Simon Hughes the choice of 60% of party members to be new Deputy Leader – LDV survey

by Stephen Tall on June 2, 2010

Lib Dem Voice polled party members registered on our members’ forum at the weekend asking them about the contest to succeed Vince Cable as Lib Dem deputy leader. Over 460 members responded, and here’s what you told us …

LDV asked: Vince Cable stood down this week as Deputy Leader of the party. Some have suggested all members should have a vote to decide who is the party’s deputy leader. Others say that members elect the party president, and it is right MPs decide the deputy leader. What’s your view?

42% – Party members should elect the Deputy Leader
44% – MPs should elect the Deputy Leader
15% – An electoral college of members and MPs should elect the Deputy Leader
(Excluding Don’t Knows / No Opinion = 8%)

So, by a whisker, a plurality of party members in our survey said MPs should elect the deputy leader, as now. However, a majority supported one of the two options which would see party members have some say. Make of that what you will. Here’s a selection of your comments:

  • In favour of allowing members a say, however needs weighing up re: costs and organisational workload
  • It is not clear what the job description is. We have enough party-wide elections as it is. Let MPs have this one. Either way, the same system should be used for both leadership and deputy-leadership elections.
  • The role of DL really needs clarified given the coalition environment. If the DL is a voice for the backbenches, then it’s an internal matter for the parliamentary group. If the DL has a wider role then a wider election may be appropriate. On that note I’m unconvinced that the DL needs a wider role, we are already slightly overmanaged as a federal party.
  • It’s just unnecessary to have an all-member ballot. As long as the leader and the president are directly elected, there are enough procedural safeguards built in. Add that to the way Lib Dem conference gets to scrutinise policy, and there’s little scope for a deputy leader to do anything too dreadful. I think we can trust our MPs to pick a sensible person for the job, and avoid spending time on an expensive and potentially quite inward-looking debate.
  • LDV then asked: Two candidates have declared themselves for the job of Deputy Leader: Simon Hughes and Tim Farron. If you had a vote, who would you support?

    60% – Simon Hughes
    40% – Tim Farron
    (Excluding Don’t Knows / No Opinion = 21%)

    Simon Hughes is, therefore, the clear winner in this survey of party members, though 40% is a strong showing for Tim Farron, given Simon’s public and party profile over decades.

    However, it’s intersting to note there was a fairly high level of abstention in the poll. There were a number of reasons given – not enough information about the candidates’ respective platforms, both as good as each other, uncertainty about the role of Deputy Leader within a coalition – not least of which was the frequently expressed wish that one of the party’s female MPs had put their name forward.