What Lib Dem members think about devolution – and what their local priorities would be

by Stephen Tall on October 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. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll ran just before the party conference.

Majorities say Education and NHS should be governed at local/regional level

Which of the following should be decided mainly at a local/regional level? (Please tick all that apply)

    Education – 70%
    NHS – 57%
    Welfare – 42%
    Environment – 41%
    Business and trade policy – 31%
    Income tax rates – 29%
    Criminal justice – 14%
    Defence – 1%
    Foreign policy – 0%
    None of these, all should be mainly UK-level – 17%
    Other – 7%
    Don’t know – 1%

Clear majorities of Lib Dem members like the idea of decisions to do with both education (70%) and health (57%) being decided at a local/regional level. Significant minorities support policies on welfare (42%) and the environment (41%) being decided there, too. There is less support for economic matters (business and trade, income tax) being devolved, nor for matters of criminal justice. Hardly any Lib Dems like the idea of defence or foreign policy being decided at local level. Of the 7% who selected ‘Other’, transport and housing/planning were the issues most frequently mentioned.

90% want cities to have greater powers

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

I would support greater power for local government to affect change in UK cities:

    Strongly Agree – 55%
    Agree – 35%
    Total agree = 90%
    Disagree – 5%
    Strongly Disagree – 2%
    Total disagree = 7%
    Don’t know – 4%

I am confident that the interests of UK cities are well represented at the national level

    Strongly Agree – 2%
    Agree – 11%
    Total agree = 13%
    Disagree – 59%
    Strongly Disagree – 17%
    Total disagree = 76%
    Don’t know – 12%

I am confident that local politicians have the powers they need to boost my local economy

    Strongly Agree – 1%
    Agree – 7%
    Total agree = 8%
    Disagree – 51%
    Strongly Disagree – 31%
    Total disagree = 82%
    Don’t know – 10%

I do not believe politicians at national level understand what UK cities need to prosper

    Strongly Agree – 21%
    Agree – 43%
    Total agree = 64%
    Disagree – 17%
    Strongly Disagree – 3%
    Total disagree = 20%
    Don’t know – 15%

I believe that local government needs greater power to meet the needs of UK cities

    Strongly Agree – 45%
    Agree – 41%
    Total agree = 86%
    Disagree – 5%
    Strongly Disagree – 3%
    Total disagree = 8%
    Don’t know – 6%

Lib Dem members’ top priority for their local area: “Delivering more affordable housing”

Following the General Election in May 2015, which of the following would you like the next Government to prioritise in your local area?

We asked those we survey to rank the following five policies in their order of priority. These are the results when ranked in order using an STV election, re-run each time for the additional number of required “seats”:

    1. Delivering more affordable housing (245 first preferences)
    2. Creating more and better jobs (105)
    3. Improving education and training (78)
    4. Improving public transport (81)
    5. Supporting local businesses to grow and prosper (77)

“Delivering more affordable housing” polls well ahead of the other four priorities for Lib Dem members — more than twice as many opted for it over “Creating more and better jobs”. As Mark Pack has repeatedly pointed out, though, this is at odds with the priorities of the voting public.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 586 completed the latest survey, which was conducted on 2nd and 3rd October.
  • 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.