are all now being paid significantly more than they would have expected prior to the election, to donate a significant proportion of their additional income (after tax) to the Party. Especially given the new rules about tithing councillors!
  • Without improving the out reach to the grassroots there is a great risk of demoralisation and weakening of campaigning effort
  • I believe that our popularity will dive at the next election, so we better make the most of it now!
  • It should be good for the public to see the Lib Dems in responsible positions and taking difficult decisions. However the decisions may be so difficult that people react against those who have had to take them. It’s hard to tell which way it will go.
  • It will depend on how distinctive the LibDems are once the economy is on the right track in a couple of years.
  • Too late for doubts now – we have to run with it.
  • You can catch up with the results of all our LDV members surveys by clicking here.

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    19 Comments

    • As recently as March 2010 polls were showing Lib Dem support somewhere between 15% and 18%. If you look at polling data for the last five years, 15% is about par for the course. Things were looking far worse during 2007 and 2008 than they do now; going and sticking as low as 11% at times.

      There is really no evidence that indicates a crisis of support. In fact, it is holding up pretty well given that not a single newspaper has anything nice to say about us. Never mind the continuous stream of poison spilling from the Labour party and its supporters.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Jul '10 - 11:11am

      “For what it’s worth, LibDem performance at general elections is actually slightly negatively correlated with vote share.”

      I think that implies that there are other relevant factors (such as the difference between the Tory vote share and the Lib Dem vote share) that need to be taken into account!

    • You would think that being in government has put the Lib Dems more into the spotlight. My mum didn’t know who Nick Clegg was until the debates, but she knows the Lib Dems as well as any other party now. This is your party polling *after* the public breakthrough and exposure that you’ve been saying you haven’t had and *before* the effect of these extra unnecessary cuts hit home.

    • Brown was like a man going into a restaraunt with a party of friends and enough money to pay for the starters, yet going on to order main courses, wines, and desert. Labour supporters moaning about cuts, are like Gordons guests miffed cos someone has told them they can’t have a coffee and mints as well and will have to wash the dishes to pay for the meal.

      It’s quite amusing to hear all these Labour people suddenly remember we all meant to be left wing. Anyone left wing should have quit the Labour Party when Robin Cook resigned.

      Apparent the coalition government is not left-wing enough – would that be something to do with the voting system?
      that means the Lib Dems were denied 100-150 more MPs.

      My only quible is with the headline – it’s not 84% of members but 84% of 350 Lib Dem member who are also Lib Dem Voice subscribers who responded to our poll 🙂

    • “Brown was like a man going into a restaraunt with a party of friends and enough money to pay for the starters, yet going on to order main courses, wines, and desert. Labour supporters moaning about cuts, are like Gordons guests miffed cos someone has told them they can’t have a coffee and mints as well and will have to wash the dishes to pay for the meal.”

      First off- the idea that we’re in trouble because Labour overspent as a matter of course is nonsense. Before the crash, the deficit was mediocre and manageable. Anyone would have had to spend after the banks failed. Brown is like a person going into a restaurant with enough money for the meal, finding that the previous occupier had sawed away at the chair legs, and getting the blame when the chair he sits on comes crashing down. If the Tories hadn’t have fundamentally changed the economy so that it relied heavily on banking we wouldn’t have been hit as hard by the crisis.

      “It’s quite amusing to hear all these Labour people suddenly remember we all meant to be left wing. Anyone left wing should have quit the Labour Party when Robin Cook resigned. ”

      And join an alternative like the Lib Dems that’s worse for working people? Leave the party of our great grandfathers and grandmothers because of one leader?

      “Apparent the coalition government is not left-wing enough – would that be something to do with the voting system?
      that means the Lib Dems were denied 100-150 more MPs. ”

      The Lib Dems aren’t left-wing, as your comrades here keep saying. Clegg said he wanted purely cuts, you haven’t tempered the Tories they have tempered your lot.

    • “Labour supporters moaning about cuts”

      I take issue with this as well. Labour people are against cuts because we know what it means for ordinary people. These cuts aren’t abstract. And, as the OBR said, it is unnecessary even by George Osborne’s own unnecessarily severe targets to make these extra cuts. Darling’s plan would have met them easily.

    • Mouse: I agree – members who are really angry/disillusioned with the party will likely not be hanging around LDV, and won’t be representative in any number of other ways.

      I still don’t know how the party is to go about communicating to the country which bits of policy are due to Lib Dem support within Cabinet and which bits are in spite of Lib Dem opposition – especially as the time since the Coalition Agreement increases and we move into matters that have arisen more recently. I think this needs to be dealt with pretty urgently.

    • Of course New Labour overspent, they could get away with it while the economy was in its artificial boom – created by letting the City bankers run riot and letting house-price inflation run away.
      When the music stopped – the deficit that Brown and Darling had been running became unsustainable.
      And the general public woke up to the fact that their personal credit was huge.

      They were warned that the chickens were queuing at the door of the roost but chose to rubbish everyone that said so.
      Fact – More UK manufacturing industry was lost under New Labour than under Thatcher.

    • @simonsez: They could get away with it while the premises your party shares about the efficiency of markets seemed to hold true. It’s very well you saying that after the fact, show me where you warned of this artificial boom before the crash.

    • Mike, Vince Cable was certainly warning of unsustainability well before the election!

    • @Tim13: Nonsense, his claims to fame as “the man who foresaw the recession” was based on him saying something vague about banks that, in the end, wasn’t the reason for the banking crisis. All the people with a genuine claim to have seen the problems coming- Will Hutton, David Blanchflower, etc- are the ones arguing against your party and for Labour’s “march to sanity”. All the people who agree with you about cutting now, the Mervyn Kings etc, are the ones who sat on Labour’s right shoulder for the last 20 years whispering poison into their ears.

    • How the hell has this turned into a discussion about Labour! Mouse’s comment about Brown… I understand if you’re that ashamed of your policies that every time you think of them you have to convince yourselves that you have no choice but to institute them because of Labour. But that fact is, that’s a myth.

    • @Olly

      You make a really good point. Which is why I hope that the more enthusiastic Coalition supporters exercise a bit more patience with their left-leaning brothers and sisters. We should do all we can to keep the broad church in place. Otherwise, the Lib Dems may reduce to a centre-right party that might be irrelevant while the Cameroonians are in charge.

    • david thorpe 9th Jul '10 - 1:55pm

      the original conference returned 90 odd percent in favoyur so support is declining….I do support the coalition and I dont think it will harm our electorasl prospects.

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