What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition and Nick Clegg now (Part 1 of 2)

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 660 party members have responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

What Lib Dem members think about the party and its leadership

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

  • 61% (65%) – The right course
  • 25% (23%) – The wrong track
  • 14% (11%) – Don’t know / No opinion
  • Net right course: +36% (+42%)

The last time we asked this question was at the height of the tution fees row, when net approval for the party’s direction stood at +42% — since then there has been a further 6% drop. Back in August, there was net approval for the party’s direction of +52%, so today’s +36% shows a significant fall in confidence among party members.

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

  • 15% (17%) – Very effective
  • 43% (52%) – Effective
  • 24% (18%) – Ineffective
  • 15% (11%) – Very ineffective
  • 3% (2%) – Don’t know / No opinion
  • Net effectiveness: +19% (+40%)

Nick Clegg’s popularity among party members is at the lowest its been during his time as Lib Dem leader, according to our surveys. A couple of months ago, Nick’s net effectiveness rating stood at +41%, itself a sharp fall since August’s +62% and July’s +68%. This is a worrying trend for Nick, and one he will be looking to reverse as the party seeks to regroup after its ‘Dunkirk’ result in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Comparison with November’s figures.)

  • 83% (85%) – Support
  • 12% (12%) – Oppose
  • 3% (3%) – Don’t know / No opinion
  • Net support: +71% (+73%)

Whatever worries party members might have about the party’s direction currently, there is little evidence of Lib Dems wanting out of the Coalition. Net support for the Coalition has been above 70% in every month in our surveys since it was formed — bar October when we asked the question just after the Lib Dem leadership’s U-turn on tuition fees, and even then it was +65%.

LDV asked: Do you agree – yes or no – with the following statement: The Coalition is implementing a significant part of the Lib Dem manifesto.

  • 66% – Yes
  • 19% – No
  • 15% – Uncertain

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members believe the Coalition is genuinely delivering Coalition policies, while one-in-five disagree, with 15% uncertain. Here are a few of the comments submitted:

Some of the right noises are being made, but outcomes are still uncertain. Many Lib Dem policies are being implemented in part, with some notable exceptions in each direction, but often implemented in a different way or constrained by compromise.

The issues we have lost ground on are too significant to balance up the ones we have got through

There are quite a lot of individual policies upon which there has been action in line with manifesto. So on a purely “count ’em up” basis the answer is probably yes. But it seems to me that if the bigger picture is one which does violence to the principles of social liberalism then you can have as many small wins as you like and it won’t compensate.

what we need to do is make sure that the nations knows we are. We’re all suffering because the Party is seemingly incapable of getting its message across to the electorate.

We have too many in the party who do not appreciate what a wonderful opportunity we have been handed.

Some of the most prominent policies have been dropped, and the ones that have been kept have been changed so as that they are more similar to Conservative pledges. We seem to be afraid of any argument with our Conservative masters – it is not a two way relationship. Control orders will soon be a case in point – I expect us to lose the argument. Child detention should never be compromised – something needs to be done NOW, not when it is politically convenient.

I agree that we are implementing significant parts of the manifesto, based on the fact that we were the third largest party in the elections. To expect to get everything we wanted is unreasonable (and arguably undemocratic). The main issue with the coalition has been the publicity and media handling, which the Lib Dems have done very poorly.

Actually, my answer would be yes – but the truth is that the Tory policies we are forced to implement completely obscure any good that can come from our contributions.

significant as in non-negligible, not as in large.

Grown up politics means pragmatic compromise to get results and the Lib Dems have delivered through the Coalition.

  • Over 1,300 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 662 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 9th January.
  • 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
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    11 Comments

    • Coalition is genuinely delivering Coalition policies

      Of course it is but I suspect you meant to write the Coalition is genuinely delivering Lib Dem policies

    • I can’t square these results with the comments one reads here. Perhaps its only the “Disgusted of (Tunbridge) Wells” types who on the whole feel moved to post, whereas the majority sit in silent approval.

    • Nick (not Clegg) 16th Jan '11 - 11:57pm

      On the big issues, this government is delivering an aggresively right wing set of policies which we should not have touched with a barge-pole:
      Lansley’s NHS “reforms”
      Gove’s so-called “free schools”
      Osborne’s regressive VAT hike

      I could list others, but the three biggies will do for now.

      I believe that these policies will be a disaster for our country and a disaster for LibDems’ electoral future. I am deeply disappointed that a majority of my fellow party members are still deluding themselves that this is the “right course”:

      Was it for this that I spent years campaigning for Liberals and LibDems mainly in Tory seats, and fighting Tories at all levels?

    • NNC – I’ve done the same. I also believe in coalition politics, and that can never be credible if the party is (as many perceived) Labour’s plaything.

      Regarding your above points;

      1 these will be modified
      2 uptake has been minimal so I see this one fizzling out
      3 evidence suggests its mildly progressive

    • Nick (not Clegg) 17th Jan '11 - 12:59pm

      @Tabman

      I won’t be doing it any more: at least not while this coalition endures (or while we have to endure it). When you say you “believe in ” coalition politics, is that a theological position? Each coalition opportunity must be judged on its merits. I voted against this one at the Birmingham Conference. It has turned out to be far worse than I predicted at that time. I remain firmly opposed to this government : and all who serve in it.

      It seems to me that our party, far from being the plaything of Labour, has become the toy of a destructive child called the Tory Party. I doubt if it has a shelf-life beyond the next election, so I do not “believe” that there will be further opportunities for coalition politics post 2015.

      With regard to your comments on the three policy points which were, I repeat, only examples
      1. I’m not holding my breath: certainly not after hearing Alexander defending them on Sunday and
      Cameron apparently singing from the same hymn sheet today.
      2. I hope you’re right. I fear that you are not.
      3. Nonsense.

      These are policies which LibDems should be vigorously opposing in Parliament and campaigning against on the door-steps: not, like Clegg and Alexander, actively supporting or, like you, seeking to discount. If we were in opposition, that is what we would be doing. We have walked into Cameron’s trap and allowed him to cut off our balls; I fear that our heart and mind will be next.

    • If you’re looking to implement a wholly Lib Dem manifesto, leaving the party and refusing to campaign for it is a strange way to go about it.

    • Nick (not Clegg) 17th Jan '11 - 6:01pm

      Tabman,
      Did I say that I wanted to implement a wholly LibDem manifesto? I did not. I simply said that I was opposed to the current right-wing government. Because I am opposed to this government, I shall, of course, not be campaigning for any candidate who supports it. Regrettably, that probably rules out campaigning in support of the LibDems for the duration of this coalition.

      Nilklas Smith, Sorry, I do not wish to be rude (although this comment will probably seem so), but I have neither the time nor the inclination to read and critique your paper. Free schools are just one of many of this government”s so-called reforms which I do not trust. My fear is that this government’s policies will be as damaging to the country as those of theThatcher government in the 80s. I want to campaign against them but, for the present, have no political home. I know a number of LibDems, and former LibDems, who find themselves in the same position.

    • Nick (not Clegg) 18th Jan '11 - 2:31pm

      Andrew Tennant,

      The Liberal Democrat MPs are propping up a government with whose policies I fundamentally disagree. I would have to be insane to go out and campaign for them. I do not buy the mantra that they are moderating the Tories’ policies. I think the reverse is true; their presence as lobby-fodder is enabling the Tories to push through a more aggressive set of policies (and at a faster pace) than they would be able to implement in a minority government. The “hand grenade” which they are placing under the NHS is just one example.

      If I campaign at all during the next general election, it will be to get rid of the present government. In my part of the world, the choice in virtually every election I can recall has been between the Tories and “not the Tories”. For most of that time, “not the Tories” has been the Liberals, the Alliance or the LibDems. Such success as we have, from time to time, achieved has been by persuading Labour supporters, Greens and other opponents of the Tories (apart from those who are to their right ) to vote tactically with us. This coalition has changed the terms of trade; “Please vote for us to help us get rid of the Tories” is no longer likely to meet with a positive response. So the “not the Tories” banner may in future be held aloft in my constituency by someone who is not a LibDem. Having encouraged such people to vote tactically in the past, it may now be time for me to reciprocate

    • Patricia Lewis 30th Jan '11 - 9:07am

      I am most concerned by the government’s plans to sell off our forests into private ownership. It makes me wonder if modern conservatism is as far from the old as our present politicians would have us believe.

      The wealthy and/or powerful have throughout centuries ring-fenced what was once public land to their own use, often just to use as sporting/shooting playgrounds for themselves and their friends. Just look at the resentment still felt by many Scots at the land-snatch now known as the “clearances” In many parts of the world the English are still widely distrusted for similar actions overseas.

      If you believe that such actions are ancient history, think again!

      A land-snatch of enormous proportions took place the last time the conservatives were in power, when the Thatcher government sold into private ownership all our water catchment areas, many areas of great natural beauty including the Lake District and Peak District national parks, that now no longer belong to you and me.

      Why that sale was not protested to the heavens I do not know, but I believe that many people, both public and politicians do not realise the enormity of what was, and is, being lost.

      Is this blatant theft from the people of our forests also to slip through unchallenged? The Scots and the Welsh want no part of it. Why are we English so apathetic?

      Old conservatism is clearly not dead, but why on earth- our English earth – are the Libdems going along with it?

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