EXCLUSIVE: 84% of Lib Dem members back Lib-Con Coalition – but 43% say it will be bad for party’s electoral fortunes

by Stephen Tall on July 7, 2010

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the Coalition Government’s budget, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Over 350 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results of our survey this week.

First, we thought we should take the temperature of the party membership regarding their view of the Lib-Con Coalition agreement, now some two months old. We asked: Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

Here’s what our sample of party members said:

    84% – Support
    11% – Oppose
    5% – Don’t know / No opinion

That’s a pretty overhwelming endorsement of the coalition agreement after what has been a difficult first few weeks, with the resignation of David Laws and the Osborne / Alexander austerity budget. The figure of 84% suggest support for the coalition is holding up pretty well among members: in a previous LDV survey at the end of May, 86% of party members declared themselves “happy” with the coalition agreement. It is, mind you, down a notch on the 91% who told us they would back the coalition in the middle of May.

Support for the coalition is one thing – but what do Lib Dem members think of the performance of the coalition government? We asked: Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

Our sample of party members said:

  • 74% – Approve
  • 17% – Disapprove
  • 9% – Don’t know / No opinion

It is of course early days for the Coalition Government – but, again, this strikes me as a high approval rating. Here are a handful of your comments:

  • It is better than having a minority goverment at this time.
  • It was the only option, given the particular result of the election, Labour having been in power for thirteen years, their bigwigs lining up to trash the idea of a coalition with us and the actual state of the nation’s finances bequeathed by them.
  • Support, still, but with a heavy heart and deep reservations.
  • I am to the left of the party but understand the situation we are in.
  • My support is highly qualified but I support the coalition none-the-less.
  • At the moment I support the coalition, but will not be able to if the projected cuts are made.
  • There was no alternative. But too many red lines are being crossed and there doesnt appear to be an exit plan.
  • It’s still early to have strong feelings. But early work seems to be sensible
  • It’s going better than I thought – the party is doing well.
  • It is very encouraging given the pace of new policies and fresh thinking.
  • Before the election, I would have been very opposed to such a coalition, but I’m now in favour. It’s necessary for the future of the country, as well as to prove the maturity of the party. It gives Labour an easy target, but, if the Lib Dems do a good job, only in the short term.
  • And finally today to the issue which has caused all Lib Dems some jitters over the past two months – however mature / sensible / inevitable the coalition agreement is, will we lose MPs because of it? LDV asked: Do you think the Coalition Government will be good or bad for the Lib Dems’ electoral prospects at the next general election?

    Here’s what you told us:

    • 23% – Good
    • 43% – Bad
    • 17% – Neither good nor bad
    • 18% – Don’t know / No opinion

    So a plurality of you (43%) reckon the Lib Dems will take a hit for signing up to the coalition. On the plus-side, almost one-quarter (23%) of you reckon we wll benefit while a further 17% reckon the effect will be neutral. Understandably, almost one-fifth of Lib Dem members in our sample have no idea what might (or might not) happen in the course of this Parliament, and how it will affect, positively or not, the Lib Dems.

    Here’s a sample of your comments:

  • Need AV to go through to lessen effect of being in coalition in a country not used to coalitions (yet). I do think the Lib Dems being in government is a good thing though – we’re finally implementing policies on a national level – it’s just a shame about the timing.
  • I don’t feel this will be clear until the effects of the budget is known down the line. It will also depend on the outcome of electoral reform.
  • It’s very hard to tell at the moment; one thing is sure, to stop now or in the immediate future will certainly damage our election prospects. If we can show we can act responsibly as a Govt then we should benefit from that.
  • This one is very hard to call, but it will be good for the country.
  • One problem for the Party is money – given we no longer receive Short money. I believe all our government ministers, who are all now being paid significantly more than they would have expected prior to the election, to donate a significant proportion of their additional income (after tax) to the Party. Especially given the new rules about tithing councillors!
  • Without improving the out reach to the grassroots there is a great risk of demoralisation and weakening of campaigning effort
  • I believe that our popularity will dive at the next election, so we better make the most of it now!
  • It should be good for the public to see the Lib Dems in responsible positions and taking difficult decisions. However the decisions may be so difficult that people react against those who have had to take them. It’s hard to tell which way it will go.
  • It will depend on how distinctive the LibDems are once the economy is on the right track in a couple of years.
  • Too late for doubts now – we have to run with it.
  • You can catch up with the results of all our LDV members surveys by clicking here.