Which four Liberal Democrat ministers most improved their standings in 2011?

Liberal Democrat Voice has polled the members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 564 party members responded, and the full results are being published over several days.

Jeremy Browne, Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Lynne Featherstone are the four Liberal Democrat ministers to have significantly increased their standing in the eyes of party members over this year, according to the surveys of party members carried out by Liberal Democrat Voice four times in the year.

When asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with a range of party figures, members have given this quartet significantly improved ratings across the year. For each, there is a slightly different story to tell.

Jeremy Browne used to be one of the ministers rated most poorly by party members, but has steadily improved his ratings, helped both by his sure-footed ministerial work in 2011 and also by being one of the keener ministers to communicate with party members, as shown by a series of guest posts on Lib Dem Voice during the year. With a year-end net score of +21%, he is still below the net +32% average, but no longer among the lowest rated.

In Ed Davey’s case, he too used to have much lower ratings though more due to being low profile rather than the positive controversy Jeremy Browne has generated. Helped by his own work on modernising the Post Office and regular appearances at local party events, he now has a net rating of +40%, not far off the sort that would put him in the top five. As with Jeremy Browne, he too may have benefited in a survey of Lib Dem Voice readers from recent positive coverage on this site, in this case from myself rather than him, but his ratings had already been improving since the general election.

For Vince Cable the start of 2011 was the nadir of his popularity with members, in the immediate aftermath of the tuition fees controversy. From a net +8% low in our first survey of 2011, Cable is now back to +63% and top of the ratings.

Finally, Lynne Featherstone – always one of the most highly rated Liberal Democrats in our surveys – has had a very high profile year with her equalities brief, pushing many high profile and controversial policies. Although since becoming a minister her blogging, including contributions to Lib Dem Voice, has tailed off markedly, she continues to be one of the few front rank Liberal Democrats to communicate regularly via social media.

An honourable mention should also go to Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael who has a role that traditionally is only high profile when it is going wrong. However, thanks to his assiduous and funny use of Facebook, he has continued to see his ratings quietly move up through the year (starting at net +14% and ending at net +27%).

The two biggest fallers in the year are Chris Huhne, still at a net +43% but well down from +65% at the start of the year, and Party President Tim Farron, who likewise still has a very healthy net +60% but is down from +69% in our first survey of 2011.

The top five Liberal Democrats in the December 2011 survey, with their net scores, were:

1. Vince Cable: +63%
2. Tim Farron: +60%
3. Lynne Featherstone: +53%
4. Steve Webb: +51%
5.= Simon Hughes: +45%
5.= Kirsty Williams: +45%

The bottom five Liberal Democrats, with their net scores, are:

1. Nick Harvey: +16% (his scores have been fairly static all year)
2. Fiona Hall: +15% (her scores have been fairly static all year)
3. Andrew Stunell:+15% (his lowest score this year)
4. Danny Alexander: +14% (his lowest score this year)
5. Paul Burstow: +14% (though continuing to recover from his +3% low in early 2011)


  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 564 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 9th and 13th December.
  • 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 accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.

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