James Gurling writes…What should Liberal Democrats learn from the MRP?

Every General Election campaign has a ‘hold your nerve’ moment.

And last night’s YouGov MRP polling announcement is one such moment.

It’s a wake-up call for anyone who doesn’t want to see a Tory Brexit being delivered in two weeks’ time.  And we can’t pretend it doesn’t have challenges for our position.

But the situation is always more complicated for Liberal Democrats. Our national seat campaigns are being rolled out in a heavily focused way.

We can see from recent seat polls in places like Finchley & Golders Green and Wimbledon that, when voters in those specific constituencies are asked how they are voting, we are doing much better than this model suggests.

Because our target seat campaigns are so focused in key areas, it makes it hard for data modelling like MRP to pick up our activity. What is clear is that our local seat activity is shifting significantly more votes our way in these seats than across the UK as a whole. And we know from 2017 that the number of doorstep conversations is the greatest indicator of electoral success.

A General Election isn’t a single UK-wide poll. It’s 650 separate races, and modelling like MRP will not necessarily identify the differences in what is going on in communities up and down the country, where people are struggling to decide how best to simultaneously stop Brexit, avoid a Corbyn Government and deny Johnson a working majority.

Voting choices that seem obvious in one seat are anathema in another.

MRP data modelling is very different in character to traditional polling which we tend to be more familiar with.

Multiple Regression and Post-stratification modelling is an extremely clever way of producing estimates of opinion for defined geographic areas by combining information from huge national samples (but very small constituency samples) with authoritative data from sources such as ONS and the Census.

The MRP authors themselves attach a significant caveat to their report stating “Our sample is large enough that we can identify patterns that occur across relatively small numbers of constituencies, but the largest model errors are likely to occur in constituencies with very atypical patterns of voting.  Some examples of these are seats where there is a high profile independent candidate (e.g. Beaconsfield) or where there appears to be a new pattern of local competition in this election (e.g. Kensington)”.

In short, to work properly MRP requires a high degree of interpretation by professional analysts.  And assumptions at the margins, can make huge differences when extrapolated out across a national position.

It can lead to counter-intuitive results.

In the General Election of 2017 we received just 7% of the national vote, and returned 12 MPs – missing out on a further 4 seats by less than 500 votes.  The latest MRP poll predicts us to double our vote share on 2017, but increase our total seat haul by just one MP.

YouGov did of course get closest to the 2017 result.  They have a good track record, which I have no desire to understate in any way.

The challenge for the Party is to look for the consistent indicators and draw the right conclusion from this data-dump.

The overall data tells us we are winning or in second place in 134 seats.  The vast majority of these seats are against the Conservatives, and the data shows we are taking seats from them.

The data tells us also that, whatever their bluster, Labour cannot win the Election because they can’t take seats from the Conservatives.

Labour could be on course for its lowest number of MPs since 1983.

The Tory attack on us – that a vote for the Lib Dems will put Corbyn in – clearly no longer holds.

Our objective to stop Brexit by denying Johnson a working majority, remains achievable.

The next two weeks are going to be a test of our mettle.

We can hold true to our desire to stop Brexit, by mutual assistance between seats and dedicating targeting of resources to get to as many doorsteps as possible.

We outperformed our national vote share in 2017 and all the indications are that we can do it again in 2019.  We will do so if we hold true to our convictions, share our resource carefully and hold our nerve.

* James Gurling is a member of the Federal Board and was brother-in-law to Charles Kenendy.

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  • Trevor Stables 28th Nov '19 - 5:22pm

    Well said James!

    These Polls miss 1.2 million HIGHLY Motivated Brits in Europe and younger voters who don’t have access to fixed phone lines.
    In this election more than any other the number of undecided must be high.
    A week is indeed a long time in Politics.. 2 weeks is a Political eternity.

  • nvelope2003 28th Nov '19 - 5:23pm

    The problem with this is that most voters desperately want a majority Government not one dependent on another party and many of them dislike the idea of Parliament overturning the result of the Referendum.
    People voted Liberal Democrat before the 2010 Coalition because they saw it as an anti establishment party but the Coalition ended that idea and the party’s attachment to the EU confirmed that view as many people see the EU as an establishment project like comprehensive schools. I noticed that Conference wanted all selection in schools to be abolished but it did not say that applied to Independent fee paying schools. Liberal Democrat support is higher in places where parents send their children to such schools. They have an interest in getting rid of grammar schools.

  • James,

    Why didn’t you list the 134 seats?

    If people are interested you can look up each constituency for the YouGov ranges – https://yougov.co.uk/uk-general-election-2019/.
    For example Workington Con 33-48 est. 41, Lab 33-47 est. 40, Brexit 4-25 est 9, us 3-11 est 6.

  • Brian Edmonds 28th Nov '19 - 5:49pm

    Yes, they poll more people, but they are not constituency-specific, which requires a lot of tweaking to adjust the raw data. In particular it’s not clear how much their ‘analysis’ will be able to incorporate the vast numbers of (largely young) newly-registered voters. Other pollsters have shone brightly only to end up with red faces. Let’s hope we can demonstrate that MRP is no more than the latest lucrative fad – maybe they just got lucky with their hunches last time?

  • One thing the MRP projects is Lib Dems losing seats such as Norfolk North and Eastborne. Even in a good GE such as 2005 we always fail to hold seats. So in that regards the MRP projection is a wake up call. Which seats, won in 2017 will we fail to hold?

  • David Evans 28th Nov '19 - 8:40pm

    I’m sorry James, but this is sounding increasingly like the mantra in the run up to 2015 – “Ignore the national picture, I [Ryan Coetzee/James Gurling] have local polls to prove we will do much better and the worst thing possible is to change what we are doing, even though we have lost [two thirds of our vote in the last five years/ one third of our vote in the last two months]”. Delete as appropriate.

    The problem is the daily drip, drip, drip of poor national polls undermines the confidence of our voters in our target seats, unless they have a truly exceptional reputation, organisation, message and work ethic.

    SW London may just have a big enough cluster for positive messages to overflow from one to another, but in the rest of the country, every one of our seats and our targets are surrounded by a sea of blue, or yellow (or just a bit of red), and without a successful national message, each seat is swimming against a very strong tide.

    We need a national strategy based on supporting a suitable and limited number of key seats – the time for hubris and dreams is over.

  • Complacency like this is not reassuring, and the author risks looking very foolish in a couple of weeks’ time.

    I would hope that a more sober and intelligent assessment and sensible decisions are being made by the party behind the scenes.

  • The degree of a problem for the party can usually be gauged by how quickly something appears on LDV saying there isn’t a problem! 🙂

    “Because our target seat campaigns are so focused in key areas, it makes it hard for data modelling like MRP to pick up our activity. What is clear is that our local seat activity is shifting significantly more votes our way in these seats than across the UK as a whole.”

    A few days before the 2015 election Ryan Coetzee tweeted pretty much exactly this. That the polls didn’t pick up the strength of the Lib Dem ground game. I think we know how it turned out.

    “And we know from 2017 that the number of doorstep conversations is the greatest indicator of electoral success.” I”m treating this with a degree of scepticism. The Campaigns/Elections/whatever they are called now dept have a long history of simplistic reductions of campaign techniques to a single metric. They used to say ‘more leaflets equals more votes’. That was also nonsense as it just led to vast numbers of rubbish leaflets. Ditto for doorstep conversations – effective if they are good and meaningful contacts generating accurate data.

  • People are going crazy about this MRP model because they called 93% of the seats correctly last time, which sounds good but 7% of 650 is 45 seats wrong – a pretty high number given how many safe seats there are.

    You could do better than that most elections just looking at the bookies’ odds for individual seats.

    Having said that I think the polls should be concerning and they maybe show it’s time to play to the party’s actual strengths and de-emphasise the toxic policy on the EU. England looks a lot more like Richmond-on-Swale than it looks like Richmond-on-Thames.

  • I’ve made this point in another thread but I want to ask all the critical commenters in this thread too: are your perceptions influenced by what you have found on the doorsteps, or while out leafleting in this campaign? I just think it’s funny how your comments never start with “While I was canvassing today…”
    Folks, there’s a general election going on, right now. That means every single one of us has an opportunity to actually influence what seats we win, not just speculate and argue about it. If you care about how well we do, are you out there in your nearest target seat doing all you can to make sure we win it? Or is this just a place for armchair generals who think they know best while the rest of us are out there trying to make it happen?
    Myself, I’m doing my bit in Edinburgh West, and I intend to go to North East Fife next weekend and help there. I’ve also sent some money to Esher & Walton because, well I just want to see Raab’s face if we win! I also sent a donation to party HQ at the start of the campaign. Anyone else want to declare what they’re doing to win some votes before they exercise their perfect right to criticise the national campaign?

  • Yeovil Yokel 28th Nov '19 - 10:22pm

    I agree with Ross.

  • David Becket 28th Nov '19 - 10:26pm

    Our message of Revoke Brexit and Jo for PM now looks pretty sick, and it never had a touch of reality. The strident message that came out from us was not what was needed to bridge the gap between Boris and Corbyn. We should have been the party of conciliation.
    Go for a referendum between the safest Brexit possible and Remain. We could still do it if we persuade enough target seats to give us that balance of power. Add to that our policies on Climate Change, Poverty, NHS, Education and housing (which can only be effectively achieved from within the EU), and we might just do it. However ditch Revoke and strident attacks on others, we would have to work with them.

  • Jeremy Cunnington 28th Nov '19 - 10:49pm

    Just to further counter the negative comments here, I suggest you read the excellent pieces on the survey by Mark Pack from a Lib Dem perspective and Stephen Bush in the New Statesman that back up what James is saying.

    Additionally to make analogies with 2015, is quite frankly silly. It’s a completely different group of people involved in running the campaign that is very data driven that helped win over 700 council seats this May, helped us finish second in the Euro Elections and won us Brecon & Radnorshire. Additionally we have the help of the social media team that helped Trudeau win a landslide first up and manage make them the largest party after a “difficult” campaign. In 2015 it was a poor campaign done on a shoestring eg we didn’t do any constituency polling during the election campaign.

    To back up what Ross says, at this point everyone who can needs to go out and help the local target seat either going in person or telephone canvassing. This is the time when voters are starting to engage with who they are going to vote for and with between 15-20% of voters still undecided now is the time to act.

  • David Becket 28th Nov '19 - 10:52pm

    I give up.
    Opening statement in the Climate Crisis Debate rom Jo was all about Brexit. We have got this wrong, can somebody tell her

  • “running the campaign that is very data driven”

    A data driven campaign isn’t good in and of itself. Only if the data is good. The Euros were fought on an ‘uphill slope’ of polling trends and B&R isn’t a great endorsment – it would certainly have been lost had the Brexit party not stood and nearly was even when they did.

    David – you’ll be pleased to know at least one candidate/ex MP is not even mentioning Brexit at all on her election address! (I’m not sure I follow the plan here but never mind!) https://electionleaflets.org/leaflets/17245/

  • Yeovil Yokel – thankyou! I tend to agree with what you have to say on here as well. It’s always nice to have some positive comments amid the gloom!

  • It’s worth remembering that (a) there are still two weeks to go, and (b) the MRP poll at the same stage in 2017 showed a similar margin which wasn’t being reflected in canvass returns for us or Labour at the time.

  • There is a fundamental flaw in our approach to General Elections which consists in consistently narrowing down the audience we want to speak to. Thus the disastrous 2015 strategy which was overtly and explicitly targeted around those who “would consider voting Lib Dem” and not to those who wouldn’t -without asking why so many wouldn’t consider us. This time we have again narrowed our pool by appearing to have nothing to say to those who lean leave. The mantra of Revoke Article 50 seems to do that .When the squeeze comes these pools shrink.

    Philosophically a confident Liberalism should be willing to engage in a spirit of tolerant rationality with anyone. The more sectarian we sound ,the worse it gets for us. We cannot possibly agree with everyone but we can engage with anyone if we believe in fair-minded politics without blindspots. Energising voters to vote for us while simultaneously alienating other large groups of the electorate can be done with some success by other parties with a big , well-distributed,loyal core vote but does not and arguably should not work for Liberals because it usually means you’re missing some valid concerns.
    Blair’s success with Labour came from asking with brutal honesty “What puts people off Labour and why ?” . Better to ask that question of ourselves than have an echo chamber of the faithful- something perhaps for our new President to set in train.

  • While the MRP won’t pick up constituency-specific things like an extremely strong local campaign. If you look at the details, rather than just the headline estimate – and YouGov are I think the only company to publish these details so clearly – there are several seats where the Lib Dems aren’t “in the lead”, but the MRP still gives a 40% chance of winning the seat. It wouldn’t take much extra to put them over the line.

    But … also don’t get complacent. If Seat A and Seat B both had 150 voters polled, and are both shown as slightly lost marginals for the Lib Dems … but Seat A is actually going to be won, then that means that Seat B is even weaker than the MRP says.

    @Trevor Stables

    YouGov is an online polling company, so should be able to pick up younger and abroad voters directly. That said, there is no systemic difference in this election between the results obtained by telephone and online polling companies.

  • Given the Johnson absence from the Leaders debate last night, and his ducking out of Andrew Neil’s torture seat, I suggest Jo Swinson immediately goes on the offensive by using a good old Scots word, “Johnson is a Feartie”.

    And when Neil has a go at her she says, “Well, I’m here. Where’s Feartie Bo Jo ?”

  • Richard Underhill 29th Nov '19 - 10:57am

    David Raw 29th Nov ’19 – 10:22am “Feartie”
    A similar quote from Margaret Thatcher might have more effect on him.

  • Absolutely right, David Raw. It would also be very helpful if we started putting on every leaflet quotes from people who have had dealings with Johnson. The most wounding are those made by Max Hastings and Dyson MR. Both are public figures held in high regard whose views on Johnson are almost unrepeatable.

  • @Keith Legg

    Lets not go overboard here. The YouGov MRP in 2017 had the Lib Dems on 9% (actually polling 7.6%) in every poll and started with 10 seats and finished up on 12. You could I suppose say the inital poll was 20% out 🙂

    The evidence that it didn’t pick up strong local campaigns is – on those figures – a little thin. Whether that is true this time will remain to be seen

  • Joseph Bourke 30th Nov '19 - 1:52pm

    Notwithstanding John Pugh’s warning that it is “Better to ask that question of ourselves than have an echo chamber of the faithful”, I very much echo the points made in his comment above.
    Vince Cable was on the today program this morning making similar observations to his earlier Sky News debate with Nigel Farage https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/vince-cable-on-revoking-article-50-lib-dems-1-6402454 and arguing that the “revoke policy was a distraction and not a very helpful one.”
    Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the revoke policy; in these last two weeks the campaign emphasis needs to switch to the securing of a 2nd referendum by any means possible to avoid any further squeeze on the Libdem vote in the run-up to the election.

  • With regard to our revoke policy. It was passed overwhelmingly (the separate vote to remove revoke from the motion was lost overwhelmingly) at Autumn Conference. If Vince thought it was such a bad idea why didn’t he speak during the debate against us having the revoke policy? At least I put in a speakers card to speak for removing revoke from the motion.

  • David Evans 30th Nov '19 - 7:49pm

    While agreeing with Sesenco in principle, we should be attacking Boris Johnson more, I am sad to say it is all too late. Undermining opposition has to be done steadily, methodically and consistently over time. That is exactly how the press barons and the ERG undermined the EU in the minds of many British voters. In their case it was based on a series of half truths and quarter truths, planted one by one in people’s minds pointing out the mistakes and the absurdity of the EU and then steadily ratcheted up as time passed.

    We should have adopted a strategy of undermining the Conservatives from the day after David Cameron’s failed gamble with his EU Referendum. It was clear from the start that negotiating any sort of Brexit would be extremely difficult and throughout May’s tenure, the Conservatives failed time after time. However, we were largely silent on allocating the blame.

    Ultimately, the Conservatives totally humiliated themselves over that three year period, but we didn’t really exploit it. I think our strategists thought it was obvious to everyone that all these failures were was down to them. But the Brexiteers had a much easier solution – blame the Remainers

    Then the Tories chose to inflict Boris Johnson on us. Our strategy didn’t change, but the Tories’ strategy evolved further – tell any number of lies and double down on attacking us for their failure was clearly focussed on us. Don’t blame the Government for its failure, blame the Remainers/Remoaners for somehow failing to protect them from their incompetence.

    All in all, the Conservatives had a consistent strategy which they stuck with for years so that it could take root and grow. That is the only way to make it work. if we try it now, at the last minute, it will simply look like desperate flailing about by a party in a mess.

  • Finding it really hard to believe the gloom-mongers here, talking about this election as though it’s all over and there’s nothing we can do to influence how it turns out. There’s nearly two weeks to go. Get out there and fight!! Go to your nearest target seat, knock on doors, deliver leaflets, write blue letters, make cups of tea for the canvassers coming back, make a donation. Do something!! If you’ve already done any of the above, do it again! If the election result is bad you’ll have years to come on here and tell us what mistakes were made. But just for the next 12 days, DO something to help us win!!

  • Ross McL, when it’s all going pear-shaped, just pounding more streets is not productive. Suggesting things that could be changed for the better, even at the eleventh hour, might just achieve something.

    Johnson has had an appallingly free ride. Corbyn has been so besotted with his own spending programme that he has forgotten to point out why the spending is needed, after years of Tory austerity. Swinson has made the obvious point that Johnson is selfish, but she hasn’t recognised that actually, lots of people know that, but will nevertheless vote for him because he puts on a good “I can get things done” act. We need to call the Tories out as the Ditherers-in-Chief, the incompetent party who have dithered and argued with themselves about Brexit for over three years, and have still “Got Nothing Done”!

    We need to find a way to convince the voters that we can make a difference, that it is worth bothering to vote for us. Yes, of course there are dangers in coalitions and in holdign out the possibility of coalitions, but this campaign has shown that there are greater dangers in refusing to cooperate with anybody, and as Alex Macfie has put it “whatever happens we go into Opposition”. Why should anyone vote for a party which insists that it won’t have any influence over future events, and won’t even try to?

  • Alex Macfie 1st Dec '19 - 12:18am

    David Allen: It’s NOT all going “pear-shaped”. This isn’t 2015. Have you actually SEEN what is happening ON THE GROUND in a target seat in this election? Where I am, it is completely different from what it was like in 2015, or even 2017.
    As for your assumption that the only way to have “influence over future events” is to participate in government, well that’s straight out of the Nick Clegg Politics for Dummies textbook. Where I wrote “whatever happens we go into Opposition”, the context was that we regard neither Corbyn nor Johnson as suitable candidates for Prime Minister; however, I also wrote that we would support, from Opposition, any government move to instigate a People’s Vote. Because it’s possible to influence government policy in opposition, as we showed in the last Parliament. Refusing to go into coalition is not a vote loser. In 2015 our support tanked because all we were offering was to be a bit player in a coalition government, and it didn’t particularly matter which of the main parties we coalesced with. To give people reason to vote for us, we have to have a USP, which means talking about stuff that we woudl do if we were in government on our own. Now you are complaining that we are doing just that, saying that if only we just meeky accepted the box that the media and political establishment want to put us in and don’t get ideas above our station, the nation will suddenly love us. Well that didn’t work in 2015 under Clegg, did it?
    The idea that we are “refusing to cooperate with anybody” is absolute rubbish anyway. What else is the Unite to Remain Alliance?

  • Ruth – yes there are other seats in play.

    DIfferent polls give different stories that are very contradictory. Illustrated most starkly by Portsmouth South!

    A poll done for the party (professionally and with published tables) had the Lib Dems on 30% up 13 points. Deltapoll tonight has them on 11% down 6! Make of that what you will but I’m certain there hasn’t been a 19 point turnaround in 4 weeks!

    That said both that and the Esher and Walton poll are broadly consistent with the YouGov MRP

  • “when it’s all going pear-shaped, just pounding more streets is not productive.”
    OK David, well there we have your campaign philosophy in a nutshell. What an extraordinary thing for a party member to say! So all of us hardworking activists who are out there in the freezing cold, day after day, doing our bit to make a difference while you sit at your keyboard in the warm – we’re all wasting our time and should just give up and all come on to LDV and sit at the feet of the master who knows all about how to win an election campaign, even though he won’t actually do any actual – you know – campaigning??
    I wonder, in 2017 would you have advised activists in North East Fife to pack in the campaign 2 weeks out? Ditto Richmond Park, St Ives and Ceredigeon? Who knows, maybe you did and maybe some of them listened to you. I wonder which will be the seats we lose or gain by a handful of votes this time. But you will no doubt tell us a bit of extra campaigning there would have made no difference.
    Incidentally, the campaign is not ‘going pear-shaped.’ The national polls are certainly disappointing (at the moment) but even they show a doubling of our vote since 2017. And the target seats continue to report all to play for. An Esher & Walton poll tonight shows us within a few points of unseating the Foreign Secretary, You would presumably advise against “pounding more streets” there at this point. Thankfully the superb local party there is not listening to you – and I advise LDV readers to take the same approach.

  • Yeovil Yokel 1st Dec '19 - 6:49am

    The armchair generals are out again – just as Labour had a problem with Militant Tendency in the 1980’s, we have a problem with the ‘Masochist Tendency’.

    The campaign strategy may be imperfect, but the real problem for the Lib Dems is not JS, but FPTP. It is the same problem in every UK election, regardless of who is Leader, in which we fighting against an entrenched political duopoly with one hand tied behind our back. By my partial reckoning Jo is by far a better leader than either Johnson or Corbyn, but that is not a realistic option available to most voters. In most English & Welsh constituencies the choice is between the two dinosaur parties, and in this election it will be a near-impossible choice between two evils.

    It’s well worth listening to Dr. Phillip Lee’s latest ‘On the House’ podcast, recorded last Thursday 28th. November. In it he discusses with Alastair Campbell and the football commentator Clive Tyldesley the most likely outcomes of the election and the implications for the UK next year and beyond. One of the points made by Phillip Lee is that, despite his trusted position as a GP, sometimes patients won’t take his advice until they’ve experienced the outcome he’s warned them about. The three men agree that much of the public don’t believe the advice of ‘experts’ cited by untrustworthy politicians, and it may be that the turmoil and pain of Brexit will have to be experienced before public opinion shifts more decisively against it.


    If the link doesn’t work try Googling “On the House podcast”.

  • David Evans 1st Dec '19 - 10:56am

    I wonder Yeovil Yokel if you realise that in fact it is people like you who are the party’s Masochist tendency. Preferring repeated pain and failure to actually changing things and never facing up to problems at the top because it is so much more fun to deliver leaflets in no hope seats in the South West that used to be our heartland until 2010.

    Tell me are we going to win back Paddy’s seat this time?

    Because until we do win it and lots of seats like it, we will never change FPTP.

  • Alex Macfie 1st Dec '19 - 11:54am

    Ruling out coalition with either Labour or the Tories probably saved us in 2017. If we had not done that, we could well have been literally annihilated. The unexpected hung Parliament forced us to stick to that pledge, although it’s difficult to see how any workable coalition could be formed involving us, given that there was so little common ground between us and either major party at the time. And if that was true then, it is true in spades now.
    The idea that we should have held back from making a pitch for government because it’s “unrealistic” is absolute nonsense. If we had not done this, all the media attention would have been on which main party we would have “gone to bed with” in the event of a hung Parliament. There would have been practically NO discussion on our policies, and the narrative would be that there would be no point in voting Lib Dem because we are not a serious party of government. Our refusal to help either Johnson or Corbyn into No 10 is also an essential part of our strategy, without which we would be being squeezed much harder. Its importance is shown in the Sophy Ridge interview with Dominic Raab this morning, where Ridge pushed back on Raab’s comment on his personal electoral prospects in a seat where he is under threat from the Lib Dems. In response to Raab’s assertion that voting Lib Dem in this election would lead to a Corbyn-led government propped up by the Lib Dems and SNP (where have we heard that before, I wonder?), Ridge pointed out that we have repeatedly ruled out helping Corbyn into No 10, and even suggested the prospect of Lib Dems supporting a Labour-led government with someone other than JC as PM. Raab didn’t have a ready answer to that. When the Tory campaigin in seats where we are their main challengers is based on “Vote Lib Dem get Corbyn”, this is important, as it shows that the claim is not gaining as much traction as it used to. And the main reason for this is that we have explicitly ruled it out.

  • Bill le Breton 1st Dec '19 - 12:26pm

    People who might know tell me that the YouGov MRP process (it is a process) showed earlier a 96 seat majority for the Conservatives. So the trend is of a reducing majority.

    This kind of trend mirrors a similar trend noted by YouGov’s MRP team in 2017.

    By the 27th the majority was down to 62. By next week Labour may have clawed back a further 28 seats. By election day …? Let’s assume that the Tories are set for being 10 to 15 short but largest party.

    The implications for us are that such a rise in the Labour vote will be slicing a few votes from our campaigns as electors formerly committed to votijng tactically for us have second thoughts … but it does look like the Tories are less and less likely to win an outright majority. A conclusion that the Oracle of Winewall had shared with me two nights ago.

    Every vote counts.

    A second implication is that the Party is likely to be placed in a very difficult position on Friday 13th.

    Generally, even in a ‘hung’ Parliament there seems to be a side that ‘lost’ and one that gained. But we could be headed for a result when it could be argued that every Party has lost and no one has a legitimate claim – though Johnson with have some occupation rights which would have to be challenged.

    We shall need to move very carefully and of course to keep Party members thoroughly involved.

  • I find myself in the strange position of doing exactly what I said I was not going to do.
    I thought I was going to vote Tory for the first time in my life, as I do and I always will believe in leaving the EU

    I had vowed that I was not going to Vote Liberal Democrat because I do not believe that sufficient lessons have been learnt from the coalition era and since the last time I voted for the party in 2010. I also did not want a remain party using my vote as part of the statistics to say that it strengthens their argument for another referendum.

    I have since, after very careful consideration, decided that I am going to vote Liberal Democrat in this election, not because my position has changed on Brexit, I will always argue and campaign for us to leave the EU.

    When push came to shove, I could not vote for a Conservative as I do not trust them with the NHS, recent stories about NHS rationing of certain tests and procedures just raised to many questions and doubts for me to be able to consciously give them my vote ( No matter how much I want Brexit done)
    I also could not bring myself to vote Labour, although I agree with re-nationalising energy companies, Royal Mail and Rail companies, I know Labour would take things to far for example their pledge on Free Broadband and their aim to give “private renters” the right to buy from “private landlords” at a discount. They are just a couple of examples of how Labour (under corbyn) would take socialism to far for me.

    So after a lot of careful thinking and reasoning with myself, I have decided that I am going to vote for Liberal Democrats in this election. There is a lot of what the parties policies that I identify with. I am passionate about Health, Social Care, Education and Welfare. The party does not go further enough on these issues though and it is something that I will argue for strongly over the coming years.
    I will though be a thorn in the parties side over Brexit and it is something that I will continue to argue for in future discussions.

    Anywway, I just wanted to put it out there as a arch Brexiteer, I have decided to vote Liberal Democrat and put my Brexit desires to one side in this election, even though I know there is a chance that we now might end up with a hung parliament and probably another referendum as a result. Brexit is not the be all and end all and I have to vote with my conscience and fight the Brexit battle on another day

  • nvelope2003 1st Dec '19 - 1:23pm

    If there is any real sign of a hung parliament the voters will move to the Conservatives or even to Labour if they look like being the largest party. Only the Liberal Democrats and the Regional/Nationalist parties want that. Be careful what you wish for. It might help if you started listening to the voters instead of lecturing them but you will not.

  • Joseph Bourke 1st Dec '19 - 1:23pm

    Very good points from Blll le Breton. A conservative lead of 7% or less puts us in hung parliament territory and this remains, with 11 days to go, a distinct possibility. With so many previously thought safe seats now in play, it is impossible to assess seat numbers from national swings alone.
    The success of the Libdem campaign remains crucial to whether the Tories secure a majority or not. A focus on securing a 2nd referendum is a much more salient approach in this election than the distraction of a revoke policy that could only be implemented by a hypothetical Libdem majority government.

  • Nigel Jones 1st Dec '19 - 2:48pm

    Joseph, you are right about revoke being a distraction. I did a recording for BBC Radio Stoke on Friday and the interviewer focused first on the revoke idea, so I had to agree it was confusing which gave me the chance to move on and stress very much that actually we want a second referendum and the democratic opportunity to persuade people that remain is best for Britain. I hope all candidates are doing the same.

  • roger roberts 1st Dec '19 - 4:02pm

    Roger Roberts
    7 hrs ·
    In the 1950 General Elction I carried the voter numbers from Rosehill st School Conwy to the Committee Room (in Mr Richards, Milk Bar on Castle Street) In the 2019 Election I do what I can in our Lib Dem office on Chapel St Llandudno. In those 20 or so elections I have never felt as despondent as I do today.
    The whole atmosphere has become more harsh and divisive.Canvassers and deliverers(and we’re blessed with those of all ages) are warned not to go out alone – opponents sometimes hurl abuse !
    The party that, according to the polls, looks like forming a government wants to distance us from Europe and the neighbours with whom we have enriched all all our lives by learning to live in peace and respect different cultures.
    Brexit is much more than trade links and profits it is to appreciate that increased understanding is to all our advantage.
    As a member of the House of Lords I have no vote in this election but urge,with all my heart,not to let Dec 12 be the start of departure from our hard won relationship with our European neighbours.

  • Arnold Kiel 1st Dec '19 - 5:12pm


    I concur with your own answer to your headline-question: nothing.

    In FPTP, a small party fighting against two horribly-led large ones, none of whom warrants support, has no easy options. Any leaning is self defeating, and the alternative pretence to be a force on its own is easily attacked. Worse and avoidable inconsistencies characterise other parties in this campaign.

  • Roger Roberts you are a true hero of this party. Thankyou for everything you have done for those 20 elections – and in between! I remember being inspired as a young man by your terrific speeches at conference in the 1980s, and your near-misses as the almost MP for Conwy were felt across the whole party at that time.
    I understand your despondency, and I’m sure we all share it at times. Here in Scotland we’re not just fighting one form of nationalism (Brexiteers) but our own home-grown version as well. Both equally nasty and divisive. It’s hard at times, but of course it just means we have to keep going. Liberalism is the best counter to nationalism, and we need to make sure the Liberal voice is heard. I know I don’t need to tell you that.

  • @matt – I’ve argued with you about Brexit on this site in the past and probably will do so again, but well done for coming to such a thoughtful conclusion, and of course thankyou for giving us your vote. I do understand it comes with caveats.
    If it’s any help, I did once cast a tactical vote for a non-LD candidate. The Tory councillor was a particularly odious individual and I wanted him out, but the LDs had no chance so I voted Labour. Now, usually when I vote I draw a big bold ‘X ‘on the ballot paper, covering the whole space in the box. But on this occasion I held a handkerchief in my hand so I didn’t actually touch the pencil, and I drew a really tiny faint ‘x’ – visible but only just – for the Labour candidate. A futile gesture maybe, but it helped me a bit at the time.

  • David Evans 2nd Dec '19 - 7:43pm

    Martin, I think you are missing my point. As you well know I have emphasised the need to make sure the blame lies where it should (i.e. with the Conservatives who have been the government for the last four years) who promised and “easy brexit”, “the easiest trade deal ever” etc.etc. and Boris Johnson now.

    The question you have to ask yourself is why are we not successfully doing so? And the answer goes back to strategic decisions made by the party leadership
    – not holding the Conservatives to account from the start of the Brexit process,
    – Letting Boris Johnson off the hook by pressing for an early election,
    – Going for the ‘Britain’s next prime minister’ line at the start of the campaign;
    – going for Revoke as our other message and losing our cred for supporting a people’s vote.
    – expecting the broadcasters to give Jo a place alongside Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at the leader’s debates.

    The problem our party faces is not an inability of our activists to campaign their socks off. It is not a failure of our councillors to work for their communities. And it is not a failure of our MPs to stand up for Lib Dem values. The problem is an apparently never ending series of clear mistakes made at the heart of the party over strategy.

    And this is the third General Election in a row we have gone into with a disastrous strategy. Nick, Tim and now Jo, their closest advisers and the party bureaucracy have now got the election badly wrong three times in a row.

    I hope they can turn it around. For all our sakes.

  • This hasn’t aged terribly well….

  • Clearly what we should have learned – as I indicated at the time, upthread – was that the MRP was on the money and we should have rapidly trimmed our sails accordingly. That our campaign chair – with all the inside information and party experts at his disposal – thought otherwise is a damning condemnation of his unsuitability for the role, and having failed in two successive election campaigns now I trust the party will finally learn its lesson and won’t be letting him anywhere near an election campaign ever again.

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