When should the Coalition end? Here’s what our survey said…

by Stephen Tall on August 21, 2012

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Three-quarters want Coalition to go on til 2015 – but 40% say it should end early to allow for differentiation

LDV asked: When would you like the Coalition to end?

    10% – As soon as possible, definitely this year
    3% – It should end in 2013
    9% – It should end in 2014
    40% – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans
    35% – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election
    3% – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election
    0% – Don’t know / No opinion

An interesting spread of results. Unsurprisingly, the aggregate figure of 78% of Lib Dem members who want to see the Coalition last almost up to, until, or even beyond 2015 closely reflects the proportion of members who say they support the Coalition – 77% – which I highlighted last week here. In total, 22% of Lib Dem members — almost one-in-four — want to see the Coalition brought to a close even before 2015. Another way of slicing the figures, of course, is that 62% of members think the Coalition should end earlier than its official deadline of May 2015. Only two members out of the 498 who responded didn’t have a view on this issue!

This is the first time we’ve asked this question, which was originally posed by ConservativeHome to their panel of signed-up readers (who may or may not be Tory members) — here’s how they responded:

    20% – As soon as possibly, ideally this year
    9% – It should end in 2013
    10% – It should end in 2014
    41% – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the parties can set out their different plans
    19% – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election
    1% – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election

Though tilted more in favour of anti-Coalitionists, it’s notable that both surveys produce c.40% in favour of the Coalition ending a few months shy of May 2015 to end officially collective responsibility and enable the parties to strike different policy stances. Though superficially attractive both to Tories and Lib Dems, I’m unsure yet such a step will be necessary, and think it runs the risk of looking indulgent. But it’s not a decision we need to make yet in any case.

Here’s a selection of you comments:

The government should stay in place – but there should be a limited legislative programme in the last few months

I don’t think there’s any reason why the two parties can’t set out separate and opposed plans/policies for the future while still remaining part of the same caretaker government.

It should continue till a new government forms… wasn’t Alistair Darling off in europe signing deals for the British government after the election in 2010, but before the Coalition had formed? I dont like the idea of the Tories being free to do anything they like (well those things that dont require a HoC vote) in those final days

In 2014 – only after the 2014 budget is agreed and adopted, and only if this allows for one year of ‘Short money’ to build capacity. Otherwise, it should end in run-up to GE.

I think there will be no possibility to “pull things back” for any election without quick and radical action. There is no box by the influence question below, but essentially i believe that Orange Book ideas have influenced a reasonable amount, but mainstream caring, green Lib Dem ideas have had little influence.

I may be in a minority, but I would like to see us fight the next election as a coalition, with a single Coalition candidate in each seat. I think that this is the only way to continue the good work on stabilising the economy and avoid the risk of Labour getting back in to wreck everything.

Being in government with the Tories does not stop us from campaigning separately from them; after all we still fight them in Parliamentary by-elections! If we can’t set out our own stall while we are in govenment with others, then we are history. We have to do it for local and Euro elections that happen during the course of the parliament. For the election we must campaign as an independent party with no preference for coalition partners, so NO continuing *this* coalition beyond the 2015 general election.

As as Lib Dem for over 30 years what I am horrified that we can’t be more critical and positive about what our society needs

I believe it should end immediately and we should fight with Labour to reverse disastrous policies.

The party should be able to continue in coalition for the full term AND set out our own approach including criticism of the coalition where appropriate. We’ve never tried this in any meaningful way but have also been wounded by Clegg’s woeful approach to the coalition in the first twelve months where every opporuntity seemed to be taken to emphasise the alleged closeness of the two parties. Every such speech or remark was a nail in our coffin.

At least six months is needed for differentiation before the election. November/December 2014 should be the latest.

As a government it should last for the full term, but there should be no limitations on developing programs FOR THE FUTURE by either party. Perhaps the need to focus on the future and not tear each other apart over the past in 2015 (for fear of self-harm by imlication) will actually help at least 2 of the parties focus on positives and future policies in the election campaign (for a change)!

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 500 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 6th August.
  • 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, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.