What Lib Dem members say about the party’s direction and Nick Clegg’s leadership

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.

Net satisfaction with party’s direction dips to +23%

LDV asked: Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track? (Comparison with June’s figures.)

    59% (-3%) – The right course
    36% (+5%) – The wrong track
    5% (-2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

There’s a sharp fall this month in the number of Lib Dem members satisfied with the direction of the party, with a net +23% now satisfied — down from +31% in June, and from +49% as recently as February. Unsurprisingly the figures closely mirror approval with the Coalition Government’s record which we reported yesterday. A combination of the NHS Bill controversy, the botched Budget, and the continuing and worsening recession has led to a halving of that net satisfaction in the last six months. By comparison, this figure stood at +32% in the immediate aftermath of the leadership’s U-turn on tuition fees. Here’s the trend over the first two years of the Coalition:

Nick’s leadership ratings down to lowest level yet

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader? (Comparison with June’s figures.)

    11% (n/c) – Very satisfied
    45% (-2%) – Satisfied
    Total satisfied = 56% (-2%)
    27% (+3%) – Dissatisfied
    16% (+1%) – Very dissatisfied
    Total dissatisfied = 43% (+4%)
    1% (-2%) – Don’t know / No opinion

Just as satisfaction with the party has declined sharply over the past six months, so has satisfaction with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the Lib Dems. In February, Nick’s net satisfaction rating stood at +38% net satisfaction. At 13% in August, his rating is now almost one-third of that figure, and the lowest we’ve yet recorded. As I noted last time: “each time Nick pushes the party to accept an unpopular policy not included within the Coalition Agreement his leadership is dented afresh; there may only be so much damage he can personally sustain.” Here’s the trend over the first two years of the Coalition:

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 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, LibDemVoice.org’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 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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    21 Comments

    • And the alternative to him is, Dan?

    • Z, this comment is facile – or worse – you are expecting any potential alternative to come out into the open before such time that anything happens.

    • The alternative to Clegg is yet to become clear- but given that Clegg went from not being a member to Leader in 10 minutes, it doesn’t mean an alternative. What is clear is that Nick Clegg has two choices: reign before the general election or resign after the general election. If he goes before, then a new leader, who has been less pro-coalition can give us a bit of a lifet and save a few more seats.

      Clegg himself has been a broken brand ever since he broke the NUS tuition fee pledge.

    • paul barker 16th Aug '12 - 1:20pm

      Whats neede here is a bit of perspective –
      All british governments lose support over their time in office, whether they do a good or bad job. There was an interesting discussion about why this is over on the Political Betting site.
      Support for governing parties is usually at its lowest in mid-term, we are in mid-term.
      Governing parties usually suffer heavy membership losses, labour in the late 1990s for example. Our losses seem shocking to us because weve never been in government before.
      British governments have little influence over the british economy which is mostly determined by what happens in the eurozone, america, china etc.
      Thats enough facts.

    • Peter Watson 16th Aug '12 - 3:28pm

      @Paul Barker
      “All british governments lose support over their time in office”
      If we take the figures at UKPollingReport as representative of current polling, then compared with electoral share at the general election:
      LD: 23->10
      Con: 36->33
      Lab: 29->43
      The conservatives have lost some support, ours has collapsed. This suggests to me more than just mid-term blues, and that most of those who voted for the Lib Dems are unhappy with the outcome.

    • Dear Paul

      Lets play the ‘grown up game’ please. those like me who are not 21 years anymore, have watched and learned by expereince of life what happens (or not) during the lifetime of a Government – Lets not still ‘cow-tow’ to maxims and pretend we are all innocent virgins when it comes to understanding what is happening in the popularity and confidence stakes rergarding the actions of the upper escheleons of our Party. Some of them do not deserve to be there as they are not producing the goods. Neither are they listening & hearing or acting what the Party membership has to say. I shall be watching their reactions at Brighton – let’s see if they can learn.

    • Its not what you do its way that you do it.
      Unfortunately the Lib Dems are seen as weak willed and keep no promises by the way they have acted by the majority of people- it doesnt matter what the reality is unfortuntaley perception is how the Lib Dems will be judged.

    • Be interesting to see what a sample of 500 people who were members at the last general election shows. For what it’s worth I think Nick has led quite well, but that it doesn’t matter a jot because of the broken pledge and recent relentlessly right wing drift of the coalition in action. Today saw 4 remploy factories closed in Wales, and the govt refuse to give safe passage to a man given political asylum.

      Genuine liberals have seen the party’s reputation shattered, it’s activist base ripped out and its MPs shown up largely as liars … and in exchange we have had no constitutional reform to speak of, nor really, very much of anything else. Much worse than the damage to the LD party though is that to liberalism as an influence in the uk.

      Things can only get, erm, better!

    • Trevor Stables 17th Aug '12 - 7:53am

      The way back is to prove that we are willing to tackle the Banks, their greed, recklessness and the mess that they have made unless we do this then we will stand very little chance of regaining goodwill. We also need to reverse the Tuition fees debacle, that would be the two requirements for remaining in this loveless marriage!

    • “Rein” in – horses, not monarchs!

    • Good on you, though Rebecca, if you have this knowledge. But Gove doesn’t seem to give a toss as, for instance, his appearance before Leveson seemed to show!

    • Nick needs to have a clear and deceive plan for the party that shows how better things would be under a LibDem government, however he and David C are always shown in the media as being brothers . What concerns me is that Nick does not wear a LibDem tie or a LibDem lapel badge to show the difference between them and always seems to be nodding in favour of David C. For any chance of us winning the next election or any election he needs to show we are different to the Tory party. My local Chair is standing as an Independant in our Town Council election because he feels its the only way he will have a chance to win it. I shall be leaving the party latter this year because of this as I feel if your a true LibDem you would stand as a LibDem

    • Aaron Trevena 19th Aug '12 - 7:33am

      I think those charts would be considerably more informative if they also showed the drops in membership – I still haven’t had a good reason to rejoin or campaign for the party, and if the snooping bill isn’t voted down will be campaigning against it at the next election.

      A great deal of those leaving aren’t “lefties” they moderates and liberals and the centre of the party, many haven’t joined labour and are now disenfranchised as the liberal democrats have essentially forgotten that the coalition agreement should have defined any non-emergancy legislation in this parliament, and yet the liberal democrat MPs and ministers have pushed through and supported several big and damaging reforms that were not in it and have completely alienated many of the members, as well as leaving a legacy of bad legislation and hamstringing the NHS with yet more half-baked reforms and part-privatisation and increased red-tape

    • “However, I’m a little sceptical about whether this LDV survey is representative of the general membership. I speak to many many members, and, in my opinion, the general membership is more supportive than this survey would imply.”

      Hmm. I think it’s safe to assume that the 25% of members who left the party in the last year were _less_ supportive than this survey would imply.

    • douglas harper 21st Aug '12 - 4:03pm

      its not too late for the lib dems. there are lots of opportunites to reverse the decline. some thoughts on an initial strategy.
      1. formally and loudly appologe for tuition fees debaccle and develope policy for charging companies that recruit trained graduates.why should private companies get all the training for nothing. why should the banks get best educated people at zero cost. complicated …yes unsolvable….no?and set up project with two universities to do good 2yr degrees without compromising quality . in industry we reduced throughput times from 6weeks to6 days and better quality. pledge (laugh) to halve tuition fees in the next parliament.
      2.” pms do not answer question time” give lib dem members the authority to call a point of orderif the pm or minister does not answer a question and walk out of the chamber as a protest .propose that the speaker or an independent judge(s)have the formal right to state that the pm etc has not answered a valid question.
      3.we said we would change politics the silence is deafening . yar boo politics —–get the lib dems to sit anywhere all over the house for pms qtime and put a proposalto the house to sit in alphabetical orderof constuancy not stupid confrontational blocks. we want good governance not childish opposition.
      there are dozens of other areas of our impoverished house of commons that could be improved eg power of subcommites ,ministerial conduct referrals, electronic voting, length of parliamentry recess.formal and legal aaccountability for decisions eg fire control centres,pfis even for previous goverments and civil cervants . disclosue of advice from civil cervants. the list is endless and the lib dems are.in the best position to shout the odds if nick has got the edd —–. what is there to lose it cant get much worse for the lib dems or h of c !

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