EXCLUSIVE: How party members rate the performances of leading Lib Dems

by Stephen Tall on January 31, 2011

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Over 660 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results of our survey over the past couple of weeks.

Today, in the final part of our survey, we focus on the performances of the leading lights of the Liberal Democrats — those of our MPs in the cabinet, those occupying ministerial positions, and other leading Lib Dems:

How would you rate the performances of the following leading Liberal Democrats and government ministers?

Full results are published below, but here’s three key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with November 2010 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Chris Huhne +65% (+68%)
  • Steve Webb +46% (+53%)
  • Lynne Featherstone +37% (+43%)
  • Lord (Tom) McNally +28% (+32%)
  • Norman Baker +27% (+30%)

An important caveat applies to all the comparisons which follow. The wording of the question this month has altered, following feedback from survey respondents — instead of asking our sample of party members to rate the ‘effectiveness’ of leading Lib Dems, we’ve asked that they rate their ‘satisfaction’ with their performance. Though many people will have answered both questions in the same way, for others it will have changed entirely how they rate individuals (it’s quite possible to (dis)agree with the policies of politicians while thinking they are (in)competent in their role). A number of the figures below show sharp divergences from previous month’s figures — both higher and lower — and direct comparison is not necessarily possible.

That caveat in place, there are big changes this month compared with November’s figures (which were themselves a big change on the previous September’s). There have been two notable casualties, and they are the satisfaction ratings for the two men who led the party into the 2010 general election: Nick Clegg, whose rating has dropped from +60% (Sept.) to +33% (Nov.), and now stands at +18%; while Vince Cable’s rating has plummeted still further, from +60% (Sept.), to +47% (Nov.), and now stand at just +8%.

There are two new entries into the top 5: Lord (Tom) McNally, the only Lib Dem with previous ministerial experience, who’s clearly relishing his brief in the Justice department; and Norman Baker, who might have previously been stereotyped as a ‘guerilla backbencher’, but seems to be well on top of his transport brief.

The two who drop out of the top 5 are Danny Alexander, who continues to yo-yo in and out partly according to perceptions of the state of the economy, and Vince Cable, who suffered a traumatic final three months of the year, first steering the Coalition’s Browne Report response through the Commons, and then falling victim to the Telegraph’s sting operation which saw him stripped of his media regulatory powers.

Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Danny Alexander +16% (+40%)
  • Alistair Carmichael +14% (+17%)
  • Nick Harvey +13% (+14%)
  • Vince Cable +8% (+47%)
  • Jeremy Browne +2% (+7%)

The two big changes are the appearance of Vince Cable and Danny Alexander, both of whom featured in the November top 5 list! The big climber, for no reason I can immediately thnk of, is the Lib Dem secretary of state for Scotland, Michael Moore, whose rating has shot up from +7% to +21%, perhaps as a result of the change in the wording of the question from ‘effectiveness’ to ‘satisfaction’ (which, if so, is something of a backhanded compliment!).

As I note each time: “the list stands as a reminder to all our Lib Dem ministers of the value of communicating effectively with party members about the work they’re undertaking on behalf of the party, even if it isn’t making the front pages.” For the record, all Lib Dem government ministers are still showing net positive satisfaction ratings.

And here’s how other leading Lib Dems score:

  • Tim Farron, Party President +69% (n/a)
  • Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader +39% (+63%)
  • Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly +27% (+22%)
  • Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats +25% (+27%)
  • Chris Fox, Lib Dem chief executive +14% (+12%)
  • Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs +13% (+3%)
  • Tavish Scott, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats +13% (-1%)

The Lib Dems have a new prince: Tim Farron, freshly installed this month as party president, leaps to the top of the ratings for the party, with a net satisfaction rating of +69%. That’s a phenomenal start for Tim, though — as he’d be the first to acknowledge — the real tests for him are doubtless to come, as he embarks on a potential four-year term of office (if re-elected) that will define the party’s strength at the next general election.

Deputy leader Simon Hughes sees his ratings dip, maybe because of his decision to abstain on the crucial tuition fees vote, or maybe simply in response to the change in question wording. Two of the Lib Dems’ female leaders, Carline Pidgeon in London and Kirsty Williams in Wales, continue to record strong satisfaction ratings in the +20%s; while both Fiona Hall and Tavish Scott record strong boosts in their personal ratings.

As promised, here are the results in full …

Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Very satisfied 26%
Quite satisfied 49%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 15%
Net satisfaction +65% (+68%)

Steve Webb, Minister of State to the Department for Work and Pensions
Very satisfied 17%
Quite satisfied 36%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 39%
Net satisfaction +46% (+53%)

Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) for the Home Office
Very satisfied 17%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 9%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 38%
Net satisfaction +37% (+43%)


The Rt Hon. Lord McNally, Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice

Very satisfied 11%
Quite satisfied 24%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 59%
Net satisfaction +28% (+32%)

Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Transport
Very satisfied 9%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 11%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 42%
Net satisfaction +27% (+30%)

Edward Davey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 29%
Quite dissatisfied 9%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 52%
Net satisfaction +24% (+23%)

David Heath, Parliamentary Secretary (Deputy Leader) to the Office of the Leader of the Commons
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 22%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 64%
Net satisfaction +24% (+21%)

Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 30%
Quite dissatisfied 11%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 47%
Net satisfaction +22% (+23%)

Sarah Teather, Minister of State for the Department for Education
Very satisfied 10%
Quite satisfied 32%
Quite dissatisfied 14%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 36%
Net satisfaction +22% (+21%)

Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland
Very satisfied 6%
Quite satisfied 25%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 60%
Net satisfaction +21% (+7%)

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
Very satisfied 17%
Quite satisfied 37%
Quite dissatisfied 20%
Very dissatisfied 16%
Don’t know / No opinion 10%
Net satisfaction +18% (+33%)

Paul Burstow, Minister of State for the Department of Health
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 26%
Quite dissatisfied 10%
Very dissatisfied 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 51%
Net satisfaction +18% (+17%)

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Very satisfied 16%
Quite satisfied 32%
Quite dissatisfied 19%
Very dissatisfied 13%
Don’t know / No opinion 20%
Net satisfaction +16% (+40%)

Alistair Carmichael, Deputy Chief Whip to the House of Commons
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 17%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 66%
Net satisfaction +14% (+17%)

Nick Harvey, Minister of State (Minister for the Armed Forces) for the Ministry of Defence
Very satisfied 2%
Quite satisfied 19%
Quite dissatisfied 6%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 70%
Net satisfaction +13% (+14%)

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 26%
Very dissatisfied 12%
Don’t know / No opinion 26%
Net satisfaction +8% (+47%)

Jeremy Browne, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Very satisfied 4%
Quite satisfied 22%
Quite dissatisfied 15%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 53%
Net satisfaction +2% (+7%)

Other leading Lib Dems:

Tim Farron, Party President
Very satisfied 42%
Quite satisfied 32%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 20%
Net satisfaction +69% (n/a)

Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
Very satisfied 20%
Quite satisfied 39%
Quite dissatisfied 14%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 21%
Net satisfaction +39% (+63%)

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly
Very satisfied 12%
Quite satisfied 19%
Quite dissatisfied 2%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 65%
Net satisfaction +27% (+22%)

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 21%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 66%
Net satisfaction +25% (+27%)

Chris Fox, Lib Dem chief executive
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 19%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 60%
Net satisfaction +14% (+12%)

Tavish Scott, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 4%
Quite satisfied 16%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 73%
Net satisfaction +13% (-1%)

Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs
Very satisfied 3%
Quite satisfied 16%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 74%
Net satisfaction +13% (+3%)

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  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll