EXCLUSIVE: Party members vote Vince Cable Lib Dem minister of the year

by Stephen Tall on December 29, 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. Some 564 party members responded, and we are publishing the full results here over several days.

Vince, Danny and Chris: the Lib Dems’ top trio in government

LDV asked: In your opinion, which Lib Dem government minister has had the best year?

Unusually for our Voice surveys, this question allowed an unprompted, free-text response, which 408 of our respondents rose to. And here’s what you told us:

    1. Vince Cable — 67 votes
    2. Danny Alexander — 56 votes
    3. Chris Huhne — 53 votes
    4. Lynne Featherstone — 42 votes
    5. Steve Webb — 37 votes
    6. Nick Clegg — 27 votes
    7. Ed Davey — 17 votes
    8. Norman Baker — 11 votes
    9. Sarah Teather — 10 votes

    (Note: only Lib Dem ministers who scored double-digit votes are mentioned here.)

So Vince Cable walks away with the accolade for the Lib Dem government minister who, according to our sample of party members, has enjoyed the best year. In part, of course, this is because 2011 has been something of a bounce-back for Vince after his fall from grace towards the close of 2010, when his welcome of the Browne Report’s call for tuition fee increases combined with his unguarded remarks about the Murdochs captured by the Telegraph’s sting operation, saw his popularity plummet among party members — as my colleague Mark Pack has already noted here. A year later, and with the Murdochs’ newspaper empire tottering in the wake of the hacking scandal, Vince’s reputation as the party’s top soothsayer is once again burnishing bright.

Perhaps more surprising than Vince’s pole position is Danny Alexander occupying the runner’s-up spot. The position of chief secretary to the treasury at a time of government austerity is scarcely likely to make you the most popular of politicians… and Danny has acted as a lightning rod for many Lib Dem members angry at the Coalition’s budget measures. But this survey shows he has his admirers within the party, too, many of whom spoke of how impressed they’d been by Danny’s deft handling of some of the trickiest government issues, including public sector pensions. And perhaps the fact that the Lib Dems’ own ‘ginger rodent’ clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously has also helped humanise him.

That Chris Huhne comes third will amuse and amaze some non-Lib Dems, after a year which may rank as an annus horribilis for the Lib Dem environment and climate change secretary with continuing speculation about his possible prosecution over that speeding fine. Yet despite this dark cloud hovering above his head, Chris has not been afraid to mount attacks on his Tory colleagues — though unusually in politics he’s chosen to do so to their faces around the cabinet table rather than via off-the-record, whispered briefings… Only in the absurd theatre that is the Westminster Village could such honesty be regarded as evidence of deceit. Above all, though, Chris has started delivering results: in the shape of the green investment bank, promised by the Lib Dems and delivered within the Coalition, and most recently and notably by working with our European partners to achieve agreement at the Durban climate change summit.

However, before Chris smiles too widely at coming third, he should be aware that tomorrow we publish the results of which Lib Dem minister party members think has had the worst year…

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 564 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 9th and 13th December.
  • 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