Who’s up, who’s down? How party members rate the performances of leading Lib Dems

by Stephen Tall on March 16, 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. Over 500 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results.

Today we focus on the performances of the leading lights of the Liberal Democrats — those of our MPs in the cabinet, those occupying ministerial positions, and other leading Lib Dems.

LDV asked: How would you rate the performances of the following leading Liberal Democrats and government ministers?

Full results are published below, but here’s three key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with comparison to February 2012 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Vince Cable +60% (+65%)
  • Lynne Featherstone +55% (+56%)
  • Edward Davey +44% (+41%)
  • Steve Webb +42% (+45%)
  • Michael Moore +42% (+39%)

One change since February: Michael Moore moves up into the top 5, usurping Norman Baker from the quintet of fave Lib Dems. It’s been a heck of an ascent for the Scottish secretary, perhaps the least well-known of the party’s cabinet ministers. Throughout 2010-11, Michael was regularly in our bottom 5 in these surveys; however, the focus on the Scottish independence referendum, together with his regular Westminster Notes column here on LibDemVoice, has given him a much higher profile.

Edward Davey had previously appeared in our top 5, but this is the first time we welcome him in his new incarnation as Energy and Climate Change secretary. Norman Lamb, who has just joined the ranks of ministers as Ed’s replacement at Vince Cable’s BIS department, doesn’t quite make the top 5, but scored a high +37% rating in his first appearance in our survey.

Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Lord McNally +19% (+26%))
  • Nick Clegg +16% (+40%)
  • Danny Alexander +16% (+20%)
  • Andrew Stunell +11% (+10%)
  • Paul Burstow -4% (+9%)

Paul Burstow, the Lib Dems’ health minister, earns for himself a somewhat dubious distinction: he’s the first Lib Dem minister to record a negative net rating in our surveys since the Coalition began. Nick Clegg’s ratings (which we’ve already seen have taken a hit as party leader) are down also as deputy prime minister: a plummet from +40% in February to +16% this month in the wake of the controversy over the NHS reforms.

Lord (Tom) McNally — the Justice department minister who is the only Lib Dem previously to have served in government — makes a debut appearance in the bottom 5. This may be the result of a lower profile (in spite of his quite superb conference speeches), or it might be the consequence of unhappiness over Coalition plans for ‘secret trials’.

As I note each time: “the list stands as a reminder to all our Lib Dem ministers of the value of communicating effectively with party members about the work they’re undertaking on behalf of the party, even if it isn’t making the front pages.”

And here’s how other leading Lib Dems score:

  • Tim Farron +62% (+58%)
  • Simon Hughes +42% (+47%)
  • Jo Swinson +42% (n/a)
  • Brian Paddick +42% (+33%)
  • Kirsty Williams +39% (+38%)
  • Caroline Pidgeon +37% (+38%)
  • Willie Rennie +33% (+28%)
  • Fiona Hall +13% (+14%)
  • Tim Gordon +11% (+8%)

We welcome Jo Swinson to our list of leading Lib Dems we survey members about. As well as being Nick Clegg’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, she has also now become the chair of the party’s Federal Policy Committee — a crucial internal position which used to be the prerogative of the party leader before we entered Coalition — both of which roles she’s taken over from Norman Lamb. Jo already has a high profile within the party — reflected in her high debut rating of +42% — since 2005 as an MP, but prior to that within LDYS, the party’s youth wing (as it was then called), and as a vocal opponent of all-women short-lists to boost the party’s female representation in the House of Commons.

Tim Farron, the party’s president, sustains his position as members’ favourite Lib Dem outside of government, even recording a satisfaction rating this month a nose ahead of Vince Cable. Deputy leader Simon Hughes’ ratings take a slight knock, perhaps because of his trenchant defence of recent controversial Coalition policies. By contrast, Brian Paddick, the party’s London mayoral candidate, sees a big boost, a reflection of the sure-footedness of his early and high-profile campaigning alongside Caroline Pidgeon and the Lib Dems’ other GLA candidates.

As promised, here are the results in full …

Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 25%
Quite satisfied 47%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 16%
Net satisfaction +60% (+65%)

Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) for the Home Office
Very satisfied 26%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 26%
Net satisfaction +55% (+56%)

Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 40%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 38%
Net satisfaction +44% (+41% for previous role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

Steve Webb, Minister of State to the Department for Work and Pensions
Very satisfied 17%
Quite satisfied 36%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 36%
Net satisfaction +42% (+45%)

Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 40%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 35%
Net satisfaction +42% (+39%)

Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Transport
Very satisfied 12%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 9%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 40%
Net satisfaction +39% (+42%)

Norman Lamb, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 9%
Quite satisfied 34%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 52%
Net satisfaction +37% (n/a)

Sarah Teather, Minister of State for the Department for Education
Very satisfied 10%
Quite satisfied 35%
Quite dissatisfied 14%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 34%
Net satisfaction +25% (+27%)

Alistair Carmichael, Deputy Chief Whip to the House of Commons
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 26%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 57%
Net satisfaction +24% (+27%)

David Heath, Parliamentary Secretary (Deputy Leader) to the Office of the Leader of the Commons
Very satisfied 4%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 67%
Net satisfaction +22% (+26%)

Nick Harvey, Minister of State (Minister for the Armed Forces) for the Ministry of Defence
Very satisfied 3%
Quite satisfied 27%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 61%
Net satisfaction +21% (+17%)

Jeremy Browne, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Very satisfied 12%
Quite satisfied 27%
Quite dissatisfied 13%
Very dissatisfied 6%
Don’t know / No opinion 42%
Net satisfaction +20% (+30%)

The Rt Hon. Lord McNally, Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice
Very satisfied 4%
Quite satisfied 27%
Quite dissatisfied 9%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 57%
Net satisfaction +19% (+26%)

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
Very satisfied 20%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 22%
Very dissatisfied 15%
Don’t know / No opinion 10%
Net satisfaction +16% (+40%)

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 35%
Quite dissatisfied 18%
Very dissatisfied 16%
Don’t know / No opinion 16%
Net satisfaction +16% (+20%)

Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 27%
Quite dissatisfied 14%
Very dissatisfied 7%
Don’t know / No opinion 47%
Net satisfaction +11% (+10%)

Paul Burstow, Minister of State for the Department of Health
Very satisfied 6%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 22%
Very dissatisfied 11%
Don’t know / No opinion 37%
Net satisfaction -4% (+9%)

Other leading Lib Dems:

Tim Farron, Party President
Very satisfied 31%
Quite satisfied 37%
Quite dissatisfied 11%
Very dissatisfied 5%
Don’t know / No opinion 15%
Net satisfaction +62% (+58%)

Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
Very satisfied 18%
Quite satisfied 40%
Quite dissatisfied 13%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 26%
Net satisfaction +42% (+47%)

Jo Swinson, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister
Very satisfied 16%
Quite satisfied 35%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 40%
Net satisfaction +42% (n/a)

Brian Paddick, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 8%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 36%
Net satisfaction +42% (+33%)

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 29%
Quite dissatisfied 2%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 55%
Net satisfaction +39% (+38%)

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly
Very satisfied 16%
Quite satisfied 25%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 54%
Net satisfaction +37% (+38%)

Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 10%
Quite satisfied 29%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 54%
Net satisfaction +33% (+28%)

Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 19%
Quite dissatisfied 6%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 67%
Net satisfaction +13% (+14%)

Tim Gordon, Lib Dem chief executive
Very satisfied 3%
Quite satisfied 13%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 80%
Net satisfaction +11% (+8%)

• Over 1,300 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 507 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 4th and 8th March.
• 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 here

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.