by Stephen Tall on April 25, 2014
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. 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%.
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.
* 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.