Disaster for Labour as one in five desert the party

The anti-Lib Dem meme of choice on the opinion polls has been of voters deserting the party. Our opinion poll ratings are down compared to 6th May and it must be a disaster for the party which would, if many Labour activists’ fevered fantasies were to come true, disappear for good.

Except that idea’s looking more and more stretched.

The Independent runs a ComRes poll today showing the party’s poll rating up two percent to a very respectable 18%. If the poll is accurate, hundreds of thousands of voters have switched from the other parties to the Lib Dems in August – good news.

The dear old Indy thinks otherwise, of course, claiming that “four in ten Lib Dem voters would not vote for the party again”. There’s always a cloud to that silver lining, isn’t there.

Poll rating go up and down, and for the Lib Dems to be at 18% in ICM and ComRes, and seemingly rising in the polls during August – a time the party often slumps – is a good sign. 18% is a higher share of the vote than the party secured in 1992, 1997 or 2001 general elections.

Add that to the party’s good performance in local by-elections and the several thousand new members  and there’s every reason to feel positive.

That’s not to say the party wouldn’t like to be higher in the polls – of course it would – wouldn’t everyone?

Labour would surely like to win back the more than one-in-five former Labour voters who, if we follow the Independent’s logic, have abandoned the party since 1997 as their poll rating has crashed from 43.2% to a catastrophic 34%.

Luckily for them, that logic is faulty.  The claim of Labour losing all that support is accurate but tells us nothing useful about the party’s likely fortunes in the future.

Everything is not rosy for the Lib Dems. The party would like to be higher in the polls and is well aware of the need to carve out an independent identity within the Coalition and promote the many Lib Dem successes in Government.

But nor is there any disaster. 18% is a very reasonable place for the Lib Dems to be polling in ICM and ComRes polls in early September before the conference season and the other indicators are good.  The feeling on the doorstep and in the ballot box from real voters up and down the country is a lot more positive than Labour would like us to believe.

Nothing comes easy for the Lib Dems.  Not for us the safe seats for life and the people supporting the party simply because their grandparents did.  We’ve always had to campaign for every vote, deliver all those leaflets and knock on all those doors.

That hasn’t changed, and won’t change in the near future.  The old Lib Dem mantra “where we work, we win”  remains as true now as ever.

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47 Comments

  • Another thing to note is that 18% represents a rise of 3 points from the previous ComRes poll (2 points up from the last ComRes/Indie poll)… still, the media has their collective minds set on screwing with us.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 2:33pm

    “But nor is there any disaster. 18% is a very reasonable place for the Lib Dems to be polling in ICM and ComRes polls …”

    How one-sided can LDV’s propaganda get?

    A longish article on Lib Dem poll ratings, which manages not even to mention YouGov, currently showing the party at 13%, having had it at a 3-year low of 11% only a week ago…

  • Mike(The Labour one) 7th Sep '10 - 2:34pm

    What happened to the Lib Dem mantra that the polls mean nothing so far from an election?

    18% is good news, 11% on other polls isn’t news at all because when polls are low you decide they don’t mean anything.

  • @Iain
    I liked the upbeat theme of the article but make sure not to go too far. We will face a real struggle in May in many areas.In local government our progress is likely to slow. We need to plan accordingly for May and beyond. Listening to Danny Alexander this morning about the potential growth in private sector jobs he appeared to be indulging in wishful thinking. Let’s not all get into that mindset. We can take some hard knocks if we know where we are going longer term. Roll on the Conference.

  • I am one of those voters deserting the LibDems in the next election.

  • It’s interesting – 40% of Lib Dem voters deserted the party – that means 13% – yet local voting hasn’t shown that (unless it’s happened across the board). So that means new people are coming across – i’d hazard a guess but there were some `liberal conservative` voters who used to casually vote Tory `to keep out Labour` who thought the Lib Dems were a wasted vote now deciding to back the Lib Dems.

  • Chris Phillips 7th Sep '10 - 3:13pm

    For those of us who frequent the Politicalbetting.com website it is clear that not all opinion polls are created equal. ICM is generally recognised as the ‘Gold Standard’ although IPSOS/Mori did better at this election.
    There hasn’t been a recent IPSOS/Mori poll and the mid August ICM put the Libdems on ….. 18%.

  • John – good point!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 3:54pm

    “For those of us who frequent the Politicalbetting.com website it is clear that not all opinion polls are created equal. ICM is generally recognised as the ‘Gold Standard’ although IPSOS/Mori did better at this election.”

    I thought the running joke on politicalbetting.com was that whichever polling organisation produced the figures you wanted to hear was “the new Gold Standard” …

    Certainly there was precious little to choose between the figures published in early May by YouGov and ICM:
    YouGov (average of 5 polls): CON 34.8%; LAB 28.2%; LD 27.4%
    ICM (average of 2 polls): CON 34.5%; LAB 28%; LD 27%

  • Mike(The Labour one) 7th Sep '10 - 4:01pm

    @John: Or as I’ve said in other threads- Tory voters suddenly finding it worthwhile to vote tactically rather than genuinely switching allegiance. There was a thread on a Sheffield by-election which was portrayed as a great victory because the Lib Dem vote fell only slightly, while the Tory vote plummeted from 14% to 4%.

    Do you think it’s more likely that pre-election Lib Dems would vote Tory tactically to keep Labour out in great numbers? Maybe now that will be true, but I never got that impression before the election.

  • I think the Labour vote is bound to go up a bit, they are in opposition
    so some that had got fed up with them in government will return to them.

    I am firmly of the view that the Labour recovery will be patchy because
    where they are a poor 3rd people will continue to vote Lib Dem.

    There will also be a link between activity and voting.
    Where Lib Dems are still seen to me active in the local area
    we will still perform well.

  • Paul McKeown 7th Sep '10 - 4:49pm

    @Anthony Aloysius Saint

    Perhaps because YouGov rebased core vote for the Lib Dems down by three percent in mid May?

    When no other polling organisation did or has done?

    When YouGov uses a methodology that no other polling organisation does?

    Because YouGov’s polling numbers for the Lib Dems are uniqely lower than those of any other polling organisation?

    Because it’s YouGov versus every other polling organisation?

    Because they are perhaps wrong?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 4:56pm

    “AAS, but YouGov has since changed its methodology to include more identified Labour and fewer identified Lib Dem voters in their sample.”

    As I understand it, YouGov has changed its Labour party ID weighting by 0.5% and left the Lib Dem party ID weighting unchanged. They have also changed their sampling to eliminate over-representation of graduates, which they reckoned would reduce the Lib Dem rating slightly.

    Reading Anthony Wells’s discussion of these changes, it’s extremely difficult to believe they account for the difference between the Lib Dem ratings in YouGov and ICM polls.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 4:58pm

    “Perhaps because YouGov rebased core vote for the Lib Dems down by three percent in mid May?”

    Can you give me a source for that figure, please?

  • Paul McKeown 7th Sep '10 - 5:04pm

    Gordon Bennett, Anthony, can you not use Google, ffs?

  • Paul McKeown 7th Sep '10 - 5:07pm

    @AAS

    Try http://today.yougov.co.uk/commentaries/guest/anthony-wells-methodology-review which explains that identification for LDs was reduced to 12%. You can do the rest by looking for what they had it at pre-election, you can at least do half of the work for yourself.

  • Paul McKeown 7th Sep '10 - 5:15pm

    In fact AAS, taking the following excerpt from YG:

    Moving forward, we are weighting party ID to Conservative 28.5%, Labour 32.5%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 3% and none or don’t know 24%.

    It doesn’t take much thought to see that YG are probably wrong. At the last election, Cons got 36.1%, Lab got 29.0%, LDs got 23.0% and others 11.9%, which bears no relation to YG’s party ID weightings at all.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 5:42pm

    Paul

    “Gordon Bennett, Anthony, can you not use Google, ffs?

    Try http://today.yougov.co.uk/commentaries/guest/anthony-wells-methodology-review which explains that identification for LDs was reduced to 12%. You can do the rest by looking for what they had it at pre-election, you can at least do half of the work for yourself.”

    No, it doesn’t say the LD weighting was reduced to 12%. It simply says “Moving forward, we are weighting party ID to Conservative 28.5%, Labour 32.5%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 3% and none or don’t know 24%.”

    In a comment on his own blog, Anthony Wells wrote:
    “the old figures were LAB 32%, CON 26%, LDEM 12%, Oth 3%”

    That is why I wrote above that the Lib Dem weighting was unchanged, and why I asked you what was the source of your claim that “YouGov rebased core vote for the Lib Dems down by three percent in mid May.”

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 5:44pm

    Here is a link to Well’s discussion on his own blog, together with the comments, if it helps:
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2726?cp=all

  • Still clutching at straws eh? As so many of you don’t put any faith in polls which show you well down to 12% I suggest that you consider the Inter Party Parliamentary Staff Rounders Competition which I am told is an amazing predictor of electoral success, even better than a psychic octopus or crocodile. Try http://politicalscrapbook.net/
    item 5.

    Sadly, no joy for the Blue and Orange Tories there either. Most of the Orange Tories failed to turn up and the coalition was thrashed. Sounds like that 12% is accurate after all.

  • John Fraser 7th Sep '10 - 7:12pm

    A rediculous peice of party propaganda Iain based on one rogue opinion poll and an increasing paranoia that the centre left press are out to get us. Most of our so called victories in the coalition have been pyric ones . (Unless you are a ‘neo con’ Lib Dem member which I very much hope your not). The increas in personal allowances was paid for by cutting benafits to the unemployed . The very poor subidizing the slighly poor was hardly our manifesto aim ?

    Start pressing our saner members of the govenment to actually take a stand on some things. rather than constantly bleating that everything is really OK. I’ve been in the party for 25 years and I’ve never seen moral as bad as this .

  • A week is a long time in politics – but to clear up Labours mess we are going to get very unpopular. To all those Labour posters – we are were we are because of Labours mismanagement – you would do well to remember that.

  • John Fraser 7th Sep '10 - 7:23pm

    @Greenfield . You have to stop this ‘poor us’ mentality . Its all there fault etc etc . We will become unpopular because we are assisting the conservatives with a style of cuts that we campagned against we fought against and most of our party thing is strark staring mad.

  • @ Greenfield. “To all those Labour posters – we are were (sic) we are because of Labours mismanagement – you would do well to remember that.”

    No, we are where we are because of the banking crisis. The UK deficit before the banking crisis was only -2.1% of GDP. Some of the countries worst affected by the banking crisis were actually in surplus! The Orange Tories are at 12% in the polls because they have thrown in their lot with the Blue Tories who are determined to use the banking crisis and deficit reduction as the justification for destroying what remains of the State. That’s why Labour has gained nearly 28,000 new members since May 6th, a third of whom were Lib Dem supporters. You would do well to remember that!

  • Andrew Suffield 7th Sep '10 - 8:27pm

    We will become unpopular because we are assisting the conservatives with a style of cuts that we campagned against we fought against and most of our party thing is strark staring mad.

    And that’s why most of the party voted in favour of this, right. You’re no Lib Dem.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Sep '10 - 8:52pm

    “It’s also reflected in my own experience of members in London, where I’ve been round talking at quite a lot of local events in the last few months and whilst there is almost always one or two people in the room who feel very strongly hostile to the coalition, they’ve always been just that – one or two rather than many or most of the people in the room.”

    Hmm. I wonder just how likely the members who are most unhappy about the party’s direction will be to turn up to “local events” at the moment.

    As for the “very healthy renewal / rejoining rates for the party’s membership,” have these figures been made public? The only figures I’ve seen are the ones that were headlined as being “since the coalition agreement” but on closer examination turned out to include people who had joined during the election campaign …

  • @Anthony Aloysius St

    It seems that YouGov are, to the LibDems, and LDV in particular, what WWII is to the Germans. Unmentionable

  • Latest YouGov has it at 13%. Keep it up Nick!

  • The Labour Party needs to decide what it is for. Is it a centre-right, pro- big business, subservient to the Americans party, as it was under Blair/Mandelson and Brown/Mandelson? Or is it a party of the left?

    When I was in the Labour Party, almost all the activists favoured mass nationalisation, and many were supporters of the Soviet Union, while the leadership pursued a broadly social democratic line. Today, judging by the Labour trolls on this site, similar fractures are at work, though talk of nationalisation and Karl Marx has been replaced by a more wishy-washy anti-rich, pro- social justice rhetoric.

    Which is it to be?

    I ask, because I think the electorate needs to know. Unless Labour is hoping to win on the basis of what it is against rather than what it is for.

  • Joe Anderson 8th Sep '10 - 12:14am

    Sesenco:

    “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.”

  • John Fraser 8th Sep '10 - 7:23am

    @Andrew Suffield
    …..And that’s why most of the party voted in favour of this, right. You’re no Lib Dem…..

    Andrew if you disagree with a comment talk about the comment dont make spurious and untrue comments about the person. I have been a Liberal Democrat for 25 years and I am happy to use my full name on this forum Please now apologise or provide proof of my non membership as I would expect any other fellow party member to do when he is incorrect.

    My comments were clearly not about the merger vote but about support for the many of the merger policies that have emerged . I therefore cannot see how you comments about the merger vote apply.

  • John Fraser 8th Sep '10 - 8:08am

    @ Mark Pack.
    I made my observations on party moral . They are ofcourse base like yours subjectively on the people you mix with and talk to . I too have actually found a surprising (but possibly gradually diminishing) tolerance for accepting the coalition . I would think this is what is commonly known a party loyalty. (Which should not be taken for granted or abused).
    This however is in stark contrast to support for the coalitions key policy aims which is what I was referring to. Are you seriously saying that Libs Dems in your meetings have been in favour of the 80 percent bias of cuts towards public services, or towards the renewing of Trident (which conference committee sadly have deemed not to be worth debating this year) Our support for ‘Free Schools’ will at least be tested out at conference and that will give us some objective indication of where things stand.

    Membership is an interesting one because we are in a general election year it is tricky to know what will happen in the short or even medium term. It is possible that people will stay and fight their corner it is possible people will wait and see a little longer .It is possible that some may join the Labour party and some may dig their gardens. It is even possible we will stabilise our membership with a whole new influx of economic libertarians who see the party as ripe for a permanent shift to the right. (I dont realy fancy that final option mark as I am sure you dont either).

    A leadership who relies purely on existing member loyalty rather than listening to their concerns will and has resulted (in my opinion )inevitably in lower party moral. Decilining membership or possibly declining activity is something that will likely follow later.

    I was incorrect in one matter however . I incorrectly stated that I perceived party moral to be lower than in 25 years. This is perhaps not quite the case. I remember it as being lower about a year after the merger with the Social Democrats when we had (rediculously) changed our name to the ‘Democrats’ were virtually bankrupt and got about 5% in the European Elections and had virtually lost the parties identity. Paddy Ashdown thankfully became remarkably responsive to the situation listened to the membership and turned the party around from the brink.

    i think you might remeber those days as well Mark ? I really dont want to go back there though do you ?

  • @ Sesenco

    “The Labour Party needs to decide what it is for.”

    And the Liberal Democrat Party doesn’t?

  • @Sesenco

    …..wishy-washy anti-rich, pro- social justice rhetoric.

    Most people would associate that statement with the LibDems. With good cause.

  • Joe Anderson,

    What is “democratic socialism”? And do Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson believe in it?

  • David Allen 8th Sep '10 - 7:12pm

    It’s worth pointing out the sea change that has come over our professional loyalist propagandists since the election. Before the election, reporting of polling trends was reasonably objective, presumably because most LDV readers genuinely wanted to know how we were doing, and party policy was to talk turkey to them. Whereas nowadays, our poll ratings appear to be falling, and party policy seems to be to conceal and obscure these facts from its own activists.

    Conversely, before the election, our loyalist propagandists strained every sinew to identify massive differences between Cleggism and Toryism, and to vilify those who could not see such differences. Now, our propagandists strain every sinew to explain how little it matters when our policies become identical to Toryism, and to vilify those who cannot accept such a view!

    We have always patted ourselves on the back for the quality of free and open debate, and honest disagreement, that is allowed within our party. So different from the others with their stage-managed conferences, etcetera etcetera! Well, it used to be a valid claim. It isn’t any more. Frankly, we now lag behind our opponents. Granted that Labour’s Stalinists are at least as keen to suppress open internal party debate as our own professional loyalists are, they are less successful in doing so. Granted that Tories are not natural winners in the competition for open-mindedness and radical free-thinking, they easily beat us for honest acknowledgement when they make mistakes.

    We used to attract idealists. Nowadays I suspect our public appeal is to those who would like to vote for selfishness, but (unlike the Tories) with a veneer of moral sanctity, so that they don’t feel too bad about themselves for doing it!

  • John Fraser 9th Sep '10 - 7:34am

    @ Dave Allen.

    Couldnt’t agree more . Every time somebody comes out with something like this they are accused of being a whinging minority by some (though not all) of who oppose them . Or in my case (see earlier postings) accused of not being in the party at all.

    Genuinely interested in what your experience has been . whether your local party also shares some of your doubts. whether they are being quiet for now becuase of Party loyalty etc.

    Look forward to a further post from you.

    John Fraser

  • coldcomfort 9th Sep '10 - 12:20pm

    Joe Anderson says: “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.” What sort of fantasy land is he living in? This may be what Labour OUGHT to be about but the record of the last 13yrs supports none of it. By all accounts even Thatcher was gobsmacked at what Blair/Brown were getting away with. If Labour elects Dianne Abbott as Leader it might just be a place for unhappy LibDems to go but actually we are better off where we are and using our energies to make sure that Nick & Co don’t get intoxicated by power to the extent that they forget what they are supposed to be fighting for.

  • David Allen 9th Sep '10 - 12:38pm

    @ John Fraser,

    Good question. Well, looking at our local constituency activists, we have one (and I’m not counting myself!) who has given up all but party membership in disgust. We have one who feels similarly, but is not keen to broadcast that view, because of the potential hassle it might cause. On the other side, we do also have a few people who are angry that members should express any form of dissent that might undermine the coalition. However, I don’t think I know anybody locally who is an out-and-out Orange Book zealot, I am inclined to think most of those only live in blogland!

    In the middle, we have a majority of our people, who are carrying on as active campaigners, but with a range of slightly to seriously queasy feelings. Probably the commonest view is that the coalition had to be made, but that we are giving the Tories too much free rein, and we need to redress the balance and speak up for ourselves more effectively. That is a viewpoint I completely respect. I wait to see how attitudes will evolve over the months and years if, as I expect, Clegg will just continue to swallow everything the Tories ask for without a hint of real dissent.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Sep '10 - 10:52pm

    John Fraser’s view that most Lib Dem members don’t support the key coalition policy on cutting the deficit appears to be vindicated by a YouGov poll of party members, which found only 29% approval of the government’s plans, as against 28% who feel borrowing will be cut too fast, and another 35% who are happy with the pace but want larger rises in taxation and smaller cuts in spending:
    http://www.today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Archives-Pol-YouGov-LibDems-14092010.pdf

    It’s seems Mark Pack isn’t picking up an entirely accurate picture from the members he happens to bump into after all …

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