EXCLUSIVE: 81% of Lib Dem members support party being in Coalition with the Conservatives

by Stephen Tall on April 25, 2014

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKLib 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. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 81% to 16%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Changes since last time question asked, Dec 2013).

    81% (+1%) – Support

    16% (-1%) – Oppose

    3% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

No matter what the travails of the Coalition — and there have been plenty in the past four years — the high support for the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Conservatives hasn’t shifted significantly. We’ve asked this tracker question 19 times, and the range has been 74% (September 2012, after Lords reform was blocked) to 85% (November 2010, our first post-tuition fees U-turn survey). This month’s is pretty much bang in the middle of those, at 81%. The net support of +65% is the highest figure since March 2012.

Clegg’s leadership: net +8% satisfied

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

    10% – Very satisfied
    43% – Satisfied
    Total satisfied = 53% (-3%)
    23% – Dissatisfied
    22% – Very dissatisfied
    Total satisfied = 45% (+3%)
    2% – Don’t know / No opinion

Satisfaction among members with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party has dipped slightly this month: having plunged to just +1% in September, it recovered to +12% in December and now stands at +8%. As you can see, the afterglow of Cleggmania has long since been snuffed out, with his net ratings fluctuating in the range c.0-20%.

nick clegg satisfaction apr 2014

59% of Lib Dems say party on “right course”

Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track?

    59% (-3%) – The right course

    32% (-1%) The wrong track

    8% (+3%) – Don’t know / No opinion

The overall net satisfaction rating of the Lib Dems according to party members stands at +27% – down a notch on December’s +29% but higher than the +23% recorded before the Glasgow conference in September. It’s a long way off the +49% of February 2012, though: the month before the NHS Bill row. But it’s just as far off the +9% recorded in September 2012 after the collapse of Lords reform.

Net +34% approval rating for Coalition’s record

Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

    62% (+4%) – Approve

    28% (-3%) – Disapprove

    10% (n/c) – Don’t know

There has been another small but noticeable shift in approval for the Coalition’s record: the net +34% approval rating is the highest since February 2012 (+40%). A year ago it was just +14%.

80% want the Coalition to last well into 2015

When would you like the Coalition to end?

    8% (n/c) – As soon as possible

    8% (+1%) – It should end some time in 2014

    40% (+5%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans

    40% (-6%) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election

    4% (+1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election

    0% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

As you might expect, given the strong continuing overall support for sticking with the Coalition, 4-in-5 (80%) party members actively want the Coalition to last well into 2015 — though there is an exactly even division on whether it should continue right up to the dissolution of parliament, or cease a decent interval beforehand to allow for full-on differentiation. Interestingly, though opposition to the Coalition stands at 16% according to our survey (see above), just 8% actually want the Coalition to come to an immediate end.

93% of party members expect Lib Dems to lose seats in 2015

How many Lib Dem MPs do you think will be elected at the next general election (expected in May 2015)?

    2% (-1%) – More than current 57 MPs

    11% (-4%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs

    28% (-6%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs

    31% (+2%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs

    23% (+8%) – Fewer than 30 MPs

    4% (n/c) – Don’t know

This is the fifth time we’ve asked this question. The first, in March 2013, was immediately after the Lib Dems’ tightly-fought hold in the Eastleigh by-election: back then, 28% of party members expected the Lib Dem to hold at least 50 seats. That proportion now stands at just 13%. In December, a majority (52%) expected the party to hold at least 40 seats. This has now flipped, with 54% expecting the Lib Dems to slip back below 40 seats in May 2015.

62% of Lib Dems say party achieving influence in Government

How would you rate the extent of the Liberal Democrat influence within the Coalition Government, where 10 is highly influential, and 1 indicates no influence.

    1 = 0%
    2 = 4%
    3 = 14%
    4 = 11%
    5 = 8%
    Lacking influence = 38% (+3%)
    6 = 16%
    7 = 28%
    8 = 14%
    9 = 3%
    10 = 1%
    Achieving influence = 62% (-2%)

By a pretty solid 3:2 ratio Lib Dem members are more likely to rate the Lib Dems as achieving influence within the Coalition – the 62% taking a positive view is a smidgeon down on December’s 64%, but otherwise is the highest figure since June 2012. A year ago, March 2013, the net figure was +15%; it now stands at +24%. Party members seem to be buying the idea the Lib Dems are making a real difference – the question is whether the voters will do so by May 2015.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
  • 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.