What my Glasgow taxi-driver said about the LibDems, verbatim #ldconf

by Stephen Tall on October 7, 2014

“Your man Clegg, he’s alright, I like him. He’s honest. The problem is you always see him sitting next to Cameron just looking awkward, uncomfortable. You’ve stopped the Tories doing things and thank God for you. But they’ve done you over. The best one’s Vince Cable. You can tell he’s got a few years on him, he actually knows stuff. But Danny Alexander – he’d have been picked last for the basketball team. And that Alistair Carmichael – too superior. Willie Rennie, och I don’t know – and that says it all. Too many clever words. The referendum campaign was great. I was a yes, my lady was a no. Everyone was talking about it – we even started reading page 2 of the paper. Salmond is a bully, but he’s our bully. If his party had just voted against him on airports they’d be lying in a pool of blood by now. Nicola Sturgeon’s the same, you can tell by the hair: aggressive. Joanna Lamont, she was a school teacher and that’s how she talks to us. And Ruth Davidson’s a feisty one – more balls in her trousers than the rest of her party has. Next time, for me, it’s either LibDems or SNP. I hope you lot do well. I wore a yellow shirt yesterday to show my support for you. We need you lot, you’re different to the rest: honourable. But you need to get your message out. Anyway, keep at it.”

What my Glasgow taxi-driver said about the LibDems, verbatim

by Stephen Tall on October 7, 2014

“Your man Clegg, he’s alright, I like him. He’s honest. The problem is you always see him sitting next to Cameron just looking awkward, uncomfortable. You’ve stopped the Tories doing things and thank God for you. But they’ve done you over. The best one’s Vince Cable. You can tell he’s got a few years on him, he actually knows stuff. But Danny Alexander – he’d have been picked last for the basketball team. And that Alistair Carmichael – too superior. Willie Rennie, och I don’t know – and that says it all. Too many clever words. The referendum campaign was great. I was a yes, my lady was a no. Everyone was talking about it – we even started reading page 2 of the paper. Salmond is a bully, but he’s our bully. If his party had just voted against him on airports they’d be lying in a pool of blood by now. Nicola Sturgeon’s the same, you can tell by the hair: aggressive. Joanna Lamont, she was a school teacher and that’s how she talks to us. And Ruth Davidson’s a feisty one – more balls in her trousers than the rest of her party has. Next time, for me, it’s either LibDems or SNP. I hope you lot do well. I wore a yellow shirt yesterday to show my support for you. We need you lot, you’re different to the rest: honourable. But you need to get your message out. Anyway, keep at it.”

Hung Parliament: what Lib Dem members think will happen… and what you want to happen

by Stephen Tall on October 6, 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 run last Thursday and Friday.

(All figures below are compared with the last time we asked this question, a year ago, in September 2013.)

68% of Lib Dem members predict another hung parliament in 2015

What do you believe is the likeliest outcome of the next general election?

    13% (+5%) – A minority Conservative government

    6% (=) – An overall majority for the Conservatives

    6% (+4%) – A Conservative-led coalition with parties other than Labour or the Lib Dems

    6% (-8%) – A Conservative-Lib Dem coalition

    17% (-8%) – A Labour-Lib Dem coalition

    3% (=) – A Labour-led coalition with parties other than the Conservatives or the Lib Dems

    22% (-2%) – A minority Labour government

    12% (+5%) – An overall majority for Labour

    1% (+1%) – A “grand coalition” between Labour and Conservatives

    13% (+2%) – Don’t know

As I’ve done before, I deliberately offered multiple, mirroring choices to capture the full span of opinion on this. Let’s now group the data together to help us understand what it’s saying:

  • More than two-thirds of Lib Dem members — 68% — think a hung parliament is the most likely outcome of the 2015 general election. Just 18% think either Labour (12%) or the Tories (6%) will win outright.
  • There has been a noticeable decline in the numbers of Lib Dem members expecting the party to go into coalition again after May. 23% of Lib Dems expect we will be back in government – down from 39% a year ago. Three-quarters (17%) of this group expect it to be with Labour and just one-quarter (6%) a second coalition with the Tories.
  • A clear majority (56%) think Ed Miliband’s Labour party will be in government, either on their own account or with backing from other parties. Almost a third (31%) expect the Tories to be in government again after 2015.
  • So that’s what our sample of Lib Dem members think will happen. Now let’s find out what we want to happen if there’s another hung parliament…

    By 51% to 18%, Lib Dem members prefer post-2015 alliance with Labour to continuing pact with Tories

    Assuming the Lib Dems do not form a majority/minority government after the next election, which would be your most preferred outcome:

      6% (+3%) – A Labour majority government with the Lib Dems in opposition

      11% (+4%) – A minority Labour government with the Lib Dems in opposition

      18% (+3%) – A Labour-Lib Dem ‘confidence and supply’ agreement (ie, no coalition deal so free to vote on an issue-by-issue basis, but agreeing not to bring down the government or vote against its Budget)

      33% (-6%) – A Labour-Lib Dem coalition (if stable majority will result and programme for government can be agreed)

      14% (-1%) – A second Conservative-Lib Dem coalition (if stable majority will result and programme for government can be agreed)

      4% (-2%) – A Conservative-Lib Dem ‘confidence and supply’ agreement (ie, no coalition deal so free to vote on an issue-by-issue basis, but agreeing not to bring down the government or vote against its Budget)

      4% (+1%) – A minority Conservative government with the Lib Dems in opposition

      4% (+2%) – A Conservative majority with the Lib Dems in opposition

      4% (+1%) – Other

      4% (-1%) – Don’t know

    Again, let’s group some of these individual choices together:

  • Just over half (51%) Lib Dem members want to see some form of arrangement with Labour: either a formal coalition (33%) or a ‘supply and confidence’ arrangement (18%).
  • By comparison, less than 1-in-5 (18%) want to see a continuing arrangement with the Conservatives, either a second coalition (14%) or a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement (4%).
  • In total, therefore, close on 7-in-10 Lib Dem members (69%) want to see the Lib Dems continuing to play an active role in government: 47% within coalition, 22% through a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement. Just 15% of Lib Dem members want to see the party return to opposition in the event of a hung parliament.
  • 5 quick points:

    1) Lib Dems want to be in government: 69% of party members are committed to being in government. However, we don’t know yet (can’t know) if those 7-in-10 members are equally happy for the party to be in coalition irrespective of whether it’s Labour or the Conservatives who are our partners.

    2) Lib Dems prefer Labour as our partners by 3:1: you can interpret this in a couple of different ways (not mutually exclusive). Perhaps Lib Dems are more comfortable with a liberal-left coalition. Or perhaps Lib Dems feel the current coalition with the Conservatives has basically run its course. Or perhaps Lib Dems want to assert our equidistance, showing to the public we’re equally comfortable working with either Tories but also Labour.

    3) Coalition is preferred to confidence and supply by 2:1: in the past, I’ve made no secret that I’m no fan of ‘confidence and supply’, by which the Lib Dems would lend support to either Labour or the Tories on budget and confidence motions but otherwise vote on an issue-by-issue basis. It’s seemed to me a way of getting all the pain of coalition with little of the gain of being in government. However, it may be the case that after May 2015 the Lib Dems and the bigger party (whether Labour or Tories) combined do not have enough MPs for a secure majority. Let’s say we have 30-40 MPs and Labour/Tories has 275: together, that would not be a working majority. In that situation, maybe ‘confidence and supply’ would be more feasible. It may also be a recipe for government paralysis, of course.

    4) This is at least as big an issue for Labour and the Tories as for the Lib Dems: as Mark Pack has pointed out before, there is a big choice journalists need to put to David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the lead-up to the 2015 general election: “do you want minority government or coalition if there is a hung Parliament?”

    5) “More lib Dem MPs means more Lib Dem policies”: we’ve used this mantra for years, but it is never more true than during a hung parliament. It will make a huge difference not only to our party, but also to the next government, if the Lib Dems retain most of our 57 MPs in 2015. If the number falls below 30 then those MPs will still fight the liberal fight: but their position will be significantly weaker when it comes to negotiating – whether we’re in coalition or not.

  • 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.

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

    by Stephen Tall on October 6, 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.

    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 April 2013 ratings in brackets)

    Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

     

    • Steve Webb +67%
    • Lynne Featherstone +63%
    • Vince Cable +60%
    • Norman Lamb +54%
    • Norman Baker +53%

    For the second successive survey, it’s pensions minister Steve Webb who tops our poll as the most popular Lib Dem in government. And we have a new entry at number two: Lynne Featherstone knocks Vince Cable off the runner-up spot – to be fair to Vince, this is less due to a decline in his popularity and more to do with the kudos Steve and Lynne are getting for delivering pensions reform and same-sex marriage from their respective ministerial positions. Norman Lamb and Norman Baker remain perennial favourites of the party faithful. Among the rest, Simon Hughes is earning good reviews in his justice ministry post, up 15% to 43%.

    Bottom 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

    • David Laws +21%
    • Danny Alexander +9%
    • Dan Rogerson +9%
    • Baroness (Jenny) Randerson +8%
    • Nick Clegg +7%

    David Laws is recovering strongly from the miserly +2% his ratings stood at last December – he’s now up at +21%, having spent much of the year differentiating himself from Michael Gove. Danny Alexander‘s ratings have taken a tumble, down 16% to +9% (he’s certainly not feeling the benefit of the recovery yet). Both Dan Rogerson and Jenny Randerson suffer not so much from unpopularity as anonymity in their ministerial office: 71% and 81% respectively of party members rank them neither favourably nor unfavourably. The same can’t be said of Nick Clegg – his performance as DPM polarises opinion among party members, with 48% satisfied, but 41% dissatisfied.

    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.”

    As promised, here are the results in full …

    Lib Dem cabinet ministers and government ministers:

    Steve Webb: Minister, Department for Work and Pensions

    43% – Very satisfied

    30% – Satisfied

    21% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    4% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +67% (-3%)

    Lynne Featherstone: Minister, Department for International Development

    30% – Very satisfied

    39% – Satisfied

    25% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    4% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +63% (=)

    Vince Cable: Secretary of State, Business, Innovation and Skills

    26% – Very satisfied

    47% – Satisfied

    13% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    9% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +60% (-3%)

    Norman Lamb: Minister, Department of Health

    27% – Very satisfied

    36% – Satisfied

    28% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    6% – Dissatisfied

    3% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +54% (+4%)

    Norman Baker: Minister, Home Office

    19% – Very satisfied

    42% – Satisfied

    31% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    6% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +53% (+7%)

    Edward Davey: Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change

    18% – Very satisfied

    44% – Satisfied

    23% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    10% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +48% (+7%)

    Jo Swinson: Minister, Business, Innovation and Skills

    20% – Very satisfied

    37% – Satisfied

    32% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    7% – Dissatisfied

    3% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +47% (-2% since December 2013 (we didn’t include Jo while she was absent from office on maternity leave)

    Simon Hughes: Minister, Ministry of Justice

    13% – Very satisfied

    41% – Satisfied

    34% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    7% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +43% (+15%)

    Don Foster: Lib Dem Chief Whip

    8% – Very satisfied

    29% – Satisfied

    54% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    6% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +27% (+1%)

    Alistair Carmichael: Secretary of State, Scotland

    12% – Very satisfied

    30% – Satisfied

    42% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    11% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +27% (-7%)

    Lord (Jim) Wallace: Lib Dem Leader, House of Lords

    8% – Very satisfied

    25% – Satisfied

    61% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    5% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +26% (+4%)

    Baroness (Susan) Kramer: Minister, Department of Transport

    7% – Very satisfied

    30% – Satisfied

    52% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    10% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +25% (-1%)

    Stephen Williams: Minister, Department for Communities and Local Government

    8% – Very satisfied

    27% – Satisfied

    55% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    6% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +25% (+7%)

    Tom Brake: Lib Dem Leader of the Commons

    7% – Very satisfied

    22% – Satisfied

    66% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    4% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +23% (=)

    David Laws: Minister, Department for Education (jointly with the Cabinet Office)

    12% – Very satisfied

    35% – Satisfied

    27% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    15% – Dissatisfied

    11% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +21% (+8%)

    Danny Alexander: Chief Secretary to the Treasury

    13% – Very satisfied

    34% – Satisfied

    15% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    20% – Dissatisfied

    18% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +9% (-16%)

    Dan Rogerson: Minister, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

    3% – Very satisfied

    16% – Satisfied

    71% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    7% – Dissatisfied

    3% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +9% (+3%)

    Baroness (Jenny) Randerson: Minister, Wales Office

    3% – Very satisfied

    12% – Satisfied

    81% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    3% – Dissatisfied

    1% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +8% (-3%)

    Nick Clegg: Deputy Prime Minister

    15% – Very satisfied

    33% – Satisfied

    10% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    20% – Dissatisfied

    21% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +7% (-3%)

    Other leading Lib Dems:

    Tim Farron: Party President

    35% – Very satisfied

    37% – Satisfied

    16% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    8% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +60% (+3%)

    Kirsty Williams: Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

    23% – Very satisfied

    28% – Satisfied

    45% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    2% – Dissatisfied

    2% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +47% (-5%)

    Willie Rennie: Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

    15% – Very satisfied

    27% – Satisfied

    49% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    6% – Dissatisfied

    3% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +33% (-3%)

    Caroline Pidgeon: Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly

    11% – Very satisfied

    25% – Satisfied

    60% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    3% – Dissatisfied

    1% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +33% (+1%)

    Malcolm Bruce: Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons

    8% – Very satisfied

    25% – Satisfied

    56% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    8% – Dissatisfied

    4% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +21% (+1%)

    Tim Gordon: Lib Dem Chief Executive

    8% – Very satisfied

    22% – Satisfied

    55% – Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

    10% – Dissatisfied

    5% – Very dissatisfied

    Net satisfaction +15% (-4%)

      • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
      • 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.

    Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

    by Stephen Tall on October 6, 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.

    ldv vince danny

    Currently the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Vince Cable held the role in 2010. Danny Alexander has been chief secretary to the treasury for the past four years. Who do you think should represent the Lib Dems in the ‘Ask the Chancellors’ televised debate during the 2015 general election campaign? Read the rest of this entry »

    Today I did 2 things I’d not done before at Lib Dem conference

    by Stephen Tall on October 5, 2014

    And those two things are related.

    Evan Harris, former Lib Dem MP and Hacked Off campaigner, got in touch last night to ask if I’d support his amendment to today’s ‘Doing what works to cut crime’ policy motion, ensuring the police don’t use RIPA (Labour’s Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act) to stifle investigative journalism. Evan and I disagreed vigorously over the Leveson Report – he’s pro-regulation backed by statute, I’m not – but he, and the Save Our Sources campaign, are 100% right on this issue. It was good of him to ask, allowing me to utter the words “I agree with Evan”.

    So I said so in a speech — the first I’ve ever made from the conference platform. Yes, after 15 years I finally broke my duck and lost my cherry. The bit I’m most proud of: having hastily written the speech this morning I got the timing just about right. You have three lights when you’re speaking: green, then amber (1 minute left), then red (shut up). I got about half-way through my amber, I think. Anyway, here’s what I said…

    We won, by the way.

    I’m delighted to back this amendment to strengthen an excellent policy paper – one which not only aims for rehabilitation of offenders, not only respects the victims of crime, but also – and almost unheard in the other parties’ debates on crime – doesn’t pander to prejudice but respects the evidence of what’s most likely to work.

    The amendment moved by Evan cuts to the heart of a core liberal belief – that there is always a need for authority to be challenged. That authority varies. It might be the government of the day. It might sometimes be the police. It might be bullying bosses in private or public organisations. But wherever abuse of power is taking place liberals should be on the side of those seeking to expose it and to stop it. Helping the underdog, standing up to the oppressor.

    The best journalism is an essential safeguard for us all, holding power to account. This amendment aims to encourage more of that high-quality journalism. By ensuring reporters and their editors (and their proprietors) know that when they are acting in the public interest they should not fear the tentacles of the state. But it’s about more than just that – it’s also about extending that defence to those ordinary members of the public who want to stop a wrong from continuing but bare also in fear of their jobs, their livelihoods, unless they can do it without fear of exposure.

    I’m going to take a risk here. I’m going to ask you to feel some sympathy for the political editor of The Sun. When the et police was investigating the Andrew Mitchell Plebgate affair they used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to secretly obtain his phone records. They didn’t need the content of the calls. They just needed to know the phone numbers to start matching them up with his sources. Quick message to The Sun: human rights matter to everyone sometimes.

    Actually it doesn’t matter if you feel sorry for The Sun — or for the Mail on Sunday journalists whose details were recently obtained by Kent Police. These are just the high profile cases. In 2013 alone there were 514,608 similar authorisations for RIPA requests by UK public authorities -that’s 10,000 such requests every week. If you were a whistleblower looking to expose a wrong how confident would you feel phoning a journalist knowing that? That’s why this campaign is caller Save our Sources.

    And if the police do need to obtain confidential details they can do so already. Under Pace, they can apply to the courts and ask for disclosure in front of a judge and the journalist can put their case. That’s proper due process. But it’s so much easier, of course, to dodge it and use whatever powers you have at your disposal, even if they trample on press freedoms.

    British journalism doesn’t have a great reputation at the moment. Muck-raking and entrapment, distorting and trivialisng – and that’s on a good day. But let’s also remember the best of journalism too, from The Sunday Times’s thalidomide campaign to the Daily Mail’s pursuit of Stephen Lawrence’s killers to (some of) the Telegraph’s expenses revelations to the Guardian’s own exposure of newspaper hacking. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. And after 24 hours in Glasgow I’d quite like some more sunlight.

    On the Leveson Report, Evan and I found ourselves on opposite sides. But on this I am happy to say I agree with Evan. The best journalism, acting in the public interest, holding power to account, righting wrongs, preventing injustice: that journalism deserves our whole-hearted support. And so do those who confide in journalists despite the risks. Conference, liberals believe in challenging authority. This amendment gives protection to the underdogs challenging authority. Please support the amendment and then back this motion.

    All in a day’s Lib Dem conference: hustings, fringes, OMOV and sex work

    by Stephen Tall on October 4, 2014

    It’s felt like a slow start to conference – I’m habituated to the Friday night rally and meaty policy debates starting at bleary o’clock on Saturday morning. But with the rally moved to Saturday night, conference itself wasn’t opened until this afternoon.

    20141004_100527_resizedHowever, that meant there was time this morning for the first official hustings of the Party Presidential contest, with Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne all present. In fact, there was possibly too much time – 90 minutes in a too-efficiently air-conditioned room at times dragged a little. No fault of the candidates themselves – they were all fluent and thoughtful – but they also all agreed on pretty much everything of substance. All pledged to be the independent voice of the membership and to speak truth unto leadership power.

    That’s not to say there aren’t differences, though: there are. Linda freely admits to being the ‘risky’ candidate, Daisy makes a virtue of her youth, Liz her parliamentary experience, and Sal her insider knowledge. And on one issue there was a definite divide: the prospect of all-women short-lists. Both Liz and Sal spoke strongly against them, Linda strongly for them, while Daisy said she was increasingly sympathetic so long as local circumstances were taken into account (eg, a defeated male MP trying to win back his seat).

    As our members’ survey this morning indicated, there’s still a lot to play for in this contest. And if you missed today’s event, don’t worry: LDV’s presidential hustings take place on Sunday, 1-2pm (Crowne Plaza, Castle 2), chaired by former party president Baroness (Diana) Maddock.

    cf fringePost-hustings and a couple of random catch-ups with friends, I went to chair the lunchtime CentreForum / British Influence fringe meeting, “How to win a European referendum” – and in particular looking at what lessons could be learned from the Scottish experience.

    Craig Harrow, convenor of the Scottish Lib Dems and a Better Together board member, shared his view – in particular on the need to identify the undecideds and the importance of endorsements from business people and celebrities. Elections expert Professor John Curtice cautioned that the EU referendum would be a lot tougher to win, not least because it doesn’t have the same emotional resonance – the pro-EU side will have to rely a lot more on practical, ‘instrumental’ arguments (ie, jobs). Professor Helen Wallace of the LSE looked at the experiences of Ireland and the Dutch in their European referenda, and pointed out that the 1975 Yes vote had been on the back of a Prime Minister-backed treaty re-negotiation – there may be parallels. Finally, Danny Alexander noted two reasons the campaign would be tricky – the anti-Westminster/politics mood; the complexities of a cross-party campaign – but said he thought it was eminently winnable: the economic arguments were just too good for Britain to end up saying no.

    And then into the conference hall for the debates themselves – I missed the first one, on tackling poverty and discrimination (it was passed: see here for details), but the second one roused healthy passions: “Expanding the democracy of our Party with ‘One Member, One Vote’” which would enable any member (not only conference representatives) to vote at conference and in internal committee elections. It’s been the subject of much internal debate — see here on LDV for a flavour. It included perhaps the sweariest speech I’ve heard from a conference representative, with Twickenham’s Sir David Williams arguing against any delay to OMOV: “don’t give me this crap. It’s about the democracy, stupid” was the mildest sentence. The motion was eventually passed, but amended by Mark Pack and Duncan Brack to first secure a number of constitutional changes to be approved by federal conference. The timetable for the move to OMOV is, therefore, currently unclear.

    Only at a Lib Dem conference would a debate on OMOV be followed by one on “Towards Safer Sex Work” — but, then, that quirky truism is the one of which Lib Dem members are perhaps proudest. (It was also true of last year’s fine debate on the risks of online pornography and how best to respond in a liberal way.) Speaker after speaker, with only one exception, took to the stage to argue for a policy approach which treats those engaged in sex work with respect, recognises their personal autonomy, and decriminalises the activities associated with sex work to promote safer conditions and focus police resources on non-consensual sexual activities. The motion was passed unamended and almost unanimously. I can’t imagine anything like that happening at the Tory or Labour conferences.

    20141004_171457_resizedAnd with that I’m signing off to attend the rally. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of the LibDemVoice Awards at 10pm. I’ll leave you with the image that greeted me as I left the conference auditorium – somewhere at the foot of that rainbow, y’know, Danny Alexander’s gathering the gold to plug the deficit.

    * 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.

    EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Party Presidency – first members’ poll results are here

    by Stephen Tall on October 4, 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.

    Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President ends this year. The contest to succeed him appears to be a four-way election between four female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne.

    They hold their first official hustings today, Saturday, 10-11am But don’t worry if you can’t make that – LibDemVoice is hosting a special “Who Wants to be Party President?” fringe meeting tomorrow, Sunday from 1-2pm, in the Crowne Plaza (Castle 2), where you can hear from all four, with past party president Baroness (Diana) Maddock chairing.

    We asked a series of questions about the party presidency in our survey…

    95% in our survey say they will vote! (That won’t be the turnout.)

    Four candidates have so far declared their intention to stand for the post of Party President, an election which will be decided by a ballot of all party members this autumn. Do you plan to vote in this election?

      95% – Yes, I plan to vote in this election
      5% – No, I do not plan to vote in this election

    Though it’s great to see so many of those signed up to our members’ forum actively engaged in our internal democracy, it’s right to point out that I think this suggests our results below need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    The turnout in the presidential election will not be 95%. The turnout in 2010 was just 42%. We’ve always known our surveys are skewed towards the activist vote (indeed, towards the male activist vote). This only matters if the responses of activists are likely to differ considerably from those of ‘armchair’ members. On most policy issues – when tested against other polls – this appears not to be the case.

    However, in an internal election where personality is a key factor I can’t be confident that our surveys are necessarily reliable measures. That said, our surveys have in the past correctly predicted the two previous winners of the Party Presidency, Tim Farron and, before him, Baroness (Ros) Scott.

    The 95% of those who said they would vote were then asked a follow-up question…

    51% of those planning to vote have no idea who to vote for yet

    You have answered that you plan to vote in the election for Party President. The question after this one will ask you to rank the declared candidates in order of your current preference. Alternatively, if you have no idea at this stage who you would vote for, please say so now – we will ask the question again before the actual election.

      49% – I have an idea of who I would vote for to be party president
      51% – I have no idea idea who I would vote for at the moment

    This really does show there’s still all to play for in this election – just under half those party members who intend to vote have an idea of who they intend to vote for at this stage. Just over half have no idea at all.

    The 49% of those who said they would vote and had an idea of for whom were then asked the crunch question using the preferential voting system that will be used in the actual all-member ballot…

    Based on what you know, who do you think you are most likely to vote for to be Party President?

    Daisy Cooper has the early lead among those with a view

      Round 1:
      22% – Sal Brinton
      44% – Daisy Cooper
      12% – Linda Jack
      22% – Liz Lynne

    No candidate secured more than 50% so Linda is eliminated and her votes transferred.

      Round 2
      24% – Sal Brinton
      48% – Daisy Cooper
      28% – Liz Lynne

    No candidate secured more than 50% so Sal is eliminated and her votes transferred.

      Round 3
      63% – Daisy Cooper
      36% – Liz Lynne

    The winner in this poll is Daisy Cooper.

    Congratulations to her on a strong, initial showing. However, I stress the caveats I’ve inserted above. (1) Our surveys are skewed towards activist members and that may well matter in an election where name recognition will count for a lot. And (2) at least half of the activist vote has yet to decide which of the candidates to vote for at all.

    Finally, we did ask the 5% of those Lib Dem members who said they won’t be voting at all why not. Among that fairly limited sample, here’s what we found:

      61% – I don’t know enough about the candidates
      6% – I don’t know enough about what the Party President does
      6% – I don’t want to vote for any of the declared candidates
      14% – I don’t think the role of Party President matters
      14% – Other

    That three-fifths don’t know enough about the four candidates suggests there’s still potential converts to be won over even among this fairly hard-core 5% abstainers. Among those who answered ‘Other’, by the way, this was mainly down to folk having just joined the party and not feeling yet able to have a say.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
  • 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.

    LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 6

    by Stephen Tall on October 4, 2014

    Congratulations to George Murray and Jo Featonby, who lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 6, separated by a single point, on 358 and 357 points respectively. George’s ‘Marauding Fullbacks’ are in 2,405th position in the global league of 3.29 million players – not bad!

    However, with just 36 points separating the top 10, there is still all to play for. Or maybe I’m kidding myself – after a first week top 10 appearance, I’ve slumped to 44th thanks to my inability to select Diego Costa as captain in the right weeks. Anyway, if you’re busy in Glasgow at the moment, don’t forget to pick your team by 11am on Saturday.

    ldv fantasy football

    There are 147 players in total and you can still join the league by clicking here.

    * 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.

    EXCLUSIVE POLL: As Lib Dem conference begins, here’s what members think of the Coalition so far

    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. Read the rest of this entry »



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