Professor John Curtice: Revoke policy did not hurt Lib Dem popularity in election campaign

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The latest excellent edition of the Journal of Liberal History deserves this extra plug.

Professor John Curtice’s nine page study of the Liberal Democrat performance in the 2019 general election is a must-read.

You can subscribe to the Journal of Liberal History here.

As one might expect, it is thoroughly based on comprehensive psephological data and the article has a long list of bibliographical references.

Prof Curtice’s basic conclusions, with my blunt paraphrasing, are:

  • Backing an early election “backfired spectacularly” on the Lib Dems
  • The party’s increase in support in 2019 (climaxing with the Euro elections in June) consisted of Remain voters
  • Labour shifted its Brexit stance after the Euro elections and this attracted remain voters back to Labour
  • “It is far from clear” that the Revoke policy was “viewed unfavourably by” pro-Remain voters
  • The general election campaign itself did not go well – “one of the least successful” in the history of the party
  • The cause of the reduction in the party’s popularity during the campaign was the erosion in the remain vote – 31% in July, 29% in November, 20% on polling day
  • The chief cause of this erosion were Labour remain voters returning to the fold of Labour
  • The Lib Dems did not gain any benefit from tactical voting or the Remain Alliance
  • Our leader was unpopular
  • “In practice the Liberal Democrats proved ineffective at communicating to voters anything beyond the party’s stance on Brexit. The party’s domestic programme was not so much unpopular as largely unknown”
  • Labour and the Tories did manage to communicate their domestic policies beyond the Brexit issue

That’s it, really.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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58 Comments

  • Julian Tisi 7th Feb '20 - 11:03am

    This is a rather superficial analysis IMO. There are a couple of problems even with this though:

    1. “Revoke” was apparently not viewed unfavourably, yet a) remain votes went back to Labour, b) the party’s increase in support in 2019 came from remain voters, c) during the campaign there was an erosion in the remain vote (to 20% on polling day). I suspect these can be combined – certainly on the doorstep, leave voters were utterly turned off by Revoke, whereas it was far from impossible to sell a confirmatory vote, even to a leaver. “Is this what you voted for? Do you believe you should have the final say?”. Whereas many remain voters believed that we couldn’t simply cast aside the referendum result and were turned away from us for that reason. In other words… yes, Revoke damaged our vote.

    2. Backing an early election “backfired spectacularly” on the Lib Dems. Well yes, but did we have a choice? Could we have realistically prevented a GE once the SNP were backing one in a way that would circumvent the Parliament Act (i.e. a 2/3 majority would not be required). Once it was clear a majority for a GE was in place it was a choice of backing it publicly or going into the election pleading for one not to take place. I suspect the latter wouldn’t have worked.

    3. “Labour and the Tories did manage to communicate their domestic policies beyond the Brexit issue” Completely agree. It’s a perrenial problem and it comes down to how we see and position ourselves and our distinctiveness.

  • nigel hunter 7th Feb '20 - 11:19am

    Julian. I have passed more or less the same comment on your no3 to Mark Pack president Equally. Why was Jo unpopular? Not in the position long enough etc? A good leader who comes across well is needed.

  • Graham Jeffs 7th Feb '20 - 11:34am

    Hmm. Far from convinced by “it is far from clear that the revoke policy was viewed unfavourably by remain voters”. In other words he found no statistical clarity based on the questions being asked.

    It wasn’t just the Revoke strategy in isolation – it’s more nuanced than that. It was easier to portray the party as ant-democratic and led by a delusional leader. From my experience with voters during the GE, some of the Remain voters thought we were so daft that they probably weren’t going to vote at all and certainly there were others whose enthusiasm for the cause was not bolstered by this approach.

    If you end up with a leader people don’t like, then I suspect for many people that over-rides the validity of one’s policies. Let’s be careful not to ascribe our logic to others.

  • Iain Sharpe 7th Feb '20 - 11:44am

    One hesitates to disagree with Sir John Curtice in analysing election results, but it is quite possible that while ‘“It is far from clear” that the Revoke policy was “viewed unfavourably by” pro-Remain voters’ , it was nonetheless electorally damaging.

    Admittedly this is anecdotal evidence from my own canvassing and feedback from colleagues, but for me there were three problems with the Revoke policy.

    1. Even for Remainers who agreed with Revoke, it wasn’t enough to make the difference between voting for us and not. Many seemed quite happy with Labour’s new referendum policy and were happy to back that. Where Remainers were backing us it seemed to me more due to our general record of being more committed than Labour to Remain, not because of the Revoke policy itself.

    2. By contrast for Remain voters who didn’t support Revoke, it was a deal breaker. People felt it undemocratic and wrong to override the referendum result without another referendum and thus felt unable to vote for us.

    3. It closed the door on picking up even a sliver of Leave voters on issues other than Brexit. In backing a People’s Vote we could at least make the offer to Leavers who liked their Lib Dem MP/candidate/local team ‘Well vote to elect a great local MP and then if you wish Vote Leave in the Referendum if there is one.’ Revoke meant that for example a Leave voter in Carshalton and Wallington who thought Tom Brake was a terrific MP couldn’t vote for him because this would mean definitively voting to scrap Brexit.

  • David Becket 7th Feb '20 - 11:45am

    Why was Jo unpopular?
    She was very strident.
    She rode a one trick pony.
    She was presented presidential style
    She never looked like becoming PM, in spite of claims.
    She was easily diverted into secondary issues, e.g gender issues
    She showed little humour.

    All of this could have been avoided had she had good advice from her team, after all she was pushed in at the deep end.

    This is another confirmation that the campaign team let us down again.

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '20 - 11:50am

    You’ve still got to ask yourselves why all your English seats are in the top decile of economic prosperity. You are nowhere near to reconnecting with your erstwhile working class support – such as you would have had at one time in the West country.

  • Paul Holmes 7th Feb '20 - 11:50am

    Paul, your headline “Revoke policy did not hurt Lib Dem popularity in the election campaign” is not quite the same as the summary lower down “It is far from clear that…….”

    When John Curtice’s talk at the National Liberal Club was discussed here recently it was pointed out that what he actually said there, was that ‘Opinion Surveys at the start of the election campaign did not show Revoke putting Remain voters off’. But at the start of the campaign the very recently adopted Revoke policy would be relatively little known among most voters -it had after all taken 3 years to get the Lib Dems identified with a Second Referendum in public perception.

    What was the effect of the intense campaign period itself when we mainlined on Revoke, Revoke, Revoke and media, social media and our opponents campaigns all attacked us over Revoke? The Ashcroft survey of 13,000 people who voted on Polling Day itself had over half saying they had made their mind up ‘during the campaign’ and 16% saying they ‘decided on the day’. Another Poll of 4,000 people on 3rd Dec, found that around a week before polling day Revoke was the only widely recognised LD policy with 66% identifying it.

    Clearly something caused us fall from 20% in the Polls to 11.4% on election day itself. Although as your summary of Curtice’s article in the Journal of Liberal History suggests more or less everything went wrong with our campaign so there is plenty to choose from.

  • Paul Murray 7th Feb '20 - 12:09pm

    At the start of the general election campaign, Jo Swinson said she would cancel Brexit “on day one” of a Lib Dem government. Given that the party’s campaign seemed to consist of little more than repeating this mantra, even those who are politically engaged would have been left wondering what such a government would then have done for the remaining 4 years and 364 days.

  • Innocent Bystander 7th Feb '20 - 12:36pm

    I actually agree with the Prof. Many LibDems claim Revoke was the killer mistake but I believe that is emotional cover for a general failure to engage the public with a narrative that resonated.. What was supposed to happen without the Revoke policy? 100+ seats, Jo in No. 10?
    “It was Revoke wot dunnit !” is a hiding place.
    I loved Jo, but her only fault was that she did not leave the killer sound bite and left only long and very reasonable arguments. Very correct but without impact.
    The election got the British out of a very ugly hole and like it or not we have something we can deal with and are free from the rudderless phase before. If Jo caused the ending of this uncertainty then my admiration for her is even greater and her self sacrifice is an example to all politicians.

  • Idly googling looking for a Ronald Regan quote and I ran across this.
    The Alt-Right Playbook: Never Play Defense (“If you’re explaining, you’re losing”, and liberals want to explain)

    There is more than a hint of truth in this, so stop being “nice” and start playing offensively. But, but we can explain in a nice way and people will listen. Err no you can’t and no they won’t.

  • Paul Barker 7th Feb '20 - 1:51pm

    The problem with all this Analysis is that it begins by asking the wrong question. Instead of asking why our support fell from 20% to 12% we should ask why it went up from 8% in early May to 20% in October.
    The answer of course is that we got a boost because of our unexpected (by the Voters) good results in The Local Elections & then The Euros.
    Our Long-Term problem is not that we dont have a bloc of Voters who like us, the bloc isnt big enough but its there; the problem is that “Our” Voters think that we are a wasted Vote. In May Voters saw us winning & that shifted their view of our chances. This sort of boost has happened before & will happen again but its always temporary. As the reason for the boost recedes into the past all the usual pressures on our Voters resume & our support falls away.
    All the evidence suggests that our Long-Term recovery can only be slow, We were thrown by the illusion of a temporary boost into hoping for too much.
    Right now we are averaging around 10% in the Polls, after the 2017 Election we went down to averaging 6%, its painfully slow but its solid improvement.

  • Peter Watson 7th Feb '20 - 2:03pm

    @Paul Murray “Given that the party’s campaign seemed to consist of little more than repeating this mantra…”
    I think that this in particular was definitely a problem.
    Even when other policy areas were discussed, the Lib Dem contribution always seemed to begin with an explanation about stopping Brexit and the Remain bonus which ate into the time available to talk about those other policies.
    Going into the election, voters knew that Lib Dems opposed Brexit. By the end of it, voters still did not know much more than that!

  • Graham Jeffs 7th Feb '20 - 2:24pm

    Fascinating.

    I apologise for my previous contribution being so anodyne that you haven’t published it, albeit subsequent contributors have been saying much the same thing.[Iain Sharpe, David Becket, Paul Holmes].

  • The voters expected politicians to honour the referendum result and were angry and shocked when some did not. The calls for another referendum were disliked for several reasons. The EU was heavily criticised each time it got member states to re-run referenda and people here were determined not to allow that.

    Furthermore, it was obvious to everyone that Remainers wanted to re-run the vote because they didn’t like the result of the first one. Why should they be allowed to do that? Even Remainers realised the unpopularity of their case by trying to pretend it was not simply an attempt to reverse the first result, hence the use of names like “people’s vote” and “confirmatory vote” but the majority were not fooled.

    Re-Running the referendum to give Remainers another shot at it was never going to be a popular policy which was why the Conservative rebels eventually got kicked out of the party and out of parliament. Labour was split on the idea right up until the election forced them to adopt a fantasy fudge policy that made no sense.

    This party was always on the unpopular side of the argument and Revoke was the ultimate rejection of the democratic vote. I think that people found it shocking, bizarre, mad, but in its pragmatic way, the public ignored it as some sort of aberration. I have no doubt that it will have caused some lasting damage, except, of course, with some people here who saw nothing wrong with the policy and still don’t.

  • There is a key point which needs to be considered. We rely on volunteers more than the two larger parties. So enthusiasm of our members is key. When faced with revoke what did our activists think? What difference did it make to their enthusiast to work for the party?
    Hint – to find out asked them! If this is done as part of a regular means of trying to find out their opinions and providing feedback, then that in itself would help to build enthusiasm.

  • The electorate were told plenty about what Jo Swinson wouldn’t do i.e. work with other opposition parties and still continuing with the fantasy of a LibDem majority long after even winning 20+ seats was a folorn hope.
    The whole LibDem strategy, from unnecessarily backing Boris Johnson’s december election, was a disaster in which the ‘revoke’ policy was ‘just another brick in the wall’ between this party and the electorate..

  • from an ordinary person’s perspective:
    1. Revoke was a PR disaster because it used up so much airtime trying to defend it. (was the party media plan to put it on the defensive and waste its limited airtime from the start?)
    2. Revoke was a PR disaster because there appeared to be no defence of it other than it was unlikely to happen anyway because the Lib Dems were not going to win!
    3. Revoke was a PR disaster because by its very nature it was a very top-down corporatist stance rather than liberal or democratic.
    4. “Out-remaining” Labour’s shift in policy required a more, not less, democratic response such as a Citizens’ Assembly to hear evidence from politicians, experts, business, and communities on an equal footing and then determine the questions, voting method and prospectus. (i.e what should have been the case in 2016 once direct democracy was considered to avoid it being taken over by rich media tycoons, foreign interests and gaslighting divide-and-rule politicians.)
    5. admitting the Lib Dem’s failings in Coalition was progress but not being able to name Lib Dem wins, and Lib Dem blocking and not joining the dots how Johnson and his cabal was rather more right wing than Cameron, was amateur hour. Labour voters skipping the Lib Dems to vote for a right wing Tory was extraordinary!!
    6. the 1% on tax for the NHS was not necessarily bad but not then distinguishing that as backing up NHS spending commitment compared to the apparent lies of others in funding, was another own goal.
    7. A third party knowing it doesn’t get much publicity beyond its leader, need not reinforce that by putting that leader on the side of a bus alone. So a leader in front, not a leader alone would have been the sensible presentation.
    Overall, the failing was not to attracting voters apathetic to Labour in addition to retaining those apathetic to the Tories by adding real steel to their spines.

  • The public like simple messages and you don’t get similar than ” Get Brexit done” after all who would not want the end of the Brexit agony. The failure of the Lib Dems is they could not convince the public Depeffle couldn’t actually get Brexit done by just leaving. That now must of the public are starting to wake up to that fact is sad and too late, but at least most now don’t believe Brexit is done.

    The poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for Evening Standard after Brexit day on January 31st, found that only 15% thought he had ‘completely’ fulfilled his pledge before the election to get Brexit done.

    https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/boris-johnson-brexit-ipsos-mori-polling-1-6503452

    Now many other think he has made a good start, but as phase II of Brexit drags on I’d be intrested to see how long they stay optimistic. Reality is hard and delusion is much, much more appealing, but no matter how deep the delusion reality will win through often at a high and regretfully far to often a terminal cost; but there is I’m afraid no stopping it.

  • frankie 7th Feb ’20 – 9:56pm………..The public like simple messages and you don’t get similar than ” Get Brexit done” after all who would not want the end of the Brexit agony. The failure of the Lib Dems is they could not convince the public Depeffle couldn’t actually get Brexit done by just leaving. That now must of the public are starting to wake up to that fact is sad and too late, but at least most now don’t believe Brexit is done. The poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for Evening Standard after Brexit day on January 31st, found that only 15% thought he had ‘completely’ fulfilled his pledge before the election to get Brexit done…………..

    As you say, “It’s too late”…. That emphasises the foolishness (actally, far beyond foolish) to support Boris Johnson’s december election.
    His ‘die in a ditch’ october promise should’ve been a focus of attack as January came, without an election, and another deadline loomed. Instead this party’s leadership gave him his ‘get brexit done’ slogan.

    BTW…It seems that, like PotUS, Boris Johnson is turning the position into a family business. Usually the hallmark of a ‘banana republic’ and never a good sign for a democracy…

  • Johnny McDermott 8th Feb '20 - 9:58am

    Incredible that this is the headline drawn from such a list of painful, mostly self-inflicted errors. You don’t think: “Our Leader was unpopular” deserves more attention? Or “the election gamble backfired spectacularly”? We need to get honest with ourselves and take off the kid gloves or we will repeat our poor choices – members included.

    Did we have a choice, the first response asks? Yes. It came before the election. To work with our opponents in the national interest and encourage others to do so, or not. Our leader chose not to; though to be fair, she probably did represent a majority of our own thinking re political division. If she was a poor leader, we were poor members.

    As for revoke? It was just the last of a series of poor judgments, but probably not as fatal to a movement bolstered by Remainers as refusing to work with all the groups to “do whatever it takes” to Stop Brexit.

  • Steve Comer 8th Feb '20 - 11:40am

    The John Curtice analysis is very thorough on the polling and the psephology, as you would expect from him. Objective facts are always worth considering before jumping to conclusions.

    However to get a fuller understanding of the political background I would suggest everyone reads the excellent articles on the GE by Simon Hughes and Nick Harvey in the latest Liberator. The collective are to be commended for publishing these on the website so all can read them: https://liberatormagazine.org.uk/en/

  • David Evershed 8th Feb '20 - 12:07pm

    During the election campaign Jo Swinson appeared on Women’s Hour, Radio Four.

    The bulk of the questioning was why the Lib Dems had a policy which allowed men into women’s refuges and women’s toilets.

    Jo Swinson had no credible answer.

  • Wow, this is really insightful.

    The comments, I mean.

    So many people are not actually taking on board what one of the nation’s foremost experts on elections is saying, and just writing what they want to be true.

    Revoke is bad because it is bad. John Curtice must be wrong, so the comments say, because it doesn’t agree with the prevailing wisdom.

    How about we, you know, listen to and read what experts tell us?

  • But there is a sense of centrism belatedly coming to terms with today’s ever more unequal and unsustainable world. Rather than the gradualism and weak compromises with the powerful which centrists previously favoured, perhaps they don’t have to accept quite so much of the status quo.

    A similar seam of new thinking ran, almost unnoticed, through last year’s Liberal Democrat manifesto. While the rest of its election campaign positioned the party as an alternative to “extremist” Labour – largely to the Tories’ benefit – the manifesto was much less traditionally centrist. It proposed a more active role for the state and showed less reverence for the free market than the Lib Dems have had for decades. After a string of disastrous middle-of-the-road leaders, it’s possible the party is becoming more adventurous again.
    It’s harder to envisage that happening to the few remaining Tory centrists.

    Guardian 8/2/’20

  • What William said

  • @William: To be fair, the title is pretty editorialised, which I think has led to a pretty oppositional response. “Revoke policy did not hurt Lib Dem popularity in election campaign” is not the same as ““It is far from clear” that the Revoke policy was “viewed unfavourably by” pro-Remain voters”.

  • Anyone who suggests Revoke wasn’t a problem didn’t speak to real voters during the campaign.

    Revoke appealed to diehard remainers, who were already our supporters, whilst repelling many soft Tories who we were relying upon in target seats. The Revoke stance didn’t attract any new support and undermined our generation-long critique of our flawed voting system as a legitimate basis to decide any national issue.

    The spectacle of LibDems calling for electoral reform in the weeks following the 2019 HE, having happily advocated a majority under that voting system as sufficient to overturn a national referendum, sickened even me, a dedicated remainer and lifelong critic of FPTP.

    The truth is that our risible 2019 campaign destroyed any chance we might have had of capitalising on the circumstances in which the election was called. A whole series of strategic and tactical mistakes were made that were quite obvious at the time; even a ten year old child could have spotted where we were going wrong.

  • Nom de Plume 8th Feb '20 - 2:12pm

    The early election did not backfire spectacularly on the Lib Dems. It was disappointing. Twelve seats to eleven with an increase in vote share. Tory and Labour voters remained tribal, except for Leave voting Labour voters who were prepared to vote Tory. Labour’s position on Brexit was always shifty. The result is Brexit.

  • Paul Barker 8th Feb '20 - 4:06pm

    I remember during the 2010 Campaign meeting an astonishing level of hostility because of our Immigration Policy but I doubt it lost us any potential Votes. We have to distinguish between things that really piss off Voters who are never going to vote for us at a General Election & things that matter to our potential Voters.
    Being on the receiving end of anger isnt nice but it doesnt neccesarily matter.
    One of our deepest problems is our excessive desire to be liked.

  • John Curtice is excellent at analysing voting data and formulating predictions but I have no reason to believe that he has special skills in interpreting what the voters thought about particular policies.

    There is absolutely no doubt that Revoke was a bad idea. Calls for a second referendum were bad enough because they gave the message: “We lost the referendum but we don’t like the result so we demand another vote.”

    Revoke sent the message: “Over 17.4 million people voted to leave but we don’t care. We are going to reject that result so forget A50.”

    As I repeatedly pointed out before the election, upsetting more than half of the electorate as an election policy was never going to be a good start.

    Who came up with the policy? It shows characteristics that the party may wish to avoid in the future.

  • Peter Watson 8th Feb '20 - 8:32pm

    @Peter “John Curtice is excellent at analysing voting data and formulating predictions”
    Hmmmmmmm. Maybe, maybe not. 😉
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/professor-john-curtice-predicts-record-number-of-mps-for-parties-other-than-the-tories-and-labour-62469.html

  • Peter: “As I repeatedly pointed out before the election, upsetting more than half of the electorate as an election policy was never going to be a good start.”
    This argument is a false one. It assumes that this was the only election in which we ever alienated a large group of voters. That’s not true. We do it all the time, and so do the other parties. A sensible election strategy means that you set out what you believe, and doing that will always alienate a huge chunk of voters who do not agree, so what you do is factor that in and go out instead to get the votes of the rest. I’m sorry if this comes as a shock to anyone but it’s election campaigning 101. There are always voters we’re not going to get, and in our case that has always included the absolute died-in-the-wool supporters of the Tory, Labour and Nationalist parties – and also the hardened “never voters”, which if you think about it makes up more than 50% in any election. In this election, we were a pro EU party and we believed the referendum was corrupt, so we stood proudly for those ideals, and we were right to do so.
    Now, I happen to believe that Revoke was a bad idea. But the Peoples Vote was a very good idea, and I believe we should have stuck with it. That said, I also believe that if we are to learn the right lessons from this election we should keep calm and consider the real data and arguments of the experts, like John Curtice, and not just rubbish him because his conclusions don’t happen to agree with our own pet theories.

  • David Evans 8th Feb '20 - 9:23pm

    Nom de Plume – Except we went into the election with 21 MPs not 12, and we went into the election on 19% and came out on less than 12%.

    We had spent two years building on Tory incompetence in negotiations with the EU, and supporting a People’s Vote. Then our leader lost her nerve, went for broke and blew it all away. It’s no use blaming Labour for our leader’s many mistakes.

  • Well, revoke might not have damaged the vote, but it didn’t exactly set it alight!

  • @Ross – I can’t argue with any of that. To take one example, you believe that the referendum was corrupt. I don’t agree, but you are entitled to your opinion.

    I think that you accept from what you say that you also accept getting low results in the polls as a result of your minority views. All of that is understandable but your party colleagues got the same low results in a string of elections and hope to do better in the future.

    There is a message here somewhere….

  • In many seats the Lib Dem vote surged such as up 25% in Hitchin and Harpenden compared to 2017GE. Unfortunately such surges failed to deliver seats, the reason: Lib Dems not finishing in close second places in 2017. In my opinion this was a biggest reason behind the underperformance in seat numbers.

  • moredatalesscenter 9th Feb '20 - 8:22am

    Revoke was LD policy voted for by members at the last conference

  • David Evans 9th Feb '20 - 9:55am

    Martin is right. The capitulation by the Brexit Party was a major short term factor after Nigel Farage decided to ditch his previous statements and surrender. However, my view is that that decision was merely an acceptance of the fact that whenever it comes to a General Election, almost all UKIP/Brexit voters return to the Conservatives.

    What it doesn’t explain is why our vote collapsed. That was down to our leaders.

  • Speaking of ‘experts’… back in October when the 100+ seat idea was rife these are an example of posters who disagreed….

    David Allen 29th Oct ’19 – 11:48pm….. Curtice’s prediction only implies that he thinks Lib Dems will win at least 29 seats. Nothing like enough to make the “Jo Swinson, our next PM” boast sound credible. Nothing like enough to stop Brexit, except in concert with Labour and the SNP. Oh wait, the Lib Dems have strained heaven and earth to put distance between themselves and Labour, by rejecting Labour’s referendum policy. So no chance there. Boris doesn’t deserve to win. But his opponents don’t deserve to beat him.
    Jayne Mansfield 30th Oct ’19 – 7:28am…………I would lay a bet that Farage will form some sort of pact in some constituencies to get Brexit over the line.
    Farage is a clever politician who realises that to achieve his aim to leave the EU, one does not fragment the leave vote if the result would be that a remain MP benefits. There is and never has been any doubt as to what it is that he hopes to achieve and what he is prepared to do to achieve it………….

    Hmmmm..A couple of posters whose ‘horseracing tip’ I’d follow

  • Expats,

    “I suspect that people will gradually wake up to the absurdity of Brexit as it begins to affect them in different ways. But by then it will be too late.”

    Is the final paragraph of Keegan’s latest article https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/09/brexit-crisis-not-opportunity-see-that-too-late

    The sad fact is you can warn people that fire burns but they won’t believe you and when they do indeed badly burn yourselves it will be someone elses fault. The problem many liberals have is the don’t want to be “nasty” they want to be “nice”, so rather than saying ” You bloody idiot, fire burns” they say ” There, there anyone could make that mistake”. I would advise going forward you don’t tell our Brexi’s and Lexi’s ” Any one could have made that mistake” let them live with their responsibilities; it is time they grew up.

  • Endless parliamentary tantrums were successful at causing government paralyses but showed no sign of finding a way forward. Public frustration and anger were dangerously high. The country was an international laughing stock, its historic democratic traditions trashed.

    When the election did eventually take place the people made sure the result was crystal clear. Labour and the Lib Dems were punished. It is as simple as that.

  • Peter of the people,
    Going forward your only excuse is to blame the EU. You have no other excuses. Going forward, you have the Brexit you wanted, you have the government you voted for, all responsiblity is yours and you will make a mess of it. Responsiblity is something you and your ilk will struggle with, it was always someone elses fault, but now it is yours; bless just bless.

  • I have seen a number of conservative trolling comments here since Vince became leader.

  • @frankie – much depends on whether the EU is vindictive and determined to punish the UK or whether it is keen to maximise free trade and cooperation. Demanding full submission to EU regulation, full fishing rights and imposing the jurisdiction of the ECJ as conditions for starting trade talks would not be a good way of developing our new relationship.

    However, regardless of what the EU does, the UK can now determine her own course of action and I have every confidence that we shall become a successful, independent trading nation. I’m sorry that you take such a pessimistic view of our country.

  • Peter of the People,
    Didn’t take you long to fall back on the ” Tis the nasty EU’s fault”. No my dear Peter of the People, tis you who wanted to leave, tis you who wanted to be free; now decisions have consequences and blaming others for the consequences might make you feel better but it won’t alter the consequences. We are poor because of the EU or we are poor because we made a terrible decision, doesn’t matter to those being thrust into poverty. We may thrive I hear you say, perhap’s Peter of the People but only if those who wanted Brexit put their shoulder to the wheel and push; alas all you and the rest of our Brexi’s and Lexi’s appear to do is sit typing victory messages and failing to even attempt to push for an economic victory. Work hard or be remembered as a failure; such responsiblity must be daunting, bless just bless.

  • David Evans 9th Feb '20 - 1:35pm

    Peter, It’s not that any of us have a low opinion of our country. It’s the Conservative’s we have a very low opinion of.

  • David, the parliamentary fiasco that I’ve mentioned several times infuriated the public so much that the determination to get Brexit done surpassed every other consideration. Those who disliked Johnson and his party, even those who voted to Remain, felt that more than enough damage had been inflicted on our country and democracy. It was time to honour what the people voted for and get on with it.

    Contrast that with the Labour Party manifesto which would open up the whole subject again then campaign against whatever deal they achieved then hold another referendum. This process would take more than a year of further uncertainty.

    Contrast it with the Lib Dem Revoke policy which had no chance of ever being implemented or accepted.

    The people voted Tory because the other options were worse and continuing with the parliamentary fiasco was simply not acceptable.

    So who was to blame for all of that? Each party contributed to the mess including the Conservatives under the incompetent stewardship of Mrs May.

  • David Evans 9th Feb '20 - 2:18pm

    Peter, You make an interesting series of points, but tell me, Do you remember how many times Boris Johnson voted against Theresa May in parliament and how many votes he lost in parliament after he became PM?

    I’m sure a lot of people believed it would be better once the Conservatives were elected under Mr Johnson, but sadly they will find, but not necessarily want to accept, that Mrs May’s incompetent stewardship (as you choose to put it) was astonishingly sensible if mediocre in comparison to Mr Johnson’s bluff and bluster.

  • @Peter – much depends on whether the EU is vindictive and determined to punish the UK or whether it is keen to maximise free trade and cooperation.
    Still not understanding the loss-loss game being played by the Brexiteers. It doesn’t matter what the EU does or doesn’t do, or even what Boris negotiates (as T.May demonstrated!), if it doesn’t give the Brexiteers all the concessions they want – and the most basic of real world logic tells you it can’t, the Brexiteers – just like spoilt children, will complain that the EU is being vindictive or punishing the UK.

    Looking at the current uproar in the Conservative party over Boris’s sensible decision on Huawei, it does look like they won’t be happy until the entire country is in ruins around them…

  • Gentlemen, I’m not here to defend Johnson. I do support leaving the EU and I’m happy to debate that at any time, though after three years the arguments become a bit tedious.

  • Peter Farrell-Vinay 9th Feb '20 - 8:06pm

    Superficial? Curtice?
    Wake up. We voted in the wrong leader. She made catastrophic mistakes in pushing for the election Johnson wanted and then living so deep in her goldfish bowl that she (and many other LDs) would not see how deeply Revoking would upset the uncommitted. We had a jolly mélange of policies which no-one outside our bubble believed in.
    Why did we do so well in the Local and EU elections? No-one terribly cared. There was no threat.
    What do we do now? Go back to 1910 and remember L-G , ‘big-loaf, little loaf’. People were suffering then as they will be by 2024. We need to establish a narrative that the sufferings are induced 1. by the Tories and 2. by Leaving. We need to encapsulate the job losses, the misery and Tory unconcern such that we can refer to them in the next election campaign and have as many people as possible remember that the memes and tropes were Lib-Dem-inspired, and that Lib-Dems had an answer then and still have that answer at election time.

    Then we can watch Labour steal all our best lines and policies.

  • Oh dear, it’s so simple.

    1.. Revoke didn’t gain us any new voters. We already had the support of “hard-line” Remainers.

    2. It put off SOME Remainers., who had Labour or Green to vote for.

    3. it totally alienated Leavers; we did have a couple of % of support from leavers going into the campaign.

    4. Jo became highly unpopular, BECAUSE she was pushing Revoke, which Leave voters regarded as an insult to their political integrity as well as extreme.

    Let’s stop clutching at straws!

  • Johnny McDermott 10th Feb '20 - 7:05pm

    I don’t think it was simple, that anything could be these days, but that Chris Moore’s post nails it. And, although biased, Peter Farrell-Vinay on the wrong leader. May be accused of benefit of hindsight (though, may not – many, as this post indicates, would not accept these views) but actually I think it was fairly clear how abrasive Swinson was at a time when alliances with other parties was essential. She launched her campaign with a strike on Sturgeon and Govan. It got people talking, but in entirely the wrong way. As a constructive point to work on, these lengthy delays before leadership contests don’t help. Sir Vince Cable’s long good bye caught us offguard. Perhaps Swinson’s presidential style would have been more successful with longer to get recognition figures up, but we had no time, on already borrowed time. Now we’re waiting for Labour to appoint the second horse in the next race for No 10. I know it makes sense, in a way, but we already have a horse. We can start setting out our stall while Labour are still in the aftermath of either Corbyn’s successor winning and chaos ensuing, or Corbyn’s successor not winning and chaos ensuing. That is *not* the time to be choosing our leader. It’s the time to mop up.

    One point – the Brexit party standing down there candidates was highlighted as something we’re all forgetting. Not so, I’d say. Any strategist worth their salt would have considered all options, the one that came true being very likely for the reason that Brexit was their imperative and their existence threatened the only viable route to it. It’s a few moves ahead, to be fair, but I’m assuming people get paid to sit and think about our opponents’ next few moves in various circumstances. As well as that, Remain Alliance could’ve been revived by standing down candidates like Tim Walker. Don’t get me wrong, what he did was highly damaging to our campaign, perhaps as much as revoke, because it made any chance of an official deal dead on arrival, and was absolutely not his place to make that call.

    So, no simple answers – but many here that are insightful. That isn’t a challenge to the legendary Prof. Curtice. There was a comment that alluded as much, that anything else was irrelevant or we’re ignoring the (dubious) article headline. And I suspect many of us aren’t paying to read it? Which makes things slightly harder.

  • Alex Macfie 12th Feb '20 - 8:05pm

    chris moore: No, Jo did not “become unpopular” because of Revoke. The problem was that she was trolled to death, and we lacked a decent media strategy for fighting back. The difficulty we faced in getting a fair hearing in the media, and the many Momentum and Cybernat keyboard warriors with seemingly a lot of time on their hands, meant that the public image of our leader was defined by our enemies. Unfortunately, this is probably the new normal for us, and we’re going to have to up our media game big-time if we have any hope of improving substantially in the next GE (local elections are a different matter).
    And it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference who was elected leader. The only thing that Jo faced that Ed would not have was the misogyny, but we should not be choosing leaders on that basis. A lot of the stuff thrown at Jo was about the Coalition; since Ed had a more senior postion in that government, and in the leadership election was more gung-ho about defending the Coalition than Jo was, he would have got even more flak about it than Jo. This is why our next leader has to be someone totally unconnected with the Coalition. It’s the easiest line of attack against us, and it needs to be neutered. But this does not detract from the need to stand up to the trolls from groups that despise us for existing.

    Johnny McDermott: No Remain Alliance involving Labour would have been possible at the last election, unless Corbyn had agreed to stand down. Corbyn was too toxic with potential Lib Dem voters, and fear of a Corbyn premiership was one of the major factors squeezing our vote. If we had stood aside in Canterbury, then we would probably not have won Richmond Park. And since Labour won with a large majority in Canterbury, our standing a candidate there didn’t do any harm.

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