What Lib Dem members think about the party and its leadership

by Stephen Tall on May 5, 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 500 party members have responded, and we’ll be publishing the full results this week.

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members say party on the right course

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

    65% (61%) – The right course
    26% (25%) – The wrong track
    9% (14%) – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net right course: +39% (+36%)

There will be some relief in the party that there’s a small uptick in the party’s net right course/wrong track rating compared with the start of the year — this partially reverses a fall that has seen net approval for the party’s direction tumble from +52% in August 2010 to +39% today.

Here is a selection of your comments:

Right course but poor performance.

I think we are doing what has to be done although I dont like all of it. However what we are doing is not getting advertised enough

Right course, however our current PR is terrible! The party image will not improve until the economy improves

Party leadership have been on the wrong track but may be beginning to right itself. Grassroots and people behind the scenes such as Evan Harris or Tim Farron very much on right track.

We are ona very dangerous path but I still believe that it is the right one given the election result

I think we have compromised far too much with socially regressive policies.

I understand the principle but why do we have to agree with everything? I am not a Tory!

It’s going to be a long, hard, difficult, slog, but I still believe we made the only possible choice for ourselves and the right choice for the country.

Support coalition and coalition agreement was sound but we are perceived as having sold out and unclear if we are achieving enough of substance.

Amongst the chaos there are the beginnings of a long term strategy emerging. furthermore, the resilience of Nick Clegg, senior ministers, MPs and most party members in the face of vitriolic abuse has been super human.

57% of Lib Dem members say Nick Clegg’s leadership (very) effective

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

    14% (14%) – Very effective
    43% (43%) – Effective
    25% (24%) – Ineffective
    15% (15%) – Very ineffective
    3% (3%) – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net effectiveness: +17% (+19%)

Nick Clegg’s popularity among party members is at the lowest its been during his time as Lib Dem leader, according to our survey — a small drop in net satisfaction from +19% in January to +17% today. In November, Nick’s net satisfaction rating stood at +41%, itself a sharp fall since August’s +62% and July’s +68%. The U-turn on tuition fees seems clearly to have left its mark on Nick’s personal standing in the party.

Here is a selection of your comments:

I like Nick Clegg as leader I think some of his bad press is unjustified. However the student fees issue should have been sorted out in the colation agreement

Satisified – he is working hard, but the gaffe quotient is running a little high

Nick’s slipping a bit. His speech launching the local elections was wooden and scripted.

Nick could be doing more to separate himself from David Cameron, but I think, on the whole, the government is doing a good job, with minor hiccups, but should return to actively refuting Labour falsehoods, instead of ignoring them.

I wish the Lib Dems would cut him some slack. I didn’t vote for him, but he’s our Leader and deserves a bit of encouragement.

More sympathetic rather than satisfied or dissatisfied tbh. He’s been screwed over by circumstance and the media more than anything else.

He is doing well in an incredibly difficult job. The pressure he is under must be enormous. I have nothing but respect for the way that he has handled himself in the face of constant criticism, and an incredible rollercoaster year. He could do with more media training and no he’s not perfect, but he does not deserve the constant baiting and sniping.

I am not dissatisfied, but I do think Nick needs to focus in on maybe 2 or 3 areas. At the moments, he seems to be in the unenviable position, of trying to be ‘all things, to all people’ – Would like to see him stop keep using ‘Deficit, deficit, deficit’ as think this is turning people off – Think he needs to ‘home’ in on and focus peoples attentions on the cuts Labour would have made, and their reliance on the economy growing/low inflation to have made their figures work!

83% of Lib Dem members continue to back Lib Dem / Conservative Coalition

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

    83% (83%) – Support
    12% (12%) – Oppose
    4% (3%) – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net support: +71% (+71%)

It’s interesting to see that, whatever concerns members might have about the party’s direction, or indeed of Nick’s leadership of the party, there is remarkably little evidence of Lib Dems wanting out of the Coalition. indeed, quite the opposite. Net support for the Coalition has been above 70% since it was formed in every one of our surveys — 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%.

Here is a selection of your comments:

I’d rather we weren’t in this position, but we have no choice.

Support but only on the basis of the coalition agreement – which the party voted to support. However the agreement has long since been breached.

We had no choice and are making a good fist of it.

We must stick with it. It was never going to be easy.

Still yes, not least because a general election now would be a disaster

It was the right thing to do and we need to stick with it. If we leave the coalition it has to be for the right reasons

It was the right thing to do last May, it’s the right thing now – best way to put our policies into practice and moderate the Tories!

  • Almost 1,300 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Over 500 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, 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