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 650 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Miliband edges ahead of Cameron among Lib Dems (though ratings of both decline)

We’ve been asking this question for 18 months, and over the past year there has been quite a reversal in fortunes for the two party leaders, as this graph illustrates:

miliband cameron ratings - mar 2013

Here’s the detail from this month’s survey…

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

  • 0% – Very well
  • 26% – Well
  • Total well = 26% (-8%)

  • 55% – Badly
  • 15% – Very badly
  • Total badly = 70% (+7%)

  • 4% – Don’t know

  • Net rating = -44% (-15%)
  • Do you think Ed Miliband is doing well or badly as leader of the Labour party?

    • 1% – Very well
    • 29% – Well
    • Total well = 30% (-3%)

    • 47% – Badly
    • 17% – Very badly
    • Total badly = 64% (n/c)%

    • 6% – Don’t know

  • Net rating = -34% (-3%)
  • A year ago Ed Miliband’s ratings reached their lowest recorded figure among Lib Dem members: a massive -84%. Since then, bolstered by the pummeling (self-)inflicted on the Tories and more confident performances, the Labour leader has gained ground. For the second time, he finds himself nosing ahead of the Prime Minister — though that is due to the continuing fall in Mr Cameron’s ratings. A year ago he had a net rating of +22% among Lib Dem members. Today it stands at -44%.

    I don’t suppose either are bothered by what Lib Dem members think of them, but it’s an interesting barometer of their credibility as potential partners if there were to be another post-2015 coalition. As I customarily note, by the way, rating David Cameron’s performance as Prime Minister is a subtly 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. Though I could hazard a guess).

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 647 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 17th March.
  • 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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    12 Comments

    • Interestingly in a recent Yougov poll there is a big divergence between the share who said they would vote Labour (40%), those who wanted a Labour majority government (28%) and those who wanted Miliband as PM (only 22%). I think there is a big potential for disaffection among the Labour voting base. We need to be working hard to win back defectors to Labour, whose main (only?) appeal to many is not that they would be any better in government, but that they just don’t happen to be in government at the moment.

    • Andrew Tennant 29th Mar '13 - 6:58pm

      As a Lib Dem, I have been massively unimpressed by Ed Miliband in his role as Labour leader.

      He’s got nothing worthwhile to say. He’s got no practical policies for helping to improve the situation of the country. He’s offered no leadership or challenge to his party as it’s retreated into its comfort zone of opposing every tough reality of government. Frankly all he has succeeded in doing is stoking up fear and resentment amongst concerned groups of voters.

      Other than Ed Balls I cannot think of a worse person to potentially be Prime Minister.

    • Andrew Tennant

      Well as an ex-lib dem voter I am extremely unimpressed by Cameron and Clegg who have used the excuse of a recession for a fundamental reviewing of our social contract with no mandate.

      I can think of no worse PM than the current incumbent. What is it that makes you think Miliband will be worse? Cameron called every decision when he was opposition leader wrong and has not done much better in Government. I also don’t remember any Tory policies being unveiled much before the election apart from matching spending, deregulation and an inheritance tax bung for the rich

      These sort of arguments don’t get us very far though do they?

    • People are cynical about politics and politicians. The vast majority of voters look at parliament and don’t see public servants. Rightly or wrongly they see liars, crooks and protectors of vested. interests. So of course they are not keen on Ed Miliband or anyone else. This is why party membership has gone down, why less people vote and why fringe parties are gradually mopping up the few people who are actively interested in politics.
      Until the three main Parties stop listening to lobbyist, stop paying more attention to corporate forces, the press and the media in general the decline will continue. All voters really want is for the people they elect to do what they elected them to do and not beg for support then act like they’ve got a mandate to do what they like. Democracy isn’t about collecting votes, it’s actually about doing what you say on the tin, . People want representatives /employees not personality cults, boys club one upmanship,, bosses and rulers,

    • Glenn: that’s what they say they want, but that’s not what they vote for. Until being a plausible spiv in a suit with no principles makes it less likely rather than more likely you will win an election then spivs in suits with no principles is what the electorate will get.

    • Further to RCs point, in last weeks Comres poll just half those “intending” to vote Labour trusted Labour on the Economy.Labour poll ratings are extremely soft but they do give them a breathing space to sort themselves out. I see no signs that Labour are using that space, Millibands position improves the longer he says nothing much.
      In the last months before the Election Labours poll ratings will fall & thats when Millibands failure to prepare his Party will become apparent.

    • Stuart Mitchell 30th Mar '13 - 1:39pm

      @Dave “and people will vote for them because they’re “not the Tories””

      People will also vote for them because they are not the Lib Dems. Just as many people in the past (not so many now) have voted Lib Dem because they are not the Tories or Labour. Now people vote UKIP because they are not the Tories, Labour, or Lib Dems. Where this ultimately leads, probably, is an Italian-type situation where a man is elected purely because he is not everybody else, though he doesn’t have the guts to take on the responsibilities of government himself.

      As a Labour supporter, I like Ed, but agree with you that he is destined to lose (for shallow reasons around presentation more than anything else – it’s Kinnock all over again). He strikes me as a rather likeable, geeky, civilised sort of chap (i.e. not a winner) – so I was a bit taken aback by this :-

      “I think Miliband is a disgusting, unprincipled slimeball”

      How so?

    • As far as I can tell, the only party benefiting from the current political impasse is UKIP. In the long run, that will lead to an increased likelihood of coalition governments, as some Liberal Democrats have wanted — but they may not be coalitions in which the Liberal Democrats are kingmakers, but Tory-UKIP coalitions. Would Nick Clegg join such a coalition if asked? Would he sit next to Nigel Farage on the front bench?

    • Dave Page

      Rather an unpleasant comment you made there on someone you probably don’t know. I think I can spot the real ‘slimeball’ in this context…and it isn’t Miliband

    • Simon Bamonte 31st Mar '13 - 12:41am

      @Dave Page: “I think Miliband is a disgusting, unprincipled slimeball (and Balls is worse)…”

      I’m a lapsed LibDem and I can’t bring myself to vote Labour (who *does* a left-of-centre person vote for now?), but this is rather harsh and un-called for. Personally, I think Ed Miliband is a decent man who is way out of his depth and who simply will never become PM due to the media obsession with “personality”. But he is simply doing what all opposition leaders do – opportunistically attacking the government whenever he can. He’s only doing what we’ve done for years and what the Tories did from 1997-2010. And, yes, we did act opportunistically against Labour a few times when they were in power. I sense a sliver of unreasonable bitterness and triablism in your comment, simply because this coalition adventure we’ve embarked upon hasn’t worked out the way I suspect you wanted it to. So you’re lashing out. I understand, it’s ok.

      As for your accusation that Mr. Miliband is “unprincipled”, may I remind you of a few examples of politicians who change their principles with the wind. First, we have Nick “I pledge to vote against tuition fees” Clegg. Enough said on that. Next up, we have a man who used to be known as Danny “The DWP/ATOS are persecuting the disabled” Alexander, but who is now known as Danny “cut welfare further” Alexander. And, of course, who can forget St. Vince “Austerity would be self-defeating” Cable who suddenly supported austerity upon formation of this coalition?

      If you want to hurl slurs at Labour for being unprincipled, that’s fine. But don’t be surprised if you’re reminded of an even larger problem of unprincipled “leaders” in your own party.

    • Simon Banks 14th Apr '13 - 3:41pm

      bcrombie – perhaps the vagueness of Tory campaigning in the run-up to 2010 is one reason why they fell well sort of an overall majority despite the open goal offered them. I thought well of Ed Miliband when he became Labour leader: he had a creditable record as a minister, unlike his ineffective brother. I don’t think he’s been totally ineffective since, but I do think the British, when it comes to an actual general election and not to mid-term polls, look not only for policies and noises they like but also for an authoritative leader, a party that seems united and a programme that seems to have some kind of coherence (not a matter of detail but of a clear and constructive message). I think Ed Miliband has failed on those counts. Especially in the current tough times, voters will want to get some kind of coherent picture of how a Labour government will be different. I don’t hear it and I don’t think now it’s coming.

      So soon after losing power in damaging circumstances, Labour cannot just rely on the benefits of non-incumbency. My best bet, if the economy doesn’t revive fast (unlikely) is no overall control again. We’ll lose ground but not nearly as much as most commentators think. The nationalists will do reasonably. UKIP will probably win a seat or two. Neither Cameron nor Miliband will be viewed with enthusiasm (nor Clegg neither). Then if he becomes Prime Minister, Ed Miliband will really be tested – and I just don’t know how he would do.

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