What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition, the Lib Dems’ direction, and Nick Clegg’s leadership

by Stephen Tall on November 13, 2010

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the contest for the party presidency, the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

What Lib Dem members think about the party and its leadership


Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track?
(Comparison with August’s figures.)

    65% (69%) – The right course
    23% (17%) – The wrong track
    11% (15%) – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net right course: +42%

When we last asked this question in August, there was net approval for the party’s direction of +52%, so +42% represents a sharp fall — though an unsurprising one given the controversy surrounding both the party’s U-turn on tuition fees, and to a lesser extent the Comprehensive Spending Review.

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

    17% – Very effective
    52% – Effective
    18% – Ineffective
    11% – Very ineffective
    2% – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net effectiveness: +40%

Nick Clegg has suffered a steeper decline in popularity than the party as a whole. In late August, as the party approached its autumn conference, Nick’s net effectiveness rating was +62%, itself a small reduction on July’s record +68% or February’s +66%. His rating was at +41% in September 2009.

Lib Dem views of the Coalition

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

    85% – Support
    12% – Oppose
    3% – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net support: +73%

Interestingly, despite the approval ratings for the party and its leader taking a battering over the past few weeks, support for the Coalition as a whole remains entirely unaffected. Indeed, approval is up since last month, when it was +65% at the height of the tuition fees row; and exactly the same as it was in August. Whatever, the party’s arguments with some of the policies being adopted by the Coalition Government, there appears to be remarkably little appetite among the membership for a divorce from the Conservatives just yet.

Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

    67% – Approve
    23% – Disapprove
    10% – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net approval: +44%

The last time we asked this question, in August, the net approval rating for the Coalition Government’s record was +45%, pretty much the same as now. The discontent which exists among some members appears to be directed first at Nick Clegg as leader, then at the party’s general direction of travel — but support for the Coalition and the Government as a whole appears to be quite steady.

Do you think the Coalition Government will be good or bad for the Lib Dems’ electoral prospects at the next general election? (Comparison with August’s figures)

    14% (17%) – Good
    52% (46%) – Bad
    14% (20%) – Neither good nor bad
    20% (18%) – Don’t know / No opinion

Unsurprisingly, given the results reported above, there is a small shift in favour of members reckoning the Coalition will prove harmful to the party’s prospects at the next election. A slim majority believe it will prove to be bad for the Lib Dems, with 48% split between good, neutral and unsure.

How long do you expect the coalition government will last? (Comparison with August’s figures)

    1% (1%) – Less than a year
    5% (8%) – A year to two years
    14% (15%) – Two to three years
    77% (71%) – Four years or more
    3% (5%) – Don’t know / No opinion

Confidence in the ‘stickability’ of the Coalition has soared over the past few months. When we first asked this question in June, 38% of members expected the Coalition to fall within the next three years; that number now stands at just 20%. Conversely, while five months ago fewer than two-thirds (63%) of members expected the Coalition to last the full term, that figure now exceeds three-quarters (77%).

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 580 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 10th November.
  • 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 results of the contest for Party President, and 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