We’re heading for a minority Labour government backed by the SNP

The Guardian have a very useful web page called Election 2015: The Guardian poll projection. On it, each day, they update their state-of-the-parties graph with the latest polling data, which then flows into an infographic showing the parliamentary arithmetic and possible government options after May 7th.

One can, perhaps, quibble with their numbers to the degree of 4-5 seats either way for each party.

But basically, as time progresses and we approach May 7th like a freight train at 120 mph, it is becoming clearer and clearer what kind of government we are going to wake up to on May 8th, or,more likely, some time between May 8th and May 21st.

Large SNP gains have been predicted by the polls for so long now that they seem unlikely to be a chimera.

The SNP may win less than the 52 seats predicted currently by the Guardian’s poll of polls, but they are going to have a large wodge of seats nonetheless.

The Tories are not, it seems, suddenly going to overtake Labour by a large margin.

So we are left with only one realistic option for May 8th: A Labour minority government supported in some way by the SNP. The SNP are not going to support the Tories. So Labour + SNP (perhaps + Lib Dems) is the only combination which adds up to the necessary 323 seats to survive a Commons confidence vote.

There could be small shifts in the balance of the strengths of the parties as the campaign progresses. We should also bear in mind the Fixed Term Parliament Act if Cameron tries to soldier on and is defeated in a Commons confidence vote (In which case Miliband will have 14 days to form a government which commands the house.) But basically we’re looking at Prime Minister Ed Miliband with a sort of telepathic arrangement with the SNP (as the latter does not want to do any deals – is Ed Miliband good at reading Nicola Sturgeon’s mind while she is 400 miles away running a separate government?). I have a hunch that the SNP will be more ready to deal with Labour than Labour will be to deal with the SNP. I suspect Sturgeon/Salmond and co. have been sharpening the sgian-dubhs for decades in readiness for this moment. They’ll be all over Labour, who’ll still be punch drunk from losing their traditional Scottish sinecures.

This will be an extraordinary result. Labour will have suffered an enormous, historic defeat in Scotland but will, nevertheless, be forming a government with the tacit support of their sworn enemies, the SNP, who are committed to ending the union anyway.

Also, would the Scots be saying (via the referendum last year) that they want the union but (via the May 7th election this year) saying they want the party who are committed to breaking up the union making it (the union) work? That thought makes my brain wobble a bit on its axis, but I am a soft Sassenach, so forgive me, dear Scots.

I am not entirely sure of the exact choreography of how such a Labour minority government comes into being. It is possible that the Tories come out of the election as the largest party with David Cameron still in Number Ten. Does he go to the Queen or just stay there and bolt the doors? Does the Queen ask him to form a government? Does he try to form one? Or say he can’t straight away? Does the Queen then send for Ed Miliband? Answers on a postcard, or in the comments thread below, please.

We have got used to a simple kissing of hands of the Queen by the leader of the largest party after an election. Job done – is the norm. But there is precedent for a less definitive process during the reign of Queen Victoria, for example. Peel/Melborne, Peel/Russell. Often the comings and goings at Buck House resembled a revolving door whizzing around until any old passing random politician could be found sober enough who reckoned they could cobble together a vaguely viable government for a few months. A new Prime Minister then finally emerged staggering out of the Queen’s palace, blinking into the light. David Cameron’s ancestor, William IV had similar experiences, I seem to remember. I exaggerate, but the point is that there is long precedent for messy and drawn-out formations of governments in this country. We have just forgotten about such perignations after decades of reasonably clear-cut election results.

I’m not sure where this leaves David Cameron. He said, inexplicably in my view, that he won’t seek another term as Prime Minister in 2020. Well, if he isn’t going to be Prime Minister after May 8th or 9th or 10th or 21st, then one presumes the Conservative party may obligingly speed up the process, grant his wish early and look for a new leader straight away. So we could have Ed facing Boris, or George or Theresa across the Commons with the Lib Dems led by……Nick? Tim? Norman?

The May 7th election has been likened to an “electoral fruit machine” (Hat-tip: John Tilley of this parish). Likely events after that election would appear to be rather akin to throwing a pack of cards up in the air and then seeing where they all land on the floor. Constitutional lawyers should cancel any holiday they had booked in May. I hope there are no road works planned for The Mall, as there will be quite a few limos haring back and forwards down it.

I have got a feeling that the likely post-May 7th fluid and novel scenario will, for once, see politicians behaving like grown-ups and playing nice together. Here’s hoping – it happens in many councils.

As an aside, as a rock solid Republican, I can see the advantage, in this situation, of having a head of state, such as ours, who has been around the block a bit.

I should add the proviso that all the above could be wrong!

If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to read Tony Greaves’ excellent “What happens next?” articles, about what happens after the election: here and here.

Update 27/3 13:37: The methodology behind the Guardian projection is explained here – and it uses constituency polls as its first piece of data. For other projections see here on the May 2015 website. My table below shows the various projections as they stand today. The green squares show the possible combinations of parties which meet or go over the magic 323. This shows that, as the polls stand, the only show in town is Lab/SNP or Lab/SNP/LD.


Photo by Paul Walter

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is currently taking a break from his role as one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliament.


  • Bill le Breton 27th Mar '15 - 10:12am

    Paul, I would have thought that with all your years of campaigning, you might have been a believer in the adage., “Keep Calm and Expect the Unexpected”. Admittedly it would make for a very short OP.

    What is it do you think that such a large portion of the electorate in Scotland is thankful to the SDP for?

  • If we are predicted to lose many seats, where are they expected to go? Conservatives can hardly lose much in Scotland, but is it predicted that Labour will make significant gains from Conservatives?

    Unless Labour gains from Conservatives cancel out our losses to the Conservatives, the Conservatives will win overall.

    Someone please persuade me that loss of Labour leaning tactical voters in Lib Dem constituencies will not hand victory to the Tories.

  • You ask what Scottish people wanted. A brief look at last year’s newspaper headlines made that clear:

    “Two-thirds of Scots want the unionist “vow” on more powers for Holyrood to extend as far as devo max, meaning MSPs running everything except foreign affairs and defence”

    _That_ is why the SNP are being re-elected. A majority may not have wanted to go as far as Independence, but there is a massive level of support for full fiscal autonomy in Scotland, and the SNP are seen as the way of achieving that.

  • If the voters leave working with the SNP as the only viable option to achieve a stable government then the politicians must listen. My own view is that the SNP are making noises to cause Labour Harm. A Conservative Government would very much play into their hands and help their narrative..

  • A Lab/SNP minority government would be a disaster for the country as would be a minority Tory Government. Bad news all round folks

  • An interesting piece which reflects the speculation of a number of people I have spoken with.

    My judgement is that there is very little popular support for 5 more years of Cameron in Downing St.

    Even amongst Conservatives there is a weariness of the Old Etonian who really was ‘Heir to Blair’.
    So if it means Labour with some permutation from SNP/Green/PC/Lib Dem people seem prepared to go for that to get rid of Cameron. I would prefer our party to stay put of a coalition and rebuild.

    I definitely agree with your line — “…read Tony Greaves’ excellent “What happens next?” articles, about what happens after the election…”

    Unlike Bill I am more of a KEEP CALM AND DRINK TEA type of person.

    It is of course the job of Liberal Democrat activists to secure as many victories as possible in constituencies such as Torbay where the excellent MP Adrian Sanders is appealing for visitors to pop down in the sunshine and help this weekend.

  • Fortunately I do not have to pretend that the Party is going to get more than 30 seats – I think this is unlikely. More from hardcore Lib/Dems supporters not bothering to vote than no longer supporting the Party.

    From what I saw of the leaders debates last night it seemed to me that Miliband was more eager to improve his Party’s position than Cameron. Ever since the Lord Green/HSBC scandal broke, Cameron has seemed a changed man and I suspect that his ‘slip of the tongue’ was a quite deliberate attempt to silence those after his job in the run up to the election – indicating that he [or perhaps more his good wife] was no longer enjoying [him] being PM and was resigned to not holding the post after the GE.

    For these reasons I expect Labour to pull ahead of the Tories, to some extent, in the run up to the election – enough to provide a majority with the SNP’s support.

    Watching Miliband last night it was clear that he is very eager to become PM and should this be possible with the support of the SNP – he will make what ever deal is necessary – although such a deal seems unlikely to last the full term.

    This would provide TF with an opportunity to redefine the priorities for the Party – in terms of what is now necessary in light of the changed circumstances since the Scottish referendum – and the hope of an early GE.

    Salmond has proved that there cannot be a comfortable mix of national and devolved government. A stated aim to create a federal government in the UK would provide the Party with a very clear identity and certainly is likely to make far more sense to the electorate than Cameron’s complex and virtually ‘impossible to define’ plan to legislate to prevent MPs from the devolved parliaments from voting on certain issues.

  • The Guardian’s poll projection is based on uniform swing. This might be valid for England, but for Scotland, nobody is assuming that the SNP will benefit equally in all seats. There will almost certainly be considerable discrepancies in the SNP swing, in parts of Glasgow and the Highlands it may be extraordinary, but barely negligible in the Border constituencies and not as impressive in Edinburgh and its surroundings.

    Not that I’d bet on the outcome in Scotland, but a non-uniform swing could leave the SNP on as few (relatively speaking) as 30 seats, rather than 50+ as predicted by uniform swing.

  • Stephen Hesketh 27th Mar '15 - 12:05pm

    Paul Walter | Fri 27th March 2015 – 9:54 am
    “We’re heading for a minority Labour government backed by the SNP”

    This is my preferred outcome in terms of the long-term survival of our party.

    The long-term interests of the British people will not be served by the disappearence of the Liberal Democrats as a meaningful political force. I only hope our fate has not already been sealed. Our entering another coalition would almost certainly assure just that.

  • matt (Bristol) 27th Mar '15 - 12:11pm

    Paul Walter, it has to be said that in the Victorian age, the comings and goings were generally at Windsor Castle and not’ Buck House’. 19th century coalition negotiations therefore included a lot of scrutiny of train timetable (as there were no telepphones, everything was done by messages,usually, in this case passed in person – whether written or verbal).

    The Queen of the time didn’t feel in any way a need to be personally helpful to her prospective Prime Ministers; they generally came to her. Overall she generally conceded enough to them to agree to not go to Balmoral in the aftermath of an election, but it was generally unwillingly.

  • For a non-uniform swing see:

  • Denis Mollison 27th Mar '15 - 12:27pm

    I won’t be that surprised if either Con or Lab get an outright majority – FPTP is that unstable and disproportionate.

    What if we do have a hung parliament? Power depends on winning a confidence vote in the Commons. The SNP have made it pretty clear that they will vote against the Conservatives in any such vote. For simplicity, let’s ignore others, DUP and UKIP on one side, SDLP. PC and Green on the other.

    The question then is whether the combined total of Lab+SNP differs from that of the Conservatives by more than the number of Lib Dem MPs. If not, we would be kingmakers. Whether we prefer coalition or confidence and supply, what are our red lines?

    Surely they have to be policies that are more clearly connected to our principles than the many small victories we’ve won in this coalition? The five green laws would be good, as would STV for local elections. And as John Roffey says, we could pursue real – Jo Grimond – federalism, where only foreign affairs, defence and macro-economics remain shared. This last is almost certainly only an option working with Labour, who will probably be calling for a constitutional convention in their manifesto. It would suit the SNP to work together on federalism, while otherwise remaining at arm’s length from Labour. The “arm’s length” bit would suit Labour, who have made it clear that they really do not want to work with the SNP at all; but have kept open the option of some sort of arrangement, as it would be political suicide in Scotland for them to let the Conservatives in when SNP support could prevent it.

  • Martin – the constants screams of “betrayal!” over the last few years has pretty much ensured this will happen. Quite how a Tory MP benefits Labour-leaning tactical voters I’m not sure, but there we are.

  • Its way too soon to be sure about anything but as of now I am expecting the Tories to have a lead over Labour somewhere between 5% & 9%.Then the negotiations start & Labours next “civil war.” A Tory minority seems the least unlikely result but I dont expect it to last the full 5 years.

  • It’s been obvious pretty much from day one of the coalition that The Conservatives peaked in 2010. As for the SNP they have simply tapped into what virtually anyone with any degree of knowledge of Scotland knew already. People in see themselves as Scottish and want parliamentary representation that is relevant to Scotland. Labour’s big mistake was getting too closely involved in the No campaign because 45% of voters voting for independence is a rather large voting block and being seen as helping out a Party, The Conservatives, who are so unpopular they only have one MP was plainly going to backfire. If the Lib Dems had thought more clearly they would have realised the same thing. The No campaign should not have been a joint enterprise. Labour and the Lib Dem should have campaigned very differently to the way they did because the Conservatives are a very unpopular fringe party in Scotland.

  • Whilst a focus of attention is on the inevitable minority Labour or Tory outcome, I wonder if everyone is missing a possible SNP ‘black swan’, flapping its wings, readying to take to the air, in late Autumn?
    Here’s the thing :
    The SNP are bitter about missing out on their independence desire.
    The SNP, want another independence referendum, …and soon.
    The SNP is Miliband’s only option, if he wants to form a government.
    The SNP are not in this to be Labour ‘kingmakers’.
    The SNP *will* wield their voting power to the advantage of Scotland.
    The SNP *will* disadvantage England, Wales, and N.I., as a result.
    The SNP ‘ransom voting’ *will* anger all voters outside of Scotland.
    The above ‘shopping list’, is a perfect terrain for a renewed demand that Scotland should have a new Independence Referendum,… not *only* coming from the Scottish,.. but also at the demand of an angry English contingent, who are fuming at having their governance held to ransom by these SNP renegades.
    In short, could it be that the SNP’s strategy is to purposefully *wind up the English*?
    Could it be, that the resultant ‘black swan’ event, will be a vociferous demand for *new* Scottish independence referendum, emerging on the back of a desire by the SNP, and supported tangentially, by an angry ‘good riddance’, from the irritated English.?
    SNP result : An independent Scotland by Mid 2016?

  • Nick Collins 27th Mar '15 - 1:32pm

    ” Quite how a Tory MP benefits Labour-leaning tactical voters I’m not sure, but there we are.”

    If one is opposed to the current government, perhaps it matter’s not whether the MP who “represents” the area in which one lives is a Cameroon or a Cleggie, so a “tactical” vote for the latter becomes somewhat pointless.

  • “If one is opposed to the current government, perhaps it matter’s not whether the MP who “represents” the area in which one lives is a Cameroon or a Cleggie, so a “tactical” vote for the latter becomes somewhat pointless.”

    That is only true if you believe that there is no difference between a Coalition government and a Conservative majority government. The impression that the nay-sayers have given over the last 5 years is that that is the case; but there is an old saying that is very pertinent here: “be careful what you wish for” because all that a vote for Labour will do in a Tory/Lib Dem marginal is increase the likelihood of a Conservative majority government. And then we’ll see whether there’s no difference.

  • Nick Collins 27th Mar '15 - 2:19pm

    “That is only true if you believe that there is no difference between a Coalition government and a Conservative majority government. The impression that the nay-sayers have given over the last 5 years is that that is the case”

    Exactly so. Have I noticed any improvement in the performance, direction or attitudes of the current government over those of previous Tory governments I have lived through ? The answer to that question has to be an emphatic “No”.

  • Jane Ann Liston 27th Mar '15 - 2:22pm

    Black swan, eh? Picture the famous pas de deux danced by Prince Salmond and the magician’s daughter Nic-Odile-a, complete with 32 fouettées en tournant (go, Nic!), who is masquerading as the virtuous Swan Queen, but only recognised as an imposter by the Prince too late. I think it has possibilities.

  • James,
    Labour look more likely than the conservative to take marginal seats based on the evidence of the polls, whilst for all the claims in their only contests with UKIP they increased rather than lost support although to a lesser degree than they hoped. UKIPs electoral successes so far have been with sitting Conservatives who stood down and fought for re-election after defecting to UKIP. The Greens are certainly significant to Labours vote but probably in a scattered way that will make it hard for them to take seats. The fact is UKIP are plainly more likely to impact on the Conservative than on any of the other parties except the BNP. As far as I can tell UKIP are not really a significant threat to Labour and most of those Labour supporters who now vote UKIP had already switched allegiances before 2010. Personally, I think the Lib Dems may do a little better than expected.

  • “Exactly so. Have I noticed any improvement in the performance, direction or attitudes of the current government over those of previous Tory governments I have lived through ? The answer to that question has to be an emphatic “No”.”

    Which means you either have a defective memory or a short one.

  • Nick Collins 27th Mar '15 - 5:00pm

    I have neither, but stick with the gratuitous insults; they are so persuasive.

  • Paul [email protected]

    Do please tell us what causes you to predict a 5 to 9% lead for the Tories.

  • I remember well the Thatcher and Major administrations and this coalition is light years removed from both.

  • Philip Rolle 27th Mar '15 - 5:52pm

    Con 278 Lab 282 Lib 32 SNP 38 UKIP 2 Other 20

  • I agree with Paul. In the last two weeks of the campaign minds will be focused on getting a government that has a majority for one party. Inevitably that will be to the Cons and it will hit us hard in those Lib Dem/Con marginals.
    I am putting a bet on tomorrow, maximum number of Lib Dem seats 15, probably outcome 10 -12. We have to recogniz the effect of a national figure of 5 – 8%. The Cons are running close or at their 2010 General Election figure, we are 15 – 18% down. This cannot be ignored. We have MPs standing down in critical seats, it appears we will inevitably be toast.
    However that is the dark side, the bright side is that we can dust down, refresh, review and revitalize at our pace, and come back again perhaps as early as 2018 with younger spokespeople, leaders, a more gender representative party. free of the House of Lords. It will a time for real internal party and policy change.

  • Tabman 27th Mar ’15 – 5:37pm …..I remember well the Thatcher and Major administrations and this coalition is light years removed from both.


    The Thatcher/Major administrations believed in “Public bad; private good” whereas this administration….
    The Thatcher/Major administrations believed in “Right to buy” whereas this administration…
    The Thatcher/Major administrations sold off Utilities/British Rail well below their real values whereas this administration….

    The list of ‘ major differences’ goes on…

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32084722
    After just seeing the leaked report that Conservatives are considering a serious assault on the Disabled benefits in the next parliament incl
    Axing carers allowance for 40% of people
    Axing Contributory ESA
    Axing Industrial Injuries Benefit
    And Taxing DLA and Personal Independence Allowance.

    Lets hope to god that these cruel (Can’t say the words I really want to say) do not get in Government again.

    I think the Liberal Democrats should also come out publicly and state that they would not be a part of a coalition with the Tories with these policies in either a formal coalition or confidence & supply.

    There will be a lot of vulnerable frightened sick and disabled people out there now worrying themselves sick over the next couple of months about what is going to happen to them.
    Any party with an ounce of humanity would come out fighting against these proposals and seek to give some assurances to those vulnerable sections of society.

    What you going to do Libdems???????

  • David Allen 27th Mar '15 - 7:14pm

    As Steve Way says, the SNP’s recent interventions are clearly designed to cause Labour harm. Now why might they want to do that?

    First there is Steve’s hypothesis: that the SNP would like a Tory Government, since they could then have the luxury of opposition. If the SNP were really lucky, Cameron would hold his EU referendum, the UK would vote to leave, and then the SNP would demand that Scotland be allowed to get off the bus before it went over the cliff. However, that would be rather long odds. Cameron might hold his referendum, but if he does, it will be because he thinks he can win a majority for staying in. Cameron won’t want to go down in history as the man who wrecked both the economy and the unity of the UK.

    I think there is another possible outcome which the SNP may also be looking towards. That is the outcome in which the Tories finish significantly ahead of Labour, such that (Lab plus SNP) is well below 325, while (Tories plus LD) is somewhere hovering around 325, but not enough to form a stable government. So everything drifts, the DUP try to hold the Tories to ransom, while the LD are leaderless and split. At that stage, Cameron stages another Greek-like financial scare (like the one that worked in 2010), alongside an impassioned appeal to the SNP to accept full fiscal autonomy, do a deal, and create a government to rescue our finances. Salmond and Sturgeon delightedly swallow the line that they need to act patriotically to rescue the UK from financial disaster, and so that justifies them accepting a massive political bribe to support the Tories.

    Salmond knows that Tories will do anything to retain power. He is ready to deal, provided he gets such a great deal that the Scottish public will accept it. Cameron knows that the price is high, but will pay it in order to cling to power.

    That’s part of the reason for the “Miliband in Salmond’s pocket” cartoon. It’s a big terminological inexactitude. As the Tories are well aware, the real risk is that Cameron will jump into Salmond’s pocket.

  • @David Allen

    Interesting but far-fetched. I’m actually inclined to believe the SNP when they rule out a deal with the Tories. If the SNP attack Labour, I don’t think this is for any more sinister a reason than that Labour are the SNP’s only real opposition in Scotland.

    I also reject the idea being put about (including by Paul Walter) that the SNP will be impossible to deal with because they are opposed to the union. I saw Alex Salmond on Andrew Marr at the week-end and he was very clear that the SNP would act on a vote-by-vote basis and not put the break-up of the union at the centre of everything. Again, I have no reason to doubt him. Despite what the Lib Dems did in 2010, I’m not yet ready to dismiss all politicians as dishonest.

    The way I see it, there’s a real nightmare scenario for the Lib Dems, which is this :-

    Suppose the election result is such that a Tory/Lib Dem coalition is possible, but only just. A Labour/SNP coalition would not quite be possible, but a Labour/SNP/Lib Dem coalition would be possible, and with a bigger majority than a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. What on earth would the Lib Dems do? I suspect the current leadership would happily climb back in bed with the Tories, even though such a government (given current poll ratings) would have very little mandate, and would be political suicide for the Lib Dems.

  • SNP Labour deal:

    – no distraction in an EU referendum
    – no distraction in another independence referendum
    – Labour get more unpopular in England
    – The SNP get more unpopular in Scotland

    Possibly even Trident replacement put on hold.

    Whats not to like?

  • Some of the comments about the SNP astonish me. They seem sometimes to come from people who have never been to Scotland and have not spoken to any ordinary voter in Scotland since 1979.

    Alex Salmond was and is very popular with a huge number of voters in Scotland.
    Nicola Sturgeon is very popular with a huge number of voters in Scotland.
    90% of voters in Scotland do not want a Conservative Government in Westminster.

    These three facts ought to inform any comment on the SNP.

  • Richard

    SNP Labour deal:

    Labour get more popular in England, Scotland and Wales

    It could well happen the coalition isn’t a hard act to follow is it.

  • Philip Thomas 27th Mar '15 - 9:04pm

    @Dan Falchikov- quite: a Tory majority is still very much a possibility and would suit the SNP (hence the SNP’s recent antics).

    UKIP support is currently around 15%. I reckon about a third of UKIP voters will vote Tory tactically on election night (the Tories are the only way to get that EU referendum UKIP wants). I reckon there will be a 2-3% shift of Labour voters to Tory over the campaign (including “silent Tories”). Add those numbers together and the Tories have over 40% of the vote which is enough for a majority.

  • Philip,
    There’s a lot of conjecture in your post. Historically Parties in power rarely make gains on their previous electoral showing. There is no evidence that the Conservatives can come that close to getting 40% and considerable evidence that labour are doing better in key marginal. UKIP got around 3% of the vote in 2010 and the Conservatives still didn’t manage an over all majority, plus they’ve already declined and it is not benefiting the Conservatives. This is because UKIPs gains are largely in areas that already voted Conservative. As the Lib Dems know the concentration of the vote is in some ways more important than how many are voting. My gues is that the Conservaives will lose a lot of votes to UKIP in the North which will probably swing a few seats.The idea of the “silent Conservative” vote in the Thatcher and Major years as always been overplayed . It was not actually that silent back in the 80s or 90s.
    What the Lib Dems need to do is woo back the Green and Labour vote by persuading them to vote tactically . The people who voted Lib Dem in a lot of seats were voting for an alternative to the Conservatives not for soft. Conservatism.
    What you are predicting is a Conservative landslide and there simply is not much evidence for it. This is going to be very close and very messy.

  • Anyone who has looked at the fate of the Liberal Democrats since 2010, or for that matter at coalitions historically since the early twentieth century, knows that entering a coalition agreement with the Tories is the kiss of death for one’s party. Hence there will not be much enthusiasm for any such agreement except from those leaders who are utterly feckless.

  • @John Tilley
    “Some of the comments about the SNP astonish me. They seem sometimes to come from people who have never been to Scotland and have not spoken to any ordinary voter in Scotland since 1979.”

    Well said. Is there any actual evidence that people in England are running scared of the SNP in the way the Tories are obviously banking on? (In fact this seems to be their no. 1 strategy now that their previous tactic of simply ridiculing Miliband seems to have been undone by Cameron’s unexpected cowardice.)

    I look northwards and I see an administration in Scotland that is massively popular with its public in a way that any UK government of the past 40 years could only dream of. I would have thought that most in England are pretty indifferent to the SNP, or indeed even have positive feelings towards them.

  • Philip Thomas 27th Mar '15 - 9:58pm

    Labour didn’t do too badly out of the WWII coalition with the Tories…

  • @Nick Collins Have I noticed any improvement in the performance, direction or attitudes of the current government over those of previous Tory governments I have lived through ? The answer to that question has to be an emphatic “No”.”

    You are including, here, the Tory governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown which redistributed income less, privatised the NHS more,, built hardly any net social housing, sucked up to the big banks, allowed rampant tax avoidance by the rich. . .lumbered us with PFIs, Academies and tuition fees .etc etc etc

  • Although events can can turn everything around, all points towards a drift that is likely to benefit the Tories. However were Labour to get into government, it is likely that Labour would become very rapidly unpopular. malc thinks that the Coalition is not a hard act to follow; but it would be for Labour, largely because the way they have opposed the coalition, has set unrealistic expectations and partly because an already hostile media would scent blood, already sensing that Miliband is vulnerable. If Stuart cannot find evidence of the unpopularity of SNP in England, he needs a tiny bit of imagination to foresee how any arrangement with SNP would be intensively castigated in the English media.

    matt claims to think that Lib Dems should follow SNP by avowing not to give the Tories support in any shape or form. SNP have placed themselves in a bind in which they have enfeebled themselves in any possible negotiation with Labour. In any issue that could bring down Labour, SNP have more or less committed themselves to vote with Labour and against the Conservatives. Despite the reality is that it is very unlikely that there would be a new coalition, to proclaim so at the start of the election campaign would look like walking away, giving up on Liberalism and falling apart.

    Ironically, under present economic conditions, although both Labour and Conservatives would probably like to be able to use Lib Dems as cover for hard decisions, Lib Dems are not likely to be in a condition, nor of an inclination to form a new coalition.

  • There may yet be some pleasing outcomes – it would be good for the High Priests of fptp to get the most votes of any party, but fewer seats than Labour, and then seeing the Union they so wanted to defend result in the snp having a hand in a labour westminster government.
    i am no pundit, but I know 4 marginals quite well, all have tory mps at the moment but I can’t see any of them clinging on – nuneaton, n warks, vale of glam and cardiff north. i just can’t see the tories advancing sufficiently to gain a majority from this crumbly base. they will stack up votes south of the severn mind and then carp endlessly as power, for once, shifts north.

  • “matt claims to think that Lib Dems should follow SNP by avowing not to give the Tories support in any shape or form”

    That is what I think now after todays revelations.

    In a article on LDV last week, I thought the Liberal Democrats should in 2015 offer a confidence & Supply arrangement to either the Tories or Labour for at least 12 months . I thought that because both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are going to be severely short of funds after this election and will need at least 12 months to raise funds to fight another election. My fear was that if the Tories ended up governing as a Minority party and lost a vote of confidence and we ended up with another election in Oct 2015, Labour and Libdems would have insufficient funds to fight an effective 2nd election and we would be at risk of the Tories winning an outright election.

    After seeing the callous plans that have been devised by the Conservatives, which will have catastrophic consequences for many sick and vulnerable people of this country, I have changed my mind and I think the Liberal Democrats should state that under no circumstances will they support any government who adopts these measures.

  • Why is us working with the DUP or UKIP even an option? Leadership wouldn’t even bother with a Special Conference because it’d be laughed out of the auditorium.

    I also don’t think that the SNP are going to back Labour, as Labour have resolutely denied giving any concessions to them.

  • Paul In Wokingham 28th Mar '15 - 12:00am

    If there was an election today then I would agree with Paul Walter that the polls indicate that Labour would form a minority administration. But we are 6 weeks away from polling day and so all we can do is look at the direction of travel and assess the likely movement by May 7th. Wikipedia has a useful graphic showing the results of opinion polling over the entire life of this parliament: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2015_United_Kingdom_general_election#/media/File:UK_opinion_polling_2010-2015.png

    The graph indicates that we are currently at a cross-over point where the Conservatives are challenging to overtake Labour in vote share. Obviously winning the most votes is not the same as winning the most seats. As we move into the last few weeks I would look at that big purple line and wonder what exactly will happen to it as the extreme tightness of the race becomes well-understood.

    If there is a result on which all the pollsters agree, it is that the economy is the key battleground in the election. I would suggest that the shift to the Conservatives reflects unease about the credibility of Labour’s proposed plans: how many times can you rehypothecate the extra revenue from increasing the top rate to 50%? The Tories “Long Term Economic Plan” might be a euphemism for “Endless Austerity” but at least it sounds credible.

    As for the Lib Dems… well, the less said the better. Those garrulous “sources close to Nick Clegg” are apparently claiming that 26 seats will qualify as success. I suspect that they will have revised this number down to 20 by May 7th.

  • Stuart: “If the SNP attack Labour, I don’t think this is for any more sinister a reason than that Labour are the SNP’s only real opposition in Scotland.” Yes, but they’re not overtly attacking Labour, are they? They are claiming that they want to work with Labour, albeit driving a tough bargain. That is not particularly a claim that will attract Scottish voters away from Labour. It is, however, a claim that might well scare English voters away from Labour, simply because of the risk of electing a government who cannot govern. So we have to ask the question – Why are SNP trying to do that? What’s in it for them?

    Martin says that “SNP have placed themselves in a bind in which they have enfeebled themselves in any possible negotiation with Labour.” In other words, Salmond and Sturgeon are political incompetents. I don’t believe that. I prefer to believe that they have a reason for doing what they’re doing. If we can’t work out what the reason is, then we don’t understand what is going on.

    Steve Way’s suggestion is the simple one – essentially, that they want the Tory oppressor to stay in power, so that they can establish themselves as heroic opponents. I certainly don’t discount that. I merely think the SNP could have other strings to their bow as well. Before these are dismissed as “far-fetched”, who would have predicted before 2010 that the Lib Dems would form a strong and enthusiastic alliance with the Tories?

    John Tilley, before you dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand Scotland, answer me this – What do you think will happen, if the arithmetic makes the only viable governing coalition (other than Tory-Labour) one between the Tories and the SNP? What is the end game in such circumstances if we have no effective government, financial chaos, and a growing clamour from all sides for the Tories and SNP to bury their differences and come together for the sake of the country? They’ll do it, won’t they? Then the Tories will regain power (big win!) and the SNP will get their fiscal autonomy (another big win!).

  • David Allen

    If the SNP went into coalition with the Tories it would destroy them overnight. I have lived on the west coast of Scotland and also in Shetland and believe me no party could survive in Scotland that did a deal with the Tories. The LibDems were always popular north of the border – one coalition with the Tories and look at them now. Sturgeon and Salmon are much too clever for that.

  • Expats:

    The Thatcher/Major administration fuelled boom and bust whereas this administration reduced the deficit
    The Thatcher/Major administration enacted Clause 28 whereas this administration enacted gay marriage
    The Thatcher/Major administration presided over mass unemployment whereas this administration saw employment levels reach their highest levels ever

  • Paul in Wokingham
    “… Those garrulous “sources close to Nick Clegg” are apparently claiming that 26 seats will qualify as success. ”

    During his campaign to become leader of our party Nick Clegg himself said the party in this election would get 120 MPs.

    Even as recently Autumn 2014 some people still said between “40 and 50 MPs”.

    Since Christmas that came down to “more than 30 MPs”.

    Now they are saying “26 MPs”.

    Notice the trend?

    I am still waiting for Paul Barker’s oft-predicted late surge of support for Liberal Democrats in opinion polls.
    He used to say that this would come when the election had actually started.
    Well Paul Barker the election has now started — I hope your predictions now start to come true. 🙂

  • Denis Loretto 28th Mar '15 - 8:52am

    SNP would only work with Labour on an issue by issue basis. Salmond would not want to do Labour any favours and . would demand unacceptable concessions. A stable and lasting government would become impossible. If your headline is correct another election – probably within a year or so would in my view be the outcome.

  • Tabman 28th Mar ’15 – 1:53am ….
    The Thatcher/Major administration fuelled boom and bust whereas this administration reduced the deficit…..This administration promised to eliminate the deficit within this parliament…
    The Thatcher/Major administration enacted Clause 28 whereas this administration enacted gay marriage…..Section 28 was repealed by the last Labour administration paving the way for future rights….,
    The Thatcher/Major administration presided over mass unemployment whereas this administration saw employment levels reach their highest levels ever……Whereas youth unemployment (14.5%) is the worst since 1992…

  • Philip Thomas 28th Mar '15 - 10:05am

    “We will do so much better than anyone is expecting” Nick Clegg.
    Was it only last week we heard those words. Did anyone hearing think he meant “we’ll get more than 26 seats?”

  • Expats. Good luck in your Militopia.

  • Denis Mollison 28th Mar '15 - 12:07pm

    David Allen – “What do you think will happen, if the arithmetic makes the only viable governing coalition (other than Tory-Labour) one between the Tories and the SNP?”

    Can you give an example of such “arithmetic”? I can’t see how that can happen without an alternative being possible, e.g. Lab/LD coalition, with the loosest possible support from SNP, i.e. support on any vote of confidence. [From what the SNP have said, they would have to offer that.]

    As I tried to say earlier, I think we should accept that in any vote of confidence it will be Con on one side, Lab+SNP on the other. For us the interesting question is what we do if Lib Dems hold the balance on such a vote.

  • Tabman 28th Mar ’15 – 11:39am …..Expats. Good luck in your Militopia….

    ….Reluctantly, for the second time in my life, I will vote Labour…The only chance in avoiding your preferred £12Billion welfare/disability cutters..

    I note that The Tories deny, probably because these details will horrify most voters, that the ‘leaked cuts’ are the ‘planned cuts’….
    What they neglect to say is that these ‘horrific cuts’ only add up to about £5B (less than half of their ‘promised cuts’)…If these are horrific’, how much worse will the reality be…No wonder Dave and his mates are keeping stumm

  • Expats. You will have much larger cuts when the economy tanks under Balls and Salmond. And you rather prove my point about the undesirability of a conservative majority administration unmoderated by lib Dem coalition influence. Which is where we came in iirc.

  • The only prediction I think is possible is that no party will have a majority, perhaps ever again. Hopefully this will trigger major constitutional reform including full federalism.

  • Tabman,….. You appear to rule out any LibDem involvement with anyone but Cameron…… I hope you’re wrong; that would definitely see the end of the party…

  • stuart moran 28th Mar '15 - 1:15pm

    Stevan Rose

    You may be right but I think it may be truer to say that we may have seen the last Conservative majority under FPTP If they could not win in 2010 and fail again in 2015, 2020 will mean 28 years without a Tory majority

    It may be the same with Labour but that depends mainly on the SNP performance in the future. 2015 could be their high-point. If they sustain then you may be right in your prediction

    At the moment there is only one British Party and that is Labour…..I am tending to think that this model is no longer sustainable with the rift between, especially, Tory Home County England and the Scots. A separate organisation with close ties (similar to SDLP/Labour or Alliance/LD or UUP/Tory) may be the future in Wales and Scotland

  • Expats. God forbid Milipede gets anywhere near a majority, but I would welcome lib Dem moderation of his worst excesses. However when it comes down to it he will offer up to Salmond I fear.

  • Tabman
    There were I believe serious 2 recession in the 8Os and another in the early 90s that was nearly as serious as the last one. In truth Osborne having failed to rebalance the economy in favour of industry has simply reloaded it on debt, help to buy, student loans etc. Bubbles always burst. Whoever takes over in May will probably face some sort of crisis and if they remove the UK from the EU they will almost certainly cause a very big one, plus more or less ensure that Scotland splits from the UK which would have a much bigger impact than people are being lead to believe.

  • Some people expect the Lib Dem total may be less than 10! So is Clegg thinking of more, say 11/12 etc. The truth is that as we a party we have been trundling out these statements for 5 years, with each passing year our position has got worse and worse. We are now even in a worse position than May last year when many people thought the pits had been reached. We failed to make the necessary changes over these years and we are left with a leader hardly anyone listens to, who is speaking to an empty vacume, a party whom most see out of the mainstream of the election and one that is in line for its worst overall average electoral vote performance ever since the Liberals were formed getting on for 150 year ago, accompanied by hundreds of lost deposits. Does the word disaster adequately cover it..

  • Tabman…..” Milipede” I think that explains your position far better than umpteen of your posts….

    How difficult can it be to call him Milliband ?

  • Stephen Hesketh 28th Mar '15 - 3:28pm

    JohnTilley 28th Mar ’15 – 5:35am
    [[Paul in Wokingham “… Those garrulous “sources close to Nick Clegg” are apparently claiming that 26 seats will qualify as success. ”]]

    “During his campaign to become leader of our party Nick Clegg himself said the party in this election would get 120 MPs -> “40 and 50 MPs” -> “more than 30 MPs” -> “26 MPs”. Notice the trend?”

    Indeed John – along with increased activity from the liberal (re)vision-ists etc. informing us that our party is in this state because it failed to be sufficiently bold in adopting their neo-Con economic agenda.

    Are we perhaps seeing a tactic of talking the results ever lower so as to claim victory if we manage to achieve 25-30 seats (through the efforts of ordinary Lib Dems up and down the country)?

    I would always argue that politics should primarily be about values and policies. ‘Should’. As most of our policies are still centre-party Liberal-ish in flavour, the issue must, on this occasion, reflect a failure of the leader and his personal agenda to connect with the electorate.

    theakes 28th Mar ’15 – 2:04pm ” … Does the word disaster adequately cover it?”

    It’s probably missing an expletive or two – but getting close.

  • @theakes.

    If it is less than 10. It’ll be due to people voting defensively against the LDs. The fear many who voted Lib Dem in 2010 have, is that Clegg, Alexander, Laws et al have ‘gone native’ and can’t wait to rush to Cameron’s rescue,

  • Expats. I think a majority Labour government led by Edward Samuel miliband would be an unmitigated disaster. So would a Lab SNP coalition, for the same reason: economic catastrophe, interest rate meltdown, public sector crisis through reduced tax take, unrest etc. The limited brake applicable by a few lib Dem mps in such a situation would be preferable to nothing

  • David Allen 28th Mar '15 - 4:04pm


    “If the SNP went into coalition with the Tories it would destroy them overnight. … no party could survive in Scotland that did a deal with the Tories.”

    A Tory-SNP coalition is almost certainly a complete non-starter, even after a year of deadlock, chaos and government by Civil Service, for the reasons you give. I am entirely aware of what Scotland thinks of the Tories.

    A confidence deal of some kind, whereby the Tories win power by giving so much away to the SNP that they can claim to be irrevocably on the way to independence, is not a non-starter. It will only happen after prolonged dealock and chaos. But guys, prolonged deadlock and chaos is not unlikely. It’s odds-on. That is something we should all get our minds around.

    Salmond will sell it by telling Scotland that he has made a pact with the Devil – and BOUGHT Scotland’s soul.

    The Tories will delight in hiving off a troublesome leftist Caledonia, and take power in the rump UK for a generation.

  • David Allen 28th Mar '15 - 4:20pm

    Denis Mollison:

    “David Allen – “What do you think will happen, if the arithmetic makes the only viable governing coalition (other than Tory-Labour) one between the Tories and the SNP?”

    Can you give an example of such “arithmetic”? I can’t see how that can happen without an alternative being possible, e.g. Lab/LD coalition, with the loosest possible support from SNP, i.e. support on any vote of confidence.”

    Try: C 300, LAB 260, SNP 50, LD 20, others 20. Admittedly that gives LAB/LD/SNP a bare majority of 10, but that is far too close for comfort, especially as LD have denounced any form of arrangement with the SNP as being beyond the pale. On those figures, only Tory/SNP or Tory/Labour are truly viable, and the Tories won’t want Tory/Labour. As per my previous post, Tory/SNP would be a confidence deal only, not a coalition.

    Alternative figures which similarly make Tory / SNP the most viable arrangement are:
    C 310, LAB 270, SNP 40, LD 30, oth 20
    C290, LAB 250, SNP 50, LD 20, UKIP 20, oth 20

    So a pretty wide range of figures point this way, and if (as many suggest) the Tories edge ahead of Labour over the rest of the campaign period, they are quite likely figures!

    Chaos, uncertainty, black swans – Get used to it, they will happen!

  • Mike Falchikov 28th Mar '15 - 4:43pm

    John Tilley – re Alex Salmond. He’s never been that popular outwith the hardcore SNP supporters and indeed he is
    much disliked by many people in Scotland, especially given his strange absence on referendum night and his antics
    since then. Nicola is somewhat better liked – so far, but much will depend on how she behaves in the light of how the
    results pan out on May 7th/8th and subsequently on how successfully she is able to defend the record of the current
    Scottish government which is dubious in many respects.

  • Nick Collins 28th Mar '15 - 4:46pm

    @ Tony Dawson:”You are including, here, (among the past Tory governments over which the current government is not an improvement) the Tory governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown”.

    I’ll include them, if you like. Blair’s achievement was to make the Labour Party electable by turning it into a second Tory party.* Clegg’s “achievement” has been to make his party unelectable by turning it into a third one. The country does not need two and a bit tory parties.

    * It’s interesting how history tends to repeat itself. Are you old enough to remember the LibDem poster from the 1960s featuring images of Wilson and Heath with the caption “Which twin is the Tory?”, or the ditty which Young Liberals used to sing beginning:

    ” Harold Wilson is a Tory
    Now he lives in Number 10
    Gaitskell’s gone and quite forgotten
    By H Wilson’s merry men”?

    I think it was sung to the tune of “Clementine.

  • Of course, Wilson’s “merry men” (and women) included some who would go on to help form the Social & Liberal Democrats.

  • I don’t know why some people think their may be some sort of Tory SNP deal. The SNP have already stated that they will vote against any Conservative Queen’s speech and ruled out any kind of deal with the Conservatives. Even if it was the only possible deal they would not go for it because Conservatives are so unpopular in Scotland it would damage the SNP. One of the things a lot of people keep getting wrong is to equate the self interest of English Westminster political shenanigans with British politics. In all probability they don’t even apply to the North of England let alone Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland.

  • Denis Mollison 28th Mar '15 - 10:58pm

    David, I agree with Glenn.
    For the Conservatives to take office they would have to win a vote of confidence. Just possibly in a year or two’s time the SNP might find excuse to abstain, but I find it inconceivable that they would not vote against the Conservatives on such a vote in the immediate aftermath of the election. For one thing, they have an election to face in Scotland next year, for which having “let the Tories in” would be as damaging to the SNP as it was to the Lib Dems in 2011 (down from 16 seats to 5 in a proportional system). If the Tories are faced with the numbers you suggest, it’s the Lib Dems they’ll turn to to win that vote of confidence.

    With any of the figures you give,

  • Denis Mollison 28th Mar '15 - 10:59pm

    [Ignore that last phrase, please – should have been deleted!]

  • Denis,

    I agree with you. The SNP cannot do this deal in the immediate aftermath of the election, it would be political suicide for them. They have to wait until chaos reigns and the nation cries out for a deal that will create a viable government. That’s when, as you put it, “the SNP might find excuse to abstain”.

    With the numbers I suggest, Lib Dem support would not be enough for the Tories to reliably win a vote of confidence. The SNP are likely to win many more seats than the Lib Dems. That’s why these two parties may very well need each other.

  • Who knows if Milliband can persuade people he’s up to the job – and he did well on the TV compared to Cameron – maybe Labour won’t need anyone else.

    “YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times. Fieldwork for this was done on Friday and Saturday, so was wholly after the Paxman interviews. Topline figures there are CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%. A four point Labour lead.

  • Steve Comer 29th Mar '15 - 3:02am

    Why are so many Liberal Democrats wasting time and effort attacking the SNP, and not our real enemies in the Labour and Tory parties?
    I know the SNP are a threat to Lib Dems in a few of our Scottish seats, but if they really break through it will be mainly in seats in the Glasgow-Edinburgh central belt that Labour have taken for granted and neglected for years. Lib Dems have never been in contention in most of these seats for decades, so only the SNP can beat Labour in those ‘2-horse races.’ When I joined the Liberal Party in 1974 I really wanted to ‘break the mould’ of politics (to quote an old SDP phrase from the following decade). This is the elections where the cracked 2-party mould might finally break, yet some Lib Dems seem only to want it to break if to we are the ones wielding the hammer and chisel!

    I thought Liberals were political pluralists, I also thought we were the party of ‘home rule all round’ a century ago?
    When did we morph into narrow minded ‘me-too’ Unionists?

  • @Steve Comer
    “When did we morph into narrow minded ‘me-too’ Unionists?”

    Probably around 2007.

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 8:00am

    Probably around the time that “Unionism” stopped meaning “opposition to devolution” and started meaning “opposition to Scottish independence”. Home Rule is what we’re offering the Scots.

    Anyway, I agree we’re wasting our firepower on the SNP. As I’ve said before, looking at our seats, it is clear our main opponents are the Tories- worse yet there’s a common perception we are allies with the Tories, so attacking them is needed to put that record straight as well as for tactical reasons.

  • @Steve Comer
    “When did we morph into narrow minded ‘me-too’ Unionists?”

    Good question.
    The party, the party as a whole, the conference never took a decision that we should be ‘me-too’ Unionists.
    We just sort of slipped into that position after some people captured the top of the party who were only really interested in privatisation and state subsidies for hedge-fund types.
    Virtually all the other areas of policy and political leadership were neglcted.
    Into the vacuum came Unionism and when last Autumn’s Referendum came along our party in Scotland was shoulder to shoulder with UKIP, the DUP and the Orange Lodge.

  • John Roffey 29th Mar '15 - 8:28am

    paul barker 27th Mar ’15 – 12:57pm

    “Its way too soon to be sure about anything but as of now I am expecting the Tories to have a lead over Labour somewhere between 5% & 9%.Then the negotiations start & Labours next “civil war.” A Tory minority seems the least unlikely result but I dont expect it to last the full 5 years.”

    Paul – I understand that it is your job to show the Party in its best light – but by doing so you are missing a precious opportunity to encourage debate on LDV on what the Party should do after the GE. With another GE very likely within a relatively short time thereafter – it will be the Party that is most in touch with the mood of the electorate that will benefit most from this outcome.

    In order to achieve this end – it is vital to be honest. Acknowledge now that the ‘Coalition Experiment’ was a mistake that has damaged the Party and as a result there will be a significant loss of seats. Such an admission on LDV will not impact on the number of seats that are eventually won. The truth has a magical quality that appeals to all but those most directly effected. In fact by being honest and facing reality – extra votes might be gained.

    As I posted earlier – the leaders ‘debate’ has benefitted Miliband – probably for the reasons I outlined. From the Guardian:

    Labour’s election hopes raised by four-point lead over Tories

    YouGov poll taken after TV leaders’ debate puts Ed Miliband’s party on 36% and David Cameron’s on 32% – putting Labour within reach of majority


    This likely outcome, which will ensure that a Labour/SNP coalition [of sorts] will have plenty enough seats for an outright majority – and the certainty that Salmond will take full advantage of this arrangement to obtain unwarranted benefits for Scotland – will be the subject of long and much heated debate after the election. Rightly so – for it it will seem outrageous to most English voters that the Scots have been able to hold the government to ransom because of a convoluted central/devolved system of government that clearly needs reform.

    Fundamental reform is necessary – and given the very low opinion of those who abide in the Westminster village and from where almost all of the darkest aspects of political conspiracy and corruption stems – any party that can offer a clear and just remedy will flourish.

    As Lucy Mangan opines in her review of last nights ‘Coalition’ also in the Guardian:

    “The problem was that I don’t believe in politicians as people. I have to assume I’m not alone here, what with us all being made of essentially the same stuff, living in essentially the same blighted, God-forsaken world. But I don’t, I can’t – and I’m not being flippant here – see them as fully human. I see them as aberrations, born either with important bits missing (compassion, empathy) or dangerously enlarged (ambition, single-mindedness, appetite for power), who have over the centuries developed the perfect playground to allow them to exercise their deviant longings over the captives known as the UK electorate.”


    I think that she is far from alone in her views – that is why I am convinced that a move to a federal government, where each region has exactly the same powers as Scotland – is the only sure remedy. A remedy, coupled to an elected upper chamber, that will remove as much power as possible from the darkly conspiring and corrupt central government in the Westminster village.

    I am sure that any party that had this as their primary policy after the GE would find great favour with the electorate when the next GE followed hard on its heels!

  • Bill Le Breton 29th Mar '15 - 9:06am

    John makes important points and directs us to an extremely good piece by Lucy Mangnon. Yesterday, Matthew Parris ended his piece in the awful Times, “yet something about voting Conservative sticks in the craw , but what? ” he gives two answers, first that the Ts are seen as Toffs and second “a suspicion that Tories aren’t very nice or sympathetic people.”

    Cameron thought that he could help to reduce this second reason by a full alignment with ourselves. The tragedy for us is that in the way we have handled coalition we have contaminated ourselves with this very suspicion, that had attached itself to the Tories sinces Mrs T and which gave us the room to make large gains against the Tories.

    The very nice people who represented them in their neighbourhoods on their local councils and in places in Parliament and that very nice man Mr Kennedy – all that part of the Liberal Democrat brand has been lost. The proposition of a new politics played out as high season for old politics.

    It need not have been this way. There were very different ways of handling Coalition. We were not strangers to how to do Coalition well, we have handled such situations for over forty years in local government and in Wales and Scotland.. But our leaders chose to ignore that knowledge because it required a different approach to the one chosen by our leadership. That is sad. It has possibly destroyed us as a political force in our nations and it has done great damage to politics itself.

  • Denis Mollison 29th Mar '15 - 9:41am

    JohnTilley – ” the party as a whole, the conference never took a decision that we should be ‘me-too’ Unionists.”

    Some of us tried to resist this, with
    a Home Rule motion
    at the Scottish conference in March 2012. There was an opportunity to put real federalism on the ballot paper, if only in Scxotland.

    Our party keeps claiming iti s implementing Home Rule, the latest being the Smith Commission’s unbalanced offering. Real federalism for the UK would be difficult – the key problem is how you handle having opposing UK and England governments. But that shouldn’t be insuperable: France has had to manage “cohabitation”, while the US regularly has executive and congress opposed.

  • Bill Le Breton 29th Mar ’15 – 9:06am

    “There were very different ways of handling Coalition. We were not strangers to how to do Coalition well, we have handled such situations for over forty years in local government and in Wales and Scotland.”

    Bill – I do not challenge the fact that the Party has managed successful coalitions in the past. However, circumstances have changed since the Scottish Referendum and these will not disappear. The Scots know that by voting for the SNP they will place the Party in a position of being able to extract more money than is warranted or powers from the UK government whenever there is a hung parliament – and these are likely to become more frequent now that there are five national parties with significant support.

    The additional cash will be at the expense of the English regions whilst the current convoluted mix of central and devolved powers are in place and there is little or no likelihood of the devolved powers presently in place being withdrawn. The only way to resolve this issue fairly is to give the English regions the same powers as the Scots by moving to a fully federal government.

    It has been acknowledged that the price of oil will not increase in the medium term – so it is unlikely that the SNP will be demanding another referendum for their support – so this is not a problem that is going away. You acknowledge the contribution by Lucy Magnon – federalism would make a significant contribution in removing powers from Westminster which encourages the qualities she so abhors.

    Do you have any major objections to federal government?

  • Bill Le Breton 29th Mar '15 - 10:29am

    I don’t think I have John.

  • Steve Comer: re When did we morph into narrow minded ‘me-too’ Unionists?

    The position taken on Scottish independence was, I presume, that adopted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Its effect was to place us shoulder to shoulder with strange bed fellows. I always considered that an outcome that is effectively home rule with pooling of resources and structures where beneficial could be achieved from either a Yes or a No result (except that a Yes vote could have accelerated the outcome).

    From the ‘wrong side’ of the border I was mystified by the Scottish Lib Dem position. Yet it is not up to non-Scots to dictate strategy, but I do wish the SLDP could coherently explain itself; meanwhile I am left with an impression that the position owed more to tribal antipathy than anything else. The worry is that we may need to be walking in step with the SNP after the election, but could be easily squashed if we cannot.

  • Bill Le Breton 29th Mar ’15 – 10:29am

    Bill – I press the issue because – as you acknowledge [of the Party] ‘The very nice people who represented them in their neighbourhoods on their local councils and in places in Parliament and that very nice man Mr Kennedy – all that part of the Liberal Democrat brand has been lost.’ and because of the rise of the Greens and UKIP for the protest vote – there is no clear path back to restoring the Party’s reputation.

    Without a new and clear role for the Party to play – there is the very real chance of it slipping into oblivion. To avoid this it requires the Party to have a clear identity as is the case for UKIP & the Greens – this translates to a single headline policy and obviously one that appeals to a significant number of voters. The aim of establishing a federal government would, I believe, fit the bill – and, at the same time help to tackle the underlying corruption within our political system.

    There are few other single issues [if any]. not already claimed, that are likely to have the required potency.

  • As a Scot and Lib Dem voter, it annoys me that a lot of people up here do not understand this election is not about Scotland- that’s why we have Scottish Parliament and local elections. It is about choosing a government which can best the interests of the whole of the UK, e.g the economy, defence etc. SNP supporters rarely discuss or show any interest in the deficit or the economy- (Is it possibly because they know the deficit going down and the economy is growing due to the difficult decisions taken by the coalition??). The Nats seem to think money grows on trees, and the world revolves around Scotland. If the tories get the most votes and the most seats they should form the government, and the people of England will (quite rightly IMO) not accept the SNP voting down a minority tory government, nor will they accept ruling over them, when they do not stand in anywhere except Scotland, and their whole raison d’etre is separation. Nick Clegg’s preferred outcome would be another Tory/Lib Dem coalition, due to the fact he is an orange book liberal and comes from a similar affluent background like Cameron. However ,as many posters have said this could destroy the Lib Dem party, but whatever happens the SNP should not be allowed anywhere near government, even if they got 40-50 seats. They do not represent the other 55 million people in the UK, which is what we need from whichever government is formed after May 7th.

  • Gary Mc 29th Mar ’15 – 11:35am

    Gary – do you agree that the SNP are not presently wishing for another referendum on independence because the expected, at least in the medium term, low price of oil has seriously undermined their proposed budget – the goal now is devo-max


    If you watched the leaders ‘debate’ – do you believe that Miliband’s burning ambition to become PM will allow him to refuse an arrangement with SNP – if this is the only way this can be achieved?

    As you say English voters would, quite rightly, be outraged if the SNP did as Salmond has threatened and Labour joined them in voting down the Queen’s Speech – but could you rule this out with any certainty?

    Given the new circumstances since the Scottish referendum – do you think that federal government is the only clean and just solution to this problem – that is likely to remain with us for some years ahead?

  • If the Conservatives fail to get enough seats to form a majority government then it is entirely reasonable for the parties that represent people who did not vote Conservative to deliver a no confidence verdict because they represent people who have no confidence in a Conservative government. If I voted Labour or SNP or Green I would be outraged if they didn’t. As a liberal I haven’t got that much confidence in the Conservative Party either. I’m pretty certain that if the situation were reversed then the Conservatives would have no such qualms about involving The Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. The Lib Dems, Labour and Conservatives fought to keep Scotland in Britain and the Scots look like delivering a lot of SNP MPs to represent them making the SNP part of British politics. The Lib Dems need to embrace the new political realities and argue for a proper system of proportional representation . If the Conservatives can’t win under the system they fought to maintain then that’s their problem. Blaming the voters is no option.

  • SIMON BANKS 29th Mar '15 - 1:42pm

    I suspect we’ll do a bit better than that because of local factors. I also suspect the Tories will do better and Labour less well, though the polls could be misleading right up to polling day, 1992 or Israel-style. Why? Because while Scots and Welsh mainly vote on policies or political philosophies or history, many swing English voters when push comes to shove vote for whoever seems to have authority, to know what they’re doing and to provide a credible prime minister. I have quite a lot of time for Ed Miliband, but I don’t think he’s convinced people he’ll make a firm prime minister and Labour looks some way short of an authoritative government such as appeared to be on offer in 1997. The polls at this time may well not show the impact of this.

    As for the question about why Scots rejected independence but now vote for the independence party – there’s no reason to think their minds have changed. YES got 45% in the referendum. If the SNP gets 45% of the Scottish vote, they’ll sweep well over half the seats, maybe two thirds. First past the post, remember.

  • John Roffey 29th Mar '15 - 1:59pm

    Glenn 29th Mar ’15 – 1:08pm

    “Blaming the voters is no option.”

    I certainly agree with you. However, if the concern is how can the Party restore its reputation through ’embracing the new political realities’ – do you believe that a headline policy of ‘a proper system of proportional representation’ would capture the interest of enough voters to avoid it slipping into oblivion – which is the very real danger?

  • John Roffey 29th Mar '15 - 2:21pm

    SIMON BANKS 29th Mar ’15 – 1:42pm

    Simon – since ‘who will win the most seats’ becomes a rather a futile discussion – we will have to agree to disagree.

    I would point out, however, that Electoral Calculus – who I believe were the closest in predicting the outcome of the last GE have been showing the Lib/Dem vote steadily falling in recent months – presently at 17 – with the Tories on 271, Labour 290 and SNP 48.


  • John,
    I think this election will make proportional representation look more attractive. There’s a lot of people convincing themselves that this is like 92 and Tories can win. but the maths don’t add up. The conservatives had won outright victories in successive elections up until in 92. But they now haven’t won one since 92 and look very unlikely to do so . People are no longer voting in the way they did and eventually it will have to be recognised in a more formal way. There’s nothing to lose by advocating PR and to me at least oblivion looks more likely if the Lib Dems fight to maintain the present coalition under FPTP. It’s also a point of principle or should be. one. Britain no longer has a two or even three party system and the pretence that it does will keep producing these deadlocks and minority governments. The argument for PR has never been stronger. I think a new leader and a re-focused party will see some revival in the Lib Dems fortunes, but it will take work .

  • David Allen 29th Mar '15 - 3:50pm

    John Roffey 8.28am makes some good points. This is not about “attacking” the SNP – if I lived in Scotland, I would vote for them. It is about recognising the crucial role the SNP will play in this election. Salmond and Sturgeon are able, determined politicians. They like to talk about their shared ideals with people like the Greens – but that is, to some extent, diversionary rhetoric. What they want is the best deal for themselves and for Scotland. They will be well placed to get it.

    Cameron is right to identify this as a useful frightener. Whereas we minority of political enthusiasts might see Salmond and Sturgeon as attractive politicians, the (non-Scottish) voters generally have simpler and frankly better instincts. They see a Scottish party which is going to be in a position to hold all the rest of us to ranson. They do not like that. They really do not like that.

    Cameron, therefore, has sought to tie that frightener tightly around the neck of Ed Miliband. This is tricksy politics. Ed Miliband has done nothing to deserve it. In fact, Cameron is just as likely as Miliband to pay the SNP their ransom. All Cameron has to do is pay a high enough ransom to convince the Scottish public that Salmond / Sturgeon would do well to say yes to the offer. Cameron will pay whatever it takes to win power.

    There is no magic solution to this dilemma. People can argue for things like PR, but the situation offers no practical means whereby we can get that. John Roffey argues for federal (regional) government, and I happen to agree, but again, it is not clear how we get that outcome as a result of this stramash (if I’ve used the right terminology!)

    The non-magic solution is the one that Gary Mc puts forward. Whatever we think of the SNP – and for myself it’s a sneaking regard – we should not let them anywhere near the government of the UK. We should tell Cameron to stop using this issue as a dishonest way of attacking Labour. We should tell Cameron and Miliband that they have a moral obligation to work with other partners, such as the Lib Dems, or even to work together with each other, in preference to paying the SNP a ransom. Because Britain needs to avoid paying a ransom.

  • John Roffey 29th Mar '15 - 4:50pm

    David Allen 29th Mar ’15 – 3:50pm

    “There is no magic solution to this dilemma.”

    David – I think I should point out that my reference to ‘magic’ was aimed at those who choose what threads to include on LDV.

    In my 8.28 post I wrote ‘The truth has a magical quality that appeals to all’ – and I was trying to encourage those who do make this choice for LDV to admit that the ‘Coalition Experiment’ which was at the heart of last night’s drama ‘Coalition’ has failed and has left the Party in an extremely precarious position – and with few routes back for it to restore its reputation. If it could be admitted that the coalition was a mistake which has, all but, destroyed the Party – it would allow for objective discussions about what to do after the GE – particularly since another election might follow close on its heels.

    It would also start to tackle the horror that Lucy Mangan expressed in her review of the program – which I am sure will be the view of the vast majority who watched:

    “The problem was that I don’t believe in politicians as people. I have to assume I’m not alone here, what with us all being made of essentially the same stuff, living in essentially the same blighted, God-forsaken world. But I don’t, I can’t – and I’m not being flippant here – see them as fully human. I see them as aberrations, born either with important bits missing (compassion, empathy) or dangerously enlarged (ambition, single-mindedness, appetite for power), who have over the centuries developed the perfect playground to allow them to exercise their deviant longings over the captives known as the UK electorate.”

    Admitting this mistake on LDV would make the Party [and its members] seem more human rather than pumping out article after article which seeks to imply that the coalition has been a success for the Party. It would also allow for threads that encouraged serious discussions on what should be done after the election to dominate.

    As the Scouts say ‘be prepared’!

  • David Allen 29th Mar '15 - 5:28pm


    When I chose to use the word “magic” in my post, I had completely failed to notice that you had used the word “magical” in yours. What must have looked suspiciously like a sly jibe was nothing of the sort – it was purely coincidental, and my use of the word was to make a quite different point to yours.

    I do quite like the argument you make. Essentially, I think you are saying that politicians are remarkably unable “to see themselves as others see us” (to semi-quote a Scot!). “Coalition” showed us one such example, a Gordon Brown who thought that hectoring the Lib Dems and calling them by the wrong name would be a good way to persuade them to form a coalition with him! As you point out, the many Lib Dems who absurdly continue to declare the coalition a success story demonstrate an equally appalling level of wilful blindness.

  • David Allen.
    if enough people vote SNP the represent part of the British electorate. If not enough people vote Conservative to form a majority government then the other British parties have a right to deliver a vote of no confidence. What The Conservatives and their press are attempting to spoon feed people is mixture of fear and the idea the Conservatives have a right to govern even if they don’t actually win. A sort support us or it will be haggis with every meal version of UKIPs EU spiel. What if say labour get 33% and the Conservatives 34.5%, do you not think that that those English people who voted against the Conservatives also have no confidence in them.? As it stands there’s a good possibility that Labour will l be the largest party. Seriously . the Lib Dems need to stop worrying about the fortunes of the Conservative Party and concentrate on being Liberals. As for arguing that somehow we should attempt to stop the SNP having a say in British politics when British people vote for them, it’s a fundamentally undemocratic concept. The Scots are British and the May election will be about deciding abut who governs Britain. The Conservatives don’t really represent inner cities, Wales, Scotland, the north of England or that much of Northern Ireland. So it’s a bit pot/kettle/ black for them to go scaremongering about the SNPs being a threat to British politics.

  • John Roffey 29th Mar '15 - 5:56pm

    David Allen 29th Mar ’15 – 5:28pm

    David – I had not taken it as a ‘sly jibe’ – just that the word might have stuck in your mind after reading my post.

    I certainly do believe that politicians are unable “to see themselves as others see us” and that it is absurd to ‘continue to declare the coalition a success story’ however – my greatest concern is that there are few ways back to restore the Party’s reputation and with UKIP & the Greens now receiving the protest vote – without some carefully prepared plan – I believe that the Party is very likely to sink into oblivion after the GE.

  • John Roffey 29th March ’15-12:11pm
    Yes, the goal for the SNP entering this parliament is devo max.
    They want as many new powers for Scotland as possible. I think they live in denial regarding facts and figures regarding oil etc but it would not surprise me if they push for another referendum in the next 10-15 years, when the supposed ‘old’no voters will have died off, though I’m 22 and was a staunch no throughout the campaign.
    Ed Miliband naturally wants to be PM, but is in a potentially no win situation. If he enters into a deal of any kind with the Nats, he’ll be seen as a traitor to the English people, who selfishly jumped into bed with Scottish Nats to become PM. Or else, he’ll be seen as someone who let the tories back in because he wouldn’t negotiate with another party. We definitely need change in our electoral system and federalism may be the only way to achieve fairness, as different parts of the UK vote very differently.

  • @John Roffey

    I think the party needs to abandon the term “protest vote”. I think the restoration of the party’s reputation is only going to happen when there’s some clarity achieved as to what the party’s for, rather than what it’s against. The leadership seems intent on recapturing the “protest” – years ago we were a protest against the establishment; now we’re a protest against the implementation of the will of a major party in power, whether it be left wing or right.

    In particular the use of “protest vote” is becoming a way of painting the electorate as naive – that voters now support the Greens merely because they want to protest – ie they don’t have a profound connection with Green policies. This also works to retrospectively paint historic Lib Dem support as naive. Right wing members, the leadership, seek to dismiss the higher levels of support the party enjoyed previously by painting it as “protest” support: we haven’t lost voters who profoundly agreed with Lib Dem ideals – we’ve just lost protesters who weren’t true supporters.

    Sadly, the way in which the leadership is playing these semantic games doesn’t give me much hope for a revival after the decimation of the next election. The right wing of the party that’s in power is going to be very slippery in attempting to avoid taking ownership of the party’s collapse in support. On the day after the election, it’ll be the dissenters on the left, the media, the voters – anyone apart from those behind the wheel.

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 8:09pm

    Yes, this is one reason some of us are trying to give as much support to the leadership as possible before the election- so that they can’t blame bad results on lack of support from the dissenters.
    On “protest” votes, today I canvassed my first “definitely going to spoil my ballot paper”- my canvassing experience is limited but the ppc said he’d never come across it either. We agreed to record it as “not voting”, which it is functionally.

  • Bill le Breton 29th Mar '15 - 8:50pm

    Martin 10.35 this morning speaks for me.

    I am not sure why people here are cool about protest. if you do not agree with something, the only way to change it is to build a movement against it and in favour of an alternative – a protest movement. then of course you have to continue campaigning for it, so as to prevent others changing the reform. insurgency is a habit and a Liberal frame of mind. one has to be anti-establishment, and here is the difficult bit, we have to be anti-establishment even when we are in power or have influence.

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 9:07pm

    Bill Le Breton: “Sticking it to the man even when we are the man” (I’m pretty sure that is a quote from the late Sir Terry Pratchett, not sure which book though)? I like it!

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 10:16pm

    Hmm, well, running my predicted swings (above) through the current Election Forecast data gives Con 325 Lab 235 SNP 44 LD 23 Green 1 UKIP 1 PC 1.
    The thinnest of Conservative majorities. I really hope I’m wrong about this!

  • Philip Thomas

    I know the SNP will affect the size of the Labour vote, but 235 seats does seem to be very much against any recent polls. They got around 260 seats in 2010 with 29% of the vote and currently they are polling around 34%. My guess is around 280. However, if Milliband continues to do well on TV that could move upwards fairly quick.

  • Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 10:54pm

    For completeness I should provide the numbers currently on election forecast before I made my swing adjustment
    Con 290 Lab 272 SNP 42 LD 24 Green 1 UKIP 1 PC 1.
    So perhaps Election forecast already has Labour on the low side of its predictions.
    I was only applying a 2% swing from Lab to Con plus 1/3 of UKIP voters voting Con (except in Clacton)- about 35 seats change hands on this basis (again if you use Election forecast’s numbers)- which shows how close the race is (well, on their numbers). Election forecast has Labour on 32% so the 2% swing would put them on 30% but they get less seats than in 2010 because the SNP makes them far less efficient in Scotland…

    Actually the thing giving the Conservatives their majority in this scenario is really the seats they’re gaining from us…their position vis-à-vis Labour is almost static compared to 2010.

  • Philip. except the most recent poll gives a Labour a 4% lead over the Conservative, UKIP could split the Conservatives helping the Lib Dems retain more seats, plus UKIP could retain both the seats they’ve already won as well as make a couple of gains. The Lib Dems have consistently held seats where the Conservatives have been the main opposition and consistently lost ground or have been wiped out where Labour or the SNP have been the main opposition.. Labour by the way are gaining ground in a number of key marginals. Then there’s tactical voting. It strikes me that some people here want the Conservatives to win because it validates the logic of a disastrous coalition. Cameron is already planning to stand aside for a third election, I suspect because he knows he can’t get a majority in this one.

  • I’ve noticed all of the polls seem to give the SNP more seats than us (Liberal Democrats). I’m not sure the SNP will win as many seats as predicted, as before the referendum they were super confident they were going to win, yet lost. I hope we can win Gordon to as Nick Clegg stated: “Wipe the smirk off Alex Salmond’s face.” Unfortunately, Danny Alexander looks vulnerable and could well lose his seat to the SNP, and we may end up with only 3 or 4 MPs in Scotland, with Alistair Carmichael being a dead cert, as Orkney and Shetland is the safest LD seat in the UK. However, I think it is possible we can more seats than the SNP, as in many of our constituencies across the UK, the MP is popular locally, despite the unpopularity of the coalition. This is an advantage as we do not elect presidents in the UK, but MPs to represent our own constituency. The SNP are already crowing about how they are the third biggest party in the UK (despite only having 6 Westminster seats), based on their rapid membership increase. We cannot allow them to overtake us in terms of House of Commons seats as well. However difficult the last 5 years have been, we cannot lose our third party status to a bunch of extreme,dangerous nationalists. We will get more votes than them across the UK, but it has to be translated into seats, I would be happy with around 30-35 LD MPs(optimistic I know), and hopefully as little as 25 SNP MPS.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 30th Mar '15 - 6:43am

    At this moment the idea of a Labour/LibDem/SNP Coalition strikes me as potentially far more progressive than the current Coalition.

  • John Roffey 30th Mar '15 - 8:53am

    Gary Mc 29th Mar ’15 – 7:44pm

    “We definitely need change in our electoral system and federalism may be the only way to achieve fairness, as different parts of the UK vote very differently.”

    Yes – now that the Greens & UKIP have substantial support – it might be time to review the Party’s demand for PR. Earlier in the month the Guardian gave this analysis:

    Ukip on track for 100-plus second places across England

    “Ukip is on course to come second in at least 100 seats at the general election as it displaces the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems as the main opposition across large parts of the country, according to new analysis of the party’s electoral prospects on 7 May.”

    The Party will need to be very sure that the electorate does include a sufficient number who are dedicated to Liberalism to continue to press for PR. According to this analysis, such a change will ensure that no party will ever win an outright majority again and presently it would be UKIP [and the Greens] who benefit most.

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 9:10am

    @John Roffey
    Does it matter? Were we really pursuing PR only for the purposes of narrow partisan gain, or did we genuinely think a PR system would be better for the country?

  • John Roffey 30th Mar '15 - 9:36am

    Philip Thomas 30th Mar ’15 – 9:10am

    I don’t know – however, history shows that political parties tend to want to survive and adapt their aims to the realities of the time.

    Having just completed one near suicidal mission ‘in the public good’ by going into coalition with the Tories it seems to me that achieving PR would be a second – that would finally lay the Party to rest.

    I would argue that federal government would be very much in the public good – and would also greatly improve the Party’ chance on long-term survival.

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 9:44am

    Federal government is not incompatible with PR, surely?
    By PR I of course mean STV in multi-member constituencies…

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar ’15 – 9:44am

    I think what your question does demonstrate is that far greater discussion is required, pre -election, on what the Party’s aims should be post election [apart from being part of another coalition] – these aims will need to be those that can bind together a presently severely divided party.

    Such discussions are likely to be far more valuable than endless articles ‘electioneering’ which are unlikely to significantly change the fortunes of the Party at the GE.

  • Philip,
    except UKIP are reckoned to be in second place in about a hundred seats and the swing is away from the Tories. If labour lose ground it will be to the Greens and SNP not the Conservatives. So my guess is that even if the Conservatives ended up as the biggest Party they would still not have a workable majority. Also The Lib Dems seem to lose seats when Labour are the main opposition and keep them when its the Tories. So if the Lib Dems keep 23 seats they’re more likely to be in former Tory marginals, whilst it’s possible that Clegg will lose in Sheffield. I tend to believe the polls and the polls say hung parliament. There is a reason Cameron has ruled out standing a third time and I suspect it’s because he’s looking at the electoral maths. He’s not expecting a workable majority and knows he will have to step down before snap election if he tries to soldier on as leader of a minority government.

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 7:00pm

    In the 2010 election we lost seats to the Tories and gained them from Labour. So much for the idea we can’t lose seats to the Tories.
    We’re projected to lose more seats to the Tories at this election. We couldn’t get from 57 to 23 just by losing seats to Labour or even Labour and the SNP combined. We don’t have enough non Tory-facing seats!
    As for UKIP coming second-not in marginal constituencies: UKIP might come 2nd in Labour strongholds, but in the key Lab-Tory marginals the tactical kipper should vote Tory.
    The swing over the course of the Parliament was away from the Tories- it generally is away from the government of the day, but this swing has already been factored into the predictions of Lab+SNP minority. I am predicting a swing during the campaign back to the Tories. The anti-government vote is usually higher in by-elections than in general elections. Of course I could be wrong: I hope I’m wrong.

    But the tactical analysis remains- and indeed the leadership has embraced it by opening the campaign in OXWAB and not, say, Brent Central- we need to fight the Tories: they are our main opponents in so many more seats where we are anywhere near competitive.

  • Stiofan Hinde 30th Mar '15 - 8:20pm

    I don’t believe the SNP are as motivated to obtain a hasty Indy Ref 2, as some make out. Why did they rule out coalition with the Tories? The SNP hold the balance of power for the first time, you’d have thought they would keep all options open.

    The falling oil price is proving to a burden on the Scottish economy. So the conditions are not right for a fresh Indyref – from their perspective. That’s a factor to consider. It appears the since Sturgeon took over, the focus has switched to obtaining further devolution powers promised by the Westminster parties, than going for an Indy ref – even if Scots wanted independence. And post Indy ref polls since September, have shown an increased support for independence. As much as this excites the SNP rank and file, the leadership are getting cold feet – for now, anyway.

  • Phillip’
    We’re not taking about 2010. The fact remains that virtually all the seats lost by the Lib Dems have been lost to Labour and both seats won by UKIP were in Conservative strongholds. So that’s two where UKIP didn’t come second because they came first. In direct contest with UKIP labour still increased their vote and the Tories lost it drastically. Your assumption is that UKIPPERS will vote tactically to keep Labour out, but in a lot of those seats labour are in a distant 3rd place so the tactical vote could go UKIP to damage the Tories. I think Farage will be an MP and UKiP will retain both seats as well as push the Conservative vote down. I know a lot of people want UKIP to be some sort of threat to Labour but they simply aren’t. And as I said the polls are giving Labour a slight lead again. I just don’t think the Tories are popular enough to get a majority. 290 seats would not give them a workable majority. Labour on say 270 and say SNP on 44 gives a combined voting block of 314. A bad showing for the Lib Dems means plus a conservative commitment to the EU referendum will mean there will be a reluctance to vote with the Government on policies that are unpopular with Lib Dems.

  • Philip Thomas 30th Mar '15 - 8:57pm

    @Glenn- ok. 290 Con seats was election forecast’s figure on Sunday. Today it is 286 (this is the individual seat aggregate total figure rather than their ‘headline’ figure which is arrived at slightly differently and is currently 282). And I agree 290 would not be a majority. I can count to 325.
    I am still not sure whether you are saying we won’t lose any seats to the Tories?

  • Philip.
    I don’t think the Lib Dems will lose enough seas to the Conservatives to push them to a win. Especially if we get the tactical vote onside. I think the mistake is to assume that lib Dem voters are soft Tories.
    I wasn’t trying to suggest you couldn’t add up. As I say I think this is a very close call. Labour for instance could do better in Scotland than it appears, but mainly I can’t see either party getting a majority because they are not connecting with voters and people are taking their vote elsewhere.

  • Simon Foster 3rd Apr '15 - 11:17pm

    Did everyone remember to add the 3 SDLP to Labour, who take the Labour whip? #justsayin’ 😉

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