LDV members' survey (3): the party presidential election

by Stephen Tall on November 26, 2008

Over the last week, Lib Dem Voice has invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the 200+ of you who completed it; we’re publishing the results this week on LDV.

This month saw the announcement of the result of the all-member ballot to elect the next President of the Liberal Democrats: Baroness Ros Scott won, with a resounding 72% of the vote, and will succeed Simon Hughes in the new year. Indeed, October’s members’ survey pointed to the scale of Ros’s victory.

First up this month, LDV asked: Regardless of who you voted for, which candidate do you think ran the most effective campaign? (You can define ‘most effective’ however you wish: whether in terms of reaching out to party members, or setting the agenda for the contest.)

The result was an overwhelming endorsement of Ros’s campaign. Here’s what you told us:

Chandila Fernando – 6.2%
Lembit Opik – 4.8%
Ros Scott 79.5%
Don’t know / No opinion – 9.5%

The following comments on Ros’s campaign reflect the consensus:

“By starting early, Ros set out her stall before anybody else, and gave herself time to build a grass roots network which could then respond to events.”
“I didn’t place her first, but Ros was absolutely everywhere – omnipresent!”
“The party could learn a lot from Ros’ campaign team; her website, for a start, was far better than the party’s own website.”
“She started her campaign very early and campaigned very hard and met people across the country.
Longest, best supported, best advertised… you can’t really fault Ros!”
“I voted for her, because, despite not knowing very much about her before the campaign, I was very impressed with the way she campaigned, and for me was the candidate who put the most effort in, and would be the safest pair of hands.”
“It was the single most effective campaing in a party election in my memory and probably ever.”

Next up, we posed a question we first asked in September: What do you think should be the new President’s number one priority in the next two years?

Here’s what you told us (with the figures from September’s survey in brackets):

>> 17.6% (12.5%) – To become a known face in the media representing the Lib Dem position on the TV and radio news. 12.5%
>> 37.1% (45.8%) – To tour the country visiting constituency parties, listening to members, and representing their views to the Parliamentary party.
>> 21.9% (33.3%) – To become a senior behind-the-scenes figure, chairing key policy and organisation committees, balancing the wishes of the membership and the leadership.
>> 20.0% (8.3%) – To lead the party’s fundraising among the membership and wealthy supporters, ensuring the party is on the best possible election footing.

Once again, then, the ‘meet, greet, listen and inspire’ aspect of the job is viewed as critical. Interestingly, the importance of the party president’s behind-the-scenes is seen now as less important than it was a couple of months ago – whether by a simple statistical quirk, or perhaps in response to Ros’s election, and the campaigning emphasis which was the hallmark of her campaign. Worth noting, too, that the fundraising component of the job – rated as pretty insignificant previously – is now viewed by one-fifth of you as the single most important priority for the President-elect to get her teeth into.

For interest’s sake, we asked those who completed November’s survey how they voted in the Presidential election. We’ve never pretended the LDV members’ surveys are (or can be) representative of the wider membership. But it was still intriguing to note how our poll reflected the actual vote – here’s our survey findings (with the actual ballot figures in brackets):

Baroness Ros Scott – 74% (72%)
Lembit Opik MP – 18% (22%)
Chandila Fernando 8% (6%)

There is one way in which we know our LDV members are unrepresentative: just 16% of those who filled in the survey said they hadn’t voted in the presidential election. The figure was over 50% for the party membership as a whole.


You can read the results of all our LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.