EXCLUSIVE: How party members rate the performances of leading Lib Dems

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results of our survey over the past few days.

Today, in the final part of our survey, we focus on the performances of the leading lights of the Liberal Democrats – those of our MPs in the cabinet, those occupying ministerial positions, and other leading Lib Dems:

How would you rate the performances of the following leading Liberal Democrats and government ministers?

Full results are published below, but here’s three key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with September 2010 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Chris Huhne +68% (+59%)
  • Steve Webb +53% (+28%)
  • Vince Cable +47% (+60%)
  • Lynne Featherstone +43% (+54%)
  • Danny Alexander +40% (+26%)

Big changes this month compared with September’s figures — most notably, that Nick Clegg’s rating as deputy prime minister has plunged from +60% to +33%, seeing his position drop from 1st place to 6th, no doubt in large part thanks to his U-turn on tuition fees. Vince Cable has also suffered a fees backlash among members, with his ratings falling from +60% to +47%. Their relative fall from grace sees Chris Huhne top the popularity poll among members for the first time, followed by a big riser this month, Steve Webb, whose unlikely-but-solid partnership with Iain Duncan Smith appears to be winning plaudits across the political spectrum. Lynne Featherstone retains her fourth place, while Danny Alexander regains his position in the top 5 after relegation last month, perhaps in recognition of the relative relief that the CSR wasn’t as bad as many had feared.

Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Paul Burstow +17% (+4%)
  • Alistair Carmichael +17% (+12%)
  • Nick Harvey +14% (+3%)
  • Jeremy Browne +7% (+11%)
  • Michael Moore +7% (+6%)

Little change here; simply a small reshuffle, with Nick Harvey climbing up from the bottom, perhaps in recognition of his work in ensuring Trident isn’t renewed on the Lib Dems’ watch. In fact, terming this a ‘bottom 5’ seems harsh this month, as all but one have improved their standing among party members — the exception is Jeremy Browne, whose BBC1 Question Time performance coincided with our polling, and may well have adversely affected his results. We’ll see in December if his riposte to his critics here on the Voice helps lift his popularity. As I have noted before: “the list stands as a reminder to all our Lib Dem ministers of the value of communicating effectively with party members about the work they’re undertaking on behalf of the party, even if it isn’t making the front pages.” For the record, all Lib Dem government ministers are still showing net positive approval ratings.

And here’s how other leading Lib Dems score:

  • Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader +63% (+60%)
  • Ros Scott, Party President +27% (+30%)
  • Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats +27% (+18%)
  • Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly +22% (+20%)
  • Chris Fox, Lib Dem chief executive +12% (n/a)
  • Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs +3% (+8%)
  • Tavish Scott, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats -1% (+2%)

Simon Hughes as Deputy Leader is now rated among the two most popular Lib Dems overall, with only Chris Huhne’s approval rating higher. Party members appear to approve his vociferous defence of Lib Dem values combined with trenchant support for the Coalition and Nick Clegg personally. As Ros Scott’s presidency draws to a close, she continues to enjoy positive approval ratings, albeit down from the +50% she was recording in spring 2009. Kirsty Williams’ ratings have had a boost this month, perhaps thanks to her visibilty at conference, while Caroline Pidegon’s popularity has also edged up. For the first time, we’ve asked members’ views of the performance of Lib Dem chief executive Chris Fox, who has a +12% approval rating in this debut appearance — of course, it’s likely members are judging not necessarily Chris’s personal performance but their general perception of the effectiveness of Lib Dem HQ. Fiona Hall and Tavish Scott both slip back, perhaps in part because more than two-thirds of members do not feel qualified to rate them at all.

As promised, here are the results in full …

Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Very effective 31%
Quite effective 51%
Quite ineffective 10%
Very ineffective 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 5%
Net effectiveness +68% (+59%)

Steve Webb, Minister of State to the Department for Work and Pensions
Very effective 26%
Quite effective 36%
Quite ineffective 6%
Very ineffective 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 29%
Net effectiveness +53% (+28%)

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very effective 28%
Quite effective 43%
Quite ineffective 14%
Very ineffective 10%
Don’t know / No opinion 5%
Net effectiveness +47% (+60%)

Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) for the Home Office
Very effective 17%
Quite effective 40%
Quite ineffective 10%
Very ineffective 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 28%
Net effectiveness +43% (+54%)

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Very effective 25%
Quite effective 42%
Quite ineffective 14%
Very ineffective 13%
Don’t know / No opinion 5%
Net effectiveness +40% (+26%)

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
Very effective 16%
Quite effective 49%
Quite ineffective 22%
Very ineffective 10%
Don’t know / No opinion 3%
Net effectiveness +33% (+60%)


The Rt Hon. Lord McNally, Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice

Very effective 11%
Quite effective 31%
Quite ineffective 6%
Very ineffective 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 47%
Net effectiveness +32% (+18%)

Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Transport
Very effective 10%
Quite effective 38%
Quite ineffective 13%
Very ineffective 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 35%
Net effectiveness +30% (+28%)

Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Very effective 10%
Quite effective 32%
Quite ineffective 14%
Very ineffective 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 39%
Net effectiveness +23% (+12%)

Edward Davey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very effective 9%
Quite effective 31%
Quite ineffective 12%
Very ineffective 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 44%
Net effectiveness +23% (+11%)

Sarah Teather, Minister of State for the Department for Education
Very effective 8%
Quite effective 39%
Quite ineffective 16%
Very ineffective 10%
Don’t know / No opinion 27%
Net effectiveness +21% (+23%)

David Heath, Parliamentary Secretary (Deputy Leader) to the Office of the Leader of the Commons
Very effective 12%
Quite effective 21%
Quite ineffective 8%
Very ineffective 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 58%
Net effectiveness +21% (+16%)

Paul Burstow, Minister of State for the Department of Health
Very effective 9%
Quite effective 29%
Quite ineffective 12%
Very ineffective 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 45%
Net effectiveness +17% (+4%)

Alistair Carmichael, Deputy Chief Whip to the House of Commons
Very effective 7%
Quite effective 19%
Quite ineffective 6%
Very ineffective 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 65%
Net effectiveness +17% (+12%)

Nick Harvey, Minister of State (Minister for the Armed Forces) for the Ministry of Defence
Very effective 6%
Quite effective 24%
Quite ineffective 11%
Very ineffective 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 53%
Net effectiveness +14% (+3%)

Jeremy Browne, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Very effective 6%
Quite effective 21%
Quite ineffective 13%
Very ineffective 7%
Don’t know / No opinion 53%
Net effectiveness +7% (+11%)

Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland
Very effective 5%
Quite effective 19%
Quite ineffective 12%
Very ineffective 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 59%
Net effectiveness +7% (+6%)

Other leading Lib Dems:

Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
Very effective 35%
Quite effective 43%
Quite ineffective 10%
Very ineffective 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 8%
Net effectiveness +63% (+60%)

Ros Scott, Party President
Very effective 19%
Quite effective 33%
Quite ineffective 18%
Very ineffective 7%
Don’t know / No opinion 23%
Net effectiveness +27% (+30%)

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Very effective 12%
Quite effective 24%
Quite ineffective 7%
Very ineffective 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 55%
Net effectiveness +27% (+18%)

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly
Very effective 12%
Quite effective 20%
Quite ineffective 7%
Very ineffective 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 58%
Net effectiveness +22% (+20%)

Chris Fox, Lib Dem chief executive
Very effective 10%
Quite effective 20%
Quite ineffective 10%
Very ineffective 8%
Don’t know / No opinion 53%
Net effectiveness +12% (n/a)

Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs
Very effective 5%
Quite effective 13%
Quite ineffective 9%
Very ineffective 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 68%
Net effectiveness +3% (+8%)

Tavish Scott, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Very effective 3%
Quite effective 15%
Quite ineffective 12%
Very ineffective 7%
Don’t know / No opinion 63%
Net effectiveness -1% (+2%)

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 580 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 10th November.
  • 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 accurately predicted the results of the contest for Party President, and the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
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    23 Comments

    • I predicted the most pertinent of these results by my comments in the previous results thread.
      Though for some reason they are being moderated where previously my comments were not.
      I trust that this is not due to them being critical of the Leadership.

    • Liberal Neil 14th Nov '10 - 12:42pm

      Stephen, you commentary doesn’t really match the questions.

      In the questions you ask how effective each person is while your commentary seems to be more about how popular they are.

      The two things are different.

      For example think Vince Cable is quite effective in his role in Cabinet but, if asked, would tell you that I am extremely unhappy with him because of what he has done on tuition fees.

      If you want to know how popular these people are you should ask that in the questions.

    • Clearly this reflects the views of the hardcore 10% that is still motivated to express an opinion. Nice to see that 93 people think that Nick Clegg is “very effective”.

    • Foregone Conclusion 14th Nov '10 - 1:05pm

      Nice to see Chris Huhne at the top. My esteem for him (never that low) has gone up sharply in the past six months – he’s both an effective minister, and in the brief he’s been given he’s able to push vigorously for action to avoid climate change. Glad to see that Steve Webb’s also receiving the plaudits he deserves. Both real talents to be proud of, IMHO.

      Not surprised, though, to see Clegg’s ratings down. By any measure, sadly, his performance in the last few months has been ineffective…

    • BTW, anyone noticed the predictable slagging off in the Times about Vince Cable giving £32m to Agusta Westland?

      Nothing to do with a certain BSkyB decision, of course.

      Bloody Murdoch!

    • Robert C,

      “Bloody Murdoch!”

      But you’re happy to support Murdoch’s party…?

    • @ Sesenco

      But we aren’t supporting Labour, are we?

    • You have my full apologies Mark.

      The only reason I was perturbed was that, as I said, I’ve never been moderated before.
      I keep my comments as temperate as possible, even when I feel extremely strongly about an issue, and try to always stick within the LDV guidelines for posting.
      I would also never knowingly spam any thread.

      I appreciate the full range of discussion that Liberal Democrat Voice encourages, and even if I disagree at times with some of the pieces or posters, I applaud and admire the incredible hard work that clearly goes into maintaining this site and keeping it full of varied and interesting pieces from a variety of perspectives.

    • Christine Headley 14th Nov '10 - 11:36pm

      @The Spiderplant

      I’ve been in and out like a yoyo. At one point I couldn’t access the LibDemVoice members page, or EARS, but I could get into the membership area of the national website, as I’m constituency membership secretary. This has happened more than once. It’s a glitch, not a personal attack….

    • Sadly I find such “opinion polls” rather pointless.

      The assumption is that all those who reply are “well informed”. Any apparent “changes” might be simply linked to the amount of publicity for an individual that the respondent was aware of during the survey period. But how are they informed – Murdoch – other people’s rantings on some web site or another or what?

      Therefore, the only part of this survey that I would treat as reliable and authentic is where respondents replied “Don’t know/no opinion”. As these can be more than 50% of respondents on many occasions, it surely indicates how “well informed” the majority of respondents are – or are not…….

    • Nick (not Clegg) 15th Nov '10 - 11:29am

      One striking feature of the survey is the number of LibDem members of the government for whom a large percentage of respondents were unable to give an opinion as to their effectiveness. I suspect that that is because the performance of many of them is completely invisible to us. Perhaps that’s a problem for the new party president to address.

      Meanwhile, I recall that one of the LibDem “successes” claimed in the early days of the coalition was that there was a LibDem “embedded” in almost every government department. I think this begs the question as to whether those “embedded” LibDems are (a) fully supportive of this government’s right wing policies, (b) “in office but not in power” , or (c) asleep.

    • One flaw in this analysis is that, for some of the individuals, very large numbers of respondents (in some cases a clear majority) have no idea whether or not they are effective – probably because they have no idea of what they are actually doing, if anything. I would suggest that as politicians this suggests they aren’t being particularly effective!

      The ranking of people on the basis of “pro” less” con” votes whilst ignoring the equally important factor of to what extent their work and performance is even recognised in the first place would appear to be a flawed analysis?

    • toryboysnevergrowup 16th Nov '10 - 5:29pm

      Quite revealing how LibDem members give a higher ineffectiveness rating (32%) to Nick Clegg than all the other LibDems in Government. It appears that even among LibDems the more you hear of what your ministers are doing the more that you have concerns.

    • ‘Quite revealing how LibDem members give a higher ineffectiveness rating (32%) to Nick Clegg than all the other LibDems in Government. It appears that even among LibDems the more you hear of what your ministers are doing the more that you have concerns.’

    • Terry Gilbert 24th Nov '10 - 12:43pm

      @John – Nick Clegg is intending to break a personal pledge he made to the voters of Sheffield Hallam. I’d call that pretty ineffective, and I suspect even a lot of the 49% who think he’s effective enough in other ways to mark him ‘quite effective’ agree with me on that. If he succeeds in getting a fully elected House of Lords by PR, I might revise him up a notch, but the tuition fee pledge issue is a no-brainer (to quote one Lib Dem backbencher of my acquaintance!)

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