Lib Dems could gain 100 seats at local elections: Rallings and Thrasher

Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher have predicted that the Liberal Democrats could gain 100 seats in the County Council election, twice as many as the Tories are predicted to gain. They also say that Labour will lose 50 seats and UKIP 100.

From the Sunday Times (£):

Thrasher and Rallings predict that Ukip’s vote will collapse from 22% to 10% — and that the Tory vote will rise five points to 31%.

Rallings said: “The Tories will benefit from Ukip’s decline, but could themselves lose seats to the Lib Dems.

“The Lib Dems will be looking to take seats from both Tories and Labour as they claw their way back from the humiliation of the 2015 general election. In local elections they benefit from an ability to mobilise support on the ground.”

The last time those seats were fought, we lost 124, so even that sort of spectacular rise wouldn’t take us back to where we are in 2009.

This is only in relation to England. Every Council seat in Scotland and Wales is up for grabs as well and that will have an effect on the net totals. The Tories are looking to do well in Scotland as Labour crash and burn. I would be looking for good news stories in places like Edinburgh. In one ward in Edinburgh, Lib Dem support is so strong that they have taken the decision to put up a second candidate. Kevin Lang will now have Louise Young, who happens to be his sister, as his running mate in Almond ward. Scottish elections are held using the Single Transferable Vote.

These predictions should motivate us all to get out and help as much as we can between now and the elections on May 4th. Is anyone planning Star Wars themed Good Mornings, by the way? I know, you can’t tell me cos you would have to kill me, but it would be quite a cool thing to do.



* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • i hope they are right, damm I hope they are being pessimistic. If they are right well a recovery for us and another nail in UKIP’S coffin, not that the press will notice they so love the UKIP candidate ate my hamster headline.

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Apr '17 - 9:56pm

    How many seats are each party defending?

  • By-elections, defections and any boundary changes will alter these figures slightly but these from Wikipedia will be broadly accurate:
    Counties from 2013 results
    Conservative – 1,116
    Labour – 538
    Liberal Democrat – 352
    UKIP – 147

    Scotland (2012)
    Scottish National Party – 425
    Labour – 394
    Conservative- 115
    Independents – 196
    Liberal Democrats – 71

    Labour – 577
    Plaid Cymru – 158
    Conservative – 105
    Liberal Democrat – 72

  • Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher might be very clever men, but they must have been having an off day when they came out with these predictions. Labours loses will be in the hundreds and it could be several hundred. The Lib Dems will pick up a good many of them and that could easily mean 200+. I predict very good nights for the Lib Dems and Tories, with the Tories doing particularly well in Scotland. Poor to average nights for the nationalist parties and an absolute disaster for Labour and UKIP.

  • For 2016 R&T projected 16% and 40 Lib Dem gains. The results were 15% and 45 gains. Mark Pack (who seems rather airbrushed from this site!) says they consistently over state the Lib Dem %age and their record on seat projections is a bit varied (that is much harder to do).

    Labour had a projected vote share of 29% in 2013 and 31% last May – though their poll ratings are a bit south of that now. 50 looks a little low – but I’m not sure if its pointing to huge number of losses. Time will tell of course 🙂

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Apr '17 - 8:13am

    So, on the one side,we have Rallings and Thrasher, and on the other side you have the anonymous ‘malc’. As a psephologist, who would you vote for?

    The number of marginals where Labour is in any threat from any party at all is limited. The country is becoming polarised and, despite their utter demise elsewhere, there are still areas of this country where they are well-organised against little opposition and can actually move forwards. County council wards are largely situations where Lib Dems against Labour does not yield much. Individual ward situations are what really counts – getting over 2000 votes in a ward of 10,000 is what matters. How many Lib Dem teams are up to that challenge today? Hundreds of places getting 20 per cent are useless. Anyone who talks in general terms about these battles does not know owt about owt.

  • paul barker 3rd Apr '17 - 11:05am

    I hav e looked at the same Elections as Rallings & Thrasher, using their methods & I am still predicting Libdem gains of 150 seats (net). By the same token that implies smaller gains for The Tories & higher losses for Labour.
    The big question is how much notice The Media take & will The BBC finally drop their obsession with UKIP ?

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Apr '17 - 11:43am

    If UKIP lose 100, how many does that leave them with?

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Apr '17 - 11:46am

    Answering my own question from an earlier reply, about 50. I’m astonished that they had so many, but perhaps 4 years ago was a high water mark for them. Do they *really* have no council seats in Scotland and Wales?

  • Chris Bertram – I think they had 2 in Wales which have been lost one way or another…

  • Chris Bertram 3rd Apr '17 - 12:58pm

    @Garry: I did wonder. They clearly have/had enough support to elect members to the Welsh Assembly, so it’s not as though they have no presence at all. Scotland I wouldn’t be sure about, but they do have one Scottish MEP, so again there has been support somewhere for them.

  • It is not so clear as it seems. A lot of wards are being fought on different boundaries so direct comparisons with 2013 are not possible, I believe this affects 15 counties alone including Devon and Dorset. Therefore we may not attain the in region of 100. Mind you the changes affect the other parties as well, so hey let us hope its 125 – 150. 2013 was a good year for Labour so they should be down, but by how many who knows.

  • UKIP have no council seats in Scotland. They do have a base vote: hence the MEP, but he was only just elected, and that was in a nationwide PR List election where they benefitted from the UK-wide publicity in a good UKIP year. In organisational/campaigning terms they are a bit of a joke in Scotland. No active presence at all, except the odd lurid headline about the tiny cabal at the top. They don’t have it in them to run the kind of campaign that would net seats in an STV election. I suspect they’ll struggle to put up many candidates, and whose who do stand will get a small slice of 1st preference votes but not many 2nds or 3rds or 4ths.

  • David Evans 4th Apr '17 - 4:12pm

    The article uses a peculiar expression to indicate hide how many gains we need to get back to where we were. When Nick became leader in December 2007 we had over 4,700 councillors. By 2009 we had already fallen to 4,083, and by May 2010 it had fallen to under 4,000. Over the next five years of coalition it had plummeted to less than half that number, just 1,874; and in 2016 we gained a mere 45 seats.

    To get back to 2009 levels we would need to gain over 2,000 seats, not a hundred or so; unless we are prepared to wait 20 years to get there.

  • If those figures are right then it is because of council changes reducing the overall number of councillors as the Lib Dems made net gains over the 2008 and 2009 elections.

  • Andrew McCaig 6th Apr '17 - 11:13am

    If we are ever going to get back to 4700 councillors we will have to abandon our General Election targeting strategy and go back to trying to win control of local councils as we once used to…

    However in the equivalent elections to these in 2013 we lost 124 seats, so that is what we need (roughly) to get back to pre-coalition levels. The big losses numerically were in the Mets and Districts, not the Counties…

    Meanwhile in Scotland STV will give us more or less what we deserve. I fear our continued “Tory coat-tails” policy of Scottish Independence will again reap few dividends…

  • Richard Underhill 6th Apr '17 - 1:47pm

    The Times 6/4/2017, page 2, columns 2,3 is headlined “Lib Dems would surge in snap election, Tories told.
    “Mrs May has repeatedly denied that she will call an election before the scheduled date in May 2020”.
    “The polling was commissioned by Conservative Party campaign Headquarters rather than by Downing Street and conducted by Sir Lynton’s Crosby Textor Group. It did not calculate the precise number of seats Mrs May would lose, but it made plain that the party risked relinquishing the vast majority of its seats in south London, Cornwall and Devon, it is understood.
    Sir Lynton sounded the first alarm about the Lib Dem threat last autumn and warned Mrs May personally, one Whitehall source said. The most recent polling, conducted last month, showed no sign of the Liberal Democrat surge receding.”
    … “The polling is understood to have suggested that the Brexit issue was not in fact the main driver of support for the Lib Dems in Tory seat. Instead strong Liberal Democrat infrastructure in areas that the party held for decades has contributed to a reversion to the norm.”
    ” A Conservative spokesman declined to comment.”

  • David Evans 6th Apr '17 - 2:23pm

    Hywel, The figures are definitely correct, they are taken from the House of Commons Library RESEARCH PAPER 13/30 Local Elections 2013
    13 May 2013

    I think your comment about progress in 2008 and 2009 may be correct: we made a small number of net gains, but we lost badly in the 2010 council elections just as we did in the General Election. It would be very helpful if you could point me to the where you get your data from for that period.

    ALDC used to have a superb set of spreadsheets on its website going back several years, but about half way through coalition they were ditched for a new approach which didn’t allow comparison with past elections. I did ask at the time but was told they were no longer available. Curious how when things are going wrong, data to allow comparison disappears.

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