What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition and Nick Clegg now (Part 1 of 2)

by Stephen Tall on January 16, 2011

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. Over 660 party members have responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

What Lib Dem members think about the party and its leadership

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

  • 61% (65%) – The right course
  • 25% (23%) – The wrong track
  • 14% (11%) – Don’t know / No opinion
  • Net right course: +36% (+42%)

The last time we asked this question was at the height of the tution fees row, when net approval for the party’s direction stood at +42% — since then there has been a further 6% drop. Back in August, there was net approval for the party’s direction of +52%, so today’s +36% shows a significant fall in confidence among party members.

LDV asked: What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader? (Comparison with November’s figures.)

  • 15% (17%) – Very effective
  • 43% (52%) – Effective
  • 24% (18%) – Ineffective
  • 15% (11%) – Very ineffective
  • 3% (2%) – Don’t know / No opinion
  • Net effectiveness: +19% (+40%)

Nick Clegg’s popularity among party members is at the lowest its been during his time as Lib Dem leader, according to our surveys. A couple of months ago, Nick’s net effectiveness rating stood at +41%, itself a sharp fall since August’s +62% and July’s +68%. This is a worrying trend for Nick, and one he will be looking to reverse as the party seeks to regroup after its ‘Dunkirk’ result in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

LDV asked: Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Comparison with November’s figures.)

  • 83% (85%) – Support
  • 12% (12%) – Oppose
  • 3% (3%) – Don’t know / No opinion
  • Net support: +71% (+73%)

Whatever worries party members might have about the party’s direction currently, there is little evidence of Lib Dems wanting out of the Coalition. Net support for the Coalition has been above 70% in every month in our surveys since it was formed — bar October when we asked the question just after the Lib Dem leadership’s U-turn on tuition fees, and even then it was +65%.

LDV asked: Do you agree – yes or no – with the following statement: The Coalition is implementing a significant part of the Lib Dem manifesto.

  • 66% – Yes
  • 19% – No
  • 15% – Uncertain

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members believe the Coalition is genuinely delivering Coalition policies, while one-in-five disagree, with 15% uncertain. Here are a few of the comments submitted:

Some of the right noises are being made, but outcomes are still uncertain. Many Lib Dem policies are being implemented in part, with some notable exceptions in each direction, but often implemented in a different way or constrained by compromise.

The issues we have lost ground on are too significant to balance up the ones we have got through

There are quite a lot of individual policies upon which there has been action in line with manifesto. So on a purely “count ‘em up” basis the answer is probably yes. But it seems to me that if the bigger picture is one which does violence to the principles of social liberalism then you can have as many small wins as you like and it won’t compensate.

what we need to do is make sure that the nations knows we are. We’re all suffering because the Party is seemingly incapable of getting its message across to the electorate.

We have too many in the party who do not appreciate what a wonderful opportunity we have been handed.

Some of the most prominent policies have been dropped, and the ones that have been kept have been changed so as that they are more similar to Conservative pledges. We seem to be afraid of any argument with our Conservative masters – it is not a two way relationship. Control orders will soon be a case in point – I expect us to lose the argument. Child detention should never be compromised – something needs to be done NOW, not when it is politically convenient.

I agree that we are implementing significant parts of the manifesto, based on the fact that we were the third largest party in the elections. To expect to get everything we wanted is unreasonable (and arguably undemocratic). The main issue with the coalition has been the publicity and media handling, which the Lib Dems have done very poorly.

Actually, my answer would be yes – but the truth is that the Tory policies we are forced to implement completely obscure any good that can come from our contributions.

significant as in non-negligible, not as in large.

Grown up politics means pragmatic compromise to get results and the Lib Dems have delivered through the Coalition.

  • Over 1,300 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 662 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 9th January.
  • 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