Simon Hughes the choice of 60% of party members to be new Deputy Leader – LDV survey

Lib Dem Voice polled party members registered on our members’ forum at the weekend asking them about the contest to succeed Vince Cable as Lib Dem deputy leader. Over 460 members responded, and here’s what you told us …

LDV asked: Vince Cable stood down this week as Deputy Leader of the party. Some have suggested all members should have a vote to decide who is the party’s deputy leader. Others say that members elect the party president, and it is right MPs decide the deputy leader. What’s your view?

42% – Party members should elect the Deputy Leader
44% – MPs should elect the Deputy Leader
15% – An electoral college of members and MPs should elect the Deputy Leader
(Excluding Don’t Knows / No Opinion = 8%)

So, by a whisker, a plurality of party members in our survey said MPs should elect the deputy leader, as now. However, a majority supported one of the two options which would see party members have some say. Make of that what you will. Here’s a selection of your comments:

  • In favour of allowing members a say, however needs weighing up re: costs and organisational workload
  • It is not clear what the job description is. We have enough party-wide elections as it is. Let MPs have this one. Either way, the same system should be used for both leadership and deputy-leadership elections.
  • The role of DL really needs clarified given the coalition environment. If the DL is a voice for the backbenches, then it’s an internal matter for the parliamentary group. If the DL has a wider role then a wider election may be appropriate. On that note I’m unconvinced that the DL needs a wider role, we are already slightly overmanaged as a federal party.
  • It’s just unnecessary to have an all-member ballot. As long as the leader and the president are directly elected, there are enough procedural safeguards built in. Add that to the way Lib Dem conference gets to scrutinise policy, and there’s little scope for a deputy leader to do anything too dreadful. I think we can trust our MPs to pick a sensible person for the job, and avoid spending time on an expensive and potentially quite inward-looking debate.
  • LDV then asked: Two candidates have declared themselves for the job of Deputy Leader: Simon Hughes and Tim Farron. If you had a vote, who would you support?

    60% – Simon Hughes
    40% – Tim Farron
    (Excluding Don’t Knows / No Opinion = 21%)

    Simon Hughes is, therefore, the clear winner in this survey of party members, though 40% is a strong showing for Tim Farron, given Simon’s public and party profile over decades.

    However, it’s intersting to note there was a fairly high level of abstention in the poll. There were a number of reasons given – not enough information about the candidates’ respective platforms, both as good as each other, uncertainty about the role of Deputy Leader within a coalition – not least of which was the frequently expressed wish that one of the party’s female MPs had put their name forward.

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    14 Comments

    • “So, by a whisker, a plurality of party members in our survey said MPs should elect the deputy leader, as now. However, a majority supported one of the two options which would see party members have some say. Make of that what you will.”

      Did you not let readers express a 2nd and 3rd preference? Electoral College is knocked out on the first round, by my reckoning.

    • Paul Griffiths 2nd Jun '10 - 6:45pm

      I think this is now the third poll in a row for which I have not automatically received an email asking me to participate, in contrast with all previous polls. Has LDV changed its procedures?

    • OhNoNotAgain 2nd Jun '10 - 9:19pm

      If Simon Hughes becomes deputy leader won’t there be more scrutiny of the Bermondsey by-election. I have already seen an article in the Mail about it. Didn’t he use the slogan ‘the straight choice’ to reinforce the homophobic campaign against Peter Tatchell when it turns out he himself is bi-sexual. Not such a straight choice then!

      I have always liked and respected Simon Hughes, but why did he take part is such a nauseating homophobic campaign. He not only ‘stole’ the seat from another candidate on a false prospectus but he put back the rights of gay to stand as openly homosexual candidates by years. It seems most gays either come out after being elected or are outed by the media.

      I for one would like to know how Simon answers this. His career has taken a different trajectory to Peter Tatchell’s and was that fair?

    • I think blaming Simon Hughes for putting back gay rights is daft to say the least, and there’s more than one viewpoint of what ‘the straight choice’ means.

    • ROB SHEFFIELD 3rd Jun '10 - 12:09am

      Hughes has always been unpopular in a section of the Labour party for that 1983 campaign: either homophobic and sectarian campaign or opportunistic and unprincipled depending upon which negative you think is worse.

      Most Labourites have gotten over that in the decades since not least because Hughes is clearly shown himself to be- since arriving in the HoC- a person ‘of the left’ and one with whom the future Labour leadership will find it easier to do business with then Cleggy (a person of the right).

      On the poll: 60-40 preferring the non leadership candidate is just a tad different to my prediction that would have been 65-35.

    • OhNoNotAgain 3rd Jun '10 - 2:38pm

      Rob, I lived at Elephant and Castle and the campaign was a disgrace. So I am disappointed to find out Simon Hughes benefited from this whilst being bi-sexual. It makes me feel we can’t trust politicians becaus they have a disonnect between the personal and the political.

    • I think anybody now worrying about a by-election in 1983 need not to be, Simon has apologised for the himself and the party activists who run the campaign in 1983, which Peter T excepted some years ago, although any Labour member who was around at the time, would know that the Real Labour party who stood against Tatchell also in 1983 would know, there were far more homophobic references made to him by Labour party members in Bermondsey than any party using the term it was a straight choice, a term that is still used on campaign literature today. Note Peter Tatchell endorsed Simon in the 2010 GE!

    • Andrea Gill 3rd Jun '10 - 3:19pm

      @OhNoNotAgain – that was a slogan used as part of the campaign along the same lines of “only X can win here” in this years’ campaign. This was covered in the press at the time AFAIK and as the poster before me said the feud has long since been buried. And that is not related to the caption competiton with the wheelbarrow….

    • OhNoNotAgain 3rd Jun '10 - 7:22pm

      I am glad to hear both that Simon Hughes has apologised and Peter Tatchell accepted that apology. It came as a shock to me to read recently that Simon Hughes was bi-sexual and it raised all the nastiness of that campaign – it impacted on peoples lives and Iregret Simon Hughes lack of openess. If this has all been regurgitated by you party politicos endlessly I apologise but for me it has been quite a shock. I am, however, not so naive as to believe Andrea that the question of the slogan ‘straight’ choice was an accident. Straight/bent was used even more then then than now. Liberal Democrats are known for their sharp elbows when campaigning.

    • Andrea Gill 3rd Jun '10 - 7:39pm

      @OhNoNotAgain – Fair enough but if you compare leaflets from different areas you’ll often find bits and tactics (like referring the main opponent as being “parachuted in” from elsewhere) in many constituencies, not all fair or nice tactics and not all cleverly worded ones, but there you go.

    • This survey seems to have passed me by. Was there a “neither of the above” option?

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