Lib Dems: Support for Coalition

Anthony WellsHead of European Political and Social Research
May 12, 2011, 6:38 PM GMT+0

Following the party's widespread losses in the local elections YouGov has polled Liberal Democrat party members on their views of the Coalition. Our survey suggests that party members are less than enthusiastic about Nick Clegg's performance as leader, think the Coalition has been good for Britain but bad for the party, but overwhelmingly support remaining in the Coalition.

We surveyed 396 panellists who identified themselves as current Liberal Democrat party members, and 118 who had previously told us they were members of the party but had since left.

Large majorities of party members thought that Chris Huhne and Vince Cable were performing well in office. There was similar backing for the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

  • Liberal Democrat party members were, however, evenly split over Nick Clegg - 50% think he is doing well as Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • 50% think is is doing badly.
  • Asked about his future, 45% think he should remain leader of the party at the next general election
  • While 35% think he should stand down at some point before the election

Asked about how the Coalition Government was managing various issues there was strong support for the Government's handling of taxation (75% thinking the government had done well) where the Liberal Democrat aim of increasing the personal allowance is being implemented. 67% also thought the Government was managing public spending well. A majority of Lib Dem party members also thought the Government was doing well on crime, Europe, overseas aid. Predictably, a large majority - 77% - thought that the Government was doing badly on student fees. Lib Dem members were almost as unhappy about the Government's NHS policy, where 73% of party members thought the Government was doing a bad job.

  • Despite these misgivings, overall 79% of Lib Dem members viewed the Coalition as having been good for Britain
  • 88% thought it was good for the Conservative party... but 66% thought it had been bad for the Lib Dems (including 21% who thought it had been disasterous)
  • Despite this, a large majority (91%) thought that joining the Coalition was right, and 57% thought that the right deal had been struck under the circumstances

There is hardly any support amongst Liberal Democrat members for ending the Coalition - just 7% want to pull out now, and 6% to pull out in a year or two's time. 63% of party members want to see the Coalition last for the full five year term of the Parliament.

While these figures represent overwhelming support for the Coalition among Lib Dem members, it is worth remembering that these represent only the responses of those people who have remained in the party. Many Liberal Democrats who opposed the Coalition may have resigned or failed to renew their memberships - among those respondents we contacted who are no longer members of the party, 35% opposed the Coalition and 40% think the party should leave the Coalition within the next year or two.

See the survey details and full results