Who’s up, who’s down? How party members rate the performances of leading Lib Dems

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

Today we focus on the performances of the leading lights of the Liberal Democrats — those of our MPs in the cabinet, those occupying ministerial positions, and other leading Lib Dems.

LDV asked: How would you rate the performances of the following leading Liberal Democrats and government ministers?

Full results are published below, but here’s three key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with comparison to March 2012 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Vince Cable +80% (+60%)
  • Lynne Featherstone +55% (+55%)
  • Steve Webb +53% (+42%)
  • Edward Davey +47% (+44%)
  • Norman Lamb +44% (+37%)

One change since March: Norman Lamb moves up into the top 5, usurping Michael Moore from the quintet of fave Lib Dems after just a few months in Ed Davey’s old role with Vince Cable at BIS. And speaking of Vince… his Korean-esque +80% approval rating is the highest we’ve ever recorded, beating the previous record approval figure of +72% — which was set by Vince last September. Combine that with his strong showing in our hypothetical leadership contest, and the Lib Dems’ very own Sage of Twickenham is clearly man of the moment. Again.

Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Nick Clegg +20% (+16%)
  • Nick Harvey +17% (+21%)
  • Danny Alexander +14% (+16%)
  • Andrew Stunell +10% (+11%)
  • Paul Burstow -2% (-4%)

Paul Burstow, the Lib Dems’ health minister, maintains his position at the foot of the list, still with negative net approval (just), and still the only Lib Dem minister to record a negative rating in our surveys since the Coalition began. Nick Clegg’s ratings as deputy prime minister have recovered slightly, to +20%, but that’s still well down on his net approval rating of +40% in February. Meanwhile Nick Harvey, the Lib Dems’ defence minister, resumes his position in the bottom five, with justice minister Lord McNally just escaping that fate this month.

As I note each time: “the list stands as a reminder to all our Lib Dem ministers of the value of communicating effectively with party members about the work they’re undertaking on behalf of the party, even if it isn’t making the front pages.”

And here’s how other leading Lib Dems score:

  • Tim Farron +67% (+62%)
  • Simon Hughes +50% (+42%)
  • Jo Swinson +38% (+42%)
  • Kirsty Williams +36% (+39%)
  • Caroline Pidgeon +34% (+37%)
  • Brian Paddick +31% (+42%)
  • Willie Rennie +31% (+33%)
  • Tim Gordon +27% (+11%)
  • Fiona Hall +19% (+13%)

Tim Farron, the party’s president, sustains his position as members’ favourite Lib Dem outside of government, though this month he has to take an overall second position to Vince Cable. Brian Paddick, the party’s 2012 London mayoral candidate, makes his final appearance (at least for now) in our list — despite running a much more high-profile campaign, and performing much better in the televised hustings this time round, Brian’s disappointing fourth place is reflected in the dip in his approval ratings. Perhaps most surprising of all (with no disrespect intended!) is the jump in party chief executive Tim Gordon’s approval rating, up from +11% in March to +27% now — he is clearly making a positive impression on party members so far.

As promised, here are the results in full …

Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 51%
Quite satisfied 35%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 8%
Net satisfaction +80% (+60%)

Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) for the Home Office
Very satisfied 27%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 6%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 25%
Net satisfaction +55% (+55%)

Steve Webb, Minister of State to the Department for Work and Pensions
Very satisfied 24%
Quite satisfied 35%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 34%
Net satisfaction +53% (+42%)

Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Very satisfied 14%
Quite satisfied 46%
Quite dissatisfied 10%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 27%
Net satisfaction +47% (+44%)

Norman Lamb, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 11%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 45%
Net satisfaction +44% (+37%)

Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Transport
Very satisfied 11%
Quite satisfied 36%
Quite dissatisfied 6%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 45%
Net satisfaction +39% (+39%)

Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 30%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 54%
Net satisfaction +29% (+42%)

Sarah Teather, Minister of State for the Department for Education
Very satisfied 9%
Quite satisfied 37%
Quite dissatisfied 14%
Very dissatisfied 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 36%
Net satisfaction +27% (+25%)

Jeremy Browne, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Very satisfied 10%
Quite satisfied 27%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 51%
Net satisfaction +25% (+20%)

David Heath, Parliamentary Secretary (Deputy Leader) to the Office of the Leader of the Commons
Very satisfied 6%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 67%
Net satisfaction +25% (+22%)

The Rt Hon. Lord McNally, Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 25%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 59%
Net satisfaction +23% (+19%)

Alistair Carmichael, Deputy Chief Whip to the House of Commons
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 22%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 63%
Net satisfaction +21% (+24%)

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 39%
Quite dissatisfied 20%
Very dissatisfied 14%
Don’t know / No opinion 13%
Net satisfaction +20% (+16%)

Nick Harvey, Minister of State (Minister for the Armed Forces) for the Ministry of Defence
Very satisfied 4%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 62%
Net satisfaction +17% (+21%)

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 34%
Quite dissatisfied 20%
Very dissatisfied 15%
Don’t know / No opinion 16%
Net satisfaction +14% (+16%)

Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 24%
Quite dissatisfied 13%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 51%
Net satisfaction +10% (+11%)

Paul Burstow, Minister of State for the Department of Health
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 20%
Quite dissatisfied 18%
Very dissatisfied 9%
Don’t know / No opinion 47%
Net satisfaction -2% (-4%)

Other leading Lib Dems:

Tim Farron, Party President
Very satisfied 34%
Quite satisfied 37%
Quite dissatisfied 11%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 15%
Net satisfaction +67% (+62%)

Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
Very satisfied 20%
Quite satisfied 43%
Quite dissatisfied 11%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 25%
Net satisfaction +50% (+42%)

Jo Swinson, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister
Very satisfied 14%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 44%
Net satisfaction +38% (+42%)

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 12%
Quite satisfied 28%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 57%
Net satisfaction +36% (+39%)

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly
Very satisfied 16%
Quite satisfied 22%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 58%
Net satisfaction +34% (+37%)

Brian Paddick, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 13%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 35%
Net satisfaction +31% (+42%)

Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 25%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 56%
Net satisfaction +31% (+33%)

Tim Gordon, Lib Dem chief executive
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 24%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 62%
Net satisfaction +27% (+11%)

Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 20%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 70%
Net satisfaction +19% (+13%)

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 560 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 28th May and 1st June.
  • 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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    37 Comments

    • Paul Pettinger 1st Jul '12 - 4:30pm

      Vince is the best politician we have – makes me wonder why we do not make more of him.

    • Tony Greaves 1st Jul '12 - 5:19pm

      What is the purpose of this nonsense? At best it is unhelpful, at worst potentially disastrous.

      If LD Voice has nothing better to do than pursue this kind of personality based pop level politics, it perhaps ought to close down.

      And members who take part in this kind of stuff should be ashamed of themselves!

      Tony Greaves

    • Paul Pettinger 1st Jul '12 - 5:38pm

      Opinion polls don’t matter eh Tony? Good luck with that.

    • People like Tony Greaves still give me some hope for the future of the party!

    • Maybe that’s why some of the ratings are so bad. Loyalists like Lord Greaves are boycotting these polls 🙂

    • Tony Greaves1st Jul ’12 – 5:19pm………….What is the purpose of this nonsense? ……….

      Heaven only knows.
      I noted, that in many cases, ‘Don’t know / No opinion’ came top; I think that puts such silliness in perspective.

    • Anthony Hook

      Who knows why anyone would find Danny Alexander is performing well but there goes -cannot be either policies or personality!

      As Jason said in a number of cases 50% haven’t an opinion – as Tony Greaves asks – why is this worth doing, what value is being added?

    • Hey Anthony,

      I’m not keen on assumptions, but I think you may of misread some of this thread.

      “That is rather insulting to assume that LDV readers are making an assessment based on personality”

      That’s not what he said; he levelled that charge at LDV – not the readers; he said the readers should be ashamed for engaging it. I’d broadly agree – I think few of us take LDV polls seriously and I’m not sure how useful this sort of thing really is. Also, the results show that in most cases LDV readers are NOT making an assessment at all; regardless of criteria. What did you learn from this poll? How has it influenced you?

      The main thing I took away was LDV readers don’t know or have no opinion on a lot of MP’s, only 1 in 5 think the leader is doing a good job and Paul Burstow is not a loved figure among those who are aware of him. It mainly left me wondering why he’s so loathed among LDV readers, perhaps someone could explain.

    • Andrew Suffield 1st Jul '12 - 9:31pm

      Vince is the best politician we have – makes me wonder why we do not make more of him.

      Simple fact is that he feels he’s got enough to do already.

    • Vince is a very good politican and I hope he stays active for a long time to come. He puts the others to shame

    • David Jones 1st Jul '12 - 10:20pm

      I think what this shows is that we need to keep Nick and Danny away from TV cameras and use Vince, Farron and Hughes a lot more. I’d also say Paddy too…

    • Chris B – Paul Burstow was tied in centrally to Lansley’s hated Health and Social Care Act. He rather unwisely made the claim that he had drafted parts of it, before it became obvious that the majority of party members wanted it dropped.

    • David Allen 2nd Jul '12 - 12:10am

      @ Tony Greaves

      The problem is that LDV insists on running this survey in conjunction with more sensible questions about policy etc. In order to answer the latter, one has to answer the former as well.

      Of course most respondents have little or no knowledge of most of the people on the list. Hence the huge vote for “no opinion”.

      It would be better if LDV restricted the question to a few top people who are really well known to the membership.

    • Thanks Tim13, I figured it was something like that but didn’t clock that claim at the time.

    • Andrew Suffield 2nd Jul '12 - 7:21am

      Of course most respondents have little or no knowledge of most of the people on the list.

      Indeed. Who can name something Nick Harvey has done, without looking him up?

    • Vince is the best politician we have; he also has the penchant for being right which is so irritating for the people who should be discomfited.

    • John Roffey 2nd Jul '12 - 11:54am

      VC is clearly up to his eyes in the banking crisis and this might explain his view of a referendum on our membership on the EU.

      “At least there is no equivocation from the Lib-Dim biz-sek, Vince Cable. For him, a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union is “horribly irrelevant” at a time of upheaval.”

      http://www.eureferendum.com/

      Probably more ‘horribly irrelevant’ for him in relationship to what else he has on his plate. However, the leaders of the two main parties do recognise that, with the changes that are going on within the EU – a referendum will be required in the not too distant future. Perhaps then Lib/Dems will then consider Vaclav Klaus’s words:

      Defining “Euroscepticism” is not possible. However, it can be better understood by opposition to the ideology of Europeanism, which Czech President Vaclav Klaus considers being the dominant ideology of contemporary Europe. Klaus argues: “In spite of the existing pluralism of opinions in many particular things, this ideology more or less determines all the important current events in Europe through its exceptional strength, its general acceptance and its dangerous simplicity”.

      http://www.politeia.net/Themes/european_union/eudemocrats_eurosceptics_are_eu_critics_or_eu_reformists

      and recognise that most ideologies are relatively short lived and that any belief forced upon a people will have a bad outcome and will be thrown off in time if there is not open discussion by which they are convinced through rational debate.

    • Richard Dean 2nd Jul '12 - 2:58pm

      We surely do need a referendum on Europe, for the reasons John Roffey gives. Europe is changing fast, as we will need to gamble on what our way forward should be. I hope that the question will provide 3 options ….

      Should the UK

      1. Leave the European Union, or
      2. Remain in the Union but keep the Pound as currency, or
      3. Remain in the Union and join the Euro?

      If the electorate are given the facts and asked to choose, we will at least have no-one to blame but ourselves if we make a wrong choice, and we will be at least stoical when we later have to choose between the pains of continuing with it or changing it.

      I would vote for 3. Liam Fox’s misleading speech this morning does suggest however that it’s not going to be easy to for the electorate to distinguish the true facts from the con.

    • coldcomfort 2nd Jul '12 - 4:08pm

      Richard Dean is quite right in suggesting that the rantings of the Daily Express; Nigel Farage & the Tory Euroseptics [yes I did mean septics] all of whom pay scant regard to nasty interfering concepts like truth, realism & evidence, will make it impossible for the public to make a sensible choice come the Referendum. I joined the Liberal Party in 1956 [membership not been continuous] on the back of a belief that the World needed a fully politically integrated ‘United States of Europe’ . I still believe that. So did Winston Churchill [speech in 1946]. He did not envisage Britain being part of it – he was an Empire man through & through. He was right. It is not going to happen all the while Britain is part of the EU project – however peripherally. Ever since we got in – far too late to have much real influence – we have done nothing but be an obstructive, negative, right royal pain in the backside . I would vote to pull out entirely. The rest of Europe would be so much better off without us. As Britain we would have a hell a bad time as a consequence but it is our own fault. It is fatuous in the extreme for Farage & Co. to claim we could still enjoy our current trading links. We could always become the 51st State of the USA. We’d probably vote ‘Yes’ in a referendum for that option.

    • coldcomfort
      I respect your personal belief that ‘we need a United States of Europe’. But that is NOT what was offered up in 1975. The electorate were deceived. The time is long overdue, for a referendum based on the true intent of European integration.
      Also you say ” Euroseptics……all of whom pay scant regard to nasty interfering concepts like truth, realism & evidence, will make it impossible for the public to make a sensible choice come the Referendum.”
      Perhaps you can put detailed ‘flesh on the bones’ of this truth, realism and evidence? If eurosceptics are in danger of making a terrible error due to their ignorance of the facts, then surely it is your duty to inform them of the facts they are missing, so that they can be properly analyzed and debated?

    • John Roffey 2nd Jul '12 - 5:04pm

      @ coldcomfort

      Since a referendum on our membership is in the news and is likely to be for some time – I presume that LDV will, in a change of policy, produce regular threads on the issue so that fuller debates can be held. This thread was not intended for such a purpose.

      Having said that, those wishing to leave the Union fear that the campaign will be one sided since two of the three main parties and their leaders are unequivocal in their wish to stay members and Cameron can hardly be described as someone who wants to leave. 70% of Tory supporters are not enough to win an ‘out’ in a in/out referendum.

      Quite why Farage’s claim that we will continue to ‘enjoy’ our current trading links is considered fatuous is difficult to understand. The trade and loss of jobs scare has always seemed a myth to me. We buy more from the EU than the member countries buy from us – surely it would be in both parties interests to maintain healthy trade links to avoid job losses both here and there.

    • John Roffey 2nd Jul '12 - 6:43pm

      Just to reinforce my point regarding Cameron:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18677336

    • Tony Greaves 2nd Jul '12 - 10:28pm

      We could be out of the EU and in a free trade block with them (eg Norway). Like Norway the condition would be that we adopted large amounts of European legislation. Problem is we would have no influence over drafting it.

      (And yes I can tell you some things Nick Harvey has done!)

      Tony Greaves

    • “. Perhaps most surprising of all (with no disrespect intended!) is the jump in party chief executive Tim Gordon’s approval rating, up from +11% in March to +27% now — he is clearly making a positive impression on party members so far. ”

      Tim has started emailing a large chunk of members once a week so it’s not surprising his rating has risen as people will have heard of him (he’s also sending useful information so it is justified!)

    • Why do we have a culture of public debate which says actors/principles are not valid topics of consideration, even on a superficial level. We along with others try to say people can be seporated from “policy”. People are important to governance and policy making the interplay is valuable. This kind of data could be useful as a proxy for other matters of interest for example investigating the relationship between media coverage and popular support.

      I don’t think it reflects good government to have a policy leader not taking opportunities to sell and explain their frame work to the public and the policy networks who will have to impliment it. It’s easy to say Simon Hughes and Tim Farron should front the party but they are not decisions makes and are not oblided to publically defend policy. It’s the classic situation of lib dems being popular when they don’t have to do anything unpoplar… or just do anything. Fine as out riders or aids. sorry that was too long and too late.

    • John Dunn, I have been confronted with this myth about the 70s referendum, on the doorstep many times in recent years, no doubt if I read the Express the Mail or the Telegraph regularly I would have seen it many times, I have “debated” it with UKIP politicians etc. But it is that, a myth. It was very clear in the build up to the vote – the antis (Anti Common Market League) were saying, if you want just a trading relationship, stay with EFTA (the European Free Trade Area), but don’t fall for a wider political relationship. I am sure the pros, in the form of the then opposition parties, Tories and Liberals, would have said the EEC was a wider, larger and more beneficial market, but the facts were out there that the EEC had political integration as an agenda.

      The reason I voted to stay in, as a Liberal supporter, was precisely because of those political ambitions. This has been a large scale and damaging rewriting of history.

    • Simon Titley 3rd Jul '12 - 11:20am

      @Simon McGrath – I’ve taken a look at the government booklet, as you suggest, and it does not support your argument. The booklet makes it quite clear that the ‘Common Market’ (as it was then called) was more than merely a free trade area. The list of aims on page 5 of the booklet make that clear.

      So Tim13 is right and you are wrong.

    • Paul Pettinger 4th Jul '12 - 7:14pm

      It gets better – Vince is, conversely, the least popular cabinet minster among Tory members, suggesting he is doing quite a few things right: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2012/07/ids-gove-williamjhague-ericpickles-and-hammond-top-cabinet-league-table.html

    • Paul Pettinger 4th Jul '12 - 10:41pm

      Am sure your comment had not appeared when I posted Richard, but as it was such a good point I guess there is no harm in making it twice

    • Joseph Donnelly 5th Jul '12 - 4:43pm

      @Simon Titley

      I’m not entirely sure where I stand on this issue (not a eurosceptic but not exactly in love with the European Union model)

      So I read through the pamplet Simon McGrath posted and read section 5; it says:

      “With Britain, there are nine other members of the Common Market. The others are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands.

      Their combined population is over 250 million.

      The Market is one of the biggest concentrations of industrial and trading power in the world. Its has vast resources of skill, experience and inventiveness.

      The aims of the Common Market are:

      To bring together the peoples of Europe.

      To raise living standards and improve working conditions.

      To promote growth and boost world trade.

      To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world.

      To help maintain peace and freedom.”

      I get that this does support that it was slightly more than just a free trade agreement but I’d hardly say it was pointing to anything like a political union…

    • Huge number do not know what they think of Fiona Hall MEP. If anything useful is to come of this survey it is to realise that not many members have any idea what is actually happening in the European Parliament. Perhaps they should with Euro elections around the corner.
      Also not having disasters reported in the press does not mean a lot of hard work is going on, furthering a Liberal agenda.
      Another comment – if the poll had been amongst the North East members, where Fiona is MEP she would have had a very high rating indeed.

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