Lib Dem members survey: overwhelming backing for military action in Libya

by Stephen Tall on April 26, 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 530 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results this week.

Seven-in-10 Lib Dems back coalition force, but members split on success of action

LDV asked: Do you think Britain, France, the US and other countries are right or wrong to take military action in Libya?

    73% – Right to take military action
    18% – Wrong to take military action
    9% – Don’t know / No opinion

LDV then asked: Overall do you think the coalition’s military action in Libya is going well or badly?

    1% – Very well
    41% – Well
    Total well = 42%
    40% – Badly
    3% – Very badly
    Total badly = 43%
    15% – Don’t know / No opinion

Here is a selection of your comments:

Initially supportive, I do worry that this action is suffering from ‘mission creep’ and is becoming about regime change rather than protection.

The [coalition] must stay within the UN agreed terms. Unless the UN agree that regime change is permitted, we should restrict our actions to those permitted under the UN agreement

So long as they stick to the UN mandate. We’ve had enough of “illegal” wars.

Wrong in terms of timing. They turned a war that was over [prior to coalition action, Gaddafi’s forces had all but won] into what is now a stalemate.

It is not possible to win a war on the ground from the air. This is very well understood in military circles. (I am a former Wing Commander who ran air force operations so this is not a quote from some text book it is from bitter experience!) At some stage the rebels will need more than air support to overcome the loyalist side. The 1972 UN resolution does not allow for troops on the ground so the coalition’s efforts are good given this limitation. At some point in the future military help (ideally visible and legal) will be needed. It may be done under the guise of protecting civilians/convoys etc but you cannot clear streets of loyalists from the air; it takes boots on the ground. The latter way is not the best way as it leaves the coalition open to exceeding its UN authority.

It’s going badly if the expectation was that the application of air power alone would cause the Gaddaffi regime to implode. It will take a significant tightening of the blockade on Gaddaffi forces and training of the anti-Gaddaffi forces in order to remove this repellent regime.

Some members of the public, fuelled by media narrative, seemed to expect 100% positive results by the next news cycle. That was never realistic, but what’s happening does seem to be making a difference.

There are other equally deserving locations. Why should Libya be singled out in particular?

It is fundamental that the action remains within the confines of the UN resolution and that Arab support for the intervention is maintained.

It has turned a defeat for the rebels into a stalemate, but presumably that was not the objective.

I support the initial no-fly zone, but I am very worried by the mission-creep. We should not be promoting regime change – this is illegal.

We’re right to go as far as we have done, but we should not put boots on the ground

  • Almost 1,300 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with Over 530 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 18th and 24th April.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However,’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