At the weekend the Sun had some YouGov polling for the conference, that I said I’d come back to once the tables appeared. Most of the questions were repeats from the same Sun pre-conference polling a year ago, and show some interesting changes in attitudes towards the party. It’s not necessarily good or bad for the party… just that the challenges they face are changing.

The changes from last September are predictable, given how the Lib Dem poll ratings have continued to decline since then – Clegg’s approval rating is now at minus 29 compared to plus 8 a year ago, the proportion of people who support the coalition agreement is down to 34% from 43% a year ago. Asked to pick from a list of positive contributions the Liberal Democrats have made to the government, 40% say nothing at all, compared to 34% a year ago.

The more subtle and interesting movements come in the list of statements about the Lib Dems that were repeated from January. YouGov asked if people agreed with various statements about the Lib Dems, 5 broadly positive for them, 5 broadly negative.

Two of the statements sought to measure perceptions that the Lib Dems had broken people’s trust or betrayed their supporters – agreement with both of these fell. The statement that people “could never trust the Liberal Democrats, even if they left the coalition” had net agreement of +13, down from +25 in January. Net agreement with the statement that the Lib Dems have “broken their promises and betrayed their supporters” was down to +32 from +43. There was smaller movement on the statement that the Lib Dems had sold out their principles, or were propping up an extreme government, but nevertheless, it suggests some of the public are starting to view the party through less of a prism of betrayal, some of the hostility is starting to fade.

Less good news is on how distinctive they are. “I’m no longer sure what the Liberal Democrats stand for” was the most agreed with statement (63% agreed), and its net agreement was up from +29 in January to +41 now. Tempering that slightly, 30% agreed with the statement that the Lib Dems offered “different and distinctive policies from the other two parties”, up from 25% in January.

Looking at agreement with the more positive statements, 26% of people agreed that by entering coalition the Lib Dems had managed to get “real Liberal policies put into action”, 36% agreed that they had made the coalition more moderate and centrist (up from 33% in Janary), 41% agreed they had done the responsible thing by entering government at a time of crisis – the most agreed with positive statement, but marginally down since January.

411 Responses to “Attitudes to the Lib Dems – less anger, but less clarity”

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  1. “And never, ever trust Labour with our economy again.’

    This was not a man who is ever going to go into coalition with Labour.

    DC must have been pleased with this speech

  2. @colin
    Hi, yessir, waiting for the terrible lizards to walk the Earth.
    When I was a boy nothing made me scared. I laughed at ghosts, bogey men, the dark, whatever. There was one exception, I had Odhams children’s encyclopaedia at about 6 years of age. The excellent colour plate of Dinosaurs frightened me to death. Not keen on reptiles even now.

    OK I get the picture now. It is Standard & Poors who are responsible for the collapse of the West’s economy.
    Well that lets greedy banks and bloody lousy politicians off the hook.

  4. Chouenlai


    It’s snakes with me .

  5. Actually,Perkin Warbeck was very much around at the time of Henry Tudor,he was one of the pretenders to his throne!

  6. @COLIN
    How would this play with Labour.

    Lab biggest party
    Con 12 seats behind Lab
    LD balance of power.

    Clegg says to Miliband, “ok we will come in with you, but Balls goes and David Laws is Chancellor. That’s the deal.


    OK I get the picture now. It is Standard & Poors who are responsible for the collapse of the West’s economy.”

    Great isn’t it?

    Called “shooting the messenger” I believe

  8. Roland

    It’s corruption and fraud which is responsible for the state of the world economy and the rating agency’s have had a part in that.

  9. In the last few days, two more EU governments were down. In a snap election in Latvia, just 11 months after the 2010 GE, incumbent center-right coalition fell from 51 to 31% and lost its majority. The main beneficiaries were the social-democratic opposition SC, that is now the first party of the country, and the new center-right party ZRP. The new government will be formed by the senior parter of the former coalition, Unity, the new party, plus a third one (either SC or the conservative National Alliance). So this is a situation similar to Finland, where the new coalition was formed by adding some of the opposition parties to some of the outgoing gvt’s partners. On the other hand, Slovenian center-left gvt, already a minority one, fell yesterday. A snap election in November will very probably see a center-right coalition coming back to power. Furthermore, VI polls from Croatia, Poland and Spain (scheduled for elections in Q4 of 211) show the incumbent gvts losing majority. In Croatia, a center-left alliance will be victorious, as it has already been the case in Denmark and Eire. In Spain, center-right will come back in force, as it has already been the case in Portugal. FInally, in Poland the most probable outcome is a new mix from actual gvt and actual opposition, as in Finland and Latvia. Bottom line: of all EU countries with GE in 2011, only Estonia will have manage to reelect its incumbent (c-r) coalition government. And for 2012, France, Romania and Lithuania are all poised to turn center-left, with incumbent c-r coalitions at historical low, especially in the first two cases.


    “How would this play with Labour”

    I should think EM would accept :-)

    But judging by the roasting NC handed out to both two Eds today (” no time for the backroom boys”)-he might be asking Miliband to take an early bath too .

  11. @Chouenlai

    How would this play with Labour.
    Lab biggest party
    Con 12 seats behind Lab
    LD balance of power.
    Clegg says to Miliband, “ok we will come in with you, but Balls goes and David Laws is Chancellor. That’s the deal.”

    Cue shouts of “traitor” from Tories. “The Lib Dems have sold out, betrayed their principles etc etc.”

    Actually, if Labour does win or even become the largest party at the next GE, it means something will have gone very wrong with the recovery.

    If there is an eventual recovery, there is such a powerful message ready and waiting of “Don’t let Labour ruin it again” that it will be very hard to make them electable.

  12. Nick has definitely hitched his wagon. He can’t back out now. I think that is what you call doubling down

    OK, chancellors and treasurer’s at Oxford college’s 1320’s.

    Harvey de Stanton, Adam de Broom, Walter de Stapleton.

    Kings Boy Friend 1308 Piers Gaveston.

    Hermit in Hertfordshire 1356 Richard Fulham

    Vicar in Hertfordshire 1356 Robert Gerard.

  14. @chouenlai

    “How would this play with Labour”

    The scenario is obviously not going to happen. Do you really think the LDs are going to have more seats than the SNP and NI unionists?

    And why would Clegg be saying it? He’s probably going to lose his seat.

  15. Laws can’t go back into govt, he got caught with his hand in the till. It don’t matter if it’s a labour led or a blue led govt, he’s still damaged goods

  16. @ROBIN
    Its not going to happen because Labour are unlikely to win most seats. As for Cleggs future, I do not vote Labour, therefore the certainty of crystal ball gazing which
    manifests itself so often on this board nowadays, is not open to me.

  17. @ROBERT C

  18. Colin

    I know it has become received wisdom that Brown’s economic forecasts were fantasies, but that is simply not backed up by the record (pre global meltdown of course when everyone’s forecasts went to pot).

    Time after time in the first ten years of Labour’s administration, Tory spokesmen and hawkish City commentators predicted economic disaster. Time and again they were wrong whilst the Treasury forecasts were uncannily accurate. We were told that our economy would go into recession following the Russian default, the SE Asia crisis, the dot com bubble, the post-9/11 slowdown. Each time the Treasury forecast stable, modest growth. Every time they were more or less correct.

    Strikingly unlike the OBR’s forecasts these past 18 months…

  19. Chou
    How would this play with Labour.
    Lab biggest party
    Con 12 seats behind Lab
    LD balance of power.
    Clegg says to Miliband, “ok we will come in with you, but Balls goes and David Laws is Chancellor. That’s the deal”

    I suspect the more likely negotiation scenario would be Miliband offering the LDs a deal if and only if Clegg stepped down immediately, to be replaced by Farron or Cable. Alexander, Laws and the other Orange-Bookers would not get within a country mile of economic posts. Maybe Northern Ireland or Defra if they really pleaded hard.

    How on earth could Clegg call the shots if his Govt had been defeated? His career would be over. And with his party’s representation at Westminster halved (if he is lucky), there would be few LDs rushing to his defence.

  20. Lefty

    But all that GDP growth was debt fueled all the growth in the last 30 or more has been fueled by debt, both public and private

  21. Lefty

    You are quite right, nick has tied himself to the blues, and hasn’t given himself a get-out clause. He has basically ruled out ever sitting in a govt with labour. But has he made the same commitment for the party. If the situation above should arise then nick would have to leave the party, I can’t see any other possibility.

  22. RiN.

    The CAUSE of the growth is irrelevant to this discussion. The fact is that from 97-07, Brown’s Treasury forecasts, with the facts and data to hand at the time, were strikingly and consistently accurate.

    Compare and contrasts with the both the Tory and City forecasts at the time, with the same data, which consistently underestimated the economic performance.

  23. RESULTS OF THE 2015 GE
    Lab biggest party
    Con 12 seats behind Lab
    LD balance of power.
    The Conservatives and Whigs form an anti Labour Coalition. The will be an outvry from the left wing newspapers (led by the Guardian who else) calling it a farce and comparing the Liberal Democrats to Nazis. David Cameron will propose the the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties merge to form the Liberal Conservatives.
    A Tory Backbench rebellion will ensure led by Mark Pirtchard. The Rebellion will call for a vote of confidence on Camerons leadership and he will lose it to Pritchard by a landslide.
    The New Conservative party will rename its back benches the 2015 backbench committie the Liberal Conservatives will be forced to be a minority and the New Conservatives will join the Opposition benches. The Minority Government loses a confidence vote and a second election is ensured.
    The amazing thing about the December 2015 election is how the Liberal Conservatives fell like ninepennies with the PM himself losing his seat. Mark Pritchard becomes Prime Minister and Eddie Izzard becomes Madam Speaker.


    “Eddie Izzard” :-)

  25. Eddie Izzard as speaker

    Sounds good!!

  26. RIN, totally agree, Clegg has no get out clause, only chance for your party is new leader. Polls will be interesting over comference season.

  27. Lefty

    Quite right but I thought I would throw it in anyway. BTW what were the forecasts like after the crisis hit, cos the IMF forecasts have been crap

  28. @Chouenlai

    And Miliband replies to Clegg:
    “Well, even if I felt I could trust you, your 15 seats aren’t going to be enough to deliver a secure majority over a 5 year parliament. And your own majority is under 2000*. Are you feeling lucky? By all means confirm your status as a party of the right and join once again with the Conservatives to try to bring us down. But even if you get the Nats, Plaid and the rest on board it’ll finish you as a party and you personally and leave us to mop up what remains of your left leaning supporters in the election. Go ahead, punk, make my day.”

    *Assuming a 9% uniform swing LD to Lab, which would deliver something close to your scenario. With a 10.7% swing, Clegg would be gone.

  29. Phil

    Doesn’t work clegg would be gone 5 mins after the election. What he has done today means that he would have to resign immediately if there was not a majortiy for a blue yellow govt and like I said he might even have to leave the party. But I think he’s going back to Europe anyway

  30. Looks like Clegg has located those Tory erogenous zones again if Colin and Chop Sueys lovestruck reactions to his speech are anything to go by.

    For every swooning Tory supporter singing his praises, I suspect another nail being driven in the Lib Dem’s electoral coffin.

    He still doesn’t get it, does he?

  31. In other news

    The fed did not announce more QE and all the markets both stocks and comodites fell sharply, everything is red apart from the dollar. And I don’t mean socialist

  32. @ Colin

    “There are no inhabitants of these islands who say anything which resembles that phrase.”

    This is what I was reffering to.


    “No-we know what Americans sound like through being served up far too much US TV.”

    Is that such a shame?

    “They probably sound “proper ” to you because that is an American’s idea of how English is spoken in it’s native land.”

    I was again reffering to this: (starting at 4:54)

    It does seem to me that for however many accents there are, everyone does seem to understand each other pretty well.

  33. RiN

    Well for a start, the Treasury certainly didn’t forecast the severity of the recession (not until it was upon us).In the 08 Budget, Darling predicted 1.75-2.25% GROWTH in 08-09, which of course was spectacularly wrong. But of course, predicting a shock a priori is pretty much an impossibility. And few forecasters in any country were predicting in 2007-08 that contractions of 4-7% were around the corner.

    I don’t have definitive data, but I do recall in the 09 Budget, Darling predicting that we’d come out of recession with Growth of 1.25% in 2010. The CBI called this “excessively optimistic”. Osbourne accused him of being a fantasist. In the event, even allowing for the Osbourne Freeze of Q4 2010, growth was 1.7%.

    Make of it what you will.

  34. @ Billy Bob

    “No way, no how!

    Many American accents have a close resemblance to archaic English accents – it is us who changed in the intervening years.

    There was a program about a small fishing island on the US eastern seaboard and it could just as well have been Cornwall.
    William Gibson has a nice cultured drawl, he lives in Vancouver now but I assume it came fronm the South.

    The reason you need subtitles is not so much the accents (ok some are weird) but the fact that many sloppy people here don’t bother to *enunciate*.”

    This I thought was funny:

    (Starts at 1:39)

    I just imagine that some Brits might have some trouble understanding this. Like members of the Bullingdon Club or Malcolm Rifkind’s constituents. But as you point out, the southern accent may be closely related to some of the old British accents so it might be totally comprehensible.

  35. “Eddie Izzard becomes Madam Speaker”

    :-) :-) :-)

  36. As I write another chapter in my blockbuster, “Nick Clegg: My Part in his Downfall”, I can reveal the latest part in my cunning plan to bring the bounder down. My 19 year old son has just started a degree course at Sheffield University which, if all goes to plan, will stretch to four years of study. That should mean that he will be residing in Sheffield for the 2015 election. I have instructed him, certainly in his fourth year, if not before, to be living in the Hallam district of that fine city, deep in the heart of Cleggy’s constituency. His mission, already keenly accepted by him, is to burrow his way into the heart of the local Lib Dem constituency association and, working from within, disrupt and derail as much of their campaigning activity as he can.

    He is also under orders to register to vote as well and his and my dream is that Clegg loses his seat after 10 recounts, by ONE vote. This will probably require him to place a large clothes peg on his nose and vote Tory, but it will be worth it. Not easy, but the right thing to do.

    Go to it Will; your country expects and demands nothing less!!lol

  37. I don’t think anyone can predict the next election results this far out. It’s nice to speculate but, if anything, we’ve learned the past few years that electorates are entirely unpredictable. I mean a few months before the results of the Scottish Parliamentary Election and the Canadian General Election, would anyone have predicted the results that took place? Did anyone foresee the 2010 UK elections resulting in a hung Parliament prior to the last month of the campaign?

    I mean, I’m not trying to take the fun away from a bunch of political junkies. But sports betting seems like a safer bet.

  38. Crossbat

    But the coalition has a cunning plan of its own to save nick seat

    Close the uni in Sheffield and move it to the silly isles

  39. So cal

    I called the SNP win, but it was not hard I just thought about what I would do if I was scottish

  40. It’s odd this speculation.

    The polls have Labour 40%+ and the Tories struggling to reach 37/38%. That’s now before the sh*tstorm.

    How good will this recovery in 2015 have to be?

  41. RiN

    Many of us called an SNP win in 2011. That was the easy bit.

    It was the extent of that win that no one, except Ipsos-MORI suggested at the last moment (and none of us really believed them) actually predicted.

  42. Clegg’s speech was the speech of a beaten man – heading away from parliamant before the end of this party in a welter of sickeningly righteous indignation – it was nauseous frankly – and utterly delusional.

    Still blaming Brown, still refusing to recognise the brutal reality that the economic strategy of this government is a joke based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the real presssing problem of the economy ( growth and lack of it) and the root cause of the deficit which was manageable for over 10 years of the Labour administration. ( the recession caused the deficit – and the only solution is to generate growth – not cut spending – spending was a contributory factor but not the cause of the deficit)
    The coalition spun a line bought by most commentators that we were in crisis ( we weren’t) and that we had to cut the deficit in a term ( we didn’t).

    Anyway time to stop calling it deficit reduction after today’s record August deficit figures. It is not a deficit reduction plan at all – it is a public expenditure cutting plan which as we will all discover is not a deficit reduction plan at all – probably a deficit raising plan actually!

  43. “… an’ I hadn’t made a concession speech – recently.”

    Ok SoCal, *that* guy takes a bit of decoding, but music to the ears nonetheless. ;)

  44. YouGov Scottish poll(s) in the field at the moment.

    One seems to be trying to define the left/right attitudes of SNP voters through questions on taxation/equality.

    Seems odd timing, when some will have seen the details of the SNP Budget, and others, like me haven’t (BBC iPlayer seems to replace Scottish News with London news at the moment, and BBC Scotland has disappeared from the “regional” outputs via Sky/Freesat.

    Were I a conspiracist, I would be alleging badness. Crap technicians seems a more likely answer!

  45. Old Nat

    Yes indeed but I was probably the only non Nat that predicted the SNP win a long way out, but I didn’t see it being quite so big. But I knew that the Scottish people would know deep down that the only way to protect themselves against a blue govt was to have a clear and visible threat of independence

    But hey enough of blowing my own trumpet.

  46. @Iceman

    I tend to agree with your verdict on Clegg’s Conference speech. The saddest part for me was that it could well have been, and probably will be in two weeks time, delivered, almost word for word, by a Conservative politician. He threw a bone to his audience on the Human Rights Act, probably pre-approved by Cameron, but the rest was typical Cleggite Tory-lite mush.

    I wonder what those great Liberals like Grimond, Penhaligon and Pardoe would have made of the spectacle.

    Very sad

  47. @Crossbat1

    Chow mein? Chop Suey?

    Just add “Roly poly” and you could open a restaurant!


  48. Crossbat11

    “He still doesn’t get it, does he?”

    Not so sure. Annoying (and perhaps hard to understand) though it may be for Labour supporters, strong support for the coalition including the Conservatives is what will IMHO bring rewards for Lib Dems. They show by this that they have some grit and staying power, and believe in what they are doing, unpopular or not.

    They have been in danger of not remembering who the real oppostion are – Labour – and instead treating their coalition partners like the enemy. This has not gained them support hardly at all, it has merely made them look full of remorse and completely ill at ease with themselves – playing straight into Labour’s hands who should be struggling to win confidence after the last discredited government. but in fact have been strutting around holding their heads high, and getting away with it!

    Separate identities they might be, but a united front in government from the two parties is what will gain them respect (and halt the slide in VI) until such time as their policies pay off and they recover VI (or otherwise, depending on outcomes and your perception).

  49. Iceman

    I understand you would feel that way about Clegg’s speech because of your political angle, but don’t you think that your 9.28 post goes way over the UKPR boundaries nonetheless?

    Just a friendly question, perhaps AW is lurking now with intent! :)

  50. RiN

    “the silly isles”

    If you refer to the islands located 20m SW of Penzance, their correct name is The Isles of Scilly.
    The residents feel quite strongly about the correct expression of their name,

    You may , on the other hand, have meant the famous Silly Isles :-)

    @Lefty Lampton.

    Have been trying to re-find a chart I once read of Borrowing forecasts at PBR/Budget/Forecast/Out-turn under GB’b Chancellorship.

    Have failed so far. If I do will, I hope ,show you what I meant.

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