What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition, the Lib Dems’ direction, and Nick Clegg’s leadership

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the contest for the party presidency, the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

What Lib Dem members think about the party and its leadership


Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track?
(Comparison with August’s figures.)

    65% (69%) – The right course
    23% (17%) – The wrong track
    11% (15%) – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net right course: +42%

When we last asked this question in August, there was net approval for the party’s direction of +52%, so +42% represents a sharp fall — though an unsurprising one given the controversy surrounding both the party’s U-turn on tuition fees, and to a lesser extent the Comprehensive Spending Review.

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

    17% – Very effective
    52% – Effective
    18% – Ineffective
    11% – Very ineffective
    2% – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net effectiveness: +40%

Nick Clegg has suffered a steeper decline in popularity than the party as a whole. In late August, as the party approached its autumn conference, Nick’s net effectiveness rating was +62%, itself a small reduction on July’s record +68% or February’s +66%. His rating was at +41% in September 2009.

Lib Dem views of the Coalition

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

    85% – Support
    12% – Oppose
    3% – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net support: +73%

Interestingly, despite the approval ratings for the party and its leader taking a battering over the past few weeks, support for the Coalition as a whole remains entirely unaffected. Indeed, approval is up since last month, when it was +65% at the height of the tuition fees row; and exactly the same as it was in August. Whatever, the party’s arguments with some of the policies being adopted by the Coalition Government, there appears to be remarkably little appetite among the membership for a divorce from the Conservatives just yet.

Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

    67% – Approve
    23% – Disapprove
    10% – Don’t know / No opinion
    Net approval: +44%

The last time we asked this question, in August, the net approval rating for the Coalition Government’s record was +45%, pretty much the same as now. The discontent which exists among some members appears to be directed first at Nick Clegg as leader, then at the party’s general direction of travel — but support for the Coalition and the Government as a whole appears to be quite steady.

Do you think the Coalition Government will be good or bad for the Lib Dems’ electoral prospects at the next general election? (Comparison with August’s figures)

    14% (17%) – Good
    52% (46%) – Bad
    14% (20%) – Neither good nor bad
    20% (18%) – Don’t know / No opinion

Unsurprisingly, given the results reported above, there is a small shift in favour of members reckoning the Coalition will prove harmful to the party’s prospects at the next election. A slim majority believe it will prove to be bad for the Lib Dems, with 48% split between good, neutral and unsure.

How long do you expect the coalition government will last? (Comparison with August’s figures)

    1% (1%) – Less than a year
    5% (8%) – A year to two years
    14% (15%) – Two to three years
    77% (71%) – Four years or more
    3% (5%) – Don’t know / No opinion

Confidence in the ‘stickability’ of the Coalition has soared over the past few months. When we first asked this question in June, 38% of members expected the Coalition to fall within the next three years; that number now stands at just 20%. Conversely, while five months ago fewer than two-thirds (63%) of members expected the Coalition to last the full term, that figure now exceeds three-quarters (77%).

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 580 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 10th November.
  • 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 results of the contest for Party President, and 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
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    123 Comments

    • Overall, pessimistic support. Sounds about right.

    • gwenhwyfaer 13th Nov '10 - 5:42pm

      What those results mainly tell me is that the Lib Dems have already lost most of the people who disapprove of the coalition. Which isn’t surprising, given that the Lib Dems are collapsing back into single-digit poll ratings.

      Well done, guys; you’ve sacrificed yourselves for AV. Which is funny, given that as a significant third party you were a primary justification for its introduction…

    • Nick (not Clegg) 13th Nov '10 - 5:44pm

      I wonder if you would consider revising the wrding of some of the questions, next time?

      We were asked whether we considered various individuals were “effective” or “ineffective” in their current roles. This puts one in a slight dilemma if one considers that an individual has been “effective”, but not in a good way.

    • @Reuben

      I don’t follow.

      Clearly Lib Dem members are aware of the harm the coalition is doing to electoral prospects, a majority have indicated that and only 14% have any illusions that it will be good.

      Power isn’t the be all and end all. I’d much rather do the the right thing and suffer electoral oblivion than muddle along seeking power for powers sake- which is what Labour degenerated into after their initial and all too brief reforming zeal wore off.

    • paul barker 13th Nov '10 - 6:49pm

      I hope someone is keeping a file of all the predictions of our doom, either way it will be interesting to look them over in a few years time, when we have some actual evidence.

    • I am not so surprised by these findings. I have long suspected that many lib dems, particularly those out in the backwoods are far to the right of centre. It is a party whose main ethos seems to be a little England, self-sufficient, small town, parsimonious anti-statism, a deeply bourgeoise group who are not Tory solely by dint of a lack of upper class connections, but in many respects are further to the right in their intense dislike of organised labour, urban diversity and collective provision. That they should be happy to be part of a rabidly neo-liberal government which wishes to dismantle the welfare state is no shock. That they are walking so gleefully into oblivion is perhaps a little more surprising, but then they have found their natural home as the badly dressed wing of the Tory party.

    • Andrew Suffield 13th Nov '10 - 7:07pm

      Interestingly, despite the approval ratings for the party and its leader taking a battering over the past few weeks, support for the Coalition as a whole remains entirely unaffected.

      I have a theory on this, and would like to propose a variation for the next survey: ask the following two questions

      “What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?”
      “What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Deputy Prime Minister?”

      I suspect that what you’re seeing here is a widespread belief that Clegg’s position in the government, and in particular the “collective responsibility” thing that means he has to argue for all the government’s policies, is detrimental to his position as Lib Dem leader. This raises some interesting questions about how coalition governments should be handled in the UK.

    • Reuben
      “Especially after breaking their pledges, many Lib Dems will find it incredibly difficult to keep their jobs at the next election except via a pact with the Conservatives”

      gwenhwyfaer
      “What those results mainly tell me is that the Lib Dems have already lost most of the people who disapprove of the coalition. Which isn’t surprising, given that the Lib Dems are collapsing back into single-digit poll ratings.”

      Don’t let yourself be taken in by your own hype. There have been scores of local council by-elections most months since the Coalition Government was formed and Lib Dems are doing a lot better than you seem to think.

      146 “principal” Council by-elections in the 6 months to the end of October
      21 Lib Dem seats successfully defended
      10 Lib Dem gains
      8 Lib Dem losses
      +2 Net Lib Dem gains

      Further details:
      http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.com/2010/10/lib-dem-by-election-results-continue_31.html

    • If these results are in any way accurate (and I have no reason to disbelieve them), they suggest that a substantial majority of Liberal Democrat activists have taken a one-way trip to Beachy Head. In the words of RyanM (above), the marginalisation of the party is a price well worth paying to keep a Tory government in power. This is surely a case of collective insanity.

    • TheContinentalOp 13th Nov '10 - 8:30pm

      @Simon Shaw

      Thanks for the link. It’s only fair to point out though that the LD share of the vote has dropped in a significant majority of those by-elections – and in some cases quite dramatically. The results are hardly cause for optimisim.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Nov '10 - 8:37pm

      It is quite striking that 85% support the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Tories, but that only 14% think the coalition will be good for the party’s prospects at the next general election. That’s very strange.

      I suppose people could try to rationalise that as a noble act of collective self-sacrifice for the good of the country, but is that really how it’s meant to work?

      To my mind the membership is obviously very “conflicted” about the situation, and I suspect the conflict will be resolved one way or another before too much longer.

    • @TheContinentalOp
      If you are saying we are doing well where we have a chance, and (often) quite badly where we haven’t a chance, then I’d agree with you.

      I think we can live with that – certainly better than the other way round!

    • Andrew Suffield 13th Nov '10 - 9:03pm

      I suppose people could try to rationalise that as a noble act of collective self-sacrifice for the good of the country, but is that really how it’s meant to work?

      There are two things you need to realise to make sense of these results:

      So far, for all its flaws, this government is vastly better than the previous one.

      Lib Dems don’t expect to get handed a victory on a plate at the next election, via union or millionaire cash and a claim that “it’s their turn”. They expect to work for it. Hence, expecting the coalition to be bad for the party’s prospects just means more work to win, and not that it is impossible to win.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Nov '10 - 9:25pm

      Andrew

      Ok. We’ve heard the two things. But how do they make sense of the results?

      Why are Lib Dems so overwhelmingly in favour of the coalition, when so few of them think it will be good for the party? Or conversely, why do few of them think it will be good for the party, if they are convinced it’s the right thing to do. Noble self-sacrifice, or what?

    • matt
      “They are not doing quite as well as some would have us believe.”

      “A couple of the seats they gained, where not contested at all.”

      1. I thought the issue was that the Lib Dems are not doing as badly as some would have us believe. I assume you agree with that?

      2. I’m certain you are wrong on the “uncontested gains” issue.

      3. 90% of Lib Dem gains were from the Conservatives. So?

    • @Ande Suffield

      “So far, for all its flaws, this government is vastly better than the previous one.”

      Really? Let’s remember as well before we get carried away that a greater proportion of Tory MPs voted for the Iraq war than Labour MPs, Cameron pushed for more deregulation than Brown was allowing up until 2007, when the banks failed he suggested it was premature to bail out northern rock, up until 2008 he promised to match Gordon Brown’s spending ‘pound for pound’.

      What I see at the moment is a group of lib dem members attempting to rationalise support for a government that, had it been comprised of any other parties, would have been attacked daily by these very same members and would have rightfully been a laughing stock.

      All I can seem to glean from these figures is that disillusioned lib dems have just given up on this party and that a large proportion of the membership support the coalition in actions than 6 months ago they would have decried as unthinkable. It is hardly a very ‘liberal’ party where people change their long held convictions which they debated long and hard for years to suit the new party stance at a whim

    • John Richardson 13th Nov '10 - 9:56pm

      Unpopular does not necessarily mean wrong. I answered “don’t know” to the electoral chances question. Clearly if an election were held tomorrow it would be bad. (Although more than like we would still hold the balance of power.) In five years, who knows? If the policy decisions taken today are proven to be effective then it may well be good for our electoral prospects.

    • Pledge

      1. A solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something.

      2. Anything given or considered as a security for the performance of an act; a guarantee;

      3. A promise or agreement by which one binds one’s self to do, or to refrain from doing, something; especially, a solemn promise in writing.

      4. A binding promise or agreement to do or forbear.

      5. To give or pass as a security; to guarantee; to engage; to plight; as, to pledge one’s word and honor.

      6. To bind or engage by promise or declaration; to engage solemnly; as, to pledge one’s self.

      7. To promise formally or solemnly.

      Examples:

      I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.
      Franklin D. Roosevelt

      Men should pledge themselves to nothing; for reflection makes a liar of their resolution.
      Sophocles

      I pledge never to vote Lib Dem again.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Nov '10 - 10:06pm

      “If the policy decisions taken today are proven to be effective then it may well be good for our electoral prospects.”

      But that’s the thing. Apparently only 14% of those surveyed think that will happen.

    • John Richardson 13th Nov '10 - 10:06pm

      The NUS are already saying that they are going to switch their support to Labour.

      Yeah why not. Back to the party that introduced tuition fees in the first place despite having a huge majority and pledging not to. Back to the party that commissioned and set the terms of reference for the Browne report. Back to the party that wouldn’t have bothered to secure a £6K/£9K cap. If they forget all that in the space of a couple of months – what will they forget over the next five years?

    • matt
      1. I would say Libdems are do worse than some would have us believe.

      2.I will stand corrected, there was 1 gain, that was not opposed, it was a Independent seat before, check your own stats

      3. 90% of Libdem Loses are to Labour

      Wrong, wrong, wrong!

      1. Who, exactly, is saying Lib Dems are doing better than you believe they are?

      2. You originally said: “A couple of the seats they gained, where not contested at all.” Now you seem to be talking about just one. In the one Lib Dem gain from Independent, the seat was was also contested by Labour, Conservative and Independent. Please state clearly which contest(s) you are talking about.

      3. No they are not! Less than 40% of losses by Lib Dems were to Labour.

      Do you make this up as you go along? You are clearly the one “feeding misleading information”.

      Please desist!

    • John Richardson 13th Nov '10 - 10:41pm

      I’m not whining or farting about it.

      Abandoning the Lib Dems over tuition fees is one thing. But backing a party that created the situation in the first place despite having the power to implement any system they liked just doesn’t seem like a sensible way to get what you want.

      Labour are currently pretending they wouldn’t have cut anything. Who really knows what they would do? The only certain thing is that there would have to be substantial cuts somewhere in order to cut the deficit in half in four years. You really think they comissioned the Browne report, which recommended unlimited fees btw, with the intention of not cutting the HE budget? I can’t prove otherwise but it seems unlikely to me.

    • The only way I can make sense of these findings in my head is that LIb Dem Voice members really aren’t reflective of the party as a whole, It seems to be almost wholly taken over by right wing orange bookers these days.

      Marching themselves to a merger with the tories at a later date after they’ve destroyed the wider electoral prospects of the party.

    • @matt
      As far as I can recall, every Lib Dem who has “come out in support of Lib Dems” (including me) has done so in response to (largely Labour-inclined) posters who have painted an inaccurate picture.

      The simple fact is that in the 75% of the country that are not “core Labour areas”, Lib Dems are doing surprisingly well in Council by-elections, often clearly taking votes from former Conservative voters. You seem to regard that as something shameful. Lib Dems see that, rather, as a marvellous opportunity.

      As I have repeatedly pointed out, we are doing a lot less well in the minority of core Labour areas.

      One encouraging thing (having been to the constituency last week) is that most of the Oldham East and Saddleworth Constituency is very much not a “core Labour area”.

    • @matt
      John Richardson is right and you are wrong.

      He said: “Labour are currently pretending they wouldn’t have cut anything” and that’s exactly what they are doing.

      For example, what do you think they are pretending on Tuition Fees?

    • @matt
      “13 Lost Seats”

      As Lib Dems only lost 8 seats (and gained 10 and successfully defended 21 seats) in the 6 months to the end of October, you have clearly got your stats wrong there.

      You have excluded non-principal council by-elections, haven’t you?

    • The poor, disabled and vulnerable will be smashed under a Conservative hammer but All is well.
      The public despises our Leader but All is well.
      Yet more 10% polling today but All is well.
      AV is drifting further and further out of reach but All is well.
      It’s perfectly obvious the student fee promise will never go away as a lethally damaging issue on the doorstep but All is well.
      This is the best of all possible worlds.

    • 57 MPs can only achieve so much because the grossly unfair FPTP system gave us that many despite receiving 23% of the vote. It is symptomatic of the despair inducing complaceny now ingrained that electoral reform appears to be being given up by the Leadership as a lost cause without even a fight.

      Let’s remember Nick is the one who agreed to the compromises from his negotiating strength or weakness.
      Those were his choices as much as cutting £18 Billion from welfare was a choice.

      I for one still don’t buy this rubbish about meekly accepting almost everything the Conservatives want because of a seat count based on an unfair system. Politics is not a game for shrinking violets and Nick had and has the ultimate sanction of walking away as bargaining power. To put it bluntly, Cameron needed him far more than we needed a Deputy Prime Minister and a few ministers.

      What I see in Nick now is unfortunately not someone who will unflinchingly push the Conservatives hard at every opportunity to ensure our idea of a fair and just society that does not punish the vulnerable.
      Sadly, what I see now is someone who has made his peace with himself about his position as Cameron and Osborne’s fall guy. Tragically, what I see is someone who will hold on, whiteknuckled and grimfaced, to power for as long as possible whatever the cost to the Party.

      I can at least see some hope with Tim’s election as it may finally wake some up from their placid daydreaming death march toward the edge of the cliff.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 12:44am

      “I’d be worried if the membership were pretending that sharing the odium for sorting out this catastrophic deficit won’t harm us.”

      Sounds as though you haven’t been reading Simon Shaw’s comments (though I can’t say that I blame you for that!).

      But you really are missing the point, you know. You talk about “sharing the odium.” That’s not what is happening. The Tories are attracting no odium whatsoever so far – their opinion poll ratings are still higher than the support they attracted in May. But the Lib Dems are already more unpopular than they have been for years – or decades according to one pollster. Why do you think that is?

      Obviously, it’s because the Tories are behaving much as those who voted Tory in May expected them to behave. Whereas the Lib Dems are going against much of what they said in May, and against what their supporters wanted. Naturally, their supporters don’t like that.

      And what they said in May was not, of course, based on ignorance of the scale of the problem. They knew pretty well as much then about the “structural deficit” as we do now, considering it’s an artificial construct that can only ever be estimated. “We didn’t know the scale of the problem” is the most transparent of lies. The party’s unpopularity is the price of dishonesty, not some kind of martyrological badge of honour.

      Of course, I am not saying that there won’t be a very generous helping of odium to be shared between the coalition parties when their plans bear fruit. But I think the Lib Dems’ unpopularity now is something quite different. And I don’t really see any reason to think that it will be reversed, even if the government’s economic policies are eventually seen to have “worked” (in some sense).

    • George, you are clearly a clever and thoughtful man who, mercifully, is not as complacent as some are becoming. So you must know the reality that as an opposition Labour can and will get away with all manner of hypocrisy because they are not in the firing line in the publics eye. That’s opposition. It is not always fair.

      I was extremely quick to point out to some of the more sanctimonious Labour supporters that their stance on tuition fees was pretty farcical given what Blair did. But it’s not going to resonate much with the public given that there is clearly deep anger out there. We can’t campaign on just Brown’s disasterous economic mistakes, we have to have a message that enthuses. We have to be FOR something. Some of our policy victories can assuage the electorate IF they will listen. The problem is right now they aren’t listening as we appear to be locked in a death spiral for as long as we are seen as inseparable from the Conservatives.

      I do not propose a policy of complete despair. I see a chance to reverse much of the negative perception of us once we disengage from our current lockstep with Cameron. It’s frustrating to me that going by Nick’s current strategy the necessary decoupling will only happen next year when it has to and we have to fight the elections and AV vote.
      I personally think we have to start building clear blue water between us and Cameron right now.
      That doesn’t mean embracing Labour, it just means clarifying where we disagree with the Conservatives.

    • Norfolk Boy 14th Nov '10 - 1:10am

      So how can 65% of members think the party is going in the right direction when it is now implementing policies that those very same people were saying would be disastrous in May?

      What’s that all about? Is the party full of people who will do the exact opposite of what the people who voted for them expected?

    • Norfolk Boy 14th Nov '10 - 1:14am

      @ George Kendall

      point me to somewhere where you said before election day:

      “I hate these cuts, but I think they’re necessary.”

      You certainly appear to be a man ‘in conflict’ although we have a more honest term for it where I come from.

    • @George
      “If so, where would they get the extra tax rises you say they’d have introduced?”
      Don’t you remember the ‘jobs tax’? Labour were going to increase NI. Also, It’s become commonplace to claim that Labour broke their pre-election pledge on tuition fees in 1997. Do you have a source for this? I can’t seem to find it in the 1997 manifesto. I suspect they did not in fact make any promises on tuition fees in 1997. It’s certainly true they explicitly ruled out ‘top up’ fees in the 2001 manifesto and they then legislated in 2004 to bring them in the next parliament. Pretty underhand but at least they went before the electorate in 2005 before top-up fees were actually implemented. The Lib Dem betrayal over tuition fees is on a totally different scale. In fact I can’t think of political party in my lifetime making such an unequivocal promise to the electorate and then reneging in such a short space of time. The whole thing is a colossal blunder.

    • John Fraser 14th Nov '10 - 9:03am

      @Amy Mcleod
      Your comments about the Lib Dems only havinging right wing members are a natural outsiders conclusion but incorrect (In my opinion).

      have a survey on any of the Key coalition policies such as free schools, workfare etc and most Lib dems would alomost certainly be against.

      Ask them whether the coalition will help the party and the results are clearly negative as above.

      Ask them whether they support the colaition and a surpising majority still do.

      Amongst people I spreak to there seems to be a (wrong) There was no alternmative mentality which was the spin from Cleggs and co that seems to have been so succesful. Arguments were made that this was the only way to stop a large conservative majority in an October 2nd election. (???) . Lack of support for teh coalition means by definition a member would want to laeve it …. the coalition was designed to be difficult to leave so the TINA mentality becomes self fullfilling .

      t is an unhappy party full of genuine caring people who have got themselves into a hair shirt mentality that will prove difficult (but not impossible ) to brake..

      i left the patrty a few weeks back so I can feel I can say this without any hint of thumping the Lib dem drum.

    • George Kendall,

      “In my opinion, yes. I joined the party to work for the common good, not for the party’s narrow interests.”

      But you have ended up working for the UK mega-rich, and the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families. You may not like to be told so, but that’s what you’re doing.

      Beieve it or not, I remain moderately optimistic that the “coalition” will end and Clegg will be gone within the next 6 months. OK, members still apppear to be professing their undying love for Clegg and Cameron, but in the same breath they fear for the party’s long-term electoral prospects, and many are deeply unhappy with the policies that the Tory government is pursuing (with Liberal Democrat support). A tipping point must come.

      There have already been rebellions, if little noticed:

      (1) The election of Tim Farron as Party President. I don’t think Susan Kramer was Clegg’s preferred choice by any means, but Tim Farron will clearly be a thorn in Clegg’s side where Susan would have played more of a background role.

      (2) Conference representatives have elected left-wing majorities to the party committees. Conference reps are the core activists, the people Clegg will need to deliver leaflets and knock on doors for him (provided he hasn’t joined the Tories by then), and they don’t appear to be particularly happy.

      (3) There are many members who claim to be enthusiastic supporters of the “coalition”, but are are up-in-arms about Clegg’s betrayal over university tuition fees.

      In 1944, hundreds of thousands thronged the streets of Paris to cheer Marshal Petain. Yet, barely a year later, even greater numbers cheered De Gaulle. Yes, we can wake up from this madness, but we don’t have long to do it.

    • George Kendall,

      “I do read Simon’s comments, and I rather admire him for fighting the coalition’s corner. I think Simon is right that our by-election results are better than might be expected.”

      Yes, Simon is right about our byelection results, but wrong to assume that this augurs well for the party’s long-term prospects. Those of us with long memories will recall that the last time the party indulged in collective hara-kiri (the 1988 merger and its aftermath) the opinion-poll ratings were lower than they are today yet the local government base held (in a way that it had not done during the Lib-Lab Pact and Jeremy Thorpe affairs a generation earlier).

      Why do you admire Simon for defending a Tory government?

    • George Kendall,

      “They may have heard Nick Clegg say, that if the Tories were the biggest party, we’d probably do a deal with them.”

      Please remind me which party body agreed this.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 9:57am

      “The short answer is, I don’t know [why the Lib Dems are so unpopular].”

      I can only repeat the reason I gave before, because I think it’s so blindingly obviously.

      (1) The Tories have retained their support because they have been doing the kind of thing their supporters expect them to do, and – by and large – the kind of thing their supporters like.

      (2) The Lib Dems have lost support because they have gone against so much of what they said in May, and naturally their (former) supporters don’t like it.

    • Paul Griffiths 14th Nov '10 - 9:59am

      @George Kendall 01:45

      My thoughts are very similar. Thanks for articulating them.

      (I don’t normally do “me too” posts but these days …)

    • matt
      “I included every election result in Every ward, since the General Election.

      Which you have provided the data on, in your own research.

      Check your own results,”

      May I repeat my earlier question to you: “You have excluded non-principal council by-elections, haven’t you?”

      i.e. you haven’t included Parish and Town Council by-elections, have you?

      Because all the statistics quoted on Birkdale Blog (http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.com/2010/10/lib-dem-by-election-results-continue_31.html) very clearly state that that they relate to principal council by-elections only.

    • I clearly underestimated the level of blind ‘Cleggmania’ and overestimated the perception of anyone who claims not to know why the public views the Liberal Democrats with such hostility just now.
      We all know that most of the public views Nick as little more than an yellow tory and we all know that the perception of Liberal Democrats as unprincipled and duplicitious is widespread. If you can’t face up to the truth then you have no chance of changing the situation for the better.

      Pretending that it’s the publics fault because they didn’t understand Nick’s ‘nuanced’ message is, franky, delusional. Try putting that out on a few leaflets and see what the reaction is. The truth is Nick did not campaign as a Conservative, he campaigned as a Liberal Democrat and the public noticed.

      Paddy,Charles and Menzies were not some ‘abberation’ who hoovered up a few ‘left wing protest votes’. (another classic orange book fantasy) They knew what the Party stood for and were not so out of touch that they tried segregate supporters and voters into one class that the Leadership were most comfortable with. They led all the Party and all it’s factions. Nick and his acolytes are still living in a dream world where they imagine they can cleanly ‘cleanse’ the Party of any troublesome left wing opinions in much the same way Boris Johnson described the coalitions plan for housing benefit for the poor.

      Let me spell it out for those who still don’t get it as I’m tired of seeing the same wishful thinking masquerading as a ‘strategy’. Even IF Nick somehow manages to survive all of the thunderstorms coming and even IF he succeeds in moulding the Party into his new more right wing political identity, while somehow keeping the base, he will still get crucified at the next election.

      Why ? Two main reasons.

      The first is that there is no room on the right.
      Tories will never vote for Nick instead of Cameron or any other Conservative Leader.
      How can I be so sure ? Because they have had 6 months and there is absolutely zero sign of them doing do or even wanting to do so in the opinion polls. The orange bookers simply can’t grasp that no matter how friendly Cameron is to Nick Conservative voters will never trust the Liberal Democrats and switch to them en mass.
      Even those who are dissatisfied with the Conservatives then already have an outlet in UKIP. So pretending Nick can out Conservative the Conservatives and start swallowing all their votes is so wildly out of touch with reality as to be funny if it didn’t appear to be the actual strategy of some in the Party.

      The second reason is Nick as Leader.
      I hate to break it to the Cleggmaniacs but when the public forms an strongly negative opinion of a politician then they rarely if ever recover. Nick cannot be used in the AV campaign because he is an electoral liabiitiy. The orange bookers might not like it but it’s the truth and they know it. And if they don’t fully grasp the consequences of this then they are going to be in for a huge shock come the next general election.

      I think Sesenco is optimistic in his assesment of 6 months, but unless Nick turns round public opinion on both himself and the Party fast then his days are clearly numbered. His unpopularity is already spreading to other ministers like Vince and it is a contagion that will infect the whole Party if left unchecked.

      Lastly the orange bookers have only to look to Brack Obama’s fortunes to see what happens when the public is subjected to harsh economic situations for a year or two. It mattered not to the American voter that Barack was left a disasterous legacy by Bush. Obama was slaughtered at the polls for high unemployment, low growth and austerity.
      Just as the British voting public will not care too much in a year or two that the coalition was left an economic disaster by Brown. The voter wants results not excuses when it comes to the economy and, undeserving or not, they will turn to the alternative if they are unhappy with the way things are going.

      The complacency of those who actually believe that it’s a tenable strategy to hold on to Cameron for dear life while hoping things will magically get better in the long run is breathtaking. It will also be their undoing.

    • @Goerge Kendall

      “My prediction is that we’ll only partly succeed. We’ll increase our core vote, but, with the loss of protest votes, our total vote will decline in 2015. That’d be a shame. But, if we take a short-term hit in order to sort out a very serious budgetry crisis, so be it.”

      I don’t think trying to place the blame with ex-Labour voters or ‘protest vores’ will cut it.

      People who voted for lib dems at the last election voted for the principles and policies they campaigned on. Now personally I have only ever voted Lib Dem… and I know plenty of ex-Labour voters who voted Lib Dem (including my father who I think has only voted Labour). Yet their reason wasn’t that ‘we need a fill in party until Labour get their act together’ their reason was ‘I really believe in what Nick Clegg is campaigning upon, more than I believe in what Labour has campaigned upon’.

      We have to remember that the majority of the population, including my father, don’t see politics as a left-right issue.. but a policy based issue.

      Now the Lib Dem leadership are vocally supporting the exact opposite policies to the ones they supported in march… the ones that attracted votes. Now you can be as contemptous as you like of people who were convinced to vote lib dem in recent years… but I would love you to explain how the lib dems will win votes without winning people over to their policies! The reason the lib dems are hated now is because of the behaviour of the leadership in fully supporting the exact opposite platform to the one they campaigned upon, it really is that simple. You can try and pretend this is a case of matyrdom, but it is really a case of the party gettin its due for apparently lying to the electorate before the election.

    • david clayton 14th Nov '10 - 11:02am

      Not a Lib Dem member and reading this with a certain sadness. The Lib Dems are missing from parliament. That radical voice of opposition to wars, over intrusive government, abuse of civil rights is all gone. They are weakly clinging to an extreme right wing government, widely perceived as liars and the worst example of political dishonesty when they used to be seen as the outside party. Our politics is damaged by this as Labour appear spineless and tainted by the New Labour project, our only options appear class based free market nonsense or managerial new labour free market nonsense. And the Lib Dems…..history, and that is not a good thing.

    • david clayton
      “They are weakly clinging to an extreme right wing government”
      Do I take it that, in your terms, the last Labour Government was also an extreme right wing government?

      Because “extreme right wing” is the last thing that most people in the country see the Coalition Government as being.

    • matt
      “I took every election result since the General Election as posted here”

      I thought it was a straightforward question that I asked, which you repeatedly avoid answering.

      I can only conclude that you haven’t excluded Parish and Town Council by-elections.

      That’s most unfortunate on your part, and makes comparisons near impossible

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 12:41pm

      “That’s most unfortunate on your part, and makes comparisons near impossible”

      But it’s near impossible to estimate national opinion from local by-election results in any case – whichever subset of them you pick – as a number of people have pointed out to you.

      The fact that analysing a different set of results from the one you prefer gives a different answer only emphasises that fact.

    • @matt
      George Kendall is right, and the irony is that you have previously attacked me when I have talked about the annual deficit (not the national debt).

      The problem we have is that the Labour Party left our country running an annual deficit at the rate of over £150,000,000,000 per year, so that there was a national debt equating to over £22,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK.

      The issue is not so much the £22,000 per capita debt, but the fact that it is rising (under Labour) by £2,500 per year for every man, woman and child.

      And roughly 2/3rds of that £150,000,000,000 annual deficit is structural, not cyclical.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 12:47pm

      “(1) The Tories have retained their support because they have been doing the kind of thing their supporters expect them to do, and – by and large – the kind of thing their supporters like.
      (2) The Lib Dems have lost support because they have gone against so much of what they said in May, and naturally their (former) supporters don’t like it.”

      Coincidentally, Mike Smithson makes a similar point this morning, observing that while the Lib Dems are breaking their pledge on tuition fees, Cameron’s “Contract between the Conservative Party and You” is being honoured to the letter, despite the regressive nature of some of the commitments:
      http://politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2010/11/14/whys-daves-contract-being-honoured-but-not-nicks-pledge/

    • Anthony Aloysius St
      “The fact that analysing a different set of results from the one you prefer gives a different answer only emphasises that fact.”

      I’d be very happy to include Parish and Town Council by-elections, as Lib Dem performance there has been even better than in principal council by-elections, it’s just that they are normally ignored by psephologists.

      Also, don’t you think it’s a bit arrogant of you to say “But it’s near impossible to estimate national opinion from local by-election results in any case”?

      Are you saying you know about psephology that (say) Professors Rallings and Thrasher of Plymouth University?

    • You can add to that the pleasure that the Thatcherites filling Camerons backbenches feel at having the welfare crackdown on the poor and vulnerable and it’s in the reams of the bleeding obvious why the Conservatives haven’t suffered the poll shock.

      Worse still, when the cuts begin to bite into the bone and the public sector jobs start to vanish into the abyss these will be rembered as the halcyon days.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 1:23pm

      “Are you saying you know about psephology that (say) Professors Rallings and Thrasher of Plymouth Un
      University?”

      Well, _if_ they had said it was possible to estimate national opinion accurately from a local by-election results, the answer would be yes. But I’m sure they’ve said no such thing.

      Look, I understand very well why party loyalists find it convenient just now to say they don’t believe the opinion polls and seek refuge in local by-election results – though as George Kendall implies, it’s scarcely wise from the point of view of “expectation management.” But you really should give us credit for a bit of common sense.

    • david clayton 14th Nov '10 - 1:26pm

      @Simon Shaw

      You illustrate the the point I make slavishly defending the government. I was trying to suggest our polity is damaged by the lack of a third radical party in Parliament. The Coalition has paradoxically given us two party politics in which there is not a great deal of difference between the parties. As a Lib Dem if you are comfortable with all these policies or can justify them all by saying deficit then it shows the extent to which your party has become an adjunct to the Conservatives.
      Personally I believe the Lib Dems are going to be slaughtered in the next elections – I may be wrong we shall see, but my point was that coalition has removed the outsider voices in Parliament and is damaging the effective scrutiny of government.

    • matt
      “I have clearly said, that I used every election since the General Election, why should that exclude parish and Town elections?

      They are still elections, and the results are still showing a significant drop in support for the Liberal Democrats and rise in support for the Labour Party.”

      I really think you would have been better ignoring the Parish and Town Council by-elections. They are not at all representative in the way that principal Council by-elections are.

      But if you insist:
      Based on Parish and Town Council by-elections in May to July 2010, Labour are in real trouble.

      41 By-elections
      ============
      19 won by Lib Dems
      9 won by Conservatives
      8 won by Independent/Other
      5 won by Labour
      ============
      +6 Net gains for Lib Dems
      +2 Net gains for Conservatives
      -8 Net losses for Independent/Other
      0 Net losses for Labour

      Matt, please take my advice – ignore Parish and Town Council by-elections.

    • Anthony Aloysius St
      “Well, _if_ they had said it was possible to estimate national opinion accurately from a local by-election results, the answer would be yes. But I’m sure they’ve said no such thing.”

      Is that because you simply choose to ignore anything that doesn’t fit your own prejudices?

      See (for example) this: http://www.libdemvoice.org/lib-dems-and-labour-neckandneck-on-28-says-voting-study-17356.html

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 2:26pm

      Simon

      I still can’t see any claim there about the accuracy of that projection – which is just as well, because of course such projections have been found to be very inaccurate when compared with the results of subsequent by-elections:
      http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/1880

      But really this is simple common sense. If you want to know people’s national voting intention, what do you do: (1) ask a random sample of people how they intend to vote, and in analysing the results try your best to compensate for any relevant differences between your sample and the population at large, or (2) look at the results of a few dozen local by-elections, fought on local issues and attracting a small turnout, and go through some arcane procedure of trying to relate that to how people voted a different set of elections fought on different issues and in quite different circumstances?

      I think that’s what’s called a “no brainer” these days.

    • matt
      “I took these stats from this Libdem website, which lists all the results from all elections that have been held since the General Election.

      Now what form those elections are, parish, council whatever I do not know.”

      It’s fairly straightforward, matt.

      When it says PC or Parish Council, it’s a Parish Council.
      When it says TC or Town Council, it’s a Town Council.
      When it says DC, BC, MBC, UA, CC, LBC or City Council, it’s a “Principal Council”.

      One other problem in you including Town and Parish Council by-elections is that, for them, most of the results on the ALDC webside do not include previous vote shares. Accordingly you cannot know if the Lib Dem vote share has gone up or down.

      I repeat, you really should ignore Town and Parish Council by-elections.

      Incidentally, I take very great exception to you accusing me of “fiddling the books”.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 2:37pm

      “such projections have been found to be very inaccurate when compared with the results of subsequent by-elections”

      Sorry – that should read subsequent _general_ elections, of course.

    • @Anthony Aloysius St
      Arrogance! Arrogance!

      “I still can’t see any claim there about the accuracy of that projection”

      So, can I just get this clear? Professors Rallings and Thrasher (probably the two most respected psephologists in the country at present) deliberately constructed a “by-election model” so that it would be inaccurate?

      Also, there haven’t been “a few dozen local by-elections” since the General Election, but over 150 (or over 200 if you include matt’s Parish and Town Council elections, which I wouldn’t), in which something like 200,000 actual votes have been cast.

      As you say, it’s a “no-brainer”.

    • Matt
      ”Please answer Yes or NO
      1) Are Liberal Democrats share of the votes going down, even in seats that they hold?
      2) Are gains coming from where No Labour candidate runs?

      Sorry for the delay, but I had to research the answer to your 2nd question:

      1. I haven’t analysed the vote share in all 150-odd principal Council by-elections, but my perception is that (as I have repeatedly said) the “true” Lib Dem share of the vote is down slightly (around 5%) since the General Election.

      It is certainly easier for Lib Dems to well in the 75% of the country that you wouldn’t describe as “core Labour areas”.

      2. 60% of Lib Dem gains came in contests where Labour did stand. In nearly all those cases the Labour vote went down. In the other 40% of Lib Dem gains no Labour candidate stood.

      In all honesty, I don’t think people should read anything into 2. either way.

    • david clayton 14th Nov '10 - 3:46pm

      “I see a structural deficit as stealing from the next generation” I think you may get the idea the next generation are not too keen on the Lib Dems at the moment. Obviously i don’t agree with you and as only time will tell and we won’t change each others minds there is little point in pursuing that. But there is an interesting aspect to all this of inter-generational conflict. I am 49, had free university education, have paid the house off and have a good pension in view when I retire in the not too distant future. The next generation will face something entirely different – I am not sure how long they will put up with it. Given the uniformity of people and opinions in the house of commons i have a nasty suspicion we are about to see a great deal of extra-parliamentary activity. Again the changing position of the Lib Dems means there is no credible alternative to Labour or Tory and I fear a lot of young people may be about to find some fairly incredible ones of their own.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 3:53pm

      Simon

      Don’t be obtuse. Of course I’m not suggesting they _deliberately made their model inaccurate. But nonetheless it is – demonstrably – inaccurate. I provided you with a link to Anthony Wells’s analysis showing that. Naturally, you just ignored it.

      And – as I hoped was clear enough – “a few dozen local by-elections” related to the subject we were discussing, the 2009 Rallings and Thrasher study you referred to (which was based on 61 contests).

      As for your comment that the local by-elections must be giving the right answer because they involve “200,000 actual votes,” admittedly that’s a common fallacy, but a fallacy it certainly is. The fact is that you can make your sample as large as you like, but if it’s not representative you won’t get the right answer.

      But we’ve had this discussion too many times before for me to waste more time on it now. Frankly the naivete of your viewpoint does surprise me, so long after we were all taught by Peter Snow not to view projections based on by-election results as anything other than “just a bit of fun.” But to each his own.

    • Anthony Aloysius St
      ”Of course I’m not suggesting they _deliberately made their model inaccurate.”

      Yes you did! Because Rallings & Thrasher didn’t positively say “We claim that this survey is accurate” (or something similar) you said:

      ”I still can’t see any claim there about the accuracy of that projection.”

      If you didn’t mean that, why on earth did you say it?

      ”As for your comment that the local by-elections must be giving the right answer.”
      I never said that. I have had to have words with you before about deliberately misquoting someone. Please don’t do it.

      “The fact is that you can make your sample as large as you like, but if it’s not representative you won’t get the right answer.”
      It’s that arrogance again! What makes you think that 150 principal council by-elections happening, on a random basis, all over the country shouldn’t be “representative”?

      Of course. if we included matt’s Parish and Town Council by-elections (as you wanted me to do in your post at 12.41 today) then that would be unrepresentative, which only goes to show how much you know about psephology.

    • This website is definitely being ‘controlled’ by Cowley Street

    • Andrew Purches 14th Nov '10 - 4:57pm

      Why does history always repeat itself ? And here we go again,lolloping happily into electoral oblivion with a re-run of the National Liberal- Conservative pact / coalition of the thirties. I hope to God that the Lords throw out the AV AND the Tory inspired Constituency finagle that we have lumbered ourselves with. The only beneficiaries of this proposed legislation will be the Labour Party,along with various minority loony parties, with the Lib Dems shunted into the back woods – as has happened in Europe. The few free booting M.P’s we have should be working to bring the Coalition to a speedy end now, a Coalition that is based upon lies and double talk. I dispair. Andrew Purches.

    • I’m wondering why my last comment has been awaiting moderation all day. Despite having never used abusive language in any post. Is it because I’ve questioned how representative of the wider party Lib Dem Voice is? On the other hand it might be that I forgot to check the Terms and Conditions box, if it’s the latter then I’ll attempt to repost it here and check the box has been filled in.

      @John Fraser
      “@Amy Mcleod Your comments about the Lib Dems only havinging right wing members are a natural outsiders conclusion but incorrect (In my opinion).”

      Firstly I’d be a very strange natural outsider after having voted for the party for the last twenty odd years and helped with campaigning.

      I think you must have misread what I did say, I said “The only way I can make sense of these findings in my head is that LIb Dem Voice members really aren’t reflective of the party as a whole, It seems to be almost wholly taken over by right wing orange bookers these days.”

      Obviously I can only base my views on personal experience and feeling, but people I know in the party locally certainly haven’t taken a lurch to the right, therefore I can only conclude and hope that the orange bookers have felt themselves drawn towards Lib Dem voice as a means to promote their views and agenda.

      There simply isn’t room in British Politics for another right wing party alongside the Tories and Labour, unless you want to compete in the margins alongside the like of UKIP, we have been for the last twenty years a centre left party, this is what the public understood when they voted for us, this is why many of us have put our feet on the pavement and campaigned for the party, or in my case wheels to the pavement, and this is why a lot of us are feeling very very let down by the leadership of the party.

      I really don’t believe that this survey reflects the views of the wider party and if things continue as they have been, with almost no parliamentarians willing to disagree with some of the more regressive legislation that is being produced by this coalition, with no visible difference between us and the Tory party then we’re marching towards electoral oblivion. If the orange bookers think that the rest of us will blithely go along with this for the next five years then they’re very much deluding themselves,.

      We don’t like the policy’s that are being championed in our name, keep this up and there will be a split.

    • olly
      ” The reality is that opinion polling is pretty much the only way of measuring public opinion …equally a few people point to local government by-elections, but when compared to general election results these normally grossly overestimate Liberal Democrat support”.

      I would have thought you would have spotted the flaw in that argument. I am not saying “Lib Dem support in 150 by-elections since May has averaged (say) 24%, so that is our true level of public support”.

      What I am saying is that if (say) YouGov were correct in showing the “true” level of Lib Dem support, how do people who believe YouGov explain that Lib Dems have made 2 net gains, and successfully defended 21 seats, in the 146 principal council by-elections to the end of October?

      Lib Dems have always “over-performed” in council elections – I just think it is significant that over the last 6 months we seem (at least in terms of winnable seats) to have done broadly as well as the average performance over the last 3 1/2 years**.

      ** I say “over the last 3 1/2 years” as some by-elections will be in wards/divisions originally contested in May 2007, some in May 2008 etc.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 5:42pm

      Simon

      I’ll tell you what, you go away and decide whether you think the local by-election results _are_ giving an accurate picture of national opinion, or whether you think they’re _not_. And when you’ve decided, then come back and tell us which it is.

      Actually, on second thoughts, don’t bother.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 5:50pm

      Simon

      “It’s that arrogance again! What makes you think that 150 principal council by-elections happening, on a random basis, all over the country shouldn’t be “representative”?

      Of course. if we included matt’s Parish and Town Council by-elections (as you wanted me to do in your post at 12.41 today) then that would be unrepresentative, which only goes to show how much you know about psephology.”

      Obviously, I said no such thing. I simply pointed out that the answer changed according to which by-election results you included – which underlined how unreliable the whole process was.

      As for why local council by-elections are not representative of national voting intention, surely just writing it out longhand is a sufficient statement of the problem. For people with a basic ability to comprehend written English, that is.

    • Local government election results tell us how likely we are to retain our local government base when a very large chunk of its comes up for election in May. At the moment, the picture is looking OK to favourable in rural and suburban areas, but rather worrying in major urban areas, and downright dreadful in places we have never worked. This mixed overview should not surprise us, given the fact that the party nationally is propping up a right-wing Tory government and is refusing to proselytise Liberal Democrat policies and values. In the wake of the 1988 merger and its immediate aftermath, when opinion-poll ratings were lower than they are now, the party held its local government base and succeeded in recovering much of its former support at the 1992 general election. I am therefore arguing that a strong local government base is a sine qua non for recovery at the national level, and predicting that we may still have one when we exit the “coalition”. That is why Simon Shaw is right to point to good Lib Dem performances at local government level. He is, of course, entirely wrong to defend the Tory government.

      Amazingly, some of the more extreme Cleggmaniacs are now adopting a “Beachy Head” strategy – they acknowledge that the party will be harmed by being in “coalition” with the Tories, and consider this a price worth paying to implement the Tory manifesto (aka the “Coalition agreement”). People who think and talk like that should leave the party forthwith.

    • Thanks for that Mark. I copy pasted the earlier comment into the last comment I made and when it appeared immediately I realised it was something like that. Since it’s pretty well a double post now please feel free to delete the original post where the only difference is the last line which I regret being a bit OTT.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 6:20pm

      “Local government election results tell us how likely we are to retain our local government base when a very large chunk of its comes up for election in May. … That is why Simon Shaw is right to point to good Lib Dem performances at local government level.”

      Of course these local by-elections do tell us something about prospects at the local level (though even there the extrapolation isn’t straightforward, because by-elections will always be different from ordinary elections).

      The problem is that Simon Shaw raised the local by-election results – as he usually does – in response to a comment about the party’s rating in national opinion polls and its prospects at the next general election. It’s the projection of a national share of the vote from local by-election results that is really problematical. Judging by his latest comments, he’s not entirely convinced by it himself (which makes me wonder why that long, tedious argument above should have been necessary …)

    • Anthony Aloysius St
      Obviously, I said no such thing. I simply pointed out that the answer changed according to which by-election results you included – which underlined how unreliable the whole process was.

      There you go again! You said: “The fact that analysing a different set of results from the one you prefer ….”

      You were implying that that I was deliberately using a “subset” of local by-election results in order to produce a result favourable to the Liberal Democrats.

      If I had wanted to do that I would have added in Parish and Town Council by-elections (where Lib Dems have been amazingly successful) but that would have been wrong. Why? Because large parts of GB do not have Parish or Town Councils. Not just that, but Labour tend to be stronger in urban (unparished) areas, and Lib Dems and Conservatives in more rural and small town areas (parished).

      In contrast ALL of GB has principal councils.

      Rallings & Thrasher, ALDC and I all use ALL principal council by-elections, and if that isn’t good enough for you, Anthony Aloysius St, then I’m sorry.

    • david clayton
      ”You illustrate the the point I make slavishly defending the government.”

      Sesenco
      ”He is, of course, entirely wrong to defend the Tory government..”

      I don’t think I defended the government at all – slavishly or unslavishly – at least not on this thread.

      There are policies of the Coalition Government with which I strongly disagree, and others which I would broadly support but which I think could be “tweaked” to improve them.

    • matt
      “I was wondering whether you where going to answer my earlier question about the deficit.”

      No, I wasn’t actually.

      I completely agree with George in his postings on the subject of 12.24 and (especially) 2.51 today.

      A couple of weeks ago on LDV, I made an observation very similar to the following – with which I (obviously!) strongly agree:

      George Kendall
      “I see a structural deficit as stealing from the next generation in order to raise our current living standards. I don’t think that’s progressive at all.”

      I trust that you, matt, would agree that it isn’t progressive at all?

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 7:34pm

      Simon

      You really are absolutely absurd.

      Quite obviously you prefer the principal council by-elections. You’ve spent half the afternoon telling us why you think they are preferable, for heaven’s sake!

      But let me ask again, what are you actually trying to tell us about these by-elections? That it’s possible to make an accurate projection of national voting intention from them, or not? Certainly you seemed to disagree when I argued that it _wasn’t_ possible. Yet you seemed to get even more annoyed when I suggested you believed the local by-elections _were_ giving the right answer.

      So which is it? Or do you just feel a compulsion to argue with anything said by someone you perceive as an opponent of the party, regardless of what it is they say?

    • Simon Shaw,

      “I don’t think I defended the government at all – slavishly or unslavishly – at least not on this thread.” (“slavishly or unslavishly” were David Clayton’s words, not mine)

      Yes, you are right. You haven’t defended the Tory government in this thread. George Kendall posted the following comment which made it appear that you had:

      “I do read Simon’s comments, and I rather admire him for fighting the coalition’s corner”

      The “coalition” and the “Tory government” are, of course, the same thing. I do not look kindly on Liberal Democrats defending or palliating this monstrous entity, and I recoil in horror when people like George and RyanM imply that they are willing to sacrifice the party’s future electoral prospects in order to keep this unnatural arrangement going (the “Beachy Head” strategy). I do hope you part company with George and Ryan on that point at least. You wouldn’t really be spending your time in Oldham East & Saddleworth if you didn’t, now would you?

    • olly
      “You are falling into the age-old trap of arguing that local elections are a better indicator of general election VI than opinion polls.”

      No, olly, that is absolutely not what I am saying.

      Please re-read what I said at 5.28pm.

      Re-phrasing, what I would say is that MOVEMENTS in local election/by-election performance are a good indicator of the MOVEMENT in the “true” level of a Party’s support. Do you really not agree with me on that?

    • Anthony Aloysius St
      “Quite obviously you prefer the principal council by-elections.”

      The issue is not whether I prefer them, but whether you accept that they are the only appropriate “subset”?

      It was matt (and then, apparently, you) who wished to include Parish and Town Council by-elections as part of the basis on which to compare real election performance with opinion polls.

      Can we agree on one thing: that Parish and Town Council by-election results are irrelevant?

      They happen to be fantastically good for Lib Dems and disastrous for Labour, but they are genuinely irrelevent.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 8:32pm

      Simon

      I think the whole exercise of trying to project national voting intention from local by-elections is flawed. I’ve said that to you about twenty times and it still doesn’t seem to have penetrated for some reason. Just as I’ve explained to you that I did not “wish to include” parish and town council elections in the analysis, because I think the analysis is doomed to failure anyway. Evidently that hasn’t penetrated either.

      I would ask you again to answer the question I’ve asked twice about what you are actually claiming about local by-election results, but looking at your latest response to olly I really doubt there is any point. Surely you can think of a more productive way of spending your time than filling LDV with this incomprehensible and self-contradictory gibberish!

    • Sesenco
      “Local government election results tell us how likely we are to retain our local government base when a very large chunk of its comes up for election in May. At the moment, the picture is looking OK to favourable in rural and suburban areas, but rather worrying in major urban areas, and downright dreadful in places we have never worked.”

      I wanted to say that I very much agree with that analysis.

      Based on local by-election performance over the last 6 months, my prediction (at present) for next May is as follows:
      1. Overall, Lib Dems will (net) lose seats, but nothing like Opinion Polls would imply..
      2. Losses will almost all be to Labour.
      3. (Net) gains from Conservatives are a real possibility.
      4. A few gains from Labour are also a possibility in wards where Conservatives have been a (strongish) third place.

      “You wouldn’t really be spending your time in Oldham East & Saddleworth if you didn’t, now would you?”
      The good news is that OE&S does rather fall into category 4. above.

    • @Anthony Aloysius St
      Do you actually bother reading what others have posted?

      See my response of 8.06pm.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 9:06pm

      Simon

      I suppose as I’d only asked the question twice there was absolutely no chance you’d have taken it in.

      The question was whether you are claiming it is possible to make an accurate projection of national voting intention from local by-election results, or not.

    • John fraser 14th Nov '10 - 9:11pm

      “@Amy Mcleod Your comments about the Lib Dems only havinging right wing members are a natural outsiders conclusion but incorrect (In my opinion).”

      Firstly I’d be a very strange natural outsider after having voted for the party for the last twenty odd years and helped with campaigning.
      …………
      Sorry I misunderstood Amy it seems we basically agree.

    • @Anthony Aloysius St
      Is what I said really not clear:

      “Re-phrasing, what I would say is that MOVEMENTS in local election/by-election performance are a good indicator of the MOVEMENT in the “true” level of a Party’s support. Do you really not agree with me on that?”

    • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Nov '10 - 10:29pm

      Simon

      Regardless of whether it’s clear, it’s obviously not an answer to my question.

      You waste so much of everyone’s time.

    • @Anthony Aloysius St
      Surely that’s your problem.

      I wasn’t going to mention it, but your question was rather silly, if taken completely on face value.

      “The question was whether you are claiming it is possible to make an accurate projection of national voting intention from local by-election results, or not.”

      1. Neither an opinion poll (carried out competently) nor a series of by-election results can help make an “accurate projection” of future voting intention. All they can do is try to help estimate the “true” current level of voter support for particular parties etc. at a particular time (or period of time, in the case of a series of by-election results).

      2. Clearly an opinion poll competently carried out just before a “national poll” carries a good chance of making an “accurate projection” of voting intentions in that “national poll”.

      3. A series of by-election results just before a “national poll” will be more problematic in providing an “accurate projection” of voting intentions in that “national poll”. The reason for this is that, in order to avoid bias, a reasonable number of by-election results would need to be taken into account, and the lengthof time elapsing between the earlier such one and the “national poll” will create more of the difficulty referred to in 1. above.

      4. The last point is that, in the case of local by-election results, it would be necessary to make allowance for the fact that (historically) a particular Party might be found to “over-perform” in council by-elections and/or local elections. Liberal Democrats would fall into that category. That’s why I talked previously about MOVEMENTS in local election/by-election performance being a good indicator of the MOVEMENT in the “true” level of a Party’s support.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 15th Nov '10 - 9:07am

      Simon

      As I said, you waste so much of everyone’s time.

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