EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Party Presidency – first members’ poll results are here

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President ends this year. The contest to succeed him appears to be a four-way election between four female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne.

They hold their first official hustings today, Saturday, 10-11am But don’t worry if you can’t make that – LibDemVoice is hosting a special “Who Wants to be Party President?” fringe meeting tomorrow, Sunday from 1-2pm, in the Crowne Plaza (Castle 2), where you can hear from all four, with past party president Baroness (Diana) Maddock chairing.

We asked a series of questions about the party presidency in our survey…

95% in our survey say they will vote! (That won’t be the turnout.)

Four candidates have so far declared their intention to stand for the post of Party President, an election which will be decided by a ballot of all party members this autumn. Do you plan to vote in this election?

    95% – Yes, I plan to vote in this election
    5% – No, I do not plan to vote in this election

Though it’s great to see so many of those signed up to our members’ forum actively engaged in our internal democracy, it’s right to point out that I think this suggests our results below need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The turnout in the presidential election will not be 95%. The turnout in 2010 was just 42%. We’ve always known our surveys are skewed towards the activist vote (indeed, towards the male activist vote). This only matters if the responses of activists are likely to differ considerably from those of ‘armchair’ members. On most policy issues – when tested against other polls – this appears not to be the case.

However, in an internal election where personality is a key factor I can’t be confident that our surveys are necessarily reliable measures. That said, our surveys have in the past correctly predicted the two previous winners of the Party Presidency, Tim Farron and, before him, Baroness (Ros) Scott.

The 95% of those who said they would vote were then asked a follow-up question…

51% of those planning to vote have no idea who to vote for yet

You have answered that you plan to vote in the election for Party President. The question after this one will ask you to rank the declared candidates in order of your current preference. Alternatively, if you have no idea at this stage who you would vote for, please say so now – we will ask the question again before the actual election.

    49% – I have an idea of who I would vote for to be party president
    51% – I have no idea idea who I would vote for at the moment

This really does show there’s still all to play for in this election – just under half those party members who intend to vote have an idea of who they intend to vote for at this stage. Just over half have no idea at all.

The 49% of those who said they would vote and had an idea of for whom were then asked the crunch question using the preferential voting system that will be used in the actual all-member ballot…

Based on what you know, who do you think you are most likely to vote for to be Party President?

Daisy Cooper has the early lead among those with a view

    Round 1:
    22% – Sal Brinton
    44% – Daisy Cooper
    12% – Linda Jack
    22% – Liz Lynne

No candidate secured more than 50% so Linda is eliminated and her votes transferred.

    Round 2
    24% – Sal Brinton
    48% – Daisy Cooper
    28% – Liz Lynne

No candidate secured more than 50% so Sal is eliminated and her votes transferred.

    Round 3
    63% – Daisy Cooper
    36% – Liz Lynne

The winner in this poll is Daisy Cooper.

Congratulations to her on a strong, initial showing. However, I stress the caveats I’ve inserted above. (1) Our surveys are skewed towards activist members and that may well matter in an election where name recognition will count for a lot. And (2) at least half of the activist vote has yet to decide which of the candidates to vote for at all.

Finally, we did ask the 5% of those Lib Dem members who said they won’t be voting at all why not. Among that fairly limited sample, here’s what we found:

    61% – I don’t know enough about the candidates
    6% – I don’t know enough about what the Party President does
    6% – I don’t want to vote for any of the declared candidates
    14% – I don’t think the role of Party President matters
    14% – Other

That three-fifths don’t know enough about the four candidates suggests there’s still potential converts to be won over even among this fairly hard-core 5% abstainers. Among those who answered ‘Other’, by the way, this was mainly down to folk having just joined the party and not feeling yet able to have a say.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    27 Comments

    • Eddie Sammon 4th Oct '14 - 9:04am

      I’m worried by how wide the support is that Daisy has within the Lib Dems. We need someone who will challenge the party and drag it into a new direction, not a consensus candidate.

      So far I support Liz Lynne, but I am not well informed on this one.

    • Chris White 4th Oct '14 - 9:35am

      Daisy a consensus candidate? Have you read her blogs??

    • William Barter 4th Oct '14 - 9:38am

      Eddie – Anyone who has heard Daisy speak will know she is not the establishment candidate. Unlike two of the other candidates, Daisy does is not a parliamentarian – she will not have her loyalties divided between members and the party whip. I doubt Daisy’s support comes from a cosy Westminster consensus.

    • Maria Pretzler 4th Oct '14 - 9:47am

      Given that so few people knew enough about the candidates, can we hope that one or both hustings will be available as video for the large majority of members who can’t come to conference?

      I sincerely hope so.

    • R Uduwerage-Perera 4th Oct '14 - 11:13am

      There are four excellent candidates in this years Presidential Campaign, but alas there can only be one winner and naturally I would favour the candidate who is ‘breaks the mould’ plus has a proven track record for supporting and achieving genuinely progressive and liberal policies, procedures and practices that will ultimately replace us back as the truly Centralist Party in British politics.

    • Eddie Sammon 4th Oct '14 - 11:44am

      It’s nothing personal, but I am no longer considering supporting Daisy’s candidacy after her being sympathetic towards all women short lists. They trample on other areas of diversity and have just been a way for white middle class men to promote fellow white middle class women.

      Liz Lynne it is for me.

    • Conor McGovern 4th Oct '14 - 12:43pm

      Eddie, do you have a link?

    • Eddie Sammon 4th Oct '14 - 12:46pm

      Hi Conor, no sorry, I just seen it on Twitter. I hate sounding intolerant, but tolerating injustice seems to allow it to continue. I’ll try to be more polite, I just struggle with it.

    • Tony Dawson 4th Oct '14 - 1:15pm

      I would imagine that Daisy Cooper is showing this significant early lead because she is not seen by many to be part of the establishment which has spent four years digging a hole for our Party and the last year making sure we cannot get out of it. So she seems untainted. That may be slightly unfair on some of the other candidates but that is how it seems to those who are not ‘closely-involved’.

    • Conor, I believe it is included in this LDV article (not explicity, but definitely inferred):
      https://www.libdemvoice.org/race-equality-survey-of-presidential-candidates-42442.html

      This is what has tipped me into supporting Liz Lynne

    • Conor McGovern 4th Oct '14 - 3:16pm

      @Eddie – Don’t worry I wasn’t making a criticism! 🙂 I’m still backing Daisy but I agree that we shouldn’t adopt positive discrimination. I don’t see it as a reason to drop support though, because she never actually said she’s in favour. If she’s sympathetic to shortlists, it can only be because we know it works, even though it arguably goes against our values. Obviously, values should come first.

    • paul barker 4th Oct '14 - 5:48pm

      I would be quite happy with any of the 4. At the moment I am inclined to support Daisy because she seems the most positive. So far I havent seen her indulging in any of the relentless negativity that seems so popular with many of the serial posters on LDV comment threads.

    • R Uduwerage-Perera 4th Oct '14 - 5:52pm

      Personally on the matter of ‘All Women’ short lists I am firmly on the side of Daisy and the other candidates that support this progressive stance to tackle the obvious inequality that exists within not only our Party but across politics.

      As a Party we have to learn to “walk the talk” regarding equality issues if we are to be taken seriously.

      Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
      English Party Diversity Champion
      Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats – Vice Chair

    • Richard Dean 4th Oct '14 - 6:09pm

      I agree with R Uduwerage-Perera. History seems to have demonstrated pretty well that LibDems won’t succeed in tackling this obvious inequality unless they’re more or less forced to. It’s a pity that the party can’t live up to its ideals without this measure, but one has to tackle reality as it is.

    • Stephen Hesketh 4th Oct '14 - 7:08pm

      @Eddie Sammon 4th Oct ’14 – 11:44am

      “It’s nothing personal, but I am no longer considering supporting Daisy’s candidacy after her being sympathetic towards all women short lists.”

      So you have rejoined the party then Eddie?

    • Eddie Sammon 4th Oct '14 - 7:24pm

      Hi Stephen, sorry not yet, I’m not able to re-join if I wanted to at the moment (money reasons, embarrassing, but I’m working on it). However, the approach I’m taking is supporting individuals within the Lib Dems who I think could be the future. I’m not interested in any of the other parties. Although, I am interested in supporting the creation of a new party, but only if Lib Dem renewal fails, or I find myself with more resources.

      Things will change quickly for me, I’m just finishing a long process of thought and analysis, which has taken about three years. My main priority is setting my finance business back up (I can do this cheaply), but I’ll always contribute to politics a bit.

      Thanks for asking if I had re-joined!

    • My position is very similar to Eddie’s – I was leaning towards Daisy (and voted for her in the LDV poll), but her support for ‘positive’ discrimination will definitely make me think again….

    • Conor McGovern 4th Oct '14 - 8:43pm

      Ultimately even if Daisy were to propose positive discrimination at at a future Conference, the progress on OMOV means that the choice will be up to the members, and I can’t see the majority of Liberal Democrats supporting all-women shortlists.

    • Richard Dean 4th Oct '14 - 10:10pm

      Plenty of LibDems do support all-women shortlists, as a temporary fix to a persistent and persistently embarrassing problem.

    • Tony Dawson: unless you consider 90% of Lib Dems to be idiots, I do not think anyone could honestly think people consider Linda Jack to be a part of the establishment.

      I do not consider myself to be one of your ‘closely involved’ types, but I would not consider any of these candidates to be massively involved in the party leadership right now.

      My support for Daisy is simple. She has put forward what I consider to be the most progressive and positive version for her candidacy.

    • Tony Rowan-Wicks 5th Oct '14 - 9:06am

      As we seem to have an all-woman short-list – step one is all good for opening up the party to a more balanced participation by members. Next step is to bring back those members we have lost over the last few years by listening and acting for everyone. The party needs, always, to maintain its principles and not follow ‘quick fixes’. Please end any left-right divisions and bring everyone together with all your skills and experience. Tough ask on that but may the best woman for all members, current and potential, become president and unite us into a liberal campaign which can be heard and respected nationally.

    • Hey Tony, I think you’re asking things of a president that only a new leader could bring about. The position is an important one but the best president possible won’t be able to undo the political mistrust that Clegg represents in the minds of voters.

    • i went to a hustings meeting at conference. Still considering my vote, not yet won over by any candidate.

    • I have read the comments relating to gender diversity under this piece, and also some under a piece by Lester that was about BME candidates. I’d just like to point out that everyone that has said that they do not like all female shortlists has been male…
      …Just an observation.

    • Simon Banks 11th Oct '14 - 8:31pm

      R Uduwerage-Perera:

      I assume you mean centrist, not centralist. We’ve certainly never been centralist.

      As for centrist, the day we’re clearly and unequivocally that, I’m out after 48 years.

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