by Stephen Tall on October 3, 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. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 80% to 17%
Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Changes since last time question asked, April 2014).
80% (-1%) – Support
17% (+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-and-a-half years — the high support for the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Conservatives hasn’t shifted significantly. We’ve asked this tracker question 20 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 80%. The net support of +63% is the same as we recorded in December 2013.
Clegg’s leadership: net +2% satisfied
What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?
12% – Very satisfied
38% – Satisfied
Total satisfied = 50% (-3%)
25% – Dissatisfied
23% – Very dissatisfied
Total dissatisfied = 48% (+3%)
2% – Don’t know / No opinion
Satisfaction among members with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party has dipped again: having plunged to just +1% a year ago, it recovered to +12% in December 2013. In April, before the local and European elections, it stood at +8% and now it’s just +2%.
54% 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?
54% (-5%) – The right course
36% (+4%) – The wrong track
10% (+2%) – Don’t know / No opinion
The overall net satisfaction rating of the Lib Dems according to party members stands at +18% – down significantly on April’s +27% and the second lowest figure we’ve recorded during the Coalition. As recently as February 2012, the net satisfaction rating stood at whopping +49%: the month before the NHS Bill row. On the plus side, it’s not yet hit the rock bottom +9% recorded in September 2012 after the collapse of Lords reform.
Net +24% approval rating for Coalition’s record
Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?
56% (-6%) – Approve
32% (+4%) – Disapprove
12% (+2%) – Don’t know
Approval of the Coalition Government’s record has taken a big hit since April – down from +34% to just +24%. That’s the same as it was a year ago, though better than the +4% of September 2012.
80% want the Coalition to last well into 2015
When would you like the Coalition to end?
9% (n/c) – As soon as possible
5% (-3%%) – It should end this year
41% (+1%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans
40% (n/c) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election
3% (-1%) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election
1% (+1%) – Don’t know / No opinion
As you might expect, given the strong continuing overall support for sticking with the Coalition, 4-in-5 (81%) party members actively want the Coalition to last well into 2015 — though there is a pretty 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 17% according to our survey (see above), just 9% actually want the Coalition to come to an immediate end.
67% of party members expect Lib Dems to slip below 40 seats in 2015
How many Lib Dem MPs do you think will be elected at the next general election (expected in May 2015)?
2% (n/c) – More than current 57 MPs
6% (-5%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs
21% (-7%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs
37% (+6%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs
30% (+7%) – Fewer than 30 MPs
4% (n/c) – Don’t know
This is the sixth 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 8%. In December 2013, a majority (52%) expected the party to hold at least 40 seats. This has now flipped, with two-thirds of Lib Dems (67%) now expecting the party to slip back below 40 seats in May 2015.
60% 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 = 1%
2 = 6%
3 = 13%
4 = 11%
5 = 9%
Lacking influence = 40% (+2%)
6 = 20%
7 = 25%
8 = 11%
9 = 3%
10 = 1%
Achieving influence = 60% (-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 60% taking a positive view is a bit down on April’s 62%, but a bit up on a year ago (58%). Party members, in the main, 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.