by Stephen Tall on December 30, 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.
Huhne and Clegg tie for the award neither would want to win
LDV asked: In your opinion, which Lib Dem government minister has had the worst year?
Unusually for our Voice surveys, this question allowed an unprompted, free-text response, which 385 of our respondents rose to. And here’s what you told us:
1. Chris Huhne — 80 votes
1. Nick Clegg — 80 votes
3. Danny Alexander — 62 votes
4. Vince Cable — 34 votes
5. Paul Burstow — 22 votes
6. Sarah Teather — 21 votes
7. Andrew Stunell — 14 votes
(Note: only Lib Dem ministers who scored double-digit votes are mentioned here.)
They virtually tied in their 2007 contest to become leader of the Liberal Democrats (Nick edged Chris by less than 1%) — but now Messrs Huhne and Clegg have actually tied in joint first place for the Lib Dem minister judged by our sample of party members to have had the worst year.
It’s not hard to understand why.
Chris Huhne has rarely been out of the spotlight this past year thanks to the continuing tussle between the police and CPS about whether he should face criminal charges over an alleged spot of speeding fine dodging. And his customarily sharp-elbowed attacks on his fellow cabinet ministers in the blue corner has divided opinion among some Lib Dems — does such invective show the party in a good or bad light?
Nick Clegg‘s troubles have been more political in nature: the loss of the AV referendum and of 700 councillors in May’s elections was an especially bruising experience for the Lib Dem leader. His response has been a more assertive tone in his public dealings with David Cameron and the Conservatives, initially over the controversial NHS reforms, most recently over David Cameron’s botched Euro negotiations. Nick can at least take some comfort that more voters (33%) think he’s doing a good job than think Ed Miliband is up to the job of Labour leader (32%).
Interestingly, six of the eight Lib Dem ministers who appear on this ‘worst year’ list also scored well in our ‘best year’ list published here yesterday — suggesting, probably not surprisingly, that high profile Lib Dem ministers are more likely to divide opinion even among party members.
The only two ministers who feature solely in the ‘worst year’ list are Paul Burstow and Andrew Stunell, both of whom have piloted tricky Coalition legislation through Parliament (on the NHS and localism, respectively).
Meanwhile four ministers appear solely in the ‘best year’ list — Lynne Featherstone, Steve Webb, Ed Davey and Norman Baker — all of whom are clearly seen by party members to be demonstrably putting liberal values into action within a Coalition government… and communicating that they are doing so effectively.