Which Lib Dem minister had the worst year? Find out who tied for first place among party members…

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. Some 564 party members responded, and we are publishing the full results here over several days.

Huhne and Clegg tie for the award neither would want to win

LDV asked: In your opinion, which Lib Dem government minister has had the worst year?

Unusually for our Voice surveys, this question allowed an unprompted, free-text response, which 385 of our respondents rose to. And here’s what you told us:

    1. Chris Huhne — 80 votes
    1. Nick Clegg — 80 votes
    3. Danny Alexander — 62 votes
    4. Vince Cable — 34 votes
    5. Paul Burstow — 22 votes
    6. Sarah Teather — 21 votes
    7. Andrew Stunell — 14 votes

    (Note: only Lib Dem ministers who scored double-digit votes are mentioned here.)

They virtually tied in their 2007 contest to become leader of the Liberal Democrats (Nick edged Chris by less than 1%) — but now Messrs Huhne and Clegg have actually tied in joint first place for the Lib Dem minister judged by our sample of party members to have had the worst year.

It’s not hard to understand why.

Chris Huhne has rarely been out of the spotlight this past year thanks to the continuing tussle between the police and CPS about whether he should face criminal charges over an alleged spot of speeding fine dodging. And his customarily sharp-elbowed attacks on his fellow cabinet ministers in the blue corner has divided opinion among some Lib Dems — does such invective show the party in a good or bad light?

Nick Clegg‘s troubles have been more political in nature: the loss of the AV referendum and of 700 councillors in May’s elections was an especially bruising experience for the Lib Dem leader. His response has been a more assertive tone in his public dealings with David Cameron and the Conservatives, initially over the controversial NHS reforms, most recently over David Cameron’s botched Euro negotiations. Nick can at least take some comfort that more voters (33%) think he’s doing a good job than think Ed Miliband is up to the job of Labour leader (32%).

Interestingly, six of the eight Lib Dem ministers who appear on this ‘worst year’ list also scored well in our ‘best year’ list published here yesterday — suggesting, probably not surprisingly, that high profile Lib Dem ministers are more likely to divide opinion even among party members.

The only two ministers who feature solely in the ‘worst year’ list are Paul Burstow and Andrew Stunell, both of whom have piloted tricky Coalition legislation through Parliament (on the NHS and localism, respectively).

Meanwhile four ministers appear solely in the ‘best year’ list — Lynne Featherstone, Steve Webb, Ed Davey and Norman Baker — all of whom are clearly seen by party members to be demonstrably putting liberal values into action within a Coalition government… and communicating that they are doing so effectively.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 564 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 9th and 13th December.
  • 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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    5 Comments

    • Paul Walter Paul Walter 30th Dec '11 - 7:36pm

      “…suggesting, probably not surprisingly, that high profile Lib Dem ministers are more likely to divide opinion even among party members.”

      Actually I voted for Chris Huhne for having both the worst and the best year. Worst – for the alleged speeding thing. Best – for his part in the Durban agreement

    • I voted for both Clegg & Huhne in both Best & Worst years. Best because both are major figures with real acheivements during the year. Worst because of the crap they have endured from The Establishment & its lackeys.

    • Elizabeth Patterson 31st Dec '11 - 10:57am

      “The award neither would want to win”
      It is clear from the first two responses above that many of us read the “worst” question in a sympathetic way, not as a reflection on their performance. And we judged their performance in the “best year” question.
      So really the “worst” question was at fault in providing this ambiguity.

      I thought Nick had the worst year for the perfidious publicity of the right wing print press, the Mail in particular.
      I think the latter takes the prize in this category for its post EU-summit article about Nick and his family’s “foreign” blood. Not really British at all!!
      I would have put Chris Huhne second for worst year, had there been a second choice.
      Again it would be for unfair newspaper hounding. The right wing press clearly want him out so they can pursue a non-sustainable energy policy, just as they want Cable out of Business so they can pursue harsher employment laws. (See article in the Telegraph yesterday)
      Right wing bloggers like Paul Staines (order-order) are desperate to get him charged for an alleged minor offence of many years ago, that only emerged from the anger of a broken marriage.
      The sheer hypocrisy of Staines is breathtaking, since, according to his interview with the Independent HE HIMSELF had a conviction and lost licence for DRUNK DRIVING some years back.
      Which, one may contemplate, is most dangerous: : exceeding 30mph in a temporary chicane, or driving a car while drunk?
      But if Chris is charged, watch out for Staines red splashed GUILTY photo, and his followers jubilation.
      Elizabeth.

    • simon wilson 31st Dec '11 - 11:32am

      I voted for Paul Burstow-after all he did approve the NHS reforms first time round. I almost added Sarah Teather-for her stand-up moment!!
      Elizabeth is right about Paul Staines-though the Chris Huhne allegation surely is not about the offence itself but about allegedly lying about it. I really hope he is innocent-but, if proved not to be, I will be very disappointed in him indeed, not least because he could have been leader…

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