Lib Dem members tell us what you think of the party’s new magazine, Ad Lib

by Stephen Tall on January 5, 2013

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 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Ad Lib magazine - cover of first edition

Thumbs-up for new party magazine Ad Lib from Lib Dem members

The first issue of Ad Lib, the monthly magazine replacing Liberal Democrat News, was sent free to all members in December. What is your overall impression of it?

      20% – Positive: I will probably subscribe to it


      27% – Positive: but I am unlikely to subscribe to it


      5% – Negative: but I will probably subscribe to it anyway


      14% – Negative: and I am unlikely to subscribe to it


      18% – I have not received it


    17% – Don’t know

In total, then, 47% of members in our survey responded positively to Ad Lib, the glossy monthly magazine which has replaced the weekly paper, Liberal Democrat News. A total of 19% had a negative reaction. I suspect the party’s higher echelons will settle for that verdict (though almost 1-in-5 at the time of polling hadn’t received it to form a judgment either way).

Among those both positive and negative, 25% said they were likely to subscribe, compared to 41% who said they were unlikely to subscribe. Whether the business model stacks up if these figures turn out to be accurate, I don’t know; it will depend what targets have been set. (In 2011, Lib Dem News recorded a deficit of £44k. In previous years, it had been c.£10k, but the post-2010 drop in membership impacted hard the paper’s paid subscriptions.)

You can read Mark Pack’s review of Ad Lib here.

And you can subscribe to the magazine here; follow @AdLibMag on Twitter here; and like Ad Lib on Facebook here.

We also asked…

What one thing do you think would most improve future issues of Ad Lib?

…and here’s what you told us. In full:

…inspire me …but with quiet logic…
A lower price for members who are on pension. This is why I can’t afford the £35.
A regular piece on the difference Liberal Democrats are making in government here and in the EU.
Aimed at the 50+ age bracket it would seem!
Articles about Liberal / SDP / Lib Dem History and regular pieces from Nick Clegg and other Lib Dem ministers. Profile pieces. Ensure the opportunity for local Lib Dem activists to contribute to future issues.
articles from the wider Liberal movement; Amnesty International, New Economics Forum, Greenpeace, SaferWorld
Being free
being weekly
Better quality unique content.
Bigger size and colour!Plenty of L/D local community gatherings that are always good news for our supporters locally!Emphasis on new Membership Drive and University/Sixth Form attraction to L/Ds in light of `wobble’ on students` fees.
Bring back Liberal Democrat News
Can you get some informal stories in – more about grass roots members
Cannot think of any. The Magazine is not the Message.
Changing the name.
Clarity of thought.
Closer integration with libdemvoice!
Completely re-thinking it.
Connect Help Page with Austin Rathe serviing as Agony Uncle.
content ok but font size way too small for comfortable reading.
Content which contains more news that hasn’t already been heavily repeated elsewhere.
Criticism of the party leadership and of the party organisation, and debate about how to do better.
Despite the difficult times, a clear strategy to win more electoral support and give Lib Dem supporters some hope.
Dissension and debate
Dissenting voices
dont like glossy booklets
Don’t print it.
Email/web only and free.
Ensure it is not too sycophantic- it should be a place for honest comment on the Party alongside the moral boosting stuff.
Ensure it is timely and that the format is appropriate to the content.
fewer sermons
First impression – photo of 2 blokes in suits on cover. Not good.
Full local govt results.
Genuine debate
Genuine debate on government policy between Lib Dem supporters and Lib Dem opponents.
Get Mark Pack to serialise some of his how to win an election tales.
Get rid of the awful name. To ad lib is make it up as you go along!
Give it some sensible policy content.
Going back to being a weekly newspaper.
Have not had a chance to read it yet!
Haven’t finished reading it yet…
Haven’t yet read it all so can’t comment
Having decent content from across the spectrum of Lib Dems. Pieces that are critical of what we’re doing in government would be an honest and refreshing approach.
Having reminded members what a lot of good things the Lib Dems are getting up to, there is nothing included in AdLib that gives the reader any information about how they can get involved/ contribute to the party’s success.
Having some content.
Hints and tips on effective campaigning. What went well and what didn’t go quite so well in an election campaign.
“I find the print a bit small – but then I probably need new specs!
More gossipy bits would be good. I used to like the back page of the Lib Dem News.”
I haven’t had chance to read it yet…
I haven’t read it
I hope that same standard can be kept up, and look forward to watching it do so.
I only received it this evening and haven’t read it properly.
I will give you a considered answer next month.
I’d be happy for it to contain more advertising.
Ideas on how to tackle the media
If it was cheaper so i could buy it?
If you must have it. Have many more adverts for local party postions and events
It having a column called ‘Creepy Corner’ written by Liberal Youth members.
It is a pointless publication,which few people will read.
It needs to be written like a magazine that real people would actually read rather than a Focus from inside the Westminster bubble
It’s too small.
Keep going! Interviews with party members.
Keep it electronic
Kindle version!
Larger and darker print and lpaper that’s less glossy – I couldn’t read it comfortably and ended up not bothering mostly.
Larger format
Larger format – A4 size would allow for more useful content.
Larger format – though understand cost may be an issue.
Less about Westminster, more about grassroots campaigning and local/devolved activities.
Less fluffiness
less ‘gloss’ and more serious, critical and analytical articles
Letters from ordinary members and activists
Like it but would be better for free
Longer articles, every article having a call to action
Make it an A4 size
Make it available electronically ASAP(behind a subscription paywall).
Make it less like The House Magazine and more like the Big Issue, ie campaigning rather than pompous.
Make it magazine size
make it twice a month rather than monthly
Making cheaper (or even free) to members
Making it a weekly newspaper
morale boosting good news
more argument!
More constructive criticism of the leadership.
more content – not much compared to 4 issues of LD News
more content from ordinary members
More debate on contentious policy/policy that hasn’t really developed in coalition – ie. public transport / drugs / nanny state, etc..
More discussion on areas of real importance.
more election by-election info.
More interaction with members.
More ‘meat’ and fewer ‘nice to meet you’ articles.
More open and honest debate.
More realism.
more recipes
More relevant content, better design
More stuff about what SAOs
More support of up and coming parties.
More ‘thinking’ content – e.g. based on polling and a more candid grown up conversation about policy and popularity.
move the editor out of great George street
Needs to be a bit more incisive – articles were very frothy. Get a couple of serious journalists.
Needs to be A4 and glossy – like a magazine.
Not being Pravda
Not enough time to read it and comment
Not had timr to reas yet.
Not so glossy
Not sure – it’s quite well put together and a good read.
Not sure, although I know that I particularly liked the debate feature presenting two sides of the argument around whether or not to ban page 3. This seems a good way to air and explore liberal thinking.
nothing it should be scrapped
Publish fortnightly
Question somewhat premature.
Real disagreements
Receiving it!
Recycled paper
reduce the obvious propaganda element
Release an app of it?
Reliable distribution
Rethinking it – it is rubbish
Scrap it
scrap it. To get rid of LDN and then produce this is nonsense. And “Memebrs” as opposed to “Activists” is also a daft thing. Most “Members” are hardly Liberals at all. I know from doorstepping for the leadership and Euro selection campaigns.
see above
Seewhat I have said above.
Selective targetting. Not costing money to recieve.
Send it in an envelope that does not reveal the contents to all and sundry.
Should be an automatic benefit to members.
“Simple but honest messages.
Less partisan.
Bigger print size.”
Size is too small to read the text properly
Some politics.
Some stories about our sister parties in the rest pof the EU
Stocking it in WHSmith
Stop looking like a nasty supermarket book of shopping offers
Stopping it.
Submissions from party members.
Taking a less centralist line.
Targeted incentives for recruiting more members and activists. It’s what everyone knows we need to concentrate on and no one is willing to do. The party is dying.
The layout is pretty dreadful – content was interesting though
The party cutting its losses and closing it down.
The size, could be A4.
There was a useful summary of what Nick considers to be the Lib Dem achievements in the Coalition. We really need others to be constantly updating us of the benefilts (perhaps in more detail).
Too late – the train has left the station.
Too many in jokes. Track down the newest member to join the party and interview them.
Too soon to comment
Too soon to tell.
Turn it into a newspaper – perhaps published fortnightly in Parliamentray Ter Time.
Ways to get involved with the party
What a shame it’s so small. A4 size is much easier to handle and read.
Wider range of writers.
without the ppc ads I think it will die, without being weekly it is going to be bland.


  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with 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,’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


* 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.