10 key Lib Dem questions for 2010

In what is fast becoming a pre-New Year tradition as eagerly anticipated as ‘the biggest ever DFS sale’, Lib Dem Voice is publishing its list of 10 key questions, the answers to which we think might well help shape 2010 for the party. You can read last year’s list here; and our answers to those questions here (Part I) and here (Part II).

Here below, then, are my top 10 questions for the coming year in Lib Demmery:

1. In the 2010 general election, how many Lib Dem MPs will be elected? Will we increase our number from the current total of 63; or will we fall back? Will we increase our vote percentage compared with 2005, when we polled 22% of the popular vote? Or could we do, as we did in 1997, see our popular vote drop, but our Parliamentary strength grow?

2. How will Nick Clegg perform in his first ever general election campaign as leader: will it make or break him? And how will he fare in the first ever televised leaders’ debates in the run-up to the general election? Will his mere presence at the top table boost the party’s fortunes; will it make no difference; or might a gaffe hurt the Lib Dems’ chances?

3. In 2010’s local elections in England – scheduled for 6 May – will the Lib Dems build on our 2006 performance (the last time the seats were contested), when we scored 25% of the vote to Labour’s 26%, and elected 909 councillors?

4. How will Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems respond in the event of a ‘hung Parliament’? Will we let the Tories (if they are the largest single party) form a minority administration but steer clear of a coalition; or will we attempt to enter into negotiations? Will any Lib Dem policies be implemented in 2010 as a result?

5. How will we respond to the new post-general election politics, with a likely Tory administration under Prime Minister David Cameron, and a new Labour leader replacing Gordon Brown? And how will the party step up our attempts to replace Labour by building the party’s capacity in areas where our potential outstrips our resources?

6. Will any of the party’s senior figures – within or without the Lib Dem shadow cabinet – take an official position offered by whoever forms the next government?

7. Will the party’s December 2010 poll ratings exceed the 19% recorded this year?

8. Will the Lib Dems maintain or even better their position in Scotland (12 MPs) and in Wales (4 MPs)?

9. What role will Ros Scott play in the inevitable post-general election inquest? Will she live up to her campaign pledge to be the voice of the membership, and be re-elected President of the Liberal Democrats unopposed; or will she face a challenge? And will the party’s membership increase in the next year?

10. Who will be crowned Lib Dem Blogger of the Year in 2010? Will the number and reach of Lib Dem blogs grow as a direct result of the general election? And will the internet prove decisive in any constituency election race, thanks to either brilliant campaigning or an embarrassing gaffe?

Have I missed any out? And how do you anticipate we might be answering these 10 questions in a year’s time?

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Martin Land 31st Dec '09 - 6:24pm

    1. A few losses to the Cons; gains from Labour. 55-65?
    2. He will do well. Hopefully he will show he is no media robot like Cameron and show he cares, losing uis rag once or twice.
    3. We will make good gains from Labour, and, perhaps surprisingly to many, from the Conservatives in their homelands.
    4. Let’s have the confidence to leave this to Nick.
    5. A very good question…
    6. If the party leadership is happy for them to do so.
    7. Yes.
    8. Scotland: No. Wales: Yes – or do even better!
    9. Ros Scott: Well if no one else challenges her, I will. Membership: up 10%.
    10. The gaffe is the most likely outcome.

  • 1. 48 seats (20 losses to the Tories and 5 gains from Labour) Percentage of the vote: 20%

    2. Well. He also will have been judged to have “won” at least one debate.

    3. I’ve no idea.

    4. I wouldn’t rule out either a limited Lib-Con “pact” (maybe with a royal commission into local government powers) or staying totally independent on the opposition benches. A formal coalition will just not happen, not after the first general election in 2010 anyway 😉

    5. The political battle-lines will be quickly drawn over the Tory’s emergency budget, with Nick building on his increased profile & credibility he has accumulated during the campaign, and Vince leading the charge in the Commons against “outrageous Tory cuts”. Labour will be in disarray and our poll ratings will rise at their expense.

    6. No, unless it’s a non-political post.

    7. Yes by around 4 points.

    8. Scotland and Wales will remain broadly the same, -/+ one or two.

    9. No idea.

    10. A major gaffe by at least one candidate will tip the balance in that seat.

  • 1. Few enough that people will be disappointed by the performance, unjustly given that we were theoretically on zero UNS seats two years ago. Labour seats will be resilient in cases where we aren’t a few points away, and some seats will suffer from thinner resources. I think around 50. Vote percentage will be above 20%, below 23%.

    2. Perform good. But Vince will get as much air time, so idiots familiar with Blair-style autocratic leadership will call him “passionate but weak”. Debate good, as long as he sets out clear turquoise water and turns it into Lib Dems v LabCon.

    3. Lib Dems 2nd. Labour 3rd. This will be the last strong performance for the Conservatives, unless the general election is later than 6 May, and by the same token, the last blow against a Labour party saddled with Brown or bereft of permanent leadership.

    4. They will support Conservatives in a minority administration, until the Osborne Budget, which the Parliamentary leadership will say it cannot support. Either that, or there will be major concessions to the Lib Dem side on tax progressivity, etc. There is no middle ground.

    5. Assuming here a workable majority for DC (this hung parliament talk is completely unjustified IMO). Lib Dems will use the fact that we have a visible leadership to try to lead opposition to Cam and the Camcepticons. It’ll work until Labour settles on an electable leader, but FPTP will prevent public popularity transforming into major medium-term electoral success. Resources are likely to be directed towards 10-15 seats lost to the blue tide, so we can take advantage of government unpopularity.

    6. No. Not because of any extraordinary loyalty on our side, but because the Montgomerie tendency would scream blue murder and ZANU-DC and SDP EUSSR sellouts.

    7. Yes, as the Labour leadership takes time to bed in, while the Conservatives are forced to implement unpopular policies.

    8. No; we will lose seats and votes in the regions.

    9. I’m not well-informed enough to speak of Scott. And membership will decline, but it will do the same in all parties (including UKIP/GPEW/BNP).

    10. I certainly hope blogs don’t grow during the election campaign! There are better uses of time than starting a blog in such heady days.

  • 1) Vote share up, number of seats slightly down — Labour would need to be doing significantly worse than they are to lose enough marginals.
    2) Very well. If the debates don’t get nixed by the Plaidies and the Scottish Nats, he’ll come out on top.
    3) No idea. I don’t live in England.
    4) I don’t see a hung parliament happening, but if it did, I suspect it would be 1974 all over again: the coalition talks would fail and there’d be a second election.
    5) No idea.
    6) No.
    7) Yes. The Tories are going to have tough decisions to make and Labour will be in disarray.
    8) Scotland: no idea. Wales, it’ll be four seats again, but not necessarily the same ones: Cardiff Central is rock solid; Montgomery should be, were it not for the incumbent MP doing his best to create a negative personal vote; I don’t believe the opinion polls on how marginal Brecon & Radnor is, but I could be wrong; and the student vote in Aberystwyth will be key as to which way Ceredigion goes (and this time Iraq’s less of an issue); but Swansea West and Newport East might be pick-ups.
    9) Hopefully she’ll keep her mouth shut. And membership should increase.
    10) Charlotte Gore. No, seriously: there’s my wild prediction for 2010 — she’ll be back. And I doubt the blogs will impact much on the election unless someone does something very stupid indeed and then takes out an injunction against the press.

  • 1. We’ll see slightly fewer MPs elected – around 55, with most of our gains from Labour and most of our losses to the Tories. Our share of the popular vote will be squeezed to under 20%.

    2. Nick will put in a credible but uninspiring performance as leader; the leaders’ debates will be good for us as a party, but not at this election. A gaffe is unlikely but not impossible.

    3. Not sure about the local elections. I suspect again we’ll be squeezed by the Tories, but not by much.

    4. I think Nick will realise that a formal coalition with either Labour or the Tories would be the fastest way to comprehensively destroy the Liberal Democrat party. I predict a minority Conservative administration followed by a second General Election in 2011 or 2012. The minority Government will avoid enacting Lib Dem policies as part of a campaign to make us seem politically irrelevant to the electorate.

    5. I think that the party will continue to neglect the importance of capacity building, concentrating instead on throwing everything at every by-election going. More local parties will become defunct.

    6. I hope no party senior figure would take an official position in Government, and can’t really see this happening.

    7. The party’s December 2010 poll ratings will be around 15%.

    8. The Lib Dems will lose MPs in Scotland, and stay steady in Wales but not improve.

    9. I’ve seen no evidence of the President attempting to be the voice of the membership to date, and have no reason to believe this will change. I hope she faces a challenge as president so I can vote against her again, but the recent stitching-up of the candidacy rules makes this unlikely.

    10. I think the General Election will demonstrate that grass-roots blogging is overrated as an campaign tactic, but will see more localised (either in terms of geography or subject) and semi-official group blogging. There will be a few blog-related scandals during the GE.

  • (1) It is difficult to assess the vulnerability of our existing seats (in 2005, Ashcroft money shifted votes in some, but not others). I think we will hold most of them, provided resources are used wisely, and regional organisers rather than local d***heads run the campaigns. I won’t say which I consider the ropiest to be, as I don’t want to give the enemy encouragement. And let’s not forget possible gains from the Tories – Eastbourne, Chelmsford, Guildford; St Albans as a longshot? From Labour, we might be looking at Islington South, Hampstead & Kilburn, Watford, Oxford East, Edinburgh South, Oldham East & Saddleworth, perhaps; with Liverpool Wavertree, Derby North, Bradford East, the Newcastles, Durham and Hull North as distant longshots. So I am relatively optimistic. Those Tory trolls who bombarded this site last summer with attacks on Lord Rennard did so because they knew that Rennard’s methodology remains crucial to our success. More fool those ingenues who believed them.

    (2) Clegg will do OK. He won’t crumble under pressure like Kennedy did. His command of policy is good, he doesn’t use irritating phrases like “in terms of” and I don’t think he will rile easily. I do worry about the professionalism of some of those around him, however (talking out loud on aeroplanes, etc).

    (3) We won’t advance as much as we would if there was no General Election on the same day.

    (4) Clegg must resist the temptation to listen to Cameron’s siren voice.

    (5) We continue to promote our own agenda. We don’t often win seats from Labour in areas where there is no existing infrastructure.

    (6) I sincerely hope none does.

    (7) Pass.

    (8) One extra in Scotland (Edinburgh South). I doubt if we will win anything else in Wales.

    (9) Ros Scott will follow the line of least resistance. You don’t expect her to have a public row with Clegg?

    (10) Maybe someone who hasn’t even started blogging yet.

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