What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition, its record, & the party’s electoral prospects

by Stephen Tall on February 20, 2012

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 570 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results.

84% of Lib Dem members support the Coalition

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Comparison with December 2011′s figures)

    84% (81%) – Support
    13% (13%) – Oppose
    3% (5%) – Don’t know / No opinion

Support for the Coalition remains as high as it has ever been, with 84% of party members continuing to back it — the same figure as supported it way back in July 2010. Of course that support is often conditionally expressed, as the comments below indicate:

Again, it’s bad but it could be so much worse, and while there are few crumbs of comfort, at least they are OUR crumbs.

I voted yes at Birmingham, but if given another chance would seriously consider no.

Support – because the country needed stability but it has been at a great cost

I only support it on the basic that there was nothing else we could do (partly because of Labours attitude after the election.)

There’s no alternative and the LibDems have, by and large, managed to keep the Government in the centre.

Confidence & supply would have been better (I was always in the minority on this).

Inevitable given the 2010 electoral arithmetic, doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

If we weren’t then we would be back at the 1974 scenario, with a second minority government elected by the end of 2010, no action to reduce the deficit over the following years and a Thatcherite revival in 2015.

Approval of Coalition Government’s record running at +40%

LDV asked: Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date? (comparison with December 2011′s figures)

    65% (67%) – Approve
    25% (26%) – Disapprove
    10% (7%) – Don’t know / No opinion

The net approval for the Coalition’s record to date is +40%, virtually unchanged from last December’s +41% (or indeed the previous September’s +41%). It’s a significant improvement on a year ago, when in the wake of the tuition fees’ U-turn the Coalition’s approval was down at +32%. Here’s a sample of your comments:

A failure to focus on growth at the expense of cutting the deficit is becoming a bigger and bigger worry.

On balance. I’d like to we more liberal and progressive moves, of course, but will remain patient

Weakly approve. I think the LibDems have done well where we can although this needs to become more apparent.

Making the cuts hit the poor too much. Letting the rich off far too lightly.

But it is only nibbling at the real problems. Pragmatism may turn to gradualism may turn to abject failure to address the real vested interests in society.

The coalition is implementing a substantial proportion of the Lib Dem manifesto; anyone opposing what it is doing that voted Lib Dem at the last election was inadequately informed as to what our policies were or is inadequately prepared for the difficult choices of government.

Still the most liberal government of my lifetime (I count Thatcher in this).

Six-in-10 members say Coalition will damage electoral hopes

Do you think the Coalition Government will be good or bad for the Lib Dems’ electoral prospects at the next general election?

    16% – Good
    61% – Bad
    15% – Neither good nor bad
    8% – Don’t know / No opinion

There has certainly been a change in self-perception of the impact the Coalition will have on the party’s fortunes. When we first asked this question, in July 2010, while 43% of members said they thought the Lib Dems would be electorally harmed, some 23% thought our time in government would improve our chances. Time has tempered that hope.

88% say Coalition will last ’til 2015

How long do you expect the coalition government will last?

    1% – It will end this year, 2012
    3% – It will end in 2013
    6% – It will end in 2014
    88% – It will last the full term, until 2015
    3% – Don’t know / No opinion

This is, by some way, the biggest jump in confidence (if that’s the word!) that the Coalition will stay the course for the full fixed-term parliament: 88% think the Lib Dems and Conservatives will remain government together until 2015, compared with just 72% in December (a figure which was broadly static throughout 2011). The options available did change (to reflect the new year), which may have altered the results a bit; as may the fact that the Coalition stayed firm despite the tense dispute over the European summit in December.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 570 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 31st January and 4th February.
  • 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
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.