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What Lib Dem members think about Europe, Cameron’s ‘veto’, and the Eurozone

February 12, 2012 11:37 AM

Lib Dem Voice recently 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 570 party members responded, and yesterday Co-Editor Stephen Tall published the following results on their website.

Party members split over the future of Europe

LDV asked: Which of the following options would be your ideal future for the UK and the European Union?

46% - The UK should remain a full member of the EU and work towards ever closer union, economically and politically.
40% - The UK should remain a full member of the EU but reject working towards ever closer union, economically and politically.
10% - The UK should secure substantial renegotiation of its existing relationship with the EU but remain a full member.
3% - The UK should leave the EU altogether and instead negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU.
2% - Don't know / No opinion

Though the Lib Dems are generally identified in the public's minds as the most pro-European, it's clear from our survey that party members' views are more nuanced. Just under half, 46%, back ever closer political and economic union - but that leaves 53% arguing for a rejection of further integration between the UK and our European neighbours, including a minority who would like to see renegotiation or even the UK's exit from the EU.

The results are broadly similar to when we last surveyed Lib Dem members in September, though with a small shift towards a more 'eurosceptic' position.

Almost three-quarters back new Eurozone rules

LDV asked: The Eurozone refers to the 17 of the 27 countries within the EU that use the Euro. The UK is not part of the Eurozone. In December, European leaders agreed new rules for the Eurozone which will mean that countries in the Eurozone will have to balance their budgets, there will be punishments for countries which run up deficits that are too large, and countries in the Eurozone will have their budgets monitored by the EU. Do you support or oppose these new rules?

73% - Support
15% - Oppose
12% - Don't know / No opinion

Almost three-quarters of Lib Dem members we surveyed supported the new rule for the Eurozone countries, with just 15% opposed.

Cameron's Euro 'veto' scores badly with Lib Dems…

How well or badly do you think David Cameron handled the negotiations on behalf of the UK at the European summit in December?

Very well - 2%
Well - 6%

Total well = 8%

Neither well nor badly - 8%
Badly 33%
Very badly 51%

Total badly = 84%

Don't know / No opinion - 1%

Well the Prime Minister's so-called 'veto' may have wowed the right-wing media in December, but it didn't win him plaudits among Lib Dem members - a net 76% of those we surveyed felt Mr Cameron had handled the negotiations badly.

… And Nick Clegg's handling of the 'veto' gets a mixed response

How well or badly do you think Nick Clegg handled the Liberal Democrat response to the European summit in December?

Very well - 9%
Well - 36%

Total well = 45%

Neither well nor badly - 23%
Badly - 21%
Very badly - 9%

Total badly = 30%

Don't know / No opinion 2%

A bit of a mixed result for Nick Clegg, with fewer than half of the members in our survey believing he handled the Lib Dem response well. Here's a sample of your comments:

Hard position. Difficult to see how he could improve. Not worth destroying the coalition over

He took too long to make his stance clear, and there was some ambiguity as to what his stance actually was. Eventually, he was clear and right

His rhetoric was very anti-Tory but the substance was more measured.

Nick took two incompatible positions within the course of about 48 hours - he should be careful to avoid repeating this feat again in future.

Although the initial inconsistency was wrong, he took the right line.

Response could have been better, subtle reading may indicate that Nick Clegg behaviour was consistent throughout but that's not what it looked like.

Started off badly but then improved significantly

Nick managed to claw back some respectability and influence. I wish he'd been negotiating for us.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 570 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 31st January and 4th February.
  • 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.
  • The full archive of our members' surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll