Some of the internet got very excited over a LibDemVoice poll earlier this week showing 46% of Lib Dem members don’t want Nick Clegg to stay on as party leader at the next election.

The question itself was rather more nuanced than some of the comment upon it suggested – it gave respondents options of Clegg staying for the election, stepping down just before the the election or stepping down sooner than that (and also separate opinions for stepping down as leader and deputy PM). Most of the 46% of Lib Dem members that wanted Clegg to go were happy for him to stay on for now – 32% of respondents wanted him to step down as party leader at some point, compared to only 14% who wanted him to step down in the next year. It suggests to me that this is more about Lib Dem members thinking Clegg is probably not the leader to get them votes at the next general election, rather than a sign of unhappiness or opposition to him per se.

While I’m here I should write quickly about how representative the polls on LibDemVoice are. Stephen Tall and Mark Pack don’t make huge claims about representativeness and are always quick to stress that they can’t claim they are representative. This is admirable, but is sadly not a carte blanche, as however much the person doing a poll hedges it with caveats and warnings these are rarely picked up by third parties who report a poll and are more interested in making it newsworthy than reporting it well.

That said, I think they are actually pretty worthwhile. They have the huge advantage of being able to actually check respondents against the Liberal Democrat member database so we can be certain that respondents actually are paid up Lib Dem members and not entryists, pissed off former members, other parties supporters causing trouble, etc. LDV also have access to some proper demographic data on the actual membership of the Lib Dem party, so while their sample is unrepresentative in some ways (it’s too male for example), they know this and can test to see if it makes a difference. They have also compared it against some YouGov polling of Lib Dem members which had very similar results, and actual Lib Dem party ballots, which had excellent results in 2008 and rather ropey ones in 2010. Mark Pack has a good defence of them here.

Of course, there are caveats too. The danger for such polls is if they end up getting responses disproportionately from one wing of the party or another, from supporters or opponents of the leadership. I am not a Lib Dem activist so such things may be over my head, but from an outside perspective the LibDemVoice website doesn’t seem to be pushing any particular agenda within the party that might skew the opinions of their readers or which party members take their polls. If reading LDV does influence their opinions though, it could obviously make respondents different to the wider Lib Dem party (for example, here Stephen suggests Nick Harvey’s increase in approval ratings could be the effect of making regular posts on Lib Dem Voice, which would indeed be a skew… but not on a particularly important question!)

I do also worry about whether polls that are essentially recruited through online party-political websites or supporter networks get too many activists and not enough of the armchair members, or less political party members (not an oxymoron, but the type of party member who joins for family or social reasons, because their partner is a member or because they want to contribute to their local community through being a councillor and the party is really just the vehicle).

All that said, while they aren’t perfect and Mark and Stephen never claim they are, I think they are a decent good straw in the wind and worth paying attention to, especially given the verification of whether respondents are party members.


192 Responses to “On that poll of Lib Dem members”

1 2 3 4
  1. HENRY AND SHEVII.

    What is wrong with virgins and virginity?

    I am not a USA Republican, but this ancient approach to life has much to commend itself.

  2. Twin girls for Mo.

    Congratulations champ-keep on running !

  3. @ COLIN

    Mo seems to excel in doube wins.

  4. SMUKESH

    He does.

    He said , after his second gold medal that he had one for each of them.

    He is a star-running in Sunday’s Diamond League event in Brum.

    It’s live on the Beeb :-)

  5. COLIN.

    Great that is is on the Beeb.

    Very. very sad, IMHO, that the cricket was taken off the ‘Protected List’ for terrestrial tv by Mr Hunt.

  6. Paul Croft

    I never believe people who claim to be “quirky”.

    Funny thing in all my 65 years I have never met anyone who ‘claims’ to be quirky. Have you apart from yours truly?

    ‘Have you any examples?’

    None I wish to share.

  7. Henry:

    Shame.

  8. The Sheep
    ‘My point is only that taking on Virgin (regardless of the underlying merits) may be challenging, and will need a sure pair of hands to avoid adding to the omnishambles.’

    A very good point that I had not considered before you raised it. I do not like the super rich acting as if they are more important than government which I with millions of others elected. Perhaps if he spent more time improving a poor rail service and less time trying to bully the Government, we would all be winners.

    However I take Amberstar’s point and trust that government will publish the tender details so we can see for ourselves which was the better deal.

  9. The GCSE headlines are very bad for the govt.

    The public are not investigative journalists and their “information” comes almost exclusively from the headline precis.

    “Gove rejects accusation …. etc etc” is quickly translated into “Gosh, see what they’ve done now”

    Someone in the States wrote that as soon as you have to expain something you’ve lost your audience. I think that if Ed Milibad is to succeed in a more thoughtful approach than is customary he will need to be extraordianarily skilful if no-one is actually listening.

  10. @COLIN

    Shouldn`t he be on paternity leave?I don`t think he`s going to hear the end of that one

  11. @Henry

    “which I and millions of others elected” Except you didn’t. There were no candidates standing on behalf of a Tory/LibDem coalition.

    Mr Branson has already attacked the ‘show ’em the tenders and all will be revealed’ approach – the tender documents are only valuable if you believe that the companies involved wouldn’t walk away from the contract at a later stage. This has happened in the rail industry before… I predict a long fight in the media

  12. CHRIS LANE

    @”Very. very sad, IMHO, that the cricket was taken off the ‘Protected List’ for terrestrial tv by Mr Hunt.”

    For a teacher, you really do have a strangely inflexible approach to things.

    It is as though what you wish to be , must be; regardless of the facts ; and will be made so if you repeat a mantra which denies those facts.

    I don’t know what subjects you teach, but I hope that they do not require absolute adherence to known facts.

    You have made that assertion before-and I have explained why you are wrong.

    Why not try a little research in future -it saves so much time in the long run -and cuts down on mantras-which would be a blessed relief for all of us.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/120281.stm

  13. SMUKESH

    Indeed-Mrs Mo looks pretty feisty to me.

    She has been a tremendous influence in his life I believe.

    Behind every good man etc .

  14. @COLIN
    `Behind every good man `

    I agree though it`s not PC any more to say so.

  15. SMUKESH

    Really?

    Hadn’t caught up with that one- I wish they would update the Little Red Book of Things You Must Not Say more regularly.

    Hopefully it will be de-listed when time permits.

    But I fear it may see a dreadful renaissance & expansion before long
    :(

  16. I’m always amazed by the things people don’t “get”.

    “BEHIND every man etc” surely has pretty obvious implications doesn’t it? The liile, supportive woman in the background for one.

    PC, taken to extremes can be risible but so can being anti-PC.

    As Margaret Thatcher said “Every Prime-Minister needs a Willie.”

    PC.

  17. @Colin

    Ohhh…I really think you missed one or two things there.

    One or two really BIG things.

    I recommend:-

    SEASONS IN THE SUN.
    The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979.
    Dominic Sandbrook.

    I particularly refer you to Part 1-chapters 1 to 8

    _______________________________________

    Haha, only 8 chapters? Thanks for setting me some homework Colin, but I’ve already seen your interesting precis of it a few threads ago. It did seem to leave some rather important bits out, like Heath’s role in the affair, and I’m not sure it even mentioned the thing which caused the problems in the first place – the swingeing oil price rises. I think some others pointed out some omissions too? Maybe you should read past chapter eight?…

    Seriously though, it’s an interesting debate because it coloured economic policy for the next few decades, and people’s perception of it.

  18. @Colin – glad you looked that one up about the cricket. I too was pretty sure @CL1945 had got that wrong. But only by 12 years or so.

  19. PAUL CROFT

    @”“BEHIND every man etc” surely has pretty obvious implications doesn’t it? The liile, supportive woman in the background for one.”

    Why does it?

    Only if that’s what you are looking for.

    If, on the other hand you respect & acknowledge the subtle but often unseen influence women have on their male partners, then “behind” is not a geographically inferior location , but a way of describing what most women know-that they are the power base in many marriages , and the less said about it, the more effective it is :-)

    What I don’t “get” is why the PC rule book is so often
    written by people who have no knowledge of or involvement with the people for whom they so fervently prescribe “correct” terminology

  20. ALEC

    I observe that mantras are used in many religions.

    I think their purpose is to suppress the critical faculties, and enhance the power of the “received wisdom”.

    A sort of Rap music for the faithful.

    It’s a personal view , of course, but it suggests to me , that repetitive statement of something , should trigger caution in the reader.

    ;)

  21. The Sheep
    ‘“which I and millions of others elected” Except you didn’t. There were no candidates standing on behalf of a Tory/LibDem coalition.’

    No I did not elect a Party I elected an MP, whose Party I happened to support., as you are aware. Because the MPs belong to two parties rather than one, it is known as a coalition.

  22. CARFREW

    The “thing which caused the problems” was called The Social Contract.

    It was administered by a Mr Foot-who , by March 1975 was nodding through 35% pay awards because they were “the going rate”.

    When Healey abandoned it in his shattering ( for Labour backbenchers) 1975 Budget, prices were rising by 20% pa & wages by 29%.

    Joe Haines said the Social Contract was “humbug-and everyone knew it”

    Even Len Murray ( TUC Gen. Sec.) said ” we can’t go on like this”.

    In mid 1975 an NOP poll found that 83% of people thought that both high prices and trade union power were serious threats to the survival of democracy.

    ( Chapter 8 :-) )

  23. PAUL CROFT

    I’ve only just realised ( bit slow as usual) that you have in fact ,been involuntarily PC since you were named.

    This explains much, and I should have been more considerate.

    :-)

  24. @Henry
    ” In my opinion all English political parties are very centrist (including LDs) imposing their ideas from Westminster. It works for Labour, Tory and Greens but it does not work for me.”

    Unless you mean that all English political parties try to get their policies enacted (in which case you’re presumably against the whole concept of political parties), you’re wrong about the Greens. If you have a look at our party policy (I’d give you a link to the relevant section, but our policy site appears to be down at the moment), you’ll see that we’re strong advocates of decentralisation. We genuinely want to see more powers devolved from Westminster to a more local level.

  25. Henry & OldNat

    ‘Several good MPs lost their seats at their last election simply because of HQ. In my opinion all English political parties are very centrist (including LDs) imposing their ideas from Westminster. It works for Labour, Tory and Greens but it does not work for me.”

    So far as Scotland is concerned it doesn’t work for anybody least of all LibDems. If you look at 2011 MSP’s rather than 2010 MP’s you can see where you are headed, though the worst results were magnified by retirals and loss of the personal vote of longserving and respected MSP’s.

    Bavarianisation would have saved you from the worst. It’s not too late and it will make you independence-ready, as will OLDNAT’s advice.

  26. Oldnat & Amber

    I thought the” tough decisions” that TB found so erotic was where there was the chance to do the ethically wrong thing, and move NewLabour further to the right for the challenge of getting Authoritarian Followers to swallow a change in direction and remain loya to the leaderl.

    I wouldn’t use the term about a choice where it was just difficult to decide what was the best thing to do.

  27. Colin:

    In general I am relatively anti PC but aware enough to see pitfalls. My Dad used to say loads of un-PC things “never send a boy to do a man’s job” was one, if I’d messed something up.

    That sort of comment can echo through someone’s life.

    I simply point out that women can also be successul and both sexes can be successful without a background partner of any sex. That means that, unlike you, I can see both sides of the debate and am a little more cautious on block acceptance of something just because on occasion it might be true.

  28. COLIN.
    Thanks for the correction, amazing what myths I believe in, reminding me of ‘Change the Facts’

    And the ad hominem attack, noted also.

  29. The GSE results thing affects about 4,000 marginal pupils, mostly at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. If the exam boards say it is a one-time thing, then the voters will not care. They will think their own children & grandchildren will not be amongst the ‘fails’ until it happens.

    A ‘class’ action to the courts on the grounds of discrimination (that’s the grounds currently being cited) will likely fail, unless it can be shown that pupils who sat the exam in January were predominantly from private schools & colleges, implying that there had been discrimination against kids from state schools who, I believe, do not have the opportunity to sit the exams in January.

    I do not think this issue will cut through with voters, unless a court case succeeds & the exams are required to be graded again using the previous benchmarks. This would feed into a narrative of incompetence which also assumes omnishambles will still be the theme music of the government at that time. I doubt this issue will be anything other than short-lived & it probably won’t affect VI at all.
    8-)

  30. Oldnat @ Carfrew

    I share your view on many things, but not everything. Your succinct analysis of LibDems in recent coalitions is an example of where we are most in agreement especially the last sentence.

    Your party is credited with competence (most recently in the Fabian poll) but not half as often as the Westminster parties are charged with the opposite(jerrycans, pasties and invading Ecuador among the most helpful to satirists).

    I find it most depressing that the bar is set so low. Christian Schmitt, early in the third session, characterised the SNP offering as “…bog standard competent government with a few minor gimmicks”

    Maybe post independence we shall see something which could be charitably described as “vison”. Most likely it will come from Richard Lochhead.

  31. PC

    @”I simply point out that women can also be successul and both sexes can be successful without a background partner of any sex. That means that, unlike you, I can see both sides of the debate and am a little more cautious on block acceptance of something just because on occasion it might be true.”

    But saying that every successful man has usually been influenced by his female partner says absolutely nothing about “that women can also be successful without a background partner”.

    It is this sort of leap of logic from a perfectly innocuous & well intentioned remark to an invented sleight on someone or something, which so characterises the keen PCer.

    In this example, the non-sequitur which you produce, would only have validity if the phrase in question had been ” behind every successful man there stands a woman, women being incapable of independent success”

    It seems to me that the purveyors of PC cannot countenance any ambiguity, or reliance on intent , purpose & context. They look for offence given in everything, and can only impose their vigilante authoritarianism by defining & prescribing the very words people speak.

    It is they who cannot see both sides of the debate as they debase the language with their Orwellian antics .

    It should be for the Courts to decide what is intentionally & gratuitously offensive .

  32. CHRISLANE

    @Thanks for the correction, ”

    Don’t mention it-though it was for the second time.

  33. AMBER

    I think that assessment sounds right.

    OFQUAL’s verdict will presumably be very influential, if not definitive.

    Could you supply the source for “The GSE results thing affects about 4,000 marginal pupils, mostly at the bottom of the socio-economic scale”

    I understood that those affected were identified by there perceived academic level between Grade C & Grade D in the English exam. I don’t understand how that translates into a socio-economic identifiers.

  34. @ The Sheep

    The fact that the [Richard Branson/ Virgin Train] petition went from 0 to 111000 in under a week suggests that they’ve ended up with a dangerous enemy!
    &
    Mr Branson has already attacked the ‘show ‘em the tenders and all will be revealed’ approach – the tender documents are only valuable if you believe that the companies involved wouldn’t walk away from the contract at a later stage.
    ———————————-
    “A dangerous enemy…” LOL.

    Labour will be the winners from this, IMO. A falling out amongst ‘crony’ capitalists; a case made by Branson & the Virgin brand that many tenders for outsourcing public services are cynically made with the tendering corporation intending to demand more money, renege on committments or even walk away if the profits aren’t there.

    At the very least, Branson & his brand are opening up the debate about the cheapest quote not always being the best value in the medium term.

    It will keep the rise in fares on the agenda. This is an issue which impacts many wallets & therefore votes. There could also be discussions around keeping British government contracts for British companies; the tax structures employed by tendering firms could also be up for scrutiny. And it could result in both the tendering companies knocking lumps out of each other which may benefit the ideology of keeping public services public.

    This is Labour’s platform & I am sensing the potential for a polling point or two being up for grabs over this & the rail fare increases. The government will need to handle this with an aplomb which we have not seen recently or it could be a vote loser for them.
    8-)

  35. Green Christian

    Apologies for seeming to lump in the Engish Green party with the other centralising UK parties.

    You don’t even need Bavarianisation.

  36. @ Colin

    It was a Graun or Independent article.

    The 4,000 number was calculated by % of Cs v Ds compared to prior year or prior sitting (January). I can’t recall which of those off the top of my head.

    As I understand it, wards are given a socio-economic ranking. The schools which have the most significant drop in results are schools which have low socio-economic catchment areas.

    I suspect these are preliminary calculations which are a reasonable starting point. A court case will require more detailed & robust analysis so we may get different numbers emerging if an application to the courts goes ahead.
    8-)

  37. @Amber

    I don’t know hoe much influence the man dubbed ‘BeardyRail’ by the transport industry watchers (see Railway Eye blog) has with voters but I doubt he has as much as he would like.

    A PR man is only influential as long as he is and I think ‘past sell-by date’ would apply to Sir R B.

    I can remember when Sir R M had a certain cache and Mirror group pension fund contributors know where that ended.

  38. Colin:

    I give in.

    Its hugely unlikely that the majority of successful men owe their success to their wife, as you suggest, in any real sense at all. It is patronising to both to suggest that it is so and that is what these silly sayings reinforce.

    In my own field of the arts I can think of many successful men and women who are so focused on their own work that partnerships rarely last, never mind become part of their formula for success.

  39. @ Colin

    May I suggest a slight modification to the cliche which you used. Behind every successful person, you’ll find a supportive team!

    ‘Lone wolf’ success stories are few & far between but of course there are some. But cliches aren’t scientific rules, so we can simply ignore those anomalies.

    Nor are cliches ‘universal truths’, they’re simply a shorthand description for an aspect of the lives we live. It’s appropriate, IMO, to update them as our world changes. They deserve recycling, rather than being thrown into the dustbin of history. I don’t think that’s terribly PC; it’s about our language being lively & relevant. ;-)

  40. @ ChrisLane

    What is wrong with virgins and virginity?
    —————————-
    LOL, I like your picking up on the literal meaning of the Branson brand. It was chosen by him to be eye-catching & to show he was an entirely new ‘player’ entering the music business.

    Well, his company is now longer-in-the-tooth; it seems to have become as cynical & self-serving as many of its corporate peers. Perhaps it should be renamed. I leave people to come up with their own suggestions. :-)

  41. Colin:

    I am cheered by the thought that such differences in attitude indicate that I am a nicer, more sensitive bloke than wot you are.

    PC.

  42. @John B Dick – “You don’t even need Bavarianisation.”

    Indeed. Seeing fully grown Greens in sandals is bad enough, but in leather pants would be terminal.

  43. @ Howard

    Our comments crossed.

    I shall consider Past Sell By Date as a suggested replacement name for Virgin. :-)

  44. @ Alec

    Indeed. Seeing fully grown Greens in sandals is bad enough, but in leather pants would be terminal.
    —————-
    LOL :-) What a picture that would make; I confess when Bavarianism is talked of in relation to Scotland, the imp in me always thinks: not with the leather hot pants, pulease! And of course, it almost goes without saying, kilts should be worn over trousers. ;-)

  45. @Alec

    yeah yeah, it’s OK, I’ve already got the message. You can relax… I am on-message. Politicians are all as pure as the driven snow and would never manipulate the economy for electoral ends, we should discount the views even of Thatcher’s own economic advisor too, and that party funding would never influence economic policy negatively, no matter how many SPADs get sacked or manifestos trashed… all is noble and above board.

    But remember you also said this earlier:

    “An ill conceived strategy, initiated by an ideological and inexperienced chancellor, backed by a coalition partner who told us it would be a disaster in opposition but who once in power put narrow
    political interest ahead of the economic well being of the nation.”

    So are politicians noble or not when it comes to the economy?? I never imagined it would be controversial since polling suggests most have politicians rather low on the list of people they trust after all the scandals. Anyway, we’ll gloss over it in case Paul notices… don’t wanna burst any more bubbles.

    Anyway hopefully we can move on… I’m gonna play safe, and simply point out in support of your comment regarding long-term damage the interesting fact – not opinion – that our GDP when Labour left power in ’79 was above Italy’s, and had been when Wilson and Heath left power previously. It rapidly fell below Italy in Thatcher’s first term, and stayed below throughout the remainder of her reign. Meanwhile we also wound up with significant structural unemployment.

    (Bet Colin hasn’t got up to that point in his book yet…)

  46. @Colin

    CARFREW

    The “thing which caused the problems” was called The Social Contract.

    It was administered by a Mr Foot-who , by March 1975 was nodding through 35% pay awards because they were “the going rate”.

    When Healey abandoned it in his shattering ( for Labour backbenchers) 1975 Budget, prices were rising by 20% pa & wages by 29%.

    Joe Haines said the Social Contract was “humbug-and everyone knew it”

    Even Len Murray ( TUC Gen. Sec.) said ” we can’t go on like this”.

    In mid 1975 an NOP poll found that 83% of people thought that both high prices and trade union power were serious threats to the survival of democracy.

    ( Chapter 8 :-) )

    _________________________________________________

    Yeah, that’s a bit cart-before-the-horse. Wages didn’t just magically start going up for no reason… there was a reason for it – hint: the oil crisis you strangely keep leaving out of the analysis.

    I mean inflation started going up under Heath remember, and went up under Thatcher too. And wage pressures started under Heath, though he resisted – Hence the miner’s strike. Maybe read a few more chapters?

  47. Apropos of nothing, I’m sure you’ll all be interested to hear that the BBC are saying that Neil Armstrong has just died.

    Regards, Martyn

  48. Electoral Calculus haven’t updated their August forecast yet, but their July estimate of the probability of the various possible outcomes at the next general election:

    Conservative majority 3%
    Labour majority 81%
    Con/Lib coalition 2%
    Lab/Lib coaliltion 8%
    Lib choice of coalition 0%
    No overall control 6%

    ~~

    I notice that questions like this one are not uncommon with US polling companies: “Regardless of how you might vote, do you think President Barack Obama will be reelected or will be voted out of office?”

    GfK Roper asked this question in December 2011 and again in June and August this year. Those thinking Obama will be reelected has risen 49%>56%>58%. At one time 48% thought he would be voted out, currently it stands at 32% with 11% unsure.

    ORC’s “… who do you think will win?” found 63% saying Obama, 33% Romney.

    ABC News/Washington Post – “Just your best guess… “: Obama 58%, Romney 34%.

    Pew – “… most likely to win”: Obama 52%, Romney 34%.

    h
    ttp://pollingreport.com/wh12.htm

    On other questions things are much closer between the two candidates, so what is happening? Is it that people just think incumbent presidents generally get reelected – or, is it that a significant proportion who seem to agree with Romney on a lot of issues nevertheless sense a kind of inevitability about him not becoming president?

  49. @Martyn

    Apropos of nothing, I’m sure you’ll all be interested to hear that the BBC are saying that Neil Armstrong has just died.
    ———————–
    Was he a Republican or a Democrat? Is it one less vote for Romney or Obama? There you go, it’s apropos of something now…
    8-)

  50. AMBER

    Thanks.

    …………and I agree that our language should be “lively”.

    “relevant” ?-to whom & who decides ?

    So, I’ll stick with lively :-)

1 2 3 4