Government reshuffle: party members’ views on Moore, Heath and Browne

by Stephen Tall on December 21, 2013

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. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

News of this week’s mini-reshuffle – Simon Hughes’s elevation to government in place of Lord (Tom) McNally – came too late to be included in our latest survey. But we did ask about the previous reshuffle in October, when Nick Clegg made a number of changes to the Lib Dem ministerial ranks, including his first sacking of a cabinet minister. Here’s what our sample of party members thought of the changes…

Lib Dem views split on reshuffle – but greater sympathy for Moore than Browne…

Nick Clegg reshuffled the Lib Dem ministerial team in October. Do you think his changes have strengthened or weakened the party, or made no difference?

    21% – Strengthened
    10% – Weakened
    32% – Made no difference
    30% – A mixture: some strengths and some weaknesses
    7% – Don’t know

Overall, then the jury’s out. Two-thirds of people either think the changes have made no difference at all, or that the upsides and downsides have netted out to make no real difference. Twice as many of you who do come down on side or the other, however, think the changes have strengthened the Lib Dem ministerial team.

We then asked about the individuals…

Three Lib Dem ministers were sacked from the government in the reshuffle. Which of these statements comes closest to your view:

    Michael Moore, sacked as Secretary of State for Scotland

    18% – It was the right decision to sack him
    22% – It was the wrong decision to sack him
    27% – He should have been moved to a different ministerial post
    32% – Don’t know

    David Heath, sacked as Minister for Rural Affairs

    22% – It was the right decision to sack him
    14% – It was the wrong decision to sack him
    13% – He should have been moved to a different ministerial post
    50% – Don’t know

    Jeremy Browne, sacked as Minister, Home Office

    47% – It was the right decision to sack him
    12% – It was the wrong decision to sack him
    13% – He should have been moved to a different ministerial post
    27% – Don’t know

The person who come out best of these results is Michael Moore: 49% thought he should have been kept in his cabinet post or at least kept in government. By comparison, 27% think the same of David Heath and 25% of Jeremy Browne.

The person who comes out least well is Jeremy Browne – almost half of Lib Dem members in our survey thought Nick Clegg made the right decision to sack him from his post, compared to 22% thinking the same for David Heath and just 18% for Michael Moore.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 749 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 18th 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, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.