Which Lib Dem minister had the worst year? Here’s what party members think…

by Stephen Tall on December 28, 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. Over 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

The Lib Dem half of the Quad top our members’ poll for the worst 2012

Nick Clegg yay2 - Some rights reserved by Liberal Democrats
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 c.400 of our respondents filled in. And here’s what you told us:

    1. Nick Clegg (123)
    2. Danny Alexander (69)
    3. Sarah Teather (33)
    4. Chris Huhne (28)
    5. Vince Cable (27)
    6. David Laws (21)
    7. Lynne Featherstone (16)
    8. Jeremy Browne (15)
    9. Ed Davey (12)
    10. Andrew Stunell (11)
    =11. Paul Burstow (10)
    =11. Lord (Tom) McNally (10)
    13. Nick Harvey (8)

    (Note: only Lib Dem ministers who scored double-digit votes are mentioned here.)

Last year he tied with Chris Huhne, but in 2012 Nick Clegg tops our poll outright as the Lib Dem minister who suffered the worst year. Not only did the party suffer a second successive bruising at the polls, but Nick’s hopes of reforming the House of Lords were shot down in flames by a major backbench Tory rebellion. By late summer, our survey showed party members evenly split whether Nick should lead the party into the next election.

Last year, Danny Alexander came in third place; in 2012, he moves up a place to become runner-up (perhaps not something he’ll celebrate this Hogmanay). For many he is no more than the Lib Dem face of Coalition cuts, always defending George Osborne’s decisions with just a bit too much enthusiasm. That said, he is also steering the Lib Dems closer to meeting the party’s number one manifesto pledge, proving himself more economically adept than the Chancellor, and skilfully navigating a speech to the TUC.

Sarah Teather is one of five Lib Dems in our list who began the year as ministers and end it on the backbenches — she left most noisily, with a scorching exit interview in mid-November, lambasting the Tories’ “immoral and divisive” intent on welfare benefits. She is joined by Chris Huhne, Andrew Stunell, Paul Burstow and Nick Harvey (the latter in particular may feel hard done by for being shunted aside for doing his job at Defence too well).

In total, nine of those who appear above also featured on our list of those who’d had the best year, in alphabetical order: Danny Alexander, Jeremy Browne, Vince Cable, Nick Clegg, Ed Davey, Lynne Featherstone, Nick Harvey, David Laws and Sarah Teather. These polls always trigger a mix of responses: some use it as a chance to vent against a Lib Dem politician who gets their goat; others attempt pure objectivity; and others choose the Lib Dem they think has had the most rotten time to express their sympathy for him/her. Make of it what you wish!

Tomorrow: which Lib Dem MP or peer you think has had the best year…

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Over 500 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 7th and 11th December.
  • 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.