Lib Dem members survey: 68% approve of Coalition Budget, was “good overall for the country”

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, LDV asked: The balance of spending cuts to tax rises announced by the coalition government in its measures to reduce the budget deficit is 77% spending cuts to 23% tax rises. What do you think of this balance?

Here’s what Lib Dem members said:

  • 7% – There should be more spending cuts and fewer tax rises
  • 43% – The balance announced by the Coalition Government is about right
  • 33% – There should be fewer spending cuts and more tax rises, with the emphasis still on spending cuts
  • 17% – There should be fewer spending cuts and more tax rises, but with the emphasis on tax rises rather than spending cuts
  • (Excluding Don’t Know / No Opinion / Other)

A plurality (43%) of Lib Dem members in our survey, therefore, endorsed the Coalition Government’s balance of spending cuts and tax rises to cut the deficit. However, one-third of members supported a different approach, with fewer spending cuts balanced by greater tax rises – which, indeed, was what the Lib Dem manifesto urged, suggesting a balance closer to 71%:29% (while Labour advocated a 2:1 ratio).

A smaller minority (17%) supported deficit-cutting with an emphasis on tax-rises rather than spending cuts; while a smaller group still (7%) reckoned the Coalition Budget had failed to be austere enough, and felt there was scope for further spending cuts and fewer tax rises.

The degree to which this was a budget over which the Lib Dems exerted any real influence has provoked a far degree of comment, so LDV next asked: What is your view of the extent of Lib Dem influence in the Coalition Government’s budget?

Here’s what our sample of Lib Dem members said:

  • 6% – The budget was basically a Conservative budget
  • 41% – It was mainly a Conservative budget, with disappointingly few concessions to the Lib Dems
  • 53% – This was a Coalition Government budget, with a reasonable balance of Conservative and Lib Dem policies
  • 6% – The budget was a major achievement for the Lib Dems incorporating many of the party’s policies
    (Excluding Don’t know / No opinion / Other)

A majority, therefore, backed the Budget as representing a reasonable balance of measures roughly in accord with the respective strength of the parties in the coalition. However, a significant minority – some four in 10 party members – viewed the Coalition Budget as “disappointing”, with too few concessions to Lib Dem policies. Only small numbers on either side viewed the Budget either as a triumph for the Lib Dems, or a total capitulation to the Tories.

Finally, we asked party members their overall views of the Coalition Budget. First: Overall, do you think it was a fair or unfair budget?

Here’s what they told us:

  • 52% – Fair overall
  • 25% – Unfair overall
  • 23% – Neither fair nor unfair
  • (Excluding Don’t know / No opinion)

And then secondly: Overall, do you think the budget was good or bad for the country?

  • 68% – Overall it was good for the country
  • 18% – Overall it was bad for the country
  • 14% – It was neither good nor bad
  • (Excluding Don’t know / No opinion)

It’s an interesting set of results. A majority of Lib Dem members believe the Coalition Budget was (overall) both “fair” (52%) and “good” (68%) for the country. Much smaller minorities reckon it to have been (overall) both “unfair” (25%) and “bad” (18%) – with the rest viewing it as somewhere inbetween on both counts.

Here are a selection of comments submitted by those responding to the survey reflecting the balance of views expressed:

  • But not as fair as a majority Lib Dem Government’s Budget.
  • I think spending cuts/tax rises should have been delayed by a year or so, to ensure a recovery was under way; however, given the timing, the cuts/taxes are not unreasonable.
  • Very annoyed that political commentators have ignored the fact that the coalition kept the 50% tax rate that Labour planned on introducing. That way they could ignore the extra burden the rich were taking on; made it easier for them to claim it’s an unfair budget. Very cleverly played by Labour.
  • But there are huge risks. With economic commentators so divided, it is almost an act of faith to support the budget.
  • But better than a Tory-only budget would have been.
  • Those at the bottom are being caned whilst those at the top are being being ruffled. The VAT and CGT tax increases are the evidence for this. The bankers levy, when set against the reductions in Corporation Tax, demonstrated that those who got us into this mess have escaped largely unaffected. All the financial papers’ comment was to the effect that they could scarcely believe how lightly they had been affected and just how lucky they were. This imbalance demonstrates just how little influence the LibDems have had over this budget and just how the Tories have pandered to their funding source and their financial backers.
  • Almost all the measures hurt the poor disproportionatly and many of the breaks ease things for big business and the rich.
  • It will be good for the country, but we’ll never really know just how great the disaster averted could be.
  • It needed a mansion tax or a land value tax or something to hit the imobile wealth of the stinking rick to balance out the other measures. Apart from that it was about as good as the circumstances would permit.
  • Time will tell of course – but all in all, I am more satisfied than I have ever been that the govt is aiming in the right direction

  • You can catch up with the results of all our LDV members surveys by clicking here.

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    12 Comments

    • I am surprised that more haven’t said “there should be more”. Nick Clegg himself said that your party planned to deal with the deficit with “purely cuts”.

    • “which, indeed, was what the Lib Dem manifesto urged, suggesting a balance closer to 71%:29% (while Labour advocated a 2:1 ratio).”

      Did it? Are you sure? The Lib Dems said that any tax rises were to be put into tax cuts didn’t they? And what about this interview in the Spectator?

      “Mr Clegg thinks that, once the economy recovers, the gap will be ‘to the tune of £80 billion or so’. So how do you fill this gap? Labour would do so with one third tax rises and two thirds cuts. The Tories would have one fifth tax rises. But Mr Clegg says the Lib Dems are the most radical of the lot: they propose no tax rises at all. ‘We’re saying “purely spending cuts”, and for a number of reasons. If you want the economy to grow, you must stimulate demand. Any economist will tell you that the best way to do this is by giving tax breaks to the people who tend to spend more of their money they receive.'”

      http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5831523/clegg-heir-to-thatcher.thtml

      “Purely spending cuts” isn’t ambiguous.

    • Odd. “Purely spending cuts” are Clegg’s own words, so who knows? Different messages for different audiences?

    • That could be true- the IFS might have counted only what was specifically intended to deal with the structural deficit while Clegg included public service cuts and tax cuts intended to last indefinately, not *just* for the duration of the deficit being brought down.

    • You can’t blame Fraser Nelson for thinking that when the leader of the Liberal Democrats said to him

      “‘We’re saying “purely spending cuts”

      He meant purely spending cuts. If Clegg really was lying, or mistaken (which isn’t really tenable. It’s a helluva leap from “less cuts than the Tories” to “purely cuts”, not something you can easily get mixed up enough to talk about it at length with the reasoning behind it too) it’s not Nelson’s job to be a mind reader in any case.

      Out of interest, can someone quote me the manifesto text talking about 71/29 cuts/taxes? I’m sure I read that any tax rise was going to be put into tax cuts.

      It’s hard to tell what’s a lie and what’s the truth with your leadership though, as I’ve spoken of at length about your leadership saying they wanted to delay cuts until it was safe. I think they’d just been saying anything that will put them in a good place to deal with the Tories on, knowing they could only get into government as part of a coalition.

    • This supposed narrative that we have to cut because Labour overspent is nonsense anyway. Before the economic crash the deficit was mediocre and manageable. There was no problem until the banks fell and bail outs and stimuli became necessary. And Labour’s plans were set to meet George Osborne’s own targets for reducing the deficit, these extra cuts are purely ideological.

      Labour shouldn’t have accepted the liberal market, that’s obvious in retrospect but won them plaudits from most quarters at the time. I’m not sure how Labour could have argued the point for rebuilding industry and cutting down the financial sector while it was delivering that phantom growth anyway.

    • A bit off topic:

      Does anyone have any links with information about the pre-coalition talks between the Lib Dems and the Tories? Any articles or anything along the same lines as the interview given by Ed Miliband about the Lib-Lab talks? I’d be interested in knowing how those discussions went according to both sides and it’s not an easy thing to google.

    • David Allen 6th Jul '10 - 6:37pm

      68% of respondents thought it was good for the country. But 68% of respondents would probably have said the same about a Labour budget to start doing something about the deficit. Because it’s pretty clear that something must be done, and, all the parties would now be starting to do something.

      More importantly, faced with the opportunity to bolster or to undermine the party they belong to, only 52% of members could bring themselves to declare the budget fair, while 50% said there should be fewer cuts and more tax rises. And on the “Lib Dem influence” question, 47% of members thought the budget was wholly or mainly a Tory one. (Mind you, in that last case, it was 47% out of a total of 106%, according to your figures. I guess the cock-up theory rather than the conspiracy theory applies …)

      If about 50% of the membership are actively unhappy with how things are going, then things are not going well.

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