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

by Stephen Tall on October 14, 2012

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum before conference to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

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

This was the first post-reshuffle survey of what members think of the new Lib Dem ministerial team. As it was conducted mere days after most took up new posts, the figures are of course based on pre-conceptions of how the new boys/girls will perform in their roles. But they’ll be a baseline for how satisfied you are with them over time. Full results are published below, but here’s three key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with comparison to August 2012 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Vince Cable +75% (+87%)
  • Steve Webb +54% (+61%)
  • Edward Davey +50% (+62%)
  • Lynne Featherstone +48% (+58%)
  • Norman Baker +46% (+56%)

In August I noted that everyone’s ratings had jumped for no obvious reason; now it’s time to note they’ve fallen, also for no apparent reason. (NB: the survey was conducted pre-conference.) It may signify a general unhappiness with the party; or that there were so many post-reshuffle new names that members felt overall less sure of the top team; or it may simply be a sampling blip. We’ll see how the trend goes. Interestingly, as my co-editor Mark Pack has pointed out to me, the average net satisfaction rating scores in the last seven surveys across all the people rated has been in the range +31-33% — except for August’s which was significantly higher at +43%. This month’s across-the-board declines return us to the average at +32%.

In terms of the top 5, there was in any case no change to the established faces featured… though I’d put a bet on Jo Swinson soon appearing in the top 5.

Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • David Heath +22% (n/a)
  • Baroness (Jenny) Randerson +9% (n/a)
  • David Laws +7% (n/a)
  • Nick Clegg +4% (+21%)
  • Danny Alexander +2% (+23%)

There’s much more change in the bottom 5, with Paul Burstow and Andrew Stunell’s departures from the Lib Dem ministerial team at the reshuffle: Nick and Danny are the two constants, bearing the brunt for their close identification with the Coalition project as the Lib Dem half of the ‘Quad’. Joining them in this quintet is David Laws as incoming schools minister, and marmite figure within the party ever since the publication of the social-justice-through-markets Orange Book he co-edited in 2004. While David divides opinions, Jenny features because she is (as yet) unknown to as many as 9-in-10 Lib Dem members. David Heath can feel a little aggrieved at featuring at all — his net satisfaction rating of +22% is a pretty respectable showing in a new post.

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.” That’s less the issue with Nick and Danny, of course!

And here’s how other leading Lib Dems score:

  • Tim Farron +62% (+72%)
  • Simon Hughes +42% (+56%)
  • Caroline Pidgeon +42% (+34%)
  • Kirsty Williams +40% (+45%)
  • Willie Rennie +28% (+45%)
  • Tim Gordon +28% (+29%)
  • Fiona Hall +18% (+24%)

As above, everyone’s ratings took a dip pre-conference, Willie Rennie in particular. Let’s see if Brighton perked us all up…

As promised, here are the results in full …

Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

Vince Cable – Secretary of State, Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 40%
Quite satisfied 43%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 9%
Net satisfaction +75% (+87%)

Steve Webb – Minister, Department for Work and Pensions
Very satisfied 27%
Quite satisfied 33%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 33%
Net satisfaction +54% (+61%)

Edward Davey – Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change
Very satisfied 18%
Quite satisfied 44%
Quite dissatisfied 10%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 26%
Net satisfaction +50% (+62%)

Lynne Featherstone – Minister, Department for International Development
Very satisfied 20%
Quite satisfied 35%
Quite dissatisfied 6%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 37%
Net satisfaction +48% (+58% as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) for the Home Office)

Norman Baker – Minister, Department for Transport
Very satisfied 16%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 38%
Net satisfaction +46% (+56%)

Jo Swinson – Minister, Business, Innovation and Skills
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 37%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 44%
Net satisfaction +45% (+45% as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister)

Norman Lamb – Minister, Department of Health
Very satisfied 10%
Quite satisfied 34%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 47%
Net satisfaction +34% (+57% as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

Alistair Carmichael – Deputy Chief Whip, Commons
Very satisfied 11%
Quite satisfied 21%
Quite dissatisfied 4%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 63%
Net satisfaction +27% (+32% as Deputy Chief Whip to the House of Commons)

Lord (Tom) McNally – Minister, Ministry of Justice (and Deputy Leader of the Lords)
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 31%
Quite dissatisfied 10%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 51%
Net satisfaction +26% (+36%)

Tom Brake – Deputy Leader of the Commons
Very satisfied 7%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 67%
Net satisfaction +26% (n/a)

Michael Moore – Secretary of State, Scotland
Very satisfied 8%
Quite satisfied 29%
Quite dissatisfied 9%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 51%
Net satisfaction +25% (+40%)

Jeremy Browne – Minister, Home Office
Very satisfied 10%
Quite satisfied 25%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 54%
Net satisfaction +24% (+37% as Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Don Foster – Minister, Department for Communities and Local Government
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 26%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 63%
Net satisfaction +24% (n/a)

David Heath – Minister, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Very satisfied 5%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 65%
Net satisfaction +22% (n/a)

Baroness (Jenny) Randerson – Minister, Wales Office
Very satisfied 2%
Quite satisfied 9%
Quite dissatisfied 1%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 87%
Net satisfaction +9% (n/a)

David Laws – Minister, Department for Education (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
Very satisfied 11%
Quite satisfied 19%
Quite dissatisfied 10%
Very dissatisfied 13%
Don’t know / No opinion 48%
Net satisfaction +7% (n/a)

Nick Clegg – Deputy Prime Minister
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 30%
Quite dissatisfied 22%
Very dissatisfied 19%
Don’t know / No opinion 14%
Net satisfaction +4% (+21%)

Danny Alexander – Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Very satisfied 11%
Quite satisfied 31%
Quite dissatisfied 23%
Very dissatisfied 16%
Don’t know / No opinion 19%
Net satisfaction +2% (+23%)

Other leading Lib Dems:

Tim Farron, Party President
Very satisfied 35%
Quite satisfied 38%
Quite dissatisfied 7%
Very dissatisfied 4%
Don’t know / No opinion 16%
Net satisfaction +62% (+72%)

Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
Very satisfied 20%
Quite satisfied 37%
Quite dissatisfied 12%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 30%
Net satisfaction +42% (+56%)

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly
Very satisfied 20%
Quite satisfied 26%
Quite dissatisfied 1%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 51%
Net satisfaction +42% (+42%)

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 15%
Quite satisfied 28%
Quite dissatisfied 2%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 54%
Net satisfaction +40% (+45%)

Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Very satisfied 13%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 3%
Don’t know / No opinion 57%
Net satisfaction +28% (+45%)

Tim Gordon, Lib Dem chief executive
Very satisfied 9%
Quite satisfied 23%
Quite dissatisfied 3%
Very dissatisfied 1%
Don’t know / No opinion 67%
Net satisfaction +28% (+29%)

Fiona Hall, Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs
Very satisfied 6%
Quite satisfied 19%
Quite dissatisfied 5%
Very dissatisfied 2%
Don’t know / No opinion 69%
Net satisfaction +18% (+24%)

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. More than 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 19th and 22nd September. NB: most responses received before Nick Clegg’s apology broadcast.
  • 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 offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • 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.