Revealed: What Lib Dem members think of Ed Miliband and David Cameron

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.

Miliband, at -20%, gets best rating yet among Lib Dems

LDV asked: Do you think Ed Miliband is doing well or badly as leader of the Labour party?
(Comparison with June results in brackets)

  • 2% (+1%) – Very well
  • 36% (+11%) – Well
  • Total well = 38% (+12%)

  • 46% (-5%) – Badly
  • 12% (-6%) – Very badly
  • Total badly = 58% (-11%)%

  • 4% (-2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

A significant shift in Ed Miliband’s ratings this month, according to our sample of party members. As recently as March, a whopping 91% of Lib Dems said he was doing badly as Labour leader, with only 7% having a positive view. But now a combination of factors — the Government’s omnishambles, Labour’s good local election performance, the uncharismatic socialist François Hollande’s victory in the French presidential election, the UK’s continuing economic woes — have converged to make the prospect of Ed Miliband as prime minister if not likely at least a little less implausible. His net negative rating of -20% is his best score yet among Lib Dem members, and not for removed from opinion of David Cameron (see below). Here’s the trend over the year or so we’ve been asking the question:

Cameron recovers – slightly – from June’s lowest rating yet

Do you think David Cameron is doing well or badly as Prime Minister?
(Comparison with June’s results in brackets)

  • 1% (n/c) – Very well
  • 41% (+3%) – Well
  • Total well = 42% (+3%)

  • 44% (-2%) – Badly
  • 11% (n/c) – Very badly
  • Total badly = 55% (-2%)

  • 2% (-2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

For the second successive survey, David Cameron’s net ratings among Lib Dem members is into the negative zone. Back in March, more Lib Dems were impressed with Mr Cameron as PM than were unimpressed by a margin of 58% to 36%, a net satisfaction rating of +22%. Since then, though, his smooth image and reputation for competence have taken a battering, and the position today is almost a mirror image: Lib Dems now think he’s doing badly by a margin of 55% to 42%, a net -13% reckoning David Cameron is doing a bad job as Prime Minister.

And as I customarily note, rating David Cameron’s performance as Prime Minister is a different question from rating his performance as Conservative party leader (whether Mr Cameron’s ratings would be higher or lower among Lib Dem members if we asked that question, I don’t know). Here’s the trend over the year or so we’ve been asking the question:


  • 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 accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • 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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This entry was posted in LDV Members poll.


  • My own fellow Lib Dems giving Cameron a higher rating than Miliband after his terrifying speech on further destruction of social security and a third quarter of economic contraction.

    Meanwhile Miliband bravely stepped out on a limb to take on Murdoch and corporate greed, led his party a sustained solid polling lead, whipped the other parties asses in the local elections, is set to comfortably win a byelection off the Tories, has beaten back the blairites inthe party (including turning the tide on civil liberties and accepting the IRaw war was wrong) and now has the wonderful pro-social, pro-environment Cruddas leading the policy review.

    You guys must have something funny in your drinking water.

  • … to be fair, I guess I should add that opinion is at lease shifting in the right direction!

  • Richard Shaw 17th Aug '12 - 12:33pm

    @ Tim

    As is regularly pointed out whenever this question is asked, the question asks about the *performance* of different leaders, which is different to whether or not you agree with them.

    “Miliband bravely stepped out on a limb to take on Murdoch and corporate greed”

    No doubt entirely unprompted by the revelations about phone hacking…

  • @ Richard


    Well how his stoking poll lead and local election victories lead that I referred to as evidence of his excellent performance, which can be compared to Cameron’s local election losses and his presiding over our deepening double dip, which I also referred to.

  • paul barker 17th Aug '12 - 1:51pm

    I was never one of the “Ed is crap” brigade, I always said he was mediocre at worst but however good a job he is donig in the short term he seems to be doing nothing about labours long-term problem with entryism.
    A loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income. Their program is to pull labour left & drive out right-wingers/moderates. That is the big threat to labours prospects in 2015 & milliband is dealing with the problem by pretending it doesnt exist.

  • @paulbaker “A loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income”
    I take it Paul you absolutely nothing about the leadership of the Labour affiliated unions in the UK. They spend a great deal of time making sure neo-communists or trots are not controlling or influencing policy. Yes they act with a degree of militancy to defend members but that is what they should be doing especially in the face of this government. If they support more left wing ideas like re-nationalisation of the UK rail industry or ending the outsourcing of public services I think that a good thing and they would be popular policies with the general public.

  • Peter Watson 19th Aug '12 - 12:48am

    @Simon Shaw
    I think Dessie is implying that he disagrees with the notion that a “loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income”.

  • Peter, Simon and Dessie
    Further, I think Dessie is saying he believes Union actions to be “more left wing ideas….” (which he believes a good thing), and his implication is that he thinks Paul Barker may regard these as “neo communist”, “trot” etc. To be honest, that type of rhetoric is familiar among right wingers, and if, indeed, that is the inference Dessie is drawing, I can see from Paul’s words why he would do that.

    I believe, and Simon you can contradict me if you like, that your comment indicates that you think any move to the left means neo communist, trot etc, so you share this right wing style rhetoric and views (which I know from your writing anyway!) So your comments attempt to throw sand in our eyes, rather than illuminating anything.

  • Dave Eastham 19th Aug '12 - 12:03pm

    @ Paul Barker
    “A loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income. Their program is to pull labour left & drive out right-wingers/moderates. That is the big threat to labours prospects in 2015 & milliband is dealing with the problem by pretending it doesnt exist.”

    An interesting assertion but it remains just that. It would be helpful if you could perhaps give a few examples?. Otherwise I think I rather agree with Dessie’s opinion on your appreciation of the nuances of the internal politics of the Unions affiliated to the Labour Party.. A few examples please, then we could see if the assertion has “legs”. Beyond the usual slogans about the Tories being in the pocket of big business and the Labour Party in the pockets of the Unions. True perhaps to some extent but it’s all a bit more complex than that. The slogan remains what it is, a slogan and not a particularly useful one, especially not in this debate.

  • Dessie must speak for himself, but there is no doubt that following the furore over”entryism” in both the Labour Party itself, and in affiliated unions, at the height of Militant influence in the late 80s, there has been a lot of effort put into preventing elements such as Militant infiltrating . I wouldn’t comment on the HOW of it being done, as I have not been involved in Trade Union organisation.

    I am not sure whether Mark Serwotka actually belongs to a political group (eg Socialist Workers), but as Dessie says about trade unions, his union has a good record of standing up for members’ rights, eg in the recent Border Agency dispute – and has also articulated a good economic case against austerity and public service cuts. But I am sure he wouldn’t fit well with today’s Labour Party! UNISON, of course, has had a number of campaigns over the last number of years aimed at protecting public services and jobs. There has always been an issue with Labour affiliation there, as two of its constituent unions – NUPE and COHSE – were affiliated, but NALGO (the Local Government Officers’ association) was not.

  • I’ll answer a question with a question, Simon. Do you think all trade unions should be Labour affiliated? Does anything else offend your sensibilities?

    I didn’t answer the issue of pulling Labour left etc, because that wasn’t what you challenged Dessie on, although he acknowledged by implication that Unions sometimes push for more leftish policies. There has been a lot of publicity recently over the group Progress, sometimes caricatured as “Ultra – Blairite”, and whether UNITE, or other Labour affiliated unions have tried to get their adherents excluded from the Labour Party. It would seem very strange if there hadn’t been a move back to the left from various people after the years of nuLabour, now wouldn’t it? Again, I have to rely on press and blog reports of this, but I think that those on the left might well accuse some of that tendency of being “entryist”. I certainly would not deny that there are elements in the unions and in the Labour Party trying to move it to the left – but surely this happens all the time? In all parties, and from various political directions. Why should that be so remarkable, and why “should I have an answer to it”?

    Let me ask you another question – in mentioning the HUAC (yes, I know what that was), you clearly know that political discrimination can take place in otherwise democratic countries. As a Liberal, I assume you condemn this kind of action. And yet you suggest there is something wrong with a trade union operating with a left wing leadership, presumably with the votes, or at least tacit acceptance by its members. Where are you coming from on the issue of trade unions, Simon? I think we should be told.

  • Peter Watson 19th Aug '12 - 6:21pm

    A simple assertion was made earlier in this thread:”A loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income. Their program is to pull labour left & drive out right-wingers/moderates.”
    Can Simon Shaw or Paul Barker back up that, or not? And if it is true, can they explain why it is a bad thing?
    If unions cannot demonstrate that their activities are primarily in the interests of their members then they will lose members and influence. The same applies to political parties – and the Lib Dems have lost a lot of members.
    There are many posts on this site which criticise viewing politics as a simple monochrome Left-Right split, but this thread risks sounding like the sort of polemic nonsense that appears in Mail or Telegraph discussions.

  • Simon McGrath 19th Aug '12 - 6:37pm

    @Tim Nicolas
    I’m afraid you lost all credibility with:
    “Meanwhile Miliband bravely stepped out on a limb to take on Murdoch and corporate greed”

  • Richard Dean 19th Aug '12 - 9:28pm

    Hello The Voice. Don’t you think your last sentence is a bit sexist, as well as being open to several interpretations?

  • Dave Eastham 20th Aug '12 - 12:54am

    Re: ”A loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income. Their program is to pull labour left & drive out right-wingers/moderates.”

    Thought so. No examples then. (PCS is not affiliated to the Labour party). Anyway ,the whole point of the post was the relative “popularity of Ed Miliband’s with Lib Dem members who happen to have responded to the LDV survey. Personally speaking, Miliband E. has not improved his rating with me. And as for Cameron D. , Well….. less said the better!.

    Distractions about which bogey-person political faction may, or my not, “control” which trade union are, as ever, irrelevant. The whole point is surely is, what are the Lib Dems as part of government are going to do to temper the excesses of the Tory looney tendency?. Internal LDV opinion polls all very nice but time now colleagues is now to up the game I think. Brighton, (hopefully) should be an interesting conference. Just lets hope we do the right thing.

  • Dave Eastham – I did mention above the case of the alleged attempts to drum Progress out of the Labour Party, which could be presented in the way you quote. I think the argument in the section of this discussion excised (“censored”) by moderators was essentially about right wingers, or anti trade union people, in the Lib Dems wanting to describe anybody with a leftish outlook as a “neo communist” or a “trot”. Others here were having none of it.

    A word with the moderators – I thought you could have stayed your hands last night. The argument appeared to be closing when you acted, and while sabres had been rattled with questions over who belonged in the Lib Dems, which I know is a no-no on LDV, I think you will find an awful lot of that at Conference this year!

  • Richard Dean 20th Aug '12 - 1:06pm

    … and gamesist, In rugby, you tackle the person to get the ball!

  • Stuart Mitchell 20th Aug '12 - 7:50pm

    The PCS is not affiliated to Labour and is even planning to oppose Labour in elections. This is clearly a superb example of a “neo-communist” group which is failing to exert any influence on Labour whatsoever.

  • Simon, you have arrived back at the point where together, we incurred the moderators’ displeasure. My post of 5.57pm yesterday still stands there for you to answer in a non-confrontational way. I am sure if you think it through carefully you will see that the reason this keeps coming up is that you are prone to describe anyone on the left as “neo communist”. The reason others think they cannot answer, is because they don’t see it in those terms. It has become a semantic discussion.

    I would be interested to know if you think this process (of trying to move parties or organisations in particular political directions) – as I mention in my post – is illegitimate, illegal, immoral or something. Because you seem to react very strongly to what seems to me to be a fairly normal part of political life. I mean, what we do on here is often a version of that (a rather ineffective version, I grant you!)

  • Tim13

    Agree totally with your last post – I was modded at the same time and have seen the conversation slip back again

    Just so we can be clear – the PCS is not affiliated tot eh Labour Party and, although Serwotka himself is on the left end of the spectrum, the union itself is hardly a ‘militant’ or ‘neo-communist’ organisation. He seems to be able to win concessions for his members which is surely what his job is. He seems to hate Labour more than any other party as well so trying to use him as a criticism of Labour is a pushing it a bit.

    Most Labour members I know are critical of the party for being too right-wing – not left-wing. In fact since the 80s politics has taken a sharp turn to the right and I would imagine Serwotka would have been considered mainstream then.

    I see also that the expenses cheat Laws is targeted for a comeback at the reshuffle – completely unacceptable from my point of view and will undermine the party’s credibility

  • Peter Watson 20th Aug '12 - 10:57pm

    @Simon Shaw
    It is a given that trade unions will be politically to the left and will attempt to Influence the Labour Party. It’s pretty much their raison d’etre and is very overt since union leaders must be able to demonstrate to their members how well they are doing their jobs. For me, the controversial aspect of this thread is the implication that this involves a secretive conspiracy by neo-communist groups, as if it is on a par with the furtive way our coalition partners appear to trade influence. It is also a more open process than whatever dark forces have usurped the members in influencing Lib Dem policy over the last couple of years 😉

  • Richard Dean 20th Aug '12 - 11:03pm

    I think the process of trying to move parties or organisations in particular political directions is wrong if it is done in the usual manner in which these things happen, viz deviously and/or dishonestly

    I think the process of arguing intelligently, openly and honestly for or against policies is right

  • Dave Eastham 21st Aug '12 - 12:07am

    @ Simon Shaw 20th Aug ’12 – 11:39am

    @Dave Eastham
    “Re: ”A loose alliance of “neo-communist” groups now have firm control over the largest unions & a big chunk of labours income. Their program is to pull labour left & drive out right-wingers/moderates.”

    Thought so. No examples then.”

    “You asked for a few examples. I gave you one (4.19pm yesterday). You dismiss it out of hand.

    Not really the way to encourage anyone else to waste time giving you any more examples, is it?”

    But Simon, you did not, I’m afraid. So you have not wasted your time, as regretfully you have not provided any examples. as requested. The PCS is not affiliated to the Labour Party. Does not contribute to LP political funds and is not the example you claim. So therefore what?. The RMT used to be affiliated to the LP until it was expelled for allowing it’s Scots branches to financially support SNP candidates standing against the Labour Party. Again so what?.

    The suggested “expelling” of Progress was a non-story. It was in fact a motion proposed at the GMB conference (a LP affiliated union to be sure) but was never put or voted on at their conference and went no-where, except from over excited commentary from various elements of the denizens of the Press (Please do your own google on the matter). A non-event.

    Finally, if there is any point in divining the entrails of the various Trot factions that lurk about around the place. Please ; Socialist Organiser (alleged member one M Serwotka Esq.) is very different to Socialist Worker. They may both be “Trots” whatever that truly means these days – but neither of ’em would, I think, much appreciate them to be viewed as interchangeable terms and would view such assertions from Lib Dems as political being politically naive at best

    To return to the point of my original post (and really it wasn’t point scoring honest guv). It is, quoting myself,

    “The whole point is surely is, what are the Lib Dems as part of government are going to do to temper the excesses of the Tory looney tendency?. Internal LDV opinion polls all very nice but time now colleagues is now to up the game I think. Brighton, (hopefully) should be an interesting conference. Just lets hope we (get to – just added that bit) do the right thing.”

    All the rest is a distraction.

    Dave Eastham

    Oh yeah, declaration of interest. (If you had not already guessed)
    I am a Lib Dem and an active Trade Unionist and have been for 45 years (since I was 16 and first went into the world of work).

  • Simon
    I was at no time querying what you say was your main question, about “their” main programme being yo pull Labour to the left which represents a threat to Labour’s prospects in 2015. My main issues were with the incidentals of how you made casual associations – that “they” were “neo communists” (which in many circles would be seen as quite derogatory apart from inaccurate) rather than a varied collection of radicals and socialists, aligned, or non-aligned, some within, some outside the Labour Party. To be honest, I said all along that people try to influence parties in one direction or another all the time, and why should I, or any of us deny that for some people, moving Labour in a leftwards direction would be very important. I started this chain of thought believing that Dave Eastham would also have no trouble with the idea that trade unionists or other people from the left would be trying to achieve that, but now I am not sure.

    The reason I asked you, Simon, whether you thought Unions should all be Labour affiliated, was that you had asked me whether I was saying that “…takeovers were acceptable if unions were performing their [representational] work properly”. Again, the term “takeover” is often used in the right wing media as something somewhat illegitimate. If we are talking about individual – or even a group of left thinking people standing for election and being elected, surely none of us – especially as Liberals – should have any problem? It seemed to me you were implying that there WAS something wrong with this, that it had disrupted the natural order or something?

  • Stuart Mitchell 21st Aug '12 - 6:27pm

    I did indeed read your previous post, and like everybody else who has read it I took it to be conclusive proof that the PCS is not exerting any kind of influence on Labour.

  • Stuart Mitchell 23rd Aug '12 - 8:05pm

    Thank you for quoting – for the fourth time – the evidence that the PCS have no influence within Labour. I think a fifth outing for this info might be overkill though.

  • Dave Eastham 24th Aug '12 - 11:12am

    @ Simon Shaw

    Simon, are you actually a member of a Trade Union and if so, do you take any active part?.

    I repeat the PCS are not affiliated to the Labour Party and their political funds in no way supports it. This can be clearly seen from what they say about their own political fund. See Indeed they seem politically to be more interested in taking on electorally the BNP and the EDL.. See report of composite motion 3 at PCS conference 2011 .

    It is true that various groups and factions try to influence candidate selection in the Labour Party but it is just part of the arcane structure of the way the Labour Party is constituted. Yes, various “Trot” groups (to use the generic term) will try to influence candidate selection through the affiliated unions structures (absolutely no chance if the union is not affiliated) . However, in order to be part of that process within an affiliated union you usually have to be an individual member of the Labour Party, Which rather limits their (the Trots) options.

    The history of those candidates supported by unaffiliated unions is not great ( Galloway G. however, is another matter). I would suggest a few choruses of “Losing Deposits” from the Liberator handbook would be apposite here.

    The purpose of this thread was to report on what a poll of Lib Dems thought of Milliband E. and Cameron D. (Not much it seems). The focus on the obscure supposed effects of Trot cabals on Union Executives and the “Threat” to Milliband is a distraction.

    I think I would rather allow the Labour Party to get on with it’s arcane internal practices and concentrate on what the Lib Dems are doing in Government to temper the more looney stuff the Tories come up with. Some we have, Some we spectacularly have failed to do ( c.f. NHS).

    On other threads on LDV it is reported that Cameron D. has been whinging on about Nick stopping things he would like to do. So N.C. must be doing something right.

    Thanks for the discourse. As Aneurin Bevan once said . “You show me your truth and I will show you mine.” It seems our “Truths” are somewhat different.


    Dave Eastham

    p.s. I am not a member of PCS. I am a member of Unite.

  • Stuart Mitchell 24th Aug '12 - 7:24pm

    I still agree with those who have said that the “example” you gave did not qualify as an example at all.

    On the question of what the effect of PCS candidates standing against Labour might be, I’ll tell you: Labour will laugh off such threats as an impotent irrelevance. Though I personally find Mark Serwotka quite entertaining, I would expect PCS candidates to have no more impact on Labour than Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party has.

  • I honestly don’t understand why you have spent so much time on this thread, Simon. I notice Paul Barker hasn’t come back in on any of the points, by the way. If all you are trying to say is that left wing people are involved in Trade Union activity, and among the things they do is try to get left wing policies adopted (whether from inside or outside the Labour Party) and left wing candidates elected, it’s not really a shock is it?

    I also don’t really understand why I am devoting time to this. I suppose for all of us we are curious to understand whether you have any argument with us, or are you merely stirring the pot. At the point you might have taken issue with Dessie that you believed (as I feel Paul B may have been implying) that nominally Labour -affiliated Unions had been “taken over” by neo communists / non-Labour leftists / trots, you didn’t seem to want to argue that point. We know that Mark Serwotka is not in sympathy with Labour – not to put too fine a point on it, and his Union is not affiliated.

    I am unsure whether you thought you could create an argument with the left about Labour funds, or whether you thought people might disagree over how much effect the left’s actions in Trade Unions might have on Labour’s vote? I think most here think as Stuart above, very little effect.

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