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Lib Dem members back cooperation with other parties to oppose Brexit

March 16, 2017 8:42 AM
By Mark Pack in Liberal Democrat Newswire
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

For the last few weeks, I've been running an online survey for Liberal Democrat members into what the party's line should be on Brexit and whether the party should cooperate with other parties to oppose it, even up to the stage of formal election pacts.

Before giving you more details than in the headline, it's worth adding the usual notes of caution about such surveys. Although the sample was large (1,656 after removing attempted entries that failed the security checks), it was self-selecting. The combination of careful security checks and weighting made my 2015 survey on the Lib Dem leadership contest almost spot on and more accurate than other predictions. This time round, thanks to the huge membership growth making it hard to ascertain what the correct weighting targets would be, I have not done similar weighting although the results look to be solid across the obvious possible distortions. Consider it more, however, a collection of large-scale qualitative feedback, such as judging how party conference reacts to a controversial statement in a leader's speech, than a fully-fledged opinion poll.

So with those caveats out the way, here are the key results:

  • party members are very happy with the direction the party is headed in (92% say it is headed in the right direction),
  • they're strongly opposed to Brexit (only 4% say the party should not oppose Brexit going ahead at all), and
  • the plurality of party members (43%) support going as far as election deals on candidates with other parties in order to oppose Brexit.

Whether such support for election deals about specific seats and candidates would survive the actual likely heated controversy of a concrete proposal is open to question, of course, especially as support for deals dropped sharply the more long-standing and active members are.

Over 50% of those who said they do very little other than pay their membership subscriptions back deals on candidates with other parties, whilst only 29% of those who described themselves as "very active" do. Similarly, the overall 43% of support falls to 35% amongst those who have been members of the party since before the 2015 general election.

But the results certainly add to the current noise of cross-party deals being discussed seriously in several Liberal Democrat local parties around the country, usually for local elections as in Broxtowe but sometimes also covering possible Westminster general election deals.

It is also worth noting that the comments made by responders who back deals over candidates with other parties didn't restrict that support only to deals with parties other than Labour. Those who picked this option generally are willing to consider deals with at least some Labour MPs or candidates.

(Thank you by the way to everyone who left comments, often detailed and thoughtful. I read them all and if you asked a specific question you should have had a reply by now - let me know if I missed anything.)

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