+++ Neck and neck: first Eastleigh constituency poll

That 3 point gap is within the margin of error on the poll, and so it is, as they say in the US about such results, a statistical dead-heat.

What is clear is that this is a contest between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. Nigel Farage was right it would seem to back out of fighting the seat – and Labour too are clearly out of it in Eastleigh.

The Labour vote share is particularly interesting as we’ll see how well the party can do at squeezing a clearly third-place Labour in a Parliamentary by-election. The pre-2010 record is of course very good and early signs about the Labour campaign are promising:

[UPDATE: And even more promising with one Labour MP already throwing in the towel for the contest.]

The Liberal Democrat candidate is being selected at the weekend – and my money is on it being none of the people Guido has tipped :)

That doesn’t mean you have to wait to help however:

Later… More on what the first Eastleigh by-election poll shows here.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/33110 for Twitter and emails.

47 Comments

  • Looks like a gain for the Conservatives if UKIP are sitting it out.

    UKIP should be legitimately targeted for lacking the courage to face the electorate.

  • That’s not nearly as bad as I was expecting. In fact, I’d say that it is game-on with those figures! It’s between LD and Con, and if you vote Labour you’ll get a Tory MP.

  • The Campaign hasn’t started yet and three weeks is a very long tome in politics. Remember in the AV Referendum, the Yes campaign was ahead at the outset.

  • @MBoy

    “It’s between LD and Con, and if you vote Labour you’ll get a Tory MP.”

    Why do you think it would bother Labour voters, if Tories end up winning the seat?

    I do not think that argument will bode well with Labour voters this time round. Most Labour leaning voters who have voted Liberal Democrats in the past to keep the Tories out will be extremely pee’d off at the way Liberal Democrats have behaved in this coalition government and the scandals that the Lib Dem Ministers have been caught up in.

    I do not believe for one minute that Conservatives are going to win the next General Election, so what does it matter if one more Tory gets elected into Eastleigh in the mean time.
    It will weaken the Liberal Democrats overall,
    Conservatives are going to lose the next election anyway.
    It is probably in Labours best Interests long term for for Conservatives to win this seat.

  • Former LibDem 7th Feb '13 - 8:43pm

    MBoy

    The trouble is, MBoy, how do you persuade Labour tactical voters to vote Lib Dem? You can hardly use the old slogan “Vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out” when you are currently in a national coalition which is keeping the Tories in. It’s a bit of a tough sell, I would think. I said this on another thread, but it is vital that the Lib Dems realise just how much they have alienated many of their former left-of-centre voters. Many people who are Labour-inclined (but have voted Lib Dem tactically in the past) have reached the conclusion that the Lib Dems are just as culpable as the Tories for many of the dreadful things this government is doing. You might not agree with that (you, no doubt, passionately disagree) but you have to recognise that a straight forward “vote Lib Dem to stop the Tories” is not as attractive as it was to Labour-leaners – many of them think you are now just as bad. I’ll brace myself for a volley of insults because a load of you won’t like this post – but remember: insulting me – and others from the left of centre like me – won’t get a single Labour tactical vote in the box in Eastleigh. You need a strategy for that. And, as things stand, you don’t have one.

  • I think that what’s interesting is that the fractional reductions in both Lib Dem and Tory support are very much in line with the ICM ratings in national opinion polls. The Lib Dem percentage is down by exactly a third on 2010. The difference from the national polls is that Labour and UKIP have benefited by almost exactly identical amounts. If the decrease in Lib Dem and Tory support had all gone to Labour, Labour would be snapping at the Lib Dems’ heels. It’s obviously good news for the Lib Dems that this poll doesn’t show Labour doing that, or the whole “two-horse race” narrative would have been in danger of disintegrating before the campaign had got started.

  • It is also worth pointing out that the Libdem Vote poll is already showing -16% compared to the 2010 election
    Tories are down 5%
    whilst Labour are up 9% and UKIP also up by 9%

    This is early days into the election, but remember the Trial of Vicky Price is still ongoing, so no doubt there will be more embarrassing head lines in the media.
    Chriss Huhne himself has yet to return to court for sentencing {which could be before the election}

    The Tories will be leaning on their friends in the media to keep up the pressure with articles on Huhne and I would not be too overly surprised to see other high profile Libdem Ministers dragged into this whole affair who may well have possibly known all along that Huhne was behind the wheel, well that’s according to some e-mails which will no doubt soon make there way into the public domain http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075418/Vince-Cable-Mrs-Clegg-called-witnesses-Chris-Huhne-speeding-trial.html

  • There was a judge or a magistrate involved as well and in one of the phone conversations, VP clearly says ‘and you persuaded others to take your points too’ .

  • Former LibDem is, I fear, correct in his assessment of the likelihood of many former Labour voters who have lent us their votes in the past continuing to do so. I don’t think there is any point in my wasting my breath, for example, on my brother and sister-in-law – Eastleigh voters – trying to persuade them to vote for us again. On the other hand it is only a relatively small proportion of the electorate who care sufficiently about politics to take such an adamantine view and I would expect that there is still scope for us to persuade a proportion of Labour inclined voters to support us again, although clearly their vote this time will be significantly higher than at the last general election.

  • @Tonyhill
    I guess the LibDems will stop slagging off Labour for 3 weeks and try to pretend they are “left wing” to con Labour sympathisers into voting for you again. I am one such voter in a marginal (not Eastleigh) and I certainly won’t be falling for it again and I really hope your tactical vote strategy fails you this time as I really find it fundamentally dishonest – in seats like this you try to win Labour votes telling them it’s the best way to stop the Tories and in other areas you try to win Tory votes telling them it’s the best way to keep out Labour. I think the chickens came home to roost once you found yourselves in government and you soon got tied up in knots trying to square that particular circle.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Feb '13 - 11:41pm

    OllyT

    I guess the LibDems will stop slagging off Labour for 3 weeks and try to pretend they are “left wing” to con Labour sympathisers into voting for you again. I am one such voter in a marginal (not Eastleigh) and I certainly won’t be falling for it again and I really hope your tactical vote strategy fails you this time as I really find it fundamentally dishonest

    So you’d rather we had a pure Tory government?

  • @ Matthew H
    “So you’d rather we had a pure Tory government?”

    That is precisely the argument that won’t wash with me anymore, the difference is not great enough to make me vote Lib Dem tactically rather than for the party I actually support.

  • Peter Watson 8th Feb '13 - 12:25am

    Over at ukpollingreport.co.uk (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/6968#comments), Anthony Wells notes:
    “It is indeed extremely close – the difference between the Conservatives and Lib Dems is all down to turnout (the poll actually found slightly more Lib Dem voters than Conservative ones, but the Conservative ones said they were considerably more likely to vote).”
    Some interesting comments also by Lord Ashcroft who commissioned the poll (http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2013/02/tories-start-ahead-in-eastleigh-but-its-going-to-be-a-battle/).

  • Let’s try phrasing the question this way: suppose you are talking to a potential voter who is generally supportive of, or at least not raging at the coalition government. What could you say to convince him or her that a Liberal Democrat MP would be a better person to have supporting this government than a Tory would?

  • Lord Ashcroft polled Eastleigh in Oct 2010. Then it was:
    Con 43
    LD31
    Lab 20

    So it’s the Tories that have lost support in the last 2 years.

  • Foregone Conclusion 8th Feb '13 - 2:27am

    The answer is to point out how bonkers the Tories are at the moment, say that we are the force for common sense in the Government, and say that voting Lib Dem in Eastleigh will strengthen the voice for common sense. Simple.

  • I wonder where it will leave the coalition parties, if the National Health party stands, as they said they would, against coalition parties which supported the NHS and Social Care Act.

  • voting Lib Dem in Eastleigh will strengthen the voice for common sense. Simple.

    Except where the party absolutely had the power on the NHS reforms to use common sense it completely failed that test.

    As Eastleigh is so well down Labour’s hit list of seats I would be concerned that a number of Labour voters will indeed vote tactically – and vote Conservative.

  • Interesting comments. How many contributors intend to go to Eastleigh? That will be where it counts.

  • What the Lib Dems must not do is use the mantra “If you vote Labour you will get a Tory MP”. Many people (not all) want to feel their vote is influential and actually affects the outcome of the elec tion. Therefore I would use the “two-horse race” approach – “make your vote count” – “help to decide who is Eastleigh’s new MP” – coupled with extolling the positive virtues of the candidate, a reminder of the positive achievements of the (literally!) Lib Dem Council, a robust defence of the coalition and particularly the constructive and influential part played in it by the Lib Dems.

    I would not use the “The Tories are rubbish and we managed to stop them doing even worse things” approach. If ever we needed a positive rather than negative campaign it is in this constituency at this time.

  • “Lord Ashcroft polled Eastleigh in Oct 2010. Then it was:
    Con 43
    LD31
    Lab 20
    So it’s the Tories that have lost support in the last 2 years.”

    Again, this is broadly in line with national opinion polls – Lib Dem support fell sharply in the months after the general election, while Tory support has declined more gradually. And it would also be consistent with the lost Tory support going predominantly to UKIP, as we might expect.

    I’d imagine the Lib Dem stance on an in/out referendum would be quite an important issue in the campaign.

  • The Labour email is the standard material sent out before every by-election. They will select on Tuesday.

  • @ Hywel 8th Feb ’13 – 1:19am
    Lord Ashcroft polled Eastleigh in Oct 2010. Then it was:
    Con 43
    LD31
    Lab 20

    “So it’s the Tories that have lost support in the last 2 years.”

    That’s rather an obscure way of Interpreting the results.
    In may 2010 Election Huhne won with 46.5% of the vote
    In October 2010 and Februay 2013 poll The Libdems dropped to 31% (-16%)
    Total change since 2010 election (-16%)

    Cons Polled at 2010 Election 39.3%
    In Oct 2010 polled 43% (+4%)
    February 2013 34% (-9%)
    Total change since 2010 Election (-5%)

    So it is the Libdems who have lost the most support in the last 2 years. And interestingly they seem to be in line with what the National Polls have been showing for the last 2 years

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 8th Feb '13 - 10:40am

    @Guido Fawkes
    “councillors of which even their constituents haven’t heard.”
    As a Londoner whose previous visits to Eastleigh have been to watch cricket at the Rose Bowl, I can assure you I have heard of two Eastleigh councillors. So I must assume their profiles are even higher locally.

  • Liberal Neil 8th Feb '13 - 11:34am

    This is a great poll for the Lib Dems at this stage of a by-election campaign. It is clearly a ‘two-horse race’ and the Lib Dems will make a lot of that.

    By-election campaigns often revolve a lot more around the individual candidates and local issues, and we’ll be ahead on both fronts.

    There is a large soft tory vote there that might well be put off by several of the views of the Tory candidate, and a large number of soft labour voters who say they might switch to the LDs.

    It will just come down to putting the work in and turning the (many) Lib Dem voters out.

  • Liberal Neil 8th Feb '13 - 11:41am

    @matt – It’s now February 2013, two years ago it was February 2011 and the poll Hywel referred to was in October 2010 – so I think he’s right that the change in the last two years has been a big drop in Tory support.

    If you are saying that since the General Election the fall in Lib Dem support has been greater then you are, of course, correct.

    Both of these changes are important in assessing the likely outcome.

  • nvelope2003 8th Feb '13 - 12:25pm

    The Labour Party polled about 20% in recent Eastleigh elections except 2010 when their vote dropped to 9% about the same percentage drop as in many other seats where there was a Liberal Democrat MP or the Liberal Democrats were a strong challenger to the Conservatives.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Feb '13 - 6:49pm

    OllyT

    @ Matthew H
    “So you’d rather we had a pure Tory government?”

    That is precisely the argument that won’t wash with me anymore, the difference is not great enough to make me vote Lib Dem tactically rather than for the party I actually support

    So why then is the right-wing press and Conservative discussion circles full of attacks on the Liberal Democrats for stopping them doing what they want? If one looks at the changes to the Conservative ideal caused by the Liberal Democrats, it is obviously disappointing if one is on the left politically – but I think it is commensurate with the Liberal Democrats MPs forming just one-sixth of the coalition whole. It is also hard to appreciate just how much the Liberal Democrats have achieved if one does not from time to time take a peek at what is happening in the Conservative world, one will then see that the party has moved hugely to the right since the last time it was in government. If the current government looks much like past Conservative governments that is actually a big shift to the left from where it would be without the Liberal Democrat restraint.

    Had there been more people in May 2010 who thought then as you do now, we WOULD have a purely Conservative government by now. If we did, we would be very much further down the road to full privatisation of the NHS than we are. We would have sacking of employees on the whim of the employer. We would have full steam ahead right now with what Gove wants to do with education. These are just examples.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Feb '13 - 7:01pm

    Ian Sanderson (RM3)

    @Guido Fawkes
    “councillors of which even their constituents haven’t heard.”
    As a Londoner whose previous visits to Eastleigh have been to watch cricket at the Rose Bowl, I can assure you I have heard of two Eastleigh councillors. So I must assume their profiles are even higher locally.

    Indeed. The only way I ever got elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor, retiring undefeated after three terms, was to make sure my constituents knew of me. Now I wouldn’t say they all did, but the one third who cared enough to be regular voters did. I’m not boasting here, it’s a simple fact, when I knocked on doors and said my name, people knew who I was, That’s how most Liberal Democrats get elected. Labour councillors, on the other hand, got elected in the borough by wearing a red rosette on election day, and in other parts of the country Tories get elected by wearing a blue rosette on election day. While I was out delivering Focus in my ward every few weeks, in the Labour held ward where I first lived in the borough, the only time I ever heard from my councillors was a leaflet at election time.

    It says a lot that someone like Guido who is supposedly knowledgeable about politics doesn’t realise that’s how our party works.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Feb '13 - 7:06pm

    Liberal Neil

    This is a great poll for the Lib Dems at this stage of a by-election campaign. It is clearly a ‘two-horse race’ and the Lib Dems will make a lot of that

    Given that it was taken just after Huhne’s resignation, and before the LibDems have got campaigning, yes. It’s a long way from the expectations raised in these columns by some just after Huhne’s resignation that the Liberal Democrats would be reduced to minor status in this by- election. To some extent the situation is helped for the LibDems by UKIP splitting the Tory vote – if this pattern is widely observed, Tories may rue the day they blocked AV.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach
    For every case you point to I can point to one that would not have happened if the Lib Dems had not being voting legislation through as part of a coalition government with the Tories. Politics is also about perception and in my opinion Clegg appears very at home and comfortable with the Tory leadership whereas he comes across as despising Labour. I think that perception is shared by many Labour voters including those who defected from the Lib Dems as soon as the Coalition was formed. The strategy of appearing to be different things in different constituencies was always going to come unstuck at some point. I’m sure you will still be able to attract Tory voters tactically to keep Labour out but I suspect it is going to be a whole lot more difficult convincing Labour voters to back you tactically in future.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Feb '13 - 1:29am

    OllyT

    For every case you point to I can point to one that would not have happened if the Lib Dems had not being voting legislation through as part of a coalition government with the Tories. Politics is also about perception and in my opinion Clegg appears very at home and comfortable with the Tory leadership whereas he comes across as despising Labour.

    I have looked at my party membership card, and I note the party is called the “Liberal Democrats” and not the “Nick Clegg Fan Club”.

    If an alternative to the current coalition were possible, then Ed Miliband should be stating what it is, offering his terms to the Liberal Democrats, stating what his policies are. So why doesn’t he? If the Liberal Democrats are bad for joining the coalition, doesn’t that imply there is an alternative, so isn’t the onus on who would be the main figure of that alternative to offer it? He doesn’t because he knows there isn’t one. Sure, it’s possible to get together a majority to oppose things put forward by the Tories, rather more difficult to get together a majority to propose things, when that majority would have to include a large part of those MPs in none of the three biggest parties. I’m not saying there’s no alternative policies better than those put forward by the current government, but I am saying that unfortunately the British people chose to elect a Parliament in which the only viable government was a Tory-LibDem coalition dominated by the Tories. They also chose to support, by a two-to-one majority – the electoral system whose distortion gave us this.

    You dislike Clegg – so do I, I have been one of his most constant critics since the right-wing press pushed him forward as “obviously the next leader of the party”. Could he have been more forceful in the coalition? Maybe, but I think and have said many times that he has hugely damaged the party by giving the impression he has more influence than he really does. However, I think to suggest the Liberal Democrats have become indistinguishable from the Conservatives is wrong. I really do fear the consequence of the Liberal Democrats crashing in the next election will be a pure Conservative government if not after that election then after the next. Then, when we see just how horrendous that is, we shall see how wrong people like you were.

  • Hi Matthew
    I understand what you are saying, I was an active Lib Dem member /agent in London for many years . The problem with Clegg is that he has firmly planted the image of the Lib Dems as Tory light part in the voter’s minds. Those pictures in the Rose Garden are worth a hundred policy details in fixing the idea in voters minds! I accept that there were few options in May 201 0 – it wasn’t forming the Coalition per se that made me switch parties it was the real enthusiasm that Clegg/Laws/Alexander showed for joining up with the Tories that did for me. It seemed to me that that Coalition wasn’t just a pragmatic, slightly unpleasant Hobson’s choice sort of arrangement but actually something that Clegg was overjoyed about and had been waiting for his whole life!

  • Good thread with some interesting contributions.

    It is the beginning of the test of the Liberal Democrat vote against the Conservatives which constitute 2/3 of existing Liberal Democrat ic seats. The recent push back of Gove’s education ‘reform’ and the boundary reforms, courts and the hidden arguments / discussions with the Conservatives that are not seen, with some improvements of some tax regimes are a starting part but is that enough ?

    Persuading left liberal, ex liberal democrat or anti Conservative voters who voted Liberal Democrat is key to maintaining these seats. As stated above the anti Conservative, left leaning arguments will be difficult to square. A good local candidate would help.

    There is another consideration, previous coalitions between the Liberal Democrats in 1895 (Conservative / Liberal Unionist), 1918 (Conservative / Lloyd George), and National Government in 1931 were formed before the election. The platforms were understood and were mandated. Effectively, this is the first time the voters of Eastleigh will be able to comment on the coalition programme, which was confirmed and agreed after the election.

    The coalition agreement including more intense austerity measures and radical conservative policies regarding provision of services than the reassuring noises made by the Conservatives regarding public service and the electoral platform for Liberal Democrats regarding austerity showed.

    Will those ex liberal democratic left, labour or anti tory voters endorse the Liberal Democrat being in coalition with the Conservatives ? It will be the first time they have been asked.

    Add in, that it is unclear what voting in a Liberal Democrat MP will actually result in. Trying to regain this vote will be a significant hurdle for the Liberal Democrats to overcome.

    (I do not want to debate the reasons why, for or against the agreement, as that is a distraction to the main point and worthy of a thread on its own – The formation of a coalition agreement in this manner is a precedent that has yet to be tested in a general election. This should not be underestimated, spun away or ignored).

    This election and the Conservative / Liberal Democrat contests at the General Election will be the first opportunity for voters to comment on the coalition agreement and the Liberal Democrat signing up of it.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/08/coalition-candidates-losers-eastleigh

    There may also be tactical voting from the Tory Right to slap Cameron in the face and with UKIP acting no more than a pressure group and not a legitimate party , this may hold up the Liberal Democrat votes. the Liberal Democrats may pick up those votes with no serious challenge from the Tory right. Conservative contributors will be better placed to comment on that aspect of tactical voting.

    A positive campaign, as suggested by Denis 8th Feb ’13 – 8:46am on this thread is the best hope for the Liberal Democrats.

    The Eastleigh by election is a unique set of circumstances though, and it is difficult to predict. It will be interesting to watch for the indications it will give to the Conservative / Liberal Democrat contests at the General Election.

  • nvelope2003 9th Feb '13 - 1:04pm

    When Huhne was first elected as MP for Eastleigh in 2005 he had a majority of 568 yet the turnout in 2010 was only 64% which is quite low for a seemingly marginal seat. Maybe this could be attributed to potential Labour voters not bothering to vote. I remember chatting to a group of bus drivers at election time and they were adamant that they would not vote although I tried to persuade them to do so whatever party they supported as I felt confident they were not going to vote Conservative. I got the impression that they regarded the Labour Party as a group of middle class snobs whose policies and concerns were completely remote from them. One of them was derisive of a middle class Labour supporter who lived locally.
    I would have thought the policies that the Liberal Democrats have championed in the coalition are far more relevant to potential Labour supporters than anything the Labour Party did in 13 years of Government. Most people are down to earth and know money does not grow on trees. They hate being patronised and conned by smooth talking intellectuals peddling fancy schemes which end up in ruins so they do not vote any more because they see the political class as all the same and just out for themselves. That might not be true but that is how many people see things. I cannot really understand why any committed Liberal Democrat would join the Labour Party or any other party.

  • Hi Olly T, Those pictures in the rose gardens did make me feel the Libdems had sold out. But, these are just individuals that happen to be trying to do the best given the situation of the result of the 2010 general election.
    There is also the mass of Liberal democrats who support the party for their principles.
    Unfortunately, the Labour Party really did sell out their principles earlier. It was Labour that allowed the sale of the nation’s gold reserves at bottom prices, had double the rate of taxation for the low paid, and forced council tax to increase by an average of 41% by reduction of rate support in their term of office.
    Liberal Democrats in principle are for reform of power, for a fairer and more localised form of power.
    Please, Olly T, try to gain these reforms inside the Labour party, you will find a block as I did during the 1990s. Then you will find a small group of dissents, but these are not Liberals but hard left economic centralising socialists: old Labour.

  • Tony Dawson 9th Feb '13 - 9:56pm

    @Matthew Huntbach :

    “You dislike Clegg – so do I, I have been one of his most constant critics since the right-wing press pushed him forward as “obviously the next leader of the party”.

    I am wondering what liking someone or not has got to do with assessing the leadership performance or potential of any politician. Personally, I find Nick Clegg to be personable and affable. What has that to do with the price of fish?

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Feb '13 - 11:44pm

    OllyT

    I understand what you are saying, I was an active Lib Dem member /agent in London for many years . The problem with Clegg is that he has firmly planted the image of the Lib Dems as Tory light part in the voter’s minds. Those pictures in the Rose Garden are worth a hundred policy details in fixing the idea in voters minds

    Yes, and I myself have been constantly criticising Clegg and those surrounding him for this and many other poor tactics since the coalition was formed. So if you want to criticise Clegg, criticise Clegg, don’t bad-mouth all Liberal Democrats. Our party will be better off and we will be able to do more to stop the way it is being damaged by its current poor leadership if there is more acknowledgement first of the genuine difficulty the May 2010 election results put us in, and secondly that many of us are in the party despite Mr Clegg’s leadership of it and nit because.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Feb '13 - 11:50pm

    Tony Dawson

    “You dislike Clegg – so do I, I have been one of his most constant critics since the right-wing press pushed him forward as “obviously the next leader of the party”.

    I am wondering what liking someone or not has got to do with assessing the leadership performance or potential of any politician. Personally, I find Nick Clegg to be personable and affable. What has that to do with the price of fish?

    I dislike Mr Clegg in his role as leader of the party. He has done so many things I believe to be wrong and damaging. I wish he wasn’t the leader of the party. I have tried to explain here whenever I can just WHY I disagree with what Mr Clegg is saying and doing, and I have often predicted just how it will go wrong – and my predictions have generally been accurate. On a few occasions I have agreed with what Mr Clegg has said, and I have stated that.

    Actually, I don’t think he is a bad person, just incapable, out-of-touch, out-of-depth etc.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Feb '13 - 11:57pm

    Jack Timms, you quote Vernon Bogdanor’s article. Until I read that article I had some respect for the man and thought unlike many political commentators in this country he had some understanding of how multi-party politics could work. I now have no respect for him, the points he was making were just so thick. The logic of his article is that it would be much more better and democratic if we had a Tory majority government right now. Anyone who argues that sort of logic should only have one criticism of the Liberal Demncrats: that by occasionally stopping Tory policy they are stopping us from having the single-party government the say is the ideal.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Feb '13 - 12:03am

    Jack Timms

    A positive campaign, as suggested by Denis 8th Feb ’13 – 8:46am on this thread is the best hope for the Liberal Democrats

    Any campaign must make quite clear that what we have now is NOT a Liberal Democrat government. It is a government with 303 Tory MPs and 56 Liberal Democrats MPs, and so largely a Tory government. As such it is VERY far from what Liberal Democrats would want as their ideal – we support it only because we are democrats, we accept the country needs a stable government, and we have to work within what the British people chose to elect i.e. five times as many Tories as Liberal Democrats. Anyone who wants Liberal Democrat policies needs to see they will only get that by voting Liberal Democrat. If, as the people of Britain decided in 2010 and reaffirmed by their opposition to electoral reform in 2011, they want a Tory-dominated government, well, they have it. But don’t blame us LibDems for it – we lost the election, we lost the referendum, we have the government that results from that.

  • Julian Critchley 10th Feb '13 - 12:41am

    @Matthew

    On the subject of Bogdanor, I once attended a lecture of his, and even then, he was attempting to fashion himself a role as the Lord Protector of the British constittion. The sort of recognised expert who is automatically invited onto News programmes to opine on any constitutional matter. Unfortunately, if one is to become the unquestioned voice of the consittutional proprieties, it’s quite hard to simulataneously point out the glaring flaws in that same constitution. It would be a bit like the Pope attacking the key tenets of the catholic church. So as a result, he usually adopts ultra-conservative positions on matters constitutional.

    In the lecture I attended, he attacked the concept of proportional representation, and when questioned by other attendees, his response made it clear that what he really didn’t like was having more than two political parties. Not because he particularly supported or opposed a particular party, but because our form of government and electoral system deals rather badly with more than two parties. As a consequence, rather than conclude that the constitution and electoral system could use some reformation, his conclusion is that the faultlies in having too many parties. You can see that position set out clearly in his article in the Guardian.

    Of course, as any good democrat knows, the fundamental flaws in his argument are :

    1) It’s not really a democracy if you tell people they can only vote for these two parties.

    2) If multi-party government is inherently undemocratic, then that makes nearly every developed country either permanently or frequently undemocratic. Which is a bit arrogant even by the standards of the British establishment of which Bogdanor is very much a part.

    3) His argument for the greater inherent democratic value of single-party government is that political parties are held to account by the electorate for the promises of their manifesto, on which they are elected. The facts that : most voters wouldn’t be able to name two promises in their party’s manifesto; every government since 1945 has broken manifesto promises; and both the Blair and Thatcher re-elections are very clear examples of how broken manifesto promises are completely irrelevant in influencing elections; simply pass Mr Bogdanor by. Like all true theorists, if the facts contradict the theory, ignore the facts.

    4) And finally, although a perhaps less scholarly dismissal of his arguments, one might note that anyone arguing that a Government elected on 35% of the vote (and ignoring some of its manifesto) is somehow inherently more democratic than one representing more than 50% of the vote (which ignores some of its manifestos) , is just talking obvious nonsense.

    Time to retire, Vernon.

  • @Matthew, as you may or may not know, I have always agreed with your comments that:

    1=The public voted for this Government, whether they actually wanted it or not.

    2=The public (and the Tories) screwed themselves over by not accepting AV.

    3=That we are the Liberal Democrat party, not the Nick Clegg party.

    However, I must ask you and Ollie, are there people you work with whose ideas you disagree with?

    The answer is most likely yes, Now, do you:

    a-Publicly criticise them and have open disputes with them.

    b-Try your best to work with them and guide them softly towards the approach you feel is best through compromise and teamwork?

    I would choose b; why? Well, because ‘a’ gives off an image of disunity and shows a lack of professionalism. This means those around you will have no support for your ‘noble’ protest. It is also counter-productive to take ‘a’ approach as it makes the other person and those who agree with him completely unwilling to listen to you.

    So, you choose ‘b’, and I believe that is what Clegg has done. Yes, those pictures may not sit well with the left who hate the thought of anything Tory, (I suspect many Tories think the same way about Cameron in those pictures), but what was he meant to do? Look unhappy that he was making a coalition with the Tories? Remember, the media were massively anti-coalition and so, of course, Clegg and Co had to show it in as positive and professional a manner as possible, otherwise what little faith people had in the idea of coalition would be lost under a wave of media claims about Labour loving Liberals not wanting Coalition. Furthermore, if Clegg had seemed hesitate to join the Coalition, then once again this would have left Coalition open to attacks and claims of weakness and disunity from the start., I know Clegg has made mistakes, I suspect he realises it as well, but to claim that there is a problem with trying to gain public confidence and prove that the Coalition is unified seems harsh.

  • A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday actually puts the Lib Dems ahead in Eastleigh, and UKIP ahead of Labour in third place:
    CON 33%, LAB 13%, LDEM 36%, UKIP 16%, Others 2%
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/6976

  • @OllyT
    “Politics is also about perception”

    No, absolutely not. Politics is about real people living real lives.

    Good politics is policies which change lives for the better. Politics is very real, it is most definitely not about perception.

    Labour’s spin machine will tell you that the truth doesn’t matter, but you can’t avoid the truth forever. The truth is that you can’t trust Labour on money because Labour’s policies helped precipitate and actually exacerbated the crash.

    Tories try to turn their back on the facts, but however much they keep turning they keep coming back face-to-face with the facts. The fact is that Britain is, has always been, and wants to remain a liberal country.

    LibDems are correct. Sadly this means we’re used as a punchbag for people who are confused or angry at themselves as they try to deny reality.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Feb '13 - 10:11pm

    Liberal Al

    So, you choose ‘b’, and I believe that is what Clegg has done. Yes, those pictures may not sit well with the left who hate the thought of anything Tory, (I suspect many Tories think the same way about Cameron in those pictures), but what was he meant to do? Look unhappy that he was making a coalition with the Tories? Remember, the media were massively anti-coalition and so, of course, Clegg and Co had to show it in as positive and professional a manner as possible, otherwise what little faith people had in the idea of coalition would be lost under a wave of media claims about Labour loving Liberals not wanting Coalition

    Yes, I choose b), and furthermore I have actively defended the formation of the coalition and agreed under the circumstances that the Liberal Democrats are getting about as much out of it that could be expected under the circumstances.

    But, yes, I think Clegg SHOULD have expressed a little unhappiness with having to join the coalition. He’s the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Democrats had 57 MPs, the Conservatives had 303. Why shouldn’t the leader of the Liberal Democrats express that he would be happier with a situation with say 303 LibDem MPs and 57 Tories?

    All that was needed was to make clear the Liberal Democrats supported the coalition because it was the only possible stable government and it was what people voted for (as distorted by the electoral system, but a year later they voted in favour of that as well, so one has to conclude they support this distortion which gives the Tories far more power and the LibDems far less than their proportional share of the vote should give).

    The Liberal Democrat leader should have made it clear that support for the coalition was not because he had personally abandoned the platform on which he stood for election, it was because that platform lost. I believe many of the attacks made on the Liberal Democrats since the coalition was formed are unfair, they do not acknowledge the extent to which the Liberal Democrats have moderated the worst of the Conservative Party, they do not acknowledge the extent to which it would have been harmful to the country had they imposed a political deadlock by not forming a coalition. He should have put himself more clearly in a position where now that many who initially supported the Conservatives’ extreme austerity policies can see they aren’t working he could say “I told you so” – because he DID in the 2010 general election campaign. But those attacks, while unfair, are very much helped by the way Clegg has played the coalition since it was formed.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 22nd Oct - 2:25am
    It's a good article, but the banks are whooping most areas in society when it comes to promoting immigration and race equality, so there was...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 22nd Oct - 2:10am
    I agree too. The polarization that is evident in Nick's choices, and reactively (I suppose) in this article's headline, does no electoral good whatsoever.
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 22nd Oct - 2:03am
    I wonder if Peter Hayes's experience tells more about LibDems that immigrants. It seems like he's saying that they're ok if they serve you well,...
  • User AvatarSue Doughty 22nd Oct - 1:29am
    Tony Greaves is right about the democratic deficit (and yes, it is totally unfair to attack him because he is in the Lords - rather...
  • User AvatarSteve Way 22nd Oct - 12:39am
    @Psi Not sure where my comment says that it shouldn't be done? It should have been done earlier, that would have been the right thing....
  • User AvatarRoland 22nd Oct - 12:38am
    "I had the misfortune of staying in a Travel Lodge, breakfast was in a greasy spoon ‘restaurant’ staff were English and did not care, compare...