Tag Archives: general election 2015

What do you do when you see a disastrous exit poll? Eat your hat, of course

Paddy Ashdown has been talking to the Guardian about that moment when he first saw the exit poll on Election Night.

rally paddy 01

To be honest I saw the poll at the bottom of the screen about 10 seconds before Andrew Neil turned to me and I thought to myself ‘oh shit’,” he said.

“Then I had an option. I could either say ‘that’s very interesting and wouldn’t it be troublesome for us’, in which case the entire Liberal Democrat night would fall apart from thereon … or I could brave it out and say ‘I’ll eat my hat’.

“I have in fact eaten five hats altogether , including one that was a proper hat, although pretty miniature, the rest made of more edible substances, which people keep presenting me with.

He discussed the impact of the polls and suggested that they had a big impact on the result of the election.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 115 Comments

Jo Swinson: Tories preferred SNP MPs to Liberal Democrats

The most successful parties in the UK at the moment are the Conservatives and the SNP, parties which are supposedly totally opposed in terms of values but who seem to be fuelling each others’ gains.

We know that Alex Salmond helped give oxygen to the Tories’ increasingly incredible and hyperbolic claims during the general election by hinting at demands he’d make of Ed Miliband. We know that the Tories spent a small fortune in seats they couldn’t win in Scotland in a strategy that could only have had the effect of ensuring that the SNP won.

There is a school of thought in this party that puts our atrocious result down to the Tory’s scaremongering about the SNP and Labour in coalition. Others say that this is a smokescreen and that actually our poor messaging was at fault. Actually, I think both were pretty strong factors and I think that we legitimised what the Tories were doing by running scared of it rather than calling it out for the nonsense it was.

The Herald reports Jo Swinson’s comments about the impact of the Tory campaign in her seat and others:

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The article you must read on the General Election…or is it?

I was tagged on Facebook today and told that I really should share this article from on the Liberal Democrats’ General Election campaign on this site. It was talked up by a fair few people whose judgement I respect but I have to say that when I read it, I was underwhelmed. There was much that I agreed with – the total inadequacy of our general election messaging for a start, but most of it seemed to me to be a mixture of stating the bleedin’ obvious, lazy assumptions and, to be honest, not much that we didn’t know already.

There were, of course some parts that made my blood boil. It bought heavily into the idea that we were a party of protest, for a start. For me, that is a ridiculous notion. We have always been about getting into government wherever we can, in councils, at national level and at UK level. We spent 8 years keeping Labour honest at Holyrood.

That successful coalition is mentioned in the article almost accusingly, as something we should have achieved at Westminster without any analysis of why such a comparison is a false one. For a start, the Holyrood coalition governed at a time of prosperity. There was stacks of cash around and we were able to do radical things with it. Taking over the economic reins during the worst economic crisis in 80 years is an entirely different challenge. Secondly, the electorate in Scotland largely gets the Parliament it asks for. At Westminster this is not the case. If we had a proportionate number of seats, we’d have had 140 MPs, not 57 and a much bigger voice in government. 

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Opinion: General election 2015 – The rise of UKIP and the Tory decapitation strategy

Looking across the change in vote share at the General Election (analysing data from here) reveals that the Liberal Democrat vote was down 15.3 percentage points (pps) on average, but down slightly more in constituencies where the Lib Dems won in 2010 (15.7 pps). Excluding Scotland from these latter figures shows the Libs Dems were down by 16.8 percentage points.

The biggest winner was UKIP, both in England and Wales (up 10.9 pps) and in former Lib Dem constituencies (up 7.6 pps). The Liberal Democrats need to understand why so many previous voters switched to UKIP.

The Conservatives were up 1.1 pps overall, but actually down 0.5 pps in Lib Dem seats. However, in England and Wales this turns into a gain, albeit just 0.7 pps and again lower than their overall improvement. The Conservatives gained most ground against the Lib Dems in the South West, up 3.8 pps overall, and up 4.3 pps in seats the Lib Dems had previously won.

Posted in Op-eds | 30 Comments

Opinion: The twin intellectual conceits that damned the Liberal Democrats’ election hopes in 2015

 

History has the delightful habit of rendering as fools those who propagate the consensus view of a contemporary event, not because the consensus is ever totally wrong, but because it is comfortable and provides comfortable answers to snuggle up to, rather than looking deeper into the harsh eyes of reality and the bigger truths that are revealed.

And so it is with the Liberal Democrat post election postmortem. The consensus view huddles around the notion that it was only tuition fees and anger about the coalition that lost it, but we knew about those from a long way out and still felt we would get more than twenty seats. Two slivers of reality that the Lib Dems could not bring themselves to acknowledge drove our total of seats down further.

The first of these conceits, and the one that is both the least contentious and the most uncomfortable, is that we were too blasé in believing that our traditional campaign tactic of talking up the local and ignoring the national would work. It has of course been effective in the past, but it was hugely conceited to assume that rival parties would not be working on ways to crack that particular code. Of course the coalition made it easier for it to happen, but we signalled what we were to do, with rhetoric in the national media about our ’57 by-elections strategy’, signposting the direction of our campaign to all.

Posted in Op-eds | 37 Comments

Guardian revelations about Clegg, Cable and the Lib Dem election catastrophe

Well, as the ballot papers get sent out in the leadership election, the Guardian publishes a series of revelations tonight about the last year of the coalition and the aftermath of the European elections.

Apparently Nick Clegg was ready to resign in the wake of the European elections and was talked out of it by, among others, Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron. Certainly at the time, the feedback that Federal Executive members gave at our post Euro disaster meeting was that there was no appetite in the wider party for a leadership election, but they did want things to change.

Vince Cable, it transpires, did know about the Oakeshott polls.

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Two points about the Guardian’s analysis of Labour’s campaign

Patrick Wintour has written a long analysis of Labour’s General Election campaign. It outlines strategic misjudgements, disagreements and errors by Ed Miliband and makes a very interesting read. Before anyone says it for me, a similar account for the Liberal Democrats would also be enlightening. Most of us could write it ourselves and I suspect that there would be remarkable unanimity about the ineffectiveness of our national messaging, our positioning as a “none of the above” party and the very odd “stability, unity and decency” message of the last few days.

Two things particularly strike me about Wintour’s article. The first is that women are pretty much invisible. Lucy Powell, Labour’s campaign chair, is mentioned only because of a letter she wrote to the BBC complaining about coverage during the election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, only seems to come in to the picture when she’s waiting for some shred of good news in studios on election night. All the key players seem to have been men. This is exactly the same as it was during the Brown era when Harriet Harman was treated pretty much as an irrelevance. I’m not saying that they would have won the election had they listened to the women, because there is no indication that the women were getting it either. Of course, the ease with which Yvette Cooper seems to be distancing herself from everything Labour said during the election campaign is interesting. Did she put her views forward during it and have them rejected by the cabal at the centre of the campaign?

Similarly in our campaign, men seem to have dominated the decision making. Olly Grender was certainly there doing great practical ground war stuff, but it did seem sometimes as if Clegg, Alexander and Laws were just making stuff up on the bus as the campaign went along and the rest of the operation was playing catch-up.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 66 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarexpats 9th Feb - 1:29pm
    Thomas, Tim Farron's 'excuses' for not following the party line smacks of Nick Clegg's 'apology' over tuition fees... There have been several articles with Tim...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 9th Feb - 1:15pm
    Rsf7; I thought you were going to vote Green last week - what will it be next week ? I do agree with most of...
  • User AvatarSue Doughty 9th Feb - 1:04pm
    Regarding the attitude of some local parties to advancing women. In Guildford this really isn't an issue at the last 8 general elections we have...
  • User AvatarRsf7 9th Feb - 12:46pm
    @psi I'm talking about the sort of people who would seek to no platform the far right to deny them free speech for not having...
  • User AvatarTim13 9th Feb - 12:37pm
    I think we need to accept that Tim Farron is not any sort of unalloyed radical Liberal. He was an MP throughout the Coalition period,...
  • User AvatarPsi 9th Feb - 11:45am
    Rsf7 “Some on the so called liberal left are actually some of the most controlling bullies who want to regulate everyone else’s language and thoughts”...