Jo Swinson, Julian Huppert & David Laws top Lib Dem members’ reshuffle promotion wish-list

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

LDV asked: Which backbench Lib Dem MPs who are not current ministers would you like to see promoted? (Please write-in.) (NB: I’ve set the cut-off for inclusion in this list at 5 individual mentions.)

    Jo Swinson 77
    Julian Huppert 73
    David Laws 66
    Tim Farron 25
    Duncan Hames 21
    Simon Hughes 19
    Andrew George 16
    Tessa Munt 16
    Charles Kennedy 12
    Chris Huhne 12
    Jenny Willetts 12
    Tom Brake 10
    Adrian Sanders 9
    Greg Mulholland 9
    Stephen Williams 9
    John Pugh 8
    Malcolm Bruce 8
    Stephen Gilbert 8
    Ian Swales 6
    Martin Horwood 6
    Norman Lamb 6
    John Leech 5
    John Thurso 5
    Menzies Campbell 5

There’s little doubt which three Lib Dem backbench MPs are the clear favourites of our sample of party members to merit promotion to government posts: Jo Swinson, Julian Huppert and David Laws each received write-in mentions from approximately one-quarter of the c.280 members who responded to this question.

Some respondents were conflicted about naming any backbenchers for government posts: “keep them untainted with the future in mind!” was one refrain that echoed. A couple of those who feature above — notably, Julian and Tim Farron — were also named as individuals whose current roles (fighting the Draft Communications Bill and being Party President respectively) were too important to see them lost to a mid-ranking government post.

Besides Julian, Duncan Hames (aka Mr Jo Swinson) and Tessa Munt were the highest-rated of the 2010 entrants. Chris Huhne’s return was seen by those who named him as contingent on being acquitted of the ‘perverting the course of justice’ charges he faces.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with Some 500 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 6th August.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However,’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 FAQ: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate?
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at
  • * 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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    • To focus the discussion a little more, Andrew Stunell will be seventy in November, which – although Andrew has of course eternal youth ! – is a shade on the elderly side for a junior minister, and it does not seem completely impossible that there will therefore be an opening for a new LD junior minister in the Department of Communities and Local Government. That is a post that cannot, regrettably, go to Jo Swinson since she represents a Scottish constituency, and since it would probably be unwise of Tessa Munt, who has to defend an extremely marginal seat at the next general election, to take on a ministerial post, as that would silence her on other political issues, maybe the front runner is Tom Brake ?

    • Andrew doesn’t seem at all lethagic to me – intellectually or physically. Let’s not be an ageist party – especially as Ed Davey has done great work on ending automatic age-based retirement!

    • jenny barnes 23rd Aug '12 - 10:03am

      Can we have a chancellor who has a clue about economics? Or failing that, one who can look at evidence and advice? I know, it’s a really challenging request, but I think it matters a bit more than who the undersecretary for short bits of string is.

    • I would have thought that several of these will be wanting to ensure they are not defeated in their constituencies: several feature in Polling Report’s top 50 Tory target seats and os will be putting all their energy into that rather than a fleeting acquaintance with the ministerial limo

    • In reply to Tom Papworth, the practice has been – I think quite sensibly – to permit Cabinet Ministers where appropriate to remain in office without imposing any age-related cut-off (witness Ken Clarke in the present government and Lord Hailsham in the Thatcher government). It has also customarily been the case that junior ministers in the House of Lords can remain in post almost regardless of their ages. But so far as junior ministers in the House of Commons are concerned, it has generally been the practice that they do not remain in office much beyond their mid 60s, for the number of junior ministerial posts available to MPs is limited, and although I do not disagree at all with Tim Leunig’s evaluation of Andrew Stunell’s abilities, the point I was making that his would be the post which would most readily be available on general principles if Nick Clegg was not to bring another LD MP into government

    • Sorry, a “not” has slipped into my post in error between “was” and “to bring” !

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