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

by Stephen Tall on December 29, 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.

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

Full results are published below, but here’s two key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with comparison to September 2013 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Vince Cable +59%
  • Norman Baker +58%
  • Steve Webb +56%
  • Lynne Featherstone +56%
  • Jo Swinson +49%

Lots of changes in the three months since last we asked this question, not least because of the October reshuffle. Vince Cable remains the most popular Lib Dem government member, with a net satisfaction rating of +59% – though that’s his lowest rating since April 2011 and the aftermath of the tuition fees U-turn.

The star performer, however, is Norman Baker, whose ratings have soared from +37% to +58% following his move to the Home Office – doubtless helped by the hostility of Conservatives and Blairite commentators to his appointment. Sustaining that level of satisfaction with Lib Dem members in such a pivotal Coalition role will be the true test of Norman’s mettle.

Steve Webb and Lynne Featherstone are both regulars in the top 5, regarded as among the party’s most successful ministers, tailor-made for their briefs – though Lynne’s strong showing probably owes more to her pivotal role in securing same-sex marriage than her overseas development position. Jo Swinson‘s ratings are also up, boosted by her tireless campaigning on issues like body image as well as the fading of the negative publicity she (unfairly) attracted for her role in the allegations against Chris Rennard.

One person who was in the previous top 5 drops out, though through no fault of his own. Michael Moore had a +45% satisfaction rating, but it wasn’t enough to save him from being sacked by Nick Clegg – his replacement in the Scotland Office, Alistair Carmichael, begins with a lot of good-will and a +44% rating for a role that will be crucial in the 9 months leading up to the independence referendum.

Ed Davey‘s ratings continue to take a hit as a result of his decisions to push ahead with a new nuclear power station – a year ago, he enjoyed a +61% rating, which today stands at +34%. Of the new entrants to ministerial office, Baroness (Susan) Kramer at Transport is best-rated, with +22%, together with Lord (Jim) Wallace, who replaced Lord (Tom) McNally as the party’s Leader in the Lords.

Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

  • Nick Clegg +17%
  • Baroness (Jenny) Randerson +9%
  • Dan Rogerson +7%
  • Lord (Tom) McNally +4%
  • David Laws +2%

With David Heath and Jeremy Browne re-shuffled out of office, no Lib Dem ministers have negative net satisfaction ratings this time – though David Laws, at just +2%, comes perilously close: that’s his worst rating among party members since he was restored to ministerial office 15 months ago.

This is the last time Lord (Tom) McNally will feature in our ratings, now Simon Hughes has replaced him as Justice Minister. For a while, he was one of our most appreciated government ministers, recording +36% net satisfaction as recently as August 2012. Bus his standing among party members never recovered from his involvement in the extension of ‘secret courts’. His departure means that all those Lib Dem ministers who’ve at some time recorded negative satisfaction in the LibDemVoice surveys has left government: Paul Burstow, Jeremy Browne, David Heath and now Tom.

Baroness (Jenny) Randerson and Dan Rogerson find themselves in the bottom 5 by virtue of their relative anonymity among party members: 82% and 75% respectively have no view about how they’re doing in their ministerial roles. Finally, Nick Clegg‘s rating (+17%) is actually one of his better scores – his personal standing hasn’t recovered from the internal party rows over the NHS Bill – but still sees him in the bottom 5, just behind newcomer Stephen Williams (+20%) and old-hand Danny Alexander (+22%).

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.”

A point to note in the list of non-ministerial party figures: this is the last time deputy leader Simon Hughes will appear, following his decision to stand down from that role to take up the Minister of Justice post. His rating recovered from its September low of just +21% (as a result of his equivocal stance on same-sex marriage) to stand at +31% in December. It had been +51% as recently as March.

As promised, here are the results in full …

Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

Vince Cable: Secretary of State, Business, Innovation and Skills
26% – Very satisfied
47% – Satisfied
12% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
11% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +59% (-7%)

Norman Baker: Minister, Home Office
18% – Very satisfied
47% – Satisfied
29% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
5% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +58% (+21%)

Steve Webb: Minister, Department for Work and Pensions
29% – Very satisfied
36% – Satisfied
24% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
7% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +56% (+3%)

Lynne Featherstone: Minister, Department for International Development
26% – Very satisfied
38% – Satisfied
28% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
5% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +56% (+4%)

Jo Swinson: Minister, Business, Innovation and Skills
20% – Very satisfied
40% – Satisfied
29% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
8% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +49% (+13%)

Norman Lamb: Minister, Department of Health
22% – Very satisfied
38% – Satisfied
27% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
8% – Dissatisfied
4% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +48% (+10%)

Alistair Carmichael: Secretary of State, Scotland
17% – Very satisfied
35% – Satisfied
40% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
5% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +44% (+15%)

Edward Davey: Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change
15% – Very satisfied
43% – Satisfied
18% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
18% – Dissatisfied
6% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +34% (-7%)

Don Foster: Lib Dem Chief Whip
6% – Very satisfied
27% – Satisfied
58% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
6% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +24% (+8%)

Baroness (Susan) Kramer: Minister, Department of Transport
7% – Very satisfied
27% – Satisfied
54% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
10% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +22% (n/a)

Tom Brake: Lib Dem Leader of the Commons
6% – Very satisfied
24% – Satisfied
62% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
6% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +22% (+4%)

Lord (Jim) Wallace: Lib Dem Leader, House of Lords
6% – Very satisfied
22% – Satisfied
66% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
5% – Dissatisfied
1% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +22% (n/a)

Danny Alexander: Chief Secretary to the Treasury
16% – Very satisfied
37% – Satisfied
13% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
18% – Dissatisfied
15% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +20% (+9%)

Stephen Williams: Minister, Department for Communities and Local Government
6% – Very satisfied
22% – Satisfied
61% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
7% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +18% (n/a)

Nick Clegg: Deputy Prime Minister
17% – Very satisfied
37% – Satisfied
9% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
19% – Dissatisfied
18% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +17% (+11%)

Baroness (Jenny) Randerson: Minister, Wales Office
4% – Very satisfied
9% – Satisfied
82% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
2% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +9% (+1%)

Dan Rogerson: Minister, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
3% – Very satisfied
13% – Satisfied
75% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
7% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +7% (n/a)

Lord (Tom) McNally: Minister, Ministry of Justice
4% – Very satisfied
22% – Satisfied
50% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
15% – Dissatisfied
8% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +4% (-2%)

David Laws: Minister, Department for Education (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
8% – Very satisfied
29% – Satisfied
28% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
21% – Dissatisfied
14% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +2% (-6%)

Other leading Lib Dems:

Tim Farron: Party President
32% – Very satisfied
39% – Satisfied
16% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
9% – Dissatisfied
4% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +58% (+4%)

Kirsty Williams: Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
22% – Very satisfied
29% – Satisfied
46% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
2% – Dissatisfied
1% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +48% (+7%)

Caroline Pidgeon: Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly
13% – Very satisfied
28% – Satisfied
55% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
2% – Dissatisfied
1% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +38% (+8%)

Willie Rennie: Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
16% – Very satisfied
27% – Satisfied
50% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
4% – Dissatisfied
2% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +37% (-3%)

Simon Hughes: Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons
14% – Very satisfied
34% – Satisfied
29% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
11% – Dissatisfied
6% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +31% (+10%)

Tim Gordon: Lib Dem Chief Executive
8% – Very satisfied
28% – Satisfied
53% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
6% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +27% (n/c)

Fiona Hall: Leader of the UK Lib Dem MEPs
11% – Very satisfied
22% – Satisfied
60% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
4% – Dissatisfied
3% – Very dissatisfied
Net satisfaction +26% (+2%)

  • 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.