Lib Dem/Tory waverers wanted continuity, but they voted Conservative to achieve it

It was always going to be true that the 30 or so seats where the fight was between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives would end up delivering one of the most important stories of election night 2015. Liberal Democrats hoped, of course, that this would be for the reason that they were the hallmark of the party’s resilience. But they were newsworthy in the end because they were symbols of the Lib Dem defeat, and the vehicles of delivery of a Conservative victory.

That the tens of thousands of voters in those seats who wavered between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives were the most important of this campaign had been known to both governing parties, of course, for months if not years. They were ruthlessly targeted from every angle: leaflets, phone-calls and visit after visit by senior politicians.

And in the end they made their decision, and they made it in David Cameron’s favour. The prime minister’s message, that only a Conservative vote could guarantee continuity and avoid the risk of a Miliband-Sturgeon government, ultimately prevailed.

I am not sure that in these circumstances anything the Liberal Democrats did or said could have made a difference, with the possible (and only possible) exception of having guaranteed that the party would re-enter government with the Conservatives: but that was a promise that we never would have made.

Jeremy Browne was surely right when he said of the coalition: “If [it] was on the ballot paper, it would win in May”. But absent such an option it was the Conservatives who got the vote, even where the incumbent was a Liberal Democrat coalition minister.

The voters that mattered most wanted David Cameron and George Osborne back in Downing Street, and the risk of voting Lib Dem and getting a Miliband government outweighed any desire to see a continuation of the coalition.

That is ultimately a reflection of an astonishingly successful Conservative campaign. Lynton Crosby had the most persuasive message and he delivered it effectively, through David Cameron, to the voters that could make the difference.

In such circumstances, the one thing of which I think we can be pretty much certain is that the simplistic conclusion that some have reached — namely that our problem was being too closely identified with the government — is not the reason for our defeat, in these seats at least.

Whether we would have been more successful by being greater enthusiasts for the government of which we were part is a different question and is, in any event, now a matter only of historical interest. But the preliminary conclusion has, I think, to be that it could not have made things any worse in the seats that we had the best chance of winning.

UPDATE 10.5.15, 13.16:

There is quite a bit of discussion in the comments about the figures from the Tory-LD marginals. I haven’t had time to go through them all but here are some that assist from 5 Tory-LD marginals where the incumbent Lib Dem was the candidate.

First, here are the average vote shares in those 5 seats for 2010 and 2015, and the change. All parties gained from the Lib Dem reduction, including the Conservatives (who gained more than Labour):

2015 average vote share

And here is the data from the same seats showing the Tory lead over the Lib Dems on the left, the consequent LD-Tory swing that would be necessary to win in the middle, and the Tory increase 2010-2015 on the right. What it very clearly shows is that in every case except Cheadle, the Lib Dems would have won, despite losses to Labour, Ukip and the Greens, if the Lib Dems had not lost votes to the Conservatives:

2015 Tory margin

It has also been pointed out in the comments that we could equally have won by not losing votes to Labour, Ukip and the Greens. That is of course true. However, it seems to me that it was always going to be the case that we lost a number of our voters in that direction. Losses to the Conservatives, however, were the ones that we had a better chance of stemming, because those wavering voters were the ones who were broadly happy with the coalition government.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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230 Comments

  • In other words, people who were supposed to vote Lib Dem to ensure continued Tory government, instead voted Tory to ensure continued Tory government? The idea! Where could they have got such a notion from?

    I do think there may be a word for people like that. I think they might be called. . . Tories?

  • Why vote for the skimmed-milk-Tories when you could just vote for the Tories?

  • ………………….That the tens of thousands of voters in those seats who wavered between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives were the most important of this campaign had been known to both governing parties, of course, for months if not years. They were ruthlessly targeted from every angle: leaflets, phone-calls and visit after visit by senior politicians………………….

    “Waverers”; what waverers? For years the party has been polling in single figures…..The voters decided ages ago that that they would not vote LibDem… Pretending otherwise is just more of the “The message was right but voters didn’t understand it” How can we move forward if this is the message….

  • This can’t be the lesson you learn from the disaster.
    You lost a long, long time ago.

    I want the party to come to your senses and win some of those seats back, but I’m doubtful.

  • Jonathan Pile 9th May '15 - 7:32pm

    Nick – don’t attempt to rewrite history – we lost those six million lib dem voters in 2010 we we signed up to Tory austerity and broke our promises . The party didn’t win back those lost voters by appeasing the Tories for five years and wouldn’t do so for the next five. Just as Labour moved too far to the left under Miliband so the Lib Dems moved too far to the Right under Clegg. We need to return to our roots.

  • Alex Macfie 9th May '15 - 7:36pm

    This is why we should have drawn attention to the Tories’ raving-right allies in the European Parliament in last year’s Euro election. We should have pointed to their record in the European Parliament, and the company they keep, and said, “This is what undiluted Toryism looks like.”

  • @peter “I want the party to come to your senses and win some of those seats back, but I’m doubtful.”

    I’m doubtful too – not because of a lack of dertermination and dedication from party volunteers but because the sort of root and branch change that is now required takes a lot of work. George Potters’ suggestions I think are really well thought out – but can such large structural change come to happen? It needs to happen but I don’t know that it will.

  • @Nick Thornsby

    I fear with comments like that, some people in the party are still not accepting the reality of what happened and failing to accept that means lessons will not be learnt.

    Could you also explain further what you mean by
    “The voters that mattered most wanted David Cameron and George Osborne”

  • @Alex Macfie

    When the crux of your argument is ‘look, we offer the lesser of 2 evils’, that is not something people will buy and quite frankly it’s lazy to expect people to vote for that in my opinion.

  • I suppose people in positions of influence in the party who didn’t see this coming will be reflecting on whether they are the best people to help renew the party. Some will feel their judgement and credibility is so poor that they would be better making way for people with a less frosty relationship to reality. Some will wonder if they are in the right party.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 9th May '15 - 7:45pm

    I am very clearly talking about the few thousand voters in Tory/Lib Dem marginals who have previously voted Lib Dem but voted Tory on Thursday.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 7:52pm

    It is important to make this point of view to fight back the urge of “we lost because we weren’t left wing enough”.

    Personally I feel I underestimated the strength of certainty that voters wanted. The message of “we could put Cameron or Miliband in Number 10” doesn’t seem to have gone down well.

    However, I really want the party to check out Blair’s 1997 and 2001 elections. The opposition decimated, through a message of opportunism and unity. In 1997 Blair was the modern man and the other parties represented the past.

  • Matt (bristol) 9th May '15 - 7:53pm

    I’d just like to point out that it could easily be possible that everyone on this thread is simultaneously right.

  • Jeremy Morfey 9th May '15 - 7:56pm

    That scores of good, conscientious, Liberal-minded MPs, some serving their constituents well over 30 years should be unseated, and Clegg hangs on in Sheffield, thanks to cynical Tory tactical voting, suggests that the Party let the Tories be its judge, jury and executioner. No wonder the public lost interest, or made grave judgements about the Party’s integrity.

    Is Mr Thornsby too young and schooled in Thatcher orthodoxy to remember the graft done by Liberals and Social Democrats decades ago in making the Party a national force for Government? I did the pavement plodding then, and remember well that without grudging tactical voting from Labour sympathisers in what were safe Tory seats, the breakthrough would never have taken off.

    May I suggest too that it was the withdrawal of these left-leaning tactical votes that led to the collapse of the Party’s prospects, particularly in Southern England (which is where I was active), and led left-leaning Lib Dem sympathisers to Miliband’s Labour and the Greens, even where there was a good incumbent Liberal Democrat, such as Simon Hughes? I voted Labour for the first time in my life, in a Tory seat that was in 2005 the 30th target marginal for the Lib Dems.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 7:58pm

    Sorry, through a message of “optimism and unity” not “opportunism and unity”. 😀

  • Let’s see… David Laws dropped nearly 13,000 votes – his Tory successor gained 5,000. Cameron visited the constituency, the local Tory party did sterling work to drag out the old by promising that this was finally the chance to get the Lib Dems out.

    Sadly, this article is in denial. Whatever the party becomes in the next few years, it won’t be dragged back to the Cleggist/Liberal Vision/Ttipping/Free Market path that led to the May 7th Massacre. No matter how many alternate histories are posted in LDV.

  • In fact this demonstrates how the Liberal Democrats were doubly damaged by their complete alignment with the Conservative narrative (and especially the economic narrative): it alienates left-leaning voters, and in Conservative facing seats it boosts the arguments being used against Lib Dem incumbents.

  • “Lib Dem/Tory waverers wanted continuity, but they voted Conservative to achieve it”

    Well, that explains why you got 8% rather than 10% of the vote – which is presumably the figure the purist orange-bookers were after – undiluted by social democrat/modern liberal voters.

  • @Simon Shaw 9th May ’15 – 8:14pm

    “I’m sure that you and the (rather diminished number of) people who voted Labour this time…”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/upshot/how-labour-gained-votes-but-still-lost-seats.html

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 9th May '15 - 8:20pm

    Hannah – could you expand on the final bit of your comment?

  • The idea of coalition choices on a ballot paper is interesting, though. It would be a bit like playing Fantasy Football on Election Day!

    Maybe we could take it one further then through building your own cabinet. Selling PMs to other parties, buying some of theirs…

    (I’ll get my coat).

  • Jeremy Morfey 9th May '15 - 8:23pm

    @Simon Shaw

    No I am not delighted to see a majority Conservative Government. I wanted a minority Labour Government held in check by the SNP, and possibly in Coalition with surviving Liberal Democrats. I voted Labour, because they actually produced a much better candidate, who seemed to have a brain and a soul, rather than spout the Party line like all the others.

  • Bad tactics at every level from day one. For two years Osborne’s economic plan was a dismal failure and Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and Nick Clegg were the public face of the coalition . The Austerity program was dropped, the economy picked up, Suddenly Osborne and Cameron were the public face of the coalition. Then comes a weak campaign based on maintaining the coalition and that failed to grasp that the Tories were the main opposition to the Lib Dems in the majority of seats the Lib Dems realistically stood a chance of holding. Should have said the good stuff is us, Osborne is incompetent , whilst Cameron is a weakling who can’t even control his own party let a lone a national government and is too scared to debate in front of the British people because he doesn’t trust the way they might vote if they see what a weakling he is and then demanded to debate Miliband one on one in his place and then used every opportunity to say what we have done right and to ask how can anyone seriously vote for such a yellow belly. As I’ve said before if you go negative you have to go for the kill and it still isn’t too late to lay the ground work.

  • I agree with Nick.

  • They’re are very few Lib Dem / Tory wavers. Sure, conservative policies are very popular in Britain but those people already vote Tory. The Tories didn’t get a hugely different share of the vote than last time. The Lib Dems however did.

    The Lib Dems lost because their core vote collapsed. Their core vote abandoned the party years ago around the time of the broken pledge on student tuition fees, this has been proven by pretty much every election and poll in the last 3 to 4 years, the General Election was just a continuation of the same pattern that we saw in the Scottish Elections in 2011, various council elections and the European Elections. The young and the centre left simply stopped voting Lib Dem, I’m not going to go into the reasons why as it should be obvious by now.

  • Simon Shaw.
    Labours vote was up despite losing Scotland, but I agree that voting Labour in Southern Tory Facing seats did do a fair bit of damage, but probably not as much as swinging back to the Tories did which was the real problem.

  • “I agree with Nick.”

    It’s not my place to tell you what party you should be in but I can tell you, as a former Lib Dem voter, that I wouldn’t vote for a party that either you or Nick held much sway over,

  • Bill le Breton 9th May '15 - 8:44pm

    Can I just remind everyone just how damaging and self destructive the Blukip campaign and its articulation was in driving Con/LD deciders to the Tories to stop a Con/UKIP coalition (however unlikely we insiders know that was) and building up the prospect s of UKIP which encouraged LD/UKIP deciders to vote UKIP.

    Who ever designed that sstrategy was an incompetent.

    It took me years of political activism to understand campaigning yet people like NIck THornsby thought and apparently still think they know more about political campaigning than everyone else. Your strategy led to us to winning 8 seats. You are what is known in politics as a loser.

    I suggest you keep your mind on the law and a career there and listen and learn before pretending to be an expert.

  • BuckHucklebuck 9th May '15 - 8:48pm

    @Simon Shaw

    As a tactical labour party member, who voted for a Liberal incumbent in 2005, 2010, and 2015 to keep the Tory out despite everything that the Liberal Democrats did to make themselves toxic with people like me over the last parliament and in the Short Campaign – I feel liberated that the incumbent lost.

    Sure, I have a Tory now. But I can actually work to get Labour elected here, and vote for a Labour candidate without the guilt of ‘letting the Tory in’. For years I have voted, and even campaigned for, the incumbent – convinced labour friends to vote for a Liberal if they’re the opposition, despite the attacks on Labour from the LibDems. Despite Nick Clegg, as only a few weeks ago, denouncing Labour policy, feeding the SNP scare story, and complaining that Labour doesn’t like LibDems at the same time.

    The fact we have a majority Tory government now is as much due to the failures of the Liberal party over the past five years as it is the failure of Labour. Part of the destruction was down to Nick Clegg saying Labour’s economics were balderdash, and raising the spectre of the SNP.

    People chose the Tories. You helped that. Sorry.

    Now, I will be working to make Labour electable in 2020. That means honest reflection, humility, and accepting the public’s judgement.

    I won’t be voting tactically again.

  • I think the point about David Laws is a good one. He was probably the most pro-Tory of the Lib Dem Ministers and still didn’t get the soft Tory vote. I guess the decision makers need to decide whether to continue to alienate those on the centre left in the hope these soft Tories will see the error of their ways. Is it worth effectively writing off those Labour facing seats ?? (especially as their UKIP problem is likely to grow).

    I’m surprised Labour increased their vote at all with Milliband at the helm. Putting policy to one side, every poll since 2010 showed people didn’t see him as PM material. Even the most hardened Labour voters I know thought they chose the wrong Brother…. For those of us old enough to remember the 80’s and early 90’s the question is whether they will repeat the pattern they followed then being held to ransom by their left. I think they are a different beast now and expect to see them choose a more media savvy choice who can appeal to the middle ground voters. Of that choice will depend on the Unions and who gets the requisite nominations from their Parliamentary Party.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 9th May '15 - 8:50pm

    Bill, that is an uncharacteristically ad hom comment, though I happen to agree with the first part of it.

  • Your MPs have been dead men walking for 5 years.
    I’m finally realising how detached the leadership is.

  • Since 2010 no political party has lost anything like the number of supporters the LibDems have. They have lost thousands of councilors, all but one of their MEP’s, have only 8 MP’s and are way behind UKIP in popular support. If the LibDems can’t accept that this is down to bad Leadership and bad decisions, leading to a lack of trust then you are finish. You have tried the Nick Clegg path and it has been a disaster. Some commentators on LDV seem to think history will be kind to him – why? The least successful party leader in modern times by a country mile.

  • @Steve thanks for not being prescriptive.

    @Steve Way what did for David Laws, much as it pains me to say it, was expenses rather than his political outlook. That and the electoral tide.

  • @Steve Way Labour’s big problem is their failure to adopt OMOV. If they had any sense they’d choose Dan Jarvis as their next leader – a former Para Lt. Colonel with impeccable middle class credentials and a tragic back story. He’d hoover up centrist votes like Blair on steroids.

    If they do select him we know they’ve changed dramatically.

  • @BuckHuckle I voted labour in 1997 partly because of 18 years of Tory rule but mostly because electoral reform was in Labour’s manifesto. That experience led me, too, to say never again.

  • @Bill

    I do really hope the party faithful start listening to you.

    I really can not understand why nobody listened to the warnings you were making a fortnight ago.
    It should have been obvious.
    Seasoned campaigners like yourself know what you are saying and doing, you have been doing it for years and helped build the party up to what it WAS!

    I can not understand for the life of me, even now, how some of those on the right will refuse to accept the reality of what just happened. It is mind boggling.
    Luckily there are a lot of new faces and activists who have bright futures in politics who I think deeply value your wisdom and experience. George Potter comes to mind.
    I have been saying it for several years now and have read most of articles and watched his speech at conference, that young man is very inspiring, to see what he has gone through on a personal level and still have that energy and enthusiasm that he has for politics and hopes for a fairer society, I wish I had half his strength and character at his age. If he chooses a career in politics, I think he will go a long way and the future of Liberal Democrats will be safe in the hands of like minded people,

  • Bill le Breton 9th May '15 - 9:06pm

    Good answer Nick.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th May '15 - 9:16pm

    I would make five observations, in no order.

    1) As others have pointed out the LAB vote went up compared to 2010. Just that didn’t translate into seats. This Conservative majority was very much the product of a swing within the Coalition. I am simply at a loss as to why so many don’t seem to want to look at it that way. Why that happened is another matter – but the idea that this was a, ‘Labour collapse,’ is not borne out by the popular vote numbers.

    2) The starting gun has effectively been fired on the EU referendum campaign and the OUTs look in a very good position at the moment.

    3) The UKIP vote came in at just under 13% of the vote, the only party to see a serious increase in vote %. I have to wonder how much of that was made up of people who at some time have voted LDP. I would hope that the idea that UKIP is nothing but hard-right-wing head-bangers is now put to rest. It should be noted that UKIP got more slightly more votes than LDP and SNP combined.

    4) In some ways what happened in this election looks a bit like Angela Merkel a few years ago who got a great result as her Coalition partner fell away, rather than seeing her official opposition decline. I would suggest that the LDP could usefully look at the German experience.

    5) It will be interesting to see whether the new intake of Conservatives are all arch-Thatcherites or whether there is something else going on (‘Cameronism?’).

  • Kit Ingoldby 9th May '15 - 9:16pm

    The Lib Dems spent the better part f the last half of the previous government talking down the government. Apparently to ‘put clear water’ between them and the Conservatives. That makes it a bit hard to then convince anyone of the achievements of the Lib Dems in that government.

  • There is a lot of scorn being poured on Nick Thornsby in this thread, but I think his analysis has more merit than many of you realise. By no mean all of the 2010 voters who deserted you went to Labour or the Greens. I am a case in point.

    I live in a safe Labour seat in London and my voting record prior to this election was Blair x 3, Clegg. I would happily have voted for a Con/Lib coalition this time around, or a Lib Dem party on a no-coalition-with-anyone ticket. But I did not want to vote in a way that would be seen as an endorsement of the left wing, anti-austerity, reality-denying Labour/Green/SNP block. Listening to you campaign it was obvious you would be happy to work with anyone, and I felt I could not risk voting Clegg and getting Miliband and Sturgeon. Although I trust Cameron and Osborne there are far too many tories I dislike (think Liam Fox, Theresa May) to vote for them so I went for UKIP on the narrow grounds that they could not win my seat and it might advance the cause of electoral reform if they polled well but won few seats.

    In terms of rebuilding I would suggest some detailed polling on where the 2010 voters have gone. I suspect they have gone in all directions which may make it impossible to get everyone back. If most have gone left then I can’t blame you for following them. But going left won’t win me back.

  • The problem for the LibDems is whether we are a party wanting to hold the balance of power or just an opposition protest party never willing to take on the serious task of government and all that entails.
    It’s not about the Orange book brigade or the Metropolitan Liberals or the rural Liberals its about what we want as a party.

    The coalition agreement should have been set out as follows:
    1. A form of PR on the statute book by 2012 or we leave the government
    2. Tuition fees had to be the second Red Line – this single promise gave us seats / votes in places that we did not havea following in the past, to jettison it at the negotiating table was the single biggest mistake. If we could find money for Pupil Premium then we could find this money
    3. We should have asked for 2 LibDem Ministries – Education and Environmnet
    4. No ministers in any other department
    Through this strategy we could show what we achieved in the government and not be tainted with the cuts in other areas

    The coalition was one reason why our vote fell, but let’s not kid ourselves it was just this. Look at the 2005 and 2010 results in the South West, when the UK tide turns Conservative our votes drift to the Tories,this is a fact. 2015 is no different, only the tide was greater because of our involvement with the Tories in pushing through all the cuts but moreover because of the tuition fees broken promise . As has happened in the past as the country moves away from the Tories, in areas where the Labour party is weak, people will look at the Lib Dems as the alternative.

    This is not an ideal position to be in as a party which is why we need to define who we are, what we want to fight for and do we ever want to go into any form of government again.

    There were also mistakes made pre the election and during the campaign. Our spokespeople on tv were ineffective in most cases (Norman Lamb and Ed Davey two exceptions). We received very little tv coverage and when we did the message was vote for us to balance the other two parties, it should have been this is what we have achieved in government and this is what we will do again. Red Lines were a disaster because automatically we told people to ignore our manifesto ie we will break our promises again! The writing was on the cards in our constituencies when the Tories did nothing else other than hold rally after rally and event after event in our areas.

    Too many people come onto this site and criticise the Orange Book brigade and what we did in government, but I ask again is our role merely a talking shop and protest group or are we prepared to take part in government and make real changes? Let’s not be ashamed of the increase in personal tax allowances that we achieved, the pupil premium, the pension triple lock etc – yes we made mistakes in supporting some policies but remember the good policies too.

  • Please note that under rules agreed last year, all Labour Party members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters – including union members – will be allowed a maximum of one vote each on a one member, one vote system.

  • Return to being Libdem’s pre orange book.
    Not Tory or Labour lite, never go into coalition to be the fall guy, so get decent negotiaters
    who can spot blindingly obvious political traps like AV a mile away.

    I really want you guys back on form or the country is stuffed. But I can’t vote for you as it stands.
    You’re like lambs for the slaughter.

  • @Ian
    “In terms of rebuilding I would suggest some detailed polling on where the 2010 voters have gone.”

    That would be a waste of money. Just look here: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2

    The decline in Lib Dem polling in 2010 was matched by the rise in polling for Labour.

    As for Labour, their share decreases from the end of 2012 but not to the Lib Dems or the Tories…

    Lib Dem voters probably switched mostly to Labour/Greens and the later decline in Labour’s share was due to some of their voters switching to UKIP and then the SNP

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 9:30pm

    Blair has penned a good article in the Observer:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/09/tony-blair-what-labour-must-do-next-election-ed-miliband

    It doesn’t matter if Farron is “a good campaigner” – if the message is sent that the party’s left is on the march then it will be disastrous. Norman Lamb is the man. From what I have seen anyway.

  • @Ian 9th May ’15 – 9:21pm

    If there were more UKIP voters like you then the future is looking much rosier.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th May '15 - 9:37pm

    Steve Way 9th May ’15 – 8:48pm
    “I think the point about David Laws is a good one. He was probably the most pro-Tory of the Lib Dem Ministers and still didn’t get the soft Tory vote.”

    Cracking point Steve!

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th May '15 - 9:39pm

    Steve Way – ‘I’m surprised Labour increased their vote at all with Milliband at the helm. Putting policy to one side, every poll since 2010 showed people didn’t see him as PM material.’

    Thing is though that from a Labour perspective Ed M did at least come up with a few policies that were strong enough to show up on public opinion. Non-dom abolition, energy bill freeze/reference pricing and mansion taxes for example. Significantly all of those seemed to have at least some level of support across the political spectrum. What you might think of those policies personally is, of course, another matter. But it wouldn’t totally surprise me if at least some of Ed M’s ideas were to be carried on by the new leader.

  • I don’t think it benefits us to agonise over the whys and wherefores of losing so many seats although I have a few ideas of my own. Instead it would be truly wonderful if the Party could start to organise think tank sessions to determine what our party stands for and how we can achieve it. We know that our country is becoming more and more polarised and this will only increase under another Tory government. If we don’t want this to happen because of our belief in equality of opportunity, how do we remedy this?
    If we believe that people should have a safety net when they are unable to provide for themselves , how do we provide it? How do we pay for it? We will need some of the wealth that the super rich have kept to themselves. How do we get them to part with it.? Should we reward philanthropy in some way so people get some glory for parting with their wealth? Or do we tax, tax and tax them again?
    We have had over 30 years of Thatcherite government and will have 4 more years of it now. In 2020 people will be longing for a change. We must be ready for this. Let’s stop talking about 40 or 50 years to recover. When the Alliance broke up it was very bad for us. At the time I questioned whether I should leave the party but realised that in my heart I belonged where I was. The trauma of setting up the Lib Dems was truly awful but once it was done people started to support us again and that started our amazing by election successes.
    We have had a time of theory rather than belief being uppermost in our party so let’s start letting our beliefs rule before we start talking about image or narrative, I know that I am very nervous about who supports what or who in the party. In the past I don’t think there were cliques in the same way as there are now. People ebbed and flowed from one policy to another because at heart we were all one party so you could disagree vehemently on something without being told to shut up or accused of being an o***** ***ker. Indeed I thought we were all passionate about free speech. So let’s have a robust argument about where we want the country to be in say 10 years time and then set about the hard slog of developing policies to deliver that. Then we can think about how to present them. Let’s lead from the front , guided by our beliefs, after all we now have the real freedom to say “What have we got to lose?”

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th May '15 - 9:47pm

    Eddie Sammon 9th May ’15 – 9:30pm
    “Blair has penned a good article in the Observer … It doesn’t matter if Farron is a good campaigner – if the message is sent that the party’s left is on the march then it will be disastrous. Norman Lamb is the man. From what I have seen anyway.”

    Eddie, with all due respect, it matters a lot to us active campaigning members that Tim Farron is an excellent and successful campaigner.

    Although he ran a good campaign on mental health, Norman Lamb, if he stands, effectively represents the ‘continuity’ faction. We have just suffered a complete drumming in the election. If we offer ‘more of the same’, we will reap more of the same. Thanks but no thanks.

  • Norman Lamb was one of Nick Clegg’s advisors. If that doesnt rule him out, what does?

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 9:57pm

    That’s fine Stephen, I’m not saying anymore on the Farron versus Lamb competition, because it is a bit off topic, but the most I am willing to concede is that some mistakes where made on public sector reform (and I would add the way the Royal Mail privatisation was conducted).

  • It shouldnt even be limited to Farron vs Lamb. Some of our ex MPs should have challenged Clegg after the Euros and then there would have been a wider choice and some more of them would still be in gainful employment.

  • Graham Evans 9th May '15 - 10:14pm

    I suspect that for every LD seat lost as well as retained there will be a wide variety of explanations, but at least in respect of Eastbourne and Eastleigh Nick Thornsby’s analysis is surely right in that the local election results were dramatically better than the parliamentary result, and had they been repeated the seats would have been retained.
    And earlier comment made reference to the fate of the Liberals there in the last Bundestag elections,and there may well be a lesson for us in the event of some future form of PR. PR usually does involve coalition but because all parties, great and small, recognise this, in the past they made it clear whom their preferred coalition partner would be. Because the German Liberals often hovered close to the critical 5% hurdle needed to win seats the bigger coalition preferred partner would often hint to its electors that they might use their critical second party vote to boost the Liberal vote. This happened both when the CDU/CSU was the preferred partner but also when the SPD was the preferred partner. However at the last election Angela Merkel went all out to maximise CDU/CSU representation. She did indeed succeed in boosting her share of the vote However the result was that her would-be coalition partners fell below the 5% hurdle, but she failed to achieve a majority. So instead she has had to form a Grand Coalition with her arch rivals the SPD! While there was no explicit agreement between Labour and that LDs prior to the 1997 election, there was at least an understanding among the electorate that tactical voting was critical if the Tories were to b defeated. If we do have some form of PR in future I think that all parties will have to make it clear to the electorate BEFORE the election with whom they are most likely to form a coalition. This is a fundamentally more honest approach than waiting for the result and then deciding with which party to haggle over the details o the new government’s programme.

  • @Simon Shaw 9th May ’15 – 9:50pm

    “On the contrary, most of the blame must go to those on “The Left” (including many Labour Party supporters) who spent most of the last 5 years claiming that the Coalition Government (whose policies an awful lot of the electors thought were relatively centrist) was actually a Conservative Government, sustained by the evil Liberal Democrats.”

    I don’t think you can exclusively blame the Left. In Salisbury it appears that King Arthur Uther Pendragon, noted druid and standing stone worshipper, managed to take 500 votes from the Lib Dem candidate.

  • I am genuinely sorry that the Lib Dems lost so many seats but you should have made clearer which party you would have preferred to work with if there was a hung parliament. Moderate conservatives might have been tempted to vote for a continuation of the coalition but must have been concerned that Lib Dem MPs would support a Labour government. On the other hand, left of centre voters must have had doubts about voting for a party that had been in a coalition with the Tories for five years.

  • @Stephen Hesketh

    ” Norman Lamb, if he stands, effectively represents the ‘continuity’ faction. We have just suffered a complete drumming in the election. If we offer ‘more of the same’, we will reap more of the same. ”

    Agree totally, though I am not a Liberal Democrat so my opinion does not count for anything.
    I do not really know anything about the other MP’s who remain, apart from Lamb & Farron, Personally I would have thought Farron would have been the best choice to reunite the party.

    Does the leader of the party have to be a sitting MP though?
    Could it be a member of the Lords or even one of the former MP’s?

    UKIP and the Greens have leaders who were not MP’s. What are the rules for the Liberal Democrats?

  • Why not consider Matthew Oakeshott? He’s been saying the same as many people on the blog for months if not years? Even as a caretaker leader.

  • Tony Dawson 9th May '15 - 10:28pm

    “I am not sure that in these circumstances anything the Liberal Democrats did or said could have made a difference, ”

    That, Nick, is because you probably have no experience of what Liberals have to do to keep ahead of the others when thy are under great pressure. Carshalton, Leeds North East , Westmorland and Southport have done this in this election. So what factors were responsible for the success these places but not others? A similar request for an independent analysis of the factors which led to widely differing fortunes of various constituencies in 2010 was made and ignored possibly by those whose performance or intervention might have had some responsibility for some significant part of that variation in results. Will we see the repeat of the ‘ostrich head in the sand’ tendency being in the Lib Dem ascendency? 🙁

  • Eddiee Sammon.
    Tony Blair and New Labour were the model followed by Nick Clegg. Result 8 seats. Plus Plus Tony Blaire won elections but was not actually right about what was good for the country. Why would anyone vote for three parties peddling the same thing. The Lib Dems weren’t destroyed because they were Too Left . It’s because people broadly on what is categorised very broadly as the Left swung away and took over half the votes with them and then another big chunk said well this is a Conservative government really so I might as well vote Conservative anyway. Unfortunately, what remained was not enough to keep that many seats. That is plainly what happened. In truth when you look at how the brain works you find that most decision are made quick with little real thought.

  • Jonathan Pile 9th May '15 - 10:54pm

    Nick – take Wells as an example we lost 11.2% – only 3.6% to the Tories, 3.0% to the Greens and 6.8% to UKIP. If we hadn’t have lost so many votes to the Greens and UKIP who the Lib dem 2010 voters felt were more in touch with grass roots issues. The party lost because we became too Tory not because we’re we’re not Tory enough.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th May '15 - 11:05pm

    Glenn, trust me I am critical of Blair, but on the fundamental point of whether left is better than centre I think he is right.

    Regards

  • There were only 28 seats that we lost to the Conservatives. Is Nick Thornsby’s analysis based on looking at the figures or is it just his feelings talking.

    St Ives – Conservatives up 591 votes, Labour up 759 votes, UKIP up 3,160, Green up 1743, Andrew George down only 1128 and the Conservative vote share was down 0.7%.

    Berwick-upon-Tweed (new candidate) – Conservatives up 2,487 votes, Labour up 981 votes, UKIP up 3,270, us down 5,117 and the Conservative vote share was up 4.4%.

    Kingston & Surbiton – Conservatives up 2,381 votes, Labour up 3,237 votes, UKIP up 2,871, Green up 1767, Ed Davey down 8,013 and the Conservative vote share was up 2.7%.

    Colchester – Conservatives up 3,750 votes, Labour up 2,172 votes, UKIP up 4,520, Green up 1805, Bob Russell down 8,807 and the Conservative vote share was up 6.1%.

    Yeovil – Conservatives up 5,351 votes, Labour up 1,062 votes, UKIP up 5,289, Green up 2191, David Laws down 12,978 and the Conservative vote share was up 9.6%.

    Bath (new candidate) – Conservatives up 3,065 votes, Labour up 2,965 votes, UKIP up 2,032, Green up 4,514, us down 12,651 and the Conservative vote share was up 6.4%.

    Thornbury & Yate – Conservatives up 2,008 votes, Labour up 390 votes, UKIP up 3,417, Green up 1316, Steve Webb down 6,603 and the Conservative vote share was up 3.9%.

    Portsmouth South (new candidate) – Conservatives up 864 votes, Labour up 2,544 votes, UKIP up 4,719, Green up 2,429, us down 9,577 (Mike Handcock 716 votes (1.7%) and the Conservative vote share was up by 1.6%.

    Eastleigh – Conservatives up 2,362 votes, Labour up 2,028 votes, UKIP up 6,850, Green up 1513, us down 10,649 and the Conservative vote share was up 3.0% from 2010.
    – Conservatives up 10,122 votes, Labour up 3,093 votes, Green up 1513, us up 975, UKIP down 2,788 and the Conservative vote share was up 16.9% from the by-election.

    If Nick is correct then in these 9 seats we should see that most of the decline in our vote voted Conservative – St Ives there are no votes to transfer to the Conservative once the extra votes to the other parties are subtracted. Berwick-upon-Tweed 866 left for the Conservatives (16.9%). Kingston & Surbiton 138 left for the Conservatives (1.7%). Colchester 310 left for the Conservatives (3.5%). Yeovil 4,436 for the Conservatives (34.2%). Bath 3,065 for the Conservatives (24.2%). Thornbury & Yate 1480 left for the Conservatives (22.4%). Portsmouth South nothing left for the Conservatives. Eastleigh 258 left for the Conservatives (2.4%). In these 9 seats none of them had more than half of our vote move to the Conservatives. Yeovil is the highest with 34.2% of our vote moving to the Conservatives. This clearly disproves Nick’s theory.

    (@ Graham Evans
    “but at least in respect of Eastbourne and Eastleigh Nick Thornsby’s analysis is surely right”
    In Eastbourne the Conservatives were down 289 votes and so Nick analysis doesn’t even get to first base there. The Conservative vote share was down 1.1% from 2010.)

  • kevin colwill 9th May '15 - 11:16pm

    I know that being all things to all voters served the Lib Dems very well for decades but it absolutely backfired this time around.
    Those who felt betrayed in 2010 weren’t about to fall for “It’s us or the Tories” again. Meanwhile , “It’s us or Labour” wasn’t exactly credible either when everybody knew you’d happily join a Labour/SNP grand alliance?
    Look at the Tory vote, look at the UKIP vote. Britain, or at least little England, has a very clear right leaning majority. The Lib Dems can’t steal the Tories clothes. For one thing there’s no point being on the economic right and socially liberal – Cameron and Johnston already have that ground.
    If only a few seats had gone then it might be possible to tweak a message here or trim a policy there to pull things back. As it is there’s no point drilling down into the polls. You need to drill down into your souls. Decide what sort of Britain you want and present that in terms ordinary people can understand.

  • Let’s take Taunton Deane.

    The Lib Dem’s lost 16,000; the Tories gained 3,000.

    The shift from Lib Dems to Tories was insignificant. But those on the free market right of the party are desperate to convince it was determining. The Lib Dems are a left-of-centre party at heart, and these constant attempts to steer to the right after the catastrophe of the election won’t work. Won’t be fooled again.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th May '15 - 11:34pm

    Kevin Colwil – ‘Look at the Tory vote, look at the UKIP vote. Britain, or at least little England, has a very clear right leaning majority.’

    In England and Wales (the Conservatives did well in Wales, an unremarked upon aspect of the results) I can’t dispute your argument. This election was a conservative moment – I don’t think there can be much dispute. But I would add one caveat on UKIP – they were picking up votes in areas that were traditionally Labour-leaning. We can argue about what that means and why people voted UKIP, but I don’t think that UKIP can really now be seen as right-wing in the classic sense. Their new leader, presumably Carswell, will have to square this circle in a way that Farage never really did. But with an EU referendum they are about to get media exposure like no other.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 9th May '15 - 11:34pm

    Michael BG – that is far too simplistic an analysis. Some Labour and Tory votes will have gone to UKIP, lots of LD votes will have gone to Labour and Green as well as Tory and some 2010 Tories will have come to the LDs. We will have to wait for a more detailed analysis of those transfers before we can draw on them for this sort of analysis.

  • Alex Macfie 9th May '15 - 11:37pm

    @Alan Gee: You misunderstand. I’m NOT saying we should present ourselves as the “lesser of two evils”. I’m saying the Tories present a respectable face, but underneath THEY are the evil ones, as demonstrated by the company they keep and what they have already demonstrated they do when they are unshackled by Coalition collective responsibility. And more importantly, we also have a very different agenda beyond the Coalition: our MEPs always presented an undiluted Lib Dem position. It’s just a shame we never articulated it in our communications with the electorate. We weren’t the lesser evil in this scenario, we were not evil at all.

  • Julian Critchley 9th May '15 - 11:38pm

    The amount of denial in here is astonishing. Truly astonishing. This isn’t a difficult situation to read :

    Pre-2010, the LibDems ran from an anti-authoritarian centre-left platform. They offered a distinct alternative to the increasingly indistinguishable Conservative and New Labour Parties. They built up the support of 20-25% of the electorate, won dozens of councils and 50-60 MPs.

    Since 2010, the LibDems under Clegg have positioned themselves as a centre-right party. They explicitly offered themselves in this election as being simply a “more moderate” version of the Conservatives. The result is the loss of all but one MEPs, all but 8 MPs, thousands of councillors and two thirds of previous voters.

    The fact that there are still people in here arguing that the current fundamentally right-wing position must be clung to is literally incredible. Just bizarre.

    It really would be a shame to see the complete death of a significant Liberal Party in the UK, but unless this sort of strange denial of reality comes to an end, then the only fate for the LibDems is the same one suffered by David Owen’s rump SDP.

    I hope that when such senior figures as Kennedy and Cable emerge from licking their wounds, they’ll bring an end to this delusion that there’s any future for the LibDems as a political force in trying to occupy the ground upon which Clegg so catastrophically positioned the party.

  • Little Jackie Paper 9th May '15 - 11:43pm

    Nick Thornsby – ‘and some 2010 Tories will have come to the LDs.’

    Can you elaborate on what it is makes you think this?

    Not getting at you – serious question.

  • Im genuinely concerned. The analysis here is partial.

    The lib dem campaign where i was focused so heavily on the squeeze message and keeping the Tories out, that was critically undermined by headlines suggesting Clegg and Cameron were in talks for a second coalition.

    I believe the party lost its way when it lost its local base. The grassroots were concentrated there but the erosion of councillors and why they were losing doesnt feel like it got through.

    Its been suggested to me that maybe this is the time for the lib dems to be wound up in England. To restart as something new with the MPs as independent until then. There is a desperate need for a progressive liberal voice but i felt stung that people the age i joined the party felt the lib dems were too toxic. Something went very wrong but this was way before Crosby and Osborne banked on decapitation of lib dems to deliver tories the victory they wanted in 2010

  • Nick – whilst may factors played a part in this election result, I think you describe an important one, namely: people on the whole were satisfied with the coalition and probably would of voted for more, if it had been an option.
    This is probably one of the few things in favour of PR, it practically guarantees the outcome will be some form of coalition.

  • From reading all the posts I get the feeling that there is a difference of thought between liberalism meaning all things equal always in an unequivocal sense, and liberalism meaning things being equal where it is practical and pragmatic but to allow for nuance in order to win votes. Surely that’s an ideological struggle waiting to happen for the Lib Dems?

  • @Julian Critchley 9th May ’15 – 11:38pm

    It’s not simply denial: “Whether we would have been more successful by being greater enthusiasts for the government of which we were part is a different question and is, in any event, now a matter only of historical interest. But the preliminary conclusion has, I think, to be that it could not have made things any worse in the seats that we had the best chance of winning.”
    That’s the beachhead for “maybe we just weren’t libertarian enough”.

  • George Potter 9th May '15 - 11:56pm

    Contrary to what @Mr Wallace said there are lots of Tory-Lib Dem waverers. I live in a Tory facing seat and I spoke to so many people who were making up their minds between us and the Tories but would never vote Labour.

  • kevin colwill 9th May '15 - 11:56pm

    Agggh… This sort of debate is why so many people switch off politics. If you want a party I’d call right of centre, economically liberal and with a strong preference for private rather than public sector provision of services then fight for it. Nail your colours to the mast and try to find something other than the economy to make you distinct from the Tories.
    If you are what an old timer line me thinks of as left of centre, concerned about fairness, pragmatic as to whether the state or private firms deliver services and not buying the trickle down effect… say that too.
    Reading the entrails of a dead election is not the way forward.

  • @sfk – “Its been suggested to me that maybe this is the time for the lib dems to be wound up in England. To restart as something new with the MPs as independent until then.”

    I can understand why you would think that way. All I would say is that I think there is a voter base for a strong liberal party, but when I say strong I mean one not afraid to ruffles feathers, not afraid to fight, not afraid to play dirty if it needs to, not above what people consider to be political tactics in order to get their voters the advantage. The image of capitulation, weakness and wishy washyness is what dogs ‘liberalism’ – if that can be shaken off then I think a rebrand can be done.

  • I have to say, as has been pointed out, the statistics do not seem to support Nick’s assertions.

    We did not lose in Tory facing seats because we lost Tory voters to the Tories. Those people generally voted for the Tory party (thus why they are Tory voters). There may have been a few who considered voting UKIP, but realised to do so would split the vote, and so the retained to the Tory party, but on the whole, the Tory vote did not increase.

    We, therefore, lost these seats because we no longer got the non-Tory voters. I may be too young to remember us doing this, but that it why I learnt from older members about how we won so many previously Tory safe seats, we united those who did not vote for the Tories under our banner. Sadly 30 years plus of hard work gaining these supporters was lost in one parliamentary Term because we handled to PR around Coalition politics so badly. The Tories won by best utilising our collapse, yes, but it was not by taking our votes, it was about dividing them.

  • BuckHucklebuck 10th May '15 - 12:02am

    @SImon Shaw.

    “On the contrary, most of the blame must go to those on “The Left” (including many Labour Party supporters) who spent most of the last 5 years claiming that the Coalition Government (whose policies an awful lot of the electors thought were relatively centrist) was actually a Conservative Government, sustained by the evil Liberal Democrats.

    Anyway, I’m sure you will be very happy over the next five years watching what a real Conservative Government looks like.”

    Blaming the voters and your opposing political parties is not going to help. The simple fact is you can’t slag off the Labour Party publically, and join Conservative attacks on the Labour party, and propagate bunkum economics for 5 years, then lose, and blame a lack of Left Unity.

    For years Liberal Democrats have been trying to score voters off the left flank of the Labour Party. I don’t resent you for that, it is the nature of politics. You took advantage of the luxury of opposition for decades to attack decisions Labour governments made that were necessary at the time, you took advantage of Labour’s weaknesses for your own electoral ends. That’s fine. But it’s a little bit galling for you to spend five years in government and then get upset Labour did the same thing to you when they were the opposition.

    You were the government, you made mistakes and upset your voters. Labour does that too when they’re the government. You never once worried about damaging Labour and letting a Tory take a seat.

    It’s a bit like Lord Ashdown on Question Time blaming Francis Maude and the Tories for Thursday – they did what was necessary and inevitable, were you expecting them to stand aside? To not campaign for an Overall Majority? You were attacking them and, presumably, campaigning in Tory held seats. You wanted to increase your electoral presence at their expense, and I presume intend to do so in the future.

    As I said, I lost twice on Thursday myself – my tactical voting and campaigning failed and my Liberal MP lost his seat. My party was destroyed in Scotland and failed in England. My party need to figure out what went wrong and how to win voters and and get back into power so we can implement our policies. Blaming the Tories, libDems or SNP for that is not constructive.

    I assume you will be attacking Labour again shortly (if you ever pause), if you come to my constituency with the intent to take it – I will do everything in my power to stop you. Let’s not deceive ourselves about left unity here.

  • @Kit Ingoldby:

    “The Lib Dems spent the better part f the last half of the previous government talking down the government. Apparently to ‘put clear water’ between them and the Conservatives. ”

    Could you quote any evidence for this ridiculous proposition? The ‘clear water’ idea was never pursued actively until the last year and was done in such a confused way that I doubt anyone understood it. The process, in any case, was to be selective about the things within government which were supported and those which were not.

  • UKIP are a party that appeal to people who want simplistic answers, whether they read the Mail or the MIrror – surveys have shown that they tend to appeal to people of low educational attainment and wealth and there are plenty of those that feel let down by their previous support for the Tories and Labour.

    The Eastleigh by-election was very telling. The Lib Dems won it because UKIP took lots of votes from the Tories, however Labour’s share of the vote remained constant despite the fact that there must have been ex Lib Dem voters switching to Labour, which suggests that many Labour voters had switched to UKIP as well. A good proportion of the UKIP/Tory switchers switched back to Tory in 2015 to make sure they won – they’d had their protest two years earlier now they wanted to make sure Labour/SNP didn’t get in. Clegg remained leader as the result of an arithmetical stroke of luck due to a large mid-term protest vote for UKIP in a by-election which gave Lib Dem activists hope that the general election would be a series of by-elections that they could hold. Clegg would still have wanted to stay if he lost Eastleigh mind – taking a hammering never seemed to affect him.

  • @Nick Thornsby

    “that is far too simplistic an analysis. Some Labour and Tory votes will have gone to UKIP, lots of LD votes will have gone to Labour and Green as well as Tory”

    How does that fit in with your original comments
    “The voters that mattered most wanted David Cameron and George Osborne””
    You seem to imply that the left leaning voters who went to Labour and the Greens did not matter, however the center right voters did matter and they went off to the Tories.

    I think Michael BG has shown how that logic is flawed

  • @Bolano what is your definition of libertarian?

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th May '15 - 12:19am

    Steve – ‘UKIP are a party that appeal to people who want simplistic answers, whether they read the Mail or the MIrror – surveys have shown that they tend to appeal to people of low educational attainment and wealth and there are plenty of those that feel let down by their previous support for the Tories and Labour.’

    This was probably true at one point, but I think that there’s more going on there now. UKIP are now the third party – second in something like 100+ constituencies and they are about to get wall-to-wall free media coverage in the referendum. Whatever the outcome of the referendum they will be going into 2020 having had a pile of media coverage, their issues dominating a large part of this Parliament and with an electoral platform to build on. I would not be shocked if they start picking up local council seats in serious numbers soon.

    At a minimum they will get the SNP deal where events take their issues to the top of the national agenda.

    They appeal to a lot more than simplism now and whilst I personally can’t say I’m keen on them they are going to be a very serious force over the next five years.

  • @ Nick Thornsby
    “Michael BG – that is far too simplistic an analysis.”

    At least I did provide the figures to disprove your simplistic assertion. There are 18 other seats I haven’t looked at. However at least a couple of them have been looked at by others and they have concluded like me that there just is no evidence from the figures that your assertion is true.

    If it is too early for this type of analysis why did you write this article?

  • Peter Watson 10th May '15 - 1:07am

    “Jeremy Browne was surely right when he said of the coalition: “If [it] was on the ballot paper, it would win in May”.”
    In many ways it did. The coalition partners together won 339 seats with 44.8% of the votes (down from 363 seats with 59.1% of the votes). The vagaries of the electoral system mean that a Tory-dominated coalition has become a single-party government.
    But looking at those figures now, I’m quite shocked. Despite the trumpeting of Tory success this week, it looks like the voters actually rejected the 2010-15 government.

  • maybe the problem was nick clegg attacking the tories head on when he had been in coalition with them, esp when debating with cameron, and then the peer revealing details of private conversations between senior libdems and tories about majorities. i KNOW that these things shouldn’t be seen as disloyal or untrustworthy, but weirdly I think they did annoy centre right tory leaning voters who then went ‘home’ (other maybe than in Hallam).
    anyway, the dalliance with the right is clearly now a dead end, and the orange book a footnote.

  • Stephen Hesketh 10th May '15 - 7:24am

    Michael BG 10th May ’15 – 1:05am
    [@ Nick Thornsby “Michael BG – that is far too simplistic an analysis.”]

    “At least I did provide the figures to disprove your simplistic assertion … If it is too early for this type of analysis why did you write this article?”

    As I read down the thread, an identical thought occurred to me Michael. Don’t ruin an argument by introducing the facts!

  • Stephen Hesketh 10th May '15 - 8:04am

    Julian Critchley 9th May ’15 – 11:38pm
    “The fact that there are still people in here arguing that the current fundamentally right-wing position must be clung to is literally incredible. Just bizarre.”

    I think that just about sums up the entire situation Julian.

  • Stephen Hesketh 10th May ’15 – 7:24am …………………..Michael BG 10th May ’15 – 1:05am
    [@ Nick Thornsby “Michael BG – that is far too simplistic an analysis.”]………………..
    “At least I did provide the figures to disprove your simplistic assertion … If it is too early for this type of analysis why did you write this article?”…………………..As I read down the thread, an identical thought occurred to me Michael. Don’t ruin an argument by introducing the facts!………………

    My thoughts exactly….

    ……………………..George Potter 9th May ’15 – 11:56pm ……………………Contrary to what @Mr Wallace said there are lots of Tory-Lib Dem waverers. I live in a Tory facing seat and I spoke to so many people who were making up their minds between us and the Tories but would never vote Labour………………..

    I found the opposite. I live in a Labour/Conservative area (However, UKIP have made inroads and came close to ousting the Tories in second place) and many I spoke to were certain that, “under no circumstances” would they vote LibDem…
    As an aside…A few weeks ago I wrote, on LDV, about my discussion with a large group of 18/22 year olds in Minehead….They were absolutely sure about two things “They would not vote UKIP–‘Racist’ and LibDem–‘Lied over Tuition Fees’…..

  • Paul In Wokingham 10th May '15 - 8:48am

    I realize that Nick’s argument is specifically in relation to LD/Con marginals but let’s look at the declared voting intentions of LD 2010 voters as reported in the final mega 10K yougov poll. Of those who voted LD in 2010 who did they say they were voting for in 2015?

    Con 17%
    Lab 30%
    UKIP 10%
    LD 28%
    Green 10%

    When you add in the C->LD and L->LD switchers (4% and 3% respectively) that gives us a predicted vote share of 8.7% which is close to the actual result (7.9%).

    I don’t think that there can be any doubt that the vote we lost since 2010 split about 30% to the right and about 40% to the left.

    Now in terms of LD/Con marginals specifically and what happened during the campaign, we might usefully look at the recent Ashcroft polls for some data. On April 1st Ashcroft published polls in 6 LD/Con marginals using his normal Standard Intention/Constituency Intention two-part question format.He predicted 3 Con gains and 3 LD holds. We lost all 6.

    Across the 6, the average difference between the standard voting intention and actual result was +2.3% for Con and +8.8% for LD, showing that both Con and LD outperformed relative to the standard voting intention and in particular showing the significant positive impact of our campaigns.

    But the average difference between the constituency intention (the basis for the predicted holds) and the actual result was +6.3% for Con and -2.5% for LD. The average change in UKIP’s share between the constituency question and the actual result was less than -1%.

    So at some time between the field work (late March) and May 7th, a significant percentage of people who had previously indicated they intended to vote LD appear to have switched to Con.

    I agree with Nick that had we said we would not under any circumstances go into coalition with Labour then the percentage of LD->Con late switchers would have been reduced. But under those circumstances could we have expected the -3.2% average decline in Labour support between the standard question and the constituency question, which was presumably due to Labour supporters “lending” their votes to the Lib Dems?

  • Paul In Wokingham 10th May '15 - 8:54am

    ***Apologies to Lord Ashcroft***

    He of course did not “predict” anything. His polls are snapshots, not predictions.

  • I had always voted LD, but only actually joined as a member when I was at my most unhappy with the party.
    I believed doing so might offer me a voice on shaping the direction of things – I was generally wrong on that count.
    People seemed happier to bury their head in the sand and go with the ‘everything is great approach’
    I’m noticing that, for obvious reasons, many more voices of discontent than pre-election
    A lot of you on here are angry and want to be heard, can we please as a party start listening now?
    The forum is great but can we formalise the process so suggestions and thoughts are not lost in the frey?
    This is a lot to take in, but there are strong narratives emerging.
    Furthermore, rather than assuming why people did not vote for us or what it would take to bring voters back – why not ask them too?

    I think traditional surveys would turn people off, but participatory action research could help start to mobilise the party again and are succinct with libdem values. Small, local, accessible action groups – that will explore issues and come up with practical implementable solutions.
    The actual process of doing this type of research can have significant benefits as well as generating new knowledge.

    Lets not loose this momentum for change, lets listen again and ensure that listening is not a one off event.
    To trust the party again the relationship has to change, we need to be not only seen to be listening, but also seen to be acting on what we hear – a party that respects the views of its members and a party that is ready for change.
    Are we not the liberal democrats after all
    Can we please be liberal and democratic about this?

  • kevin colwill 10th May '15 - 9:11am

    I have lived and worked with working class Tories all my life, some of my nearest and dearest fit that mould. Many voted UKIP this time because UKIP were a spot on fit with their view of the world. Do you want to adopt UKIP policies to appeal to them? I hope not.
    I don’t have contempt for working class UKIP voters and I certainly don’t think lack of education or low pay means you’re stupid, worthless or a racist.
    UKIP picked up a lot of votes because it didn’t lie to people about the effects of immigration. They didn’t portray it as a wholly good thing. They said it made the pool of low skilled labour much bigger and kept the wages of low skilled workers down… and they said that was a very bad thing. Of course people are going to like that level of honesty. Liberals should have policies that mitigate the effects of immigration on low paid/low skilled workers. Taking low paid workers out of tax is a great sound bite but playing with tax bands actually hands more cash to better off people. Why not look at the minimum wage itself and look at rights to in work training and education for all. Hope for advancement for people who currently have little.
    There are so many ways Liberals can reach out to UKIP votes without trying to be Tories or UKIP.

  • David Evans 10th May '15 - 9:13am

    What is even worse is that there is simply article after article trying to airbrush out of our memory the massive disaster Nick and his followers have created for us. Time after time only the good bits of coalition are mentioned and they are listed out comprehensively. Often not even a sentence acknowledging the bad bits and nothing acknowledging that the vast majority of people who voted for us in 2010 disagree and we have failed them.

    It is as if the articles are solely written for internal consumption, to reassure the troops, just like the slanted polling data produced to keep MPs and concerned activists in line.

    Even now, when the catastrophe is clear, so many of our leading figures are failing to reach out with a message of hope to people who trusted us. Liberalism is nothing if it isn’t diverse, inclusive and welcoming. Membership is surging, but we are not reaching out even a little to those who want to see evidence of us changing before committing. Without that the boost will surely stall and we will be less strong than we need to be to survive the coming winter. In days if not hours we will lose at least 150 full time staff from ex-MPs offices, plus the office itself and the MP. We need nearly 20,000 new members even if they all give 2 hours every month, just to make up the loss.

    Once the media stop talking about the Election (a couple of days at most) we will just be another party with as many MPs as the DUP. Media interest will disappear and our presence will be extinguished in many households in the country.

    It is wrong for Liberals to be inward looking and be self-consoling and self-justifying, and we need to stop it right now. We need someone to break this logjam of self pity and it needs to happen now.

  • Nick, Perhaps you might re-read your contribution of 2.30pm on the 7thMay…title..”Majority happy to see LibDems play a role in government” …
    You wrote “It is therefore a remarkable turnaround for it to be considered quite widely that a coalition this time round (and particularly one involving the Liberal Democrats) would provide the most stable, moderate government.
    More than that, though, polling by Lord Ashcroft has shown just how successful the Liberal Democrats have been in persuading the country that we can be trusted as a party of national government.”..

  • I am just catching up on this thread — my bedtime being a lot earlier than some.

    Bill le Breton 9th May ’15 – 8:44pm
    “….Your strategy led to us to winning 8 seats. ”

    Whatever else Bill said about Nick’s strategy, this fact cannot be denied. It resulted in 8 seats.

    Instead of the 124 Liberal MPs we were promised during the leadership election we got 8 seats, one of which is entirely dependent on Tory votes from the affluent hills of Hallam and one of which has the SNP breathing down our necks just 817 votes behind Alastair Carmichael.

    So how do we build on 8 seats? How do we secure the future of the Liberal Democrats?

    Can I humbly suggest that we will do so by resisting the temptation to start any sentence with the words – “Jeremy Browne was surely right when he said of the coalition… …”

    If we want to ‘big up’ the record of the coalition I would suggest that remembering one of its least impressive junior ministers will not help.

    Jeremy Browne, David Laws and the others most closely associated with the cult of Orange Bookery (the cult not the actual book or it’s contents) are thoroughly and utterly discredited by Thursday’s results. They are history. Trying to bring the,mback to plitical life would be a fool’s errand. To suggest otherwise is to indulge in fantasy. We will not rebuild the party by indulging in fantasies.

    We will rebuild the party one council seat at a time, one by-election at a time, taking every electoral opportunity to get others to join us in a mission to restore radical, community based Liberal Democrats to positions within the system and outside it. It will take hard work and the ability to listen to people like Bill Le Breton, because he knows what he is along about.

  • Alex Macfie 10th May '15 - 9:22am

    I agree with George Potter: there are a lot of LD/Tory waverers. And I know there are limits to anecdotal evidence, but I remember looking at canvass returns on a street in Sutton where almost everyone was a “Blue Lib Dem” or “Yellow Tory”. I do not agree with Nick Thornsby that we should get their vote by becoming Tory Lite. We instead should get them by painting the Tories as the “nasty party”; showing what is underneath the mask. That is why we should have done a lot more to draw attention to the company they keep in the European Parliament. People who waver between us and the Tories may well see the Tories as a respectable party; that is how the Tory party presents itself, but we need to show their nasty side; there will be plenty of opportunity to do now with the Tory-only government.
    Essentially we need to attack the Tories using an right-facing equivalent of old “reds under the bed” arguments that have worked so effectively for the Tories against Labour in the past.

  • Supermans Big Sister 10th May '15 - 9:29am

    For those Liberals who voted Conservative I hope they’ve got what they wanted.

  • Oh for goodness sake.
    So much rot written here. We lost our anti-establishment, anti-politics, pox on both your houses vote to UKIP. We lost our labour voters in tory marginals because of the coalition and we lost our tory voters in labour marginals because they knew we’d do a deal with Labour.
    The actual Libdem vote was reduced because most if it is left wing liberals.
    All of this was inevitable no matter who we went into government with.

  • @David Evans “We need someone to break this logjam of self pity and it needs to happen now.”

    Why don’t you just come out and say it?

  • @CarlN spot on. Our “advance” over 40 years was never predicated on positive support but mostly on the “vote Lib Dem to stop X” and the anti politics protest.

    8% of the electorate feels about right for positive support for liberalism.

  • Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 9:29am …IMO both Labour and LibDems strategies went for the head/heart whereas the Tories, under Lynton Crosby went for the throat…..

    The media, including the BBC, kept the election on personal and scare tactics; and it worked…. I’m concerned about an electorate that is more concerned about how someone eats a sandwich than how a £12Billion cut in welfare will be implemented….

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 9:40am

    Paul in W comes to our aid with useful data and analysis – 8.48 today. Thanks Paul.

    He concludes rightly that if LDs are leaving through the door marked Cons, then the danger of Nick T’s strategy of saying we wont go into coalition with Lab merely opens the door marked Lab to those who had come to us to stop the Tories.

    The only way to cope with this situation was to make people fear a Tory majority as much as they feared a Lab/SNP outcome.

    But our leaders just were not capable of bringing themselves to ‘out’ the Tories. They remained wedded to their coalition partners long after the divorce. The one time we did so, when Danny dished the dirt on their child benefit plans, you could sense the traction for that idea on the doorstep.

    Paddy promised me there would be more of the same. But not only were there no more examples of this, we actually stopped reinforcing the child benefit issue – which was actually handed over to Labour to exploit.

    OK, it was late to start such attacks, but why when we started doing so did we stop almost immediately?

    Were the attack dogs called off?

    One of the answers probably would be, but that this is what Blukip was designed to do – well that is what Paddy told me first, a few days before the Danny initiative when I asked for a counter attack. But as I mentioned above and which Nick T kindly agreed with Blukip was compounding our problems – opening a door marked UKIp and widening the door marked Cons.

    I know this all sounds a bit like my father re-fighting the Battle of Jutland, but it is significant.

    Why? Because this reluctance to attack our former Coalition partners is already resurfacing in debates about the next leader. It has become the ghost in the Liberal Democrat Machine. And it will hold back our recovery just as it undermined our GE campaign.

    We have to have someone whose fighting arm is not still tied behind his back.

  • There are a lot of coded messages in this thread.

    Bill – just come out and say it straight.

  • I would add though, that if we had stuck to our promises and lived up to Clegg’s 2010 rhetoric we would probably have kept the anti-politics vote and converted the soft tory and labour votes. As we didn’t we got what we deserved.

  • TCO – I’ve said it. Is there something you would like to add?

  • BuckHucklebuck 10th May '15 - 10:14am

    @ Simon Shaw – So, to parse, LiBDems attacking Labour with the same stuff as the tories about the SNP and huge borrowing and economic incompetence, which meant Labour didn’t advance at all in Lab/Con battlegrounds, drove leftish tactical voters to other parties in Lib/Con battlegrounds, and pushed right-ish Libs to the Tories in all seats to ‘keep the SNP out’ doesn’t matter because the Labour party said nasty things about the LibDems and the Left has collective groupthink.

    And then you blame Labour for not tactically voting for your MPs to keep the Tory out.

    Breathtaking arrogance.

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 10:15am

    TCO – you could not be more wrong.

  • @TCO 10th May ’15 – 12:15am
    @Bolano what is your definition of libertarian?

    Someone who’s very confused.

    “TCO 29th Apr ’15 – 9:22pm
    I work for a libertarian think tank if you must know”

    “TCO 8th May ’15 – 12:10pm
    I don’t work for a libertarian think tank.”

  • Bill le Breton 10th May ’15 – 9:40am
    “….,The only way to cope with this situation was to make people fear a Tory majority as much as they feared a Lab/SNP outcome.
    The one time we did so, …. .. on their child benefit plans, you could sense the traction for that idea on the doorstep.”

    There is a key lesson for the future. We cannot rebuild the party by re- heating the glories of coalition. Our MPs and spokespersons have to get out of the habits of the last 5 years. When Norman Lamb came on TV yesterday talking as if he was still a junior minister my heart sank. If the coalition experience was dead on the doorsteps in 2015 imagine how much more dead it will be in 2020. The coalition is over, live with it!

    One of the advantages that Cameron and the Conservatives have had over the last five years is that they have only had to fight the Labour Party, they were not suffering any attacks from our party.
    For five years the Conservatives have not had to bother about attacks from Liberal Democrats because we were too busy saying how wonderful it would be for Conservative economic policies to continue’ “to finish the job”.

    The last week’s slogan “STABILITY, DECENCY, UNITY” summed up what was wrong.
    It was a Conservative slogan. Our leader was calling for a continuation of a Conservative government. Who thought that was a good idea?

    Maybe he thought the whole world was like Hallam. It is not.

  • @Bolano I’m flattered that you see fit to keep a little file on me. My little jest was designed to confirm the prejudices of my ad hom attackers who struggle to believe I’m an ordinary party member.

    Contact the mods if you want and they’ll confirm it.

  • @David & Bill

    I’m reading the code loud and clear.

  • The LibDems had polled around 8% for ages before the GE campaign had even started, people had just lost trust in them, the campaigns had very little affect on the outcome. What is worrying is there doesn’t seem to be any action started to sort the party out. The next leader is going to have to be very firm and bring in new people to help him, I like Tim Farron but I’m not sure he’s up to the job. Maybe if he could persuade John Pugh to be his number two, he seems to have the bite Tim might be lacking. Giving Charles Kennedy a peerage and having him as an adviser would also seem sensible.

  • @Bolano I’m flattered your keeping a dossier on me.

    It seems you didn’t appreciate my little jest. Read the many other posts I’ve made and you’ll see. Contact the m0ds and tell confirm I’m an ordinary party member

    But you prefer to believe no one in their right mind can hold different views to yours so I told you what you wanted to believe

    Now perhaps you’ll answer my question, though I suspect it will be another Humpty Dumpty response.

  • TCO – Keep on deluding yourself and evading the point. It doesn’t work with us, and we will make sure others realise it quickly too.

  • It’s interesting that in Eastbourne, despite losing the parliamentary seat, we increased our grip on the district council. Interesting too that the Ashcroft poll in the constituency put us virtually 20% ahead.

  • Neil Sandison 10th May '15 - 10:39am

    Lets be honest the electorate brought the tory propaganda which they consistently repeated from day one of the election campaign that a Labour /SNP coalition was the only alternative to them.The centre left and left were hopelessly split and did not offer a credible option .To the electorate despite individual policies that did not support the tories offered economic stability..We offered economic stability but the message did not come over because we became obsessed by being a centrist party with no defined values .Lets get back to being a radical progressive party preaching our own values and a clear vision for the country we want to see in 2020.

  • Julian Critchley 10th May '15 - 10:40am

    Stages of grief : denial, anger, bargaining and depression, then finally acceptance

    I can certainly see the denial in action.

    The LibDems lost 2/3rds of their support because 2/3rds of their supporters pre-2010 were not right-wing soft Tories. So when Clegg positioned the party as a right-wing soft Tory party to explicitly win soft Tory voters, they (we, I) left.

    That’s it. That’s all anyone needs to know. All the anecdotes on this thread, all the attempts to obfuscate or to find complex local reasons or campaign tactics, they’re all pointless. From 2010, ex-members like myself were saying, loudly, that the way Clegg was conducting the coalition, and his expressed contempt for the bulk of pre-2010 LibDem voters, was going to lead to the abyss. For five years, we’ve had Cleggite loyalists from the right of the party telling us that we were wrong; that these mythical soft Tories will replace our “protest votes”; that the public would give credit for the “hard choices” of coalition; that there were more votes to be garnered on the centre-right than on the centre-left. The unwillingness to listen, and the hostility displayed towards those who were entirely accurately predicting this outcome was unbecoming of a liberal party. Other people on this thread have used the term “cult”, and certainly there have been some elements of that. Particularly Bill Le Breton’s astonishing disclosure that the Party’s own internal polling was being manipulated to hide the truth – that’s precisely the sort of self-deception one finds in many cults which are choosing fantasy which suits their worldview, rather than having to face facts which contradict it.

    Most of the pre-2010 voters that had been built up over 3 decades, were from the left – either left-wing liberals like myself, or natural Labour voters in Tory areas willing to lend their votes to a party they saw as also left-wing. They supported the party because it ran on a broadly centre-left platform. Post-2010, Clegg, Laws et al positioned the party on the right and supported a right-wing platform in government. The result is those left-inclined voters departed. Clegg clearly believed that he could peel off enough soft Tories to replace those left-leaning voters. That was his catastrophic miscalculation.

    The 7-8% support the LibDems now have is essentially their hardcore tribalist vote. So by all means maintain the sort of policy stance Clegg has left behind. Stick to the right-wing economics. Keep reaching out to those soft Tories who don’t seem to exist. Keep warning of the “dangers” of adopting the centre-left strategy which won the party so many council, European and Parliamentary seats. But if the Party does, then it will remain at this level until natural wastage reduces it further, and it will become a localized political oddity.

  • @David Evans you want a coronation.

    @Julian Crichley the denial is in not looking where we list those votes to. Of the 2/3 we lost, only 40% went to Labour. Nearly the same proportion went to ukip. When we chose we fractured the unstable alliance of left-, right- and none of the above leaning voters we’d garnered by only fighting locally and positioning as anti politics. The same would have happened if we’d have gone left. Too many of our erstwhile supporters voted for us because we weren’t in government, which is a huge problem if your aim is to get into government

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 10th May '15 - 10:54am

    A lot of comments here seem to be responding to points I have not made. The story of the Tory-LD seats compared to both the Ashcroft polls of the last couple of years and the local election results (which have been fairly good in many of these seats over the last few years) is a higher Conservative vote.

    To take an example at random, an Ashcroft poll in Cheadle had the Tories on 30% in January. In the election they won 43%.

    To stick with Cheadle, the two governing parties won 74% of the vote on Thursday. I think we can be broadly confident that most of those voters were content with the coalition. The problem is that more than half of them voted Tory for (what they saw as) continuity.

    George Potter is absolutely right above – Tory/LD waverers are common in these seats. I spoke to many of them on Thursday. And they voted disproportionately for the Conservatives.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 10th May '15 - 10:56am

    That is not to say, of course, that we did not lose votes to Labour/Greens. I actually didn’t spell that out because I thought it was obvious. But I would say that losing many of those voters was an inevitable consequence of going into coalition with the Conservatives, and we have demonstrated in these seats in particular in local elections that despite losing them we can still win there. It is just that those voters who choose between the LDs and Tories become much more important.

  • Nick Thornsby 10th May ’15 – 10:54am

    A lot of comments here seem to be responding to points I have not made. ”

    It’s a common story Nick.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 10th May '15 - 11:02am

    And have a look at Yeovil. It was clearly won initially by Paddy successfully squeezing Labour.

    But over time it is clear that many Tories started to vote Lib Dem. The last time the Tories won Yeovil before Thursday (in 1979) the Tories got 47.9%. In Paddy’s last election there they got 27.7%.

    The big story in Yeovil on Thursday was not any shift to Labour (they went from 5% to 7%) but the increase in the Tory vote share from 33% to 43%. Those votes came from the Lib Dems.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeovil_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

  • Julian Critchley 10th May '15 - 11:04am

    @TCO

    Firstly, it’s simply untrue to claim that the same number of ex-LibDems went to UKIP as to Labour. The graph on this piece is as accurate now as it was then :

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/11/lib-dems-have-lost-7-10-their-voters-where-have-they-gone

    There were far, far more left-leaning pre-2010 voters who went to Labour or the Greens than those who went to UKIP. Only between 10-15% of ex-voters departed for UKIP. 40-45% went to Labour or the Greens.

    Secondly, it is a mistake to label all UKIP votes as somehow “right-wing”. Some of them are. Some of them are almost certainly votes for something – anything – different from the existing identikit parties.

    I notice you’re working very hard on these threads to try and suggest that there was no alternative approach, and that somehow this catastrophe was unavoidable, and the party should continue to stick to the Cleggite line. Good luck with that. Completely and utterly wrong, but the collapse of the LibDems as a result of following this line has served the Conservative Party very well indeed, and in all your policy statements, you do seem to be broadly in agreement with the Conservative Party, so perhaps there’s no surprise there.

  • We should attract LD/Tory waverers by attacking the Tories, not by being like them

  • People mostly vote out of self interest. A party that has lots of disabled voters. lots of students, lots of people on low incomes simply cannot keep that support if it supports a government that attacks its voter base. Left/Right has nothing to do with it. This is why the Lib Dems should never enter have entered this coalition. Abstracts about the position of the party or whether or not the LD were not grumpy enough as they delivered Conservative policies is meaningless. You do not clobber and certainly do demonization of a good proportion of your own voters, Whether we like it or not the Lib Dems were the recipients of large numbers of voters who felt did not serve their interests and we in power did not serve their interests. In fact we made their position a whole lot worse. It’s as plain as day, that most of these votes went to Labour, SNP. The Greens and even to UKIP, whilst a much smaller proportion went to the Conservatives. At best we could maybe have taken 12 to twenty something seats with Nick’s strategy. Nick Clegg promised 125 which is why he has gone. The lesson from history is that the various manifestations of The Liberal Party need to get over the fact that Labour replaced them after WWI and stop forming Coalitions with the Conservatives. It ends in tears every time. The seats in Scotland, The North and in Cities were dead from day one of the coalition. They were not replaced because the vote wasn’t there to replace them. How we rebuild the party is by representing voters better and waiting in the wings for the Conservatives to screw up again because we at least might be able gain some traction by saying ” we told you so”, but never ever contemplate, even if you think the country needs it, another coalition with them unless WWII breaks out or Hell freezes over . They are Toxic and the merest suggestion that we or Labour will work with them has in all likelihood ended Great Britain, because it seems pretty obvious to me that Scotland will almost certainly go at some point in the not too distant future.

  • On the positive side, articles like this one by Nick Thornsby, the determined replies by TCO, all show how worried the Ttippers and Freemarketeers are that the party will return to the common sense, the popularity, the relevance of the pre-Clegg years. There was an excellent post somewhere by – I think – David-1 arguing that the party needs both its left and right wings, but that it was no place for the dogmas of socialism and the free market. I completely agree. I don’t see any socialists. I do see some desperate clawing on by Freemarketeers, still living in the past, happy to see the party shrink and shrink as long as it keeps their ideological purity, furiously re-writing the defeat.

    They had their chance and lost. The party was devastated. Have the grace to accept you were wrong.

  • @Bolano I have no doubt you’ll get your coronation and your positioning to the left of Labour, who I’m sure will go for Umuna or if they’re very brave Jarvis, and reclaim the centre ground that is our natural home.

    Trouble is, that space to the left of Labour is crowded out by parties who do if far better than we could.

  • TCO – No. I want a contest.

  • @Nick Thornsby 10th May ’15 – 11:02am

    “The big story in Yeovil on Thursday…”

    Was that the move to the Tories from the Lib Dems was insignificant.

    I live in the constituency. When you guys on the right were forecasting victory and glory, I simply pointed out the truth – that Laws was toast. You were in denial then. You’re in denial now. Your knowledge is deficit. You know not of what you write. Your ideology blinds you to the facts.

  • @TCO 10th May ’15 – 11:18am
    “@Bolano I have no doubt you’ll get your coronation …”

    I think the only relevance of coronation is the fact that King Arthur Uther Pendragon in Salisbury saw a 200% rise at the expense of the Lib Dems. Even the druids are beneficiaries of your nonsense.

  • Adrian Sanders:
    The flaw in your perceptive analysis from 2010 is the assertion that 315 could have been a stable coalition and that all Labour MPs would have gone along with it. Then there is the public perception of Labour at the time. Unfortunately nothing really added up.

    One big problem, as the shift to UKIP shows, is the extent to which we were dependent on non-specific protest votes. A party that gets some power on the backs of a ‘sod the lot of them’ vote will always be in big trouble when it becomes one of ‘them’.

  • @Simon
    “Well that worked well, didn’t it.”

    If you read Jeremy’s post carefully you’ll see that he lives in a seat that has been held by the Tories for a long time. Is there a single such seat anywhere in the country where the LD-Labour switchers like Jeremy had any influence on the outcome whatsoever? Given the swings elsewhere, I very much doubt it.

    Looking at the Tory gains from the Lib Dems, in about half of them the Tory majority was bigger than the entire Labour vote. In almost all the others, the Labour-LD swing required to save the Lib Dem was off the scale of plausibility. You need to look elsewhere for someone to blame.

    “I was pointing out that the tactics of ‘The Left’ (we’ve even seen it repeatedly here in postings on LDV over the last 4 or 5 years) of constantly attacking the Lib Dems as part of Labour’s 35% Strategy and asserting that what was a fairly centrist Coalition Government was really a Hard Right Conservative Government, backfired spectacularly.”

    It wasn’t “the Left’s” fault that the Lib Dems got carried away with rose garden schmoozing and welched on their tuition fees pledge. If you go through the polling archives, you’ll see that the Lib Dems lost a large chunk of support straight after the rose garden and another large chunk straight after the tuition fees vote. Their support has been almost static since.

  • @Martin 10th May ’15 – 11:37am
    “A party that gets some power on the backs of a ‘sod the lot of them’ vote will always be in big trouble when it becomes one of ‘them’.”

    Agreed. But there’s a difference between seeing a loss of votes by gaining power and trying to address it, and celebrating a loss of votes as proof of ideological success.

  • John Nicholson 10th May '15 - 11:50am

    I understand Nick Thornsby’s point, but it does seem to be over-stating the importance of the Tory/LD waverers. In my constituency (Twickenham) and the neighbouring one (Kingston & Surbiton) there were modest gains in the Tory vote, but substantial loses to Greens, Labour and UKIP. Using crude percentages rather than actual numbers, our vote in Twickenham fell 14% (52% to 38%) while the Tory vote rose by 7%; in Kingston, our vote fell by 16% while the Tory vote rose by 2%. The only seat we held in London, Charshalton, saw the Tory vote fall, though less than ours. So what does all this mean? Obviously it needs a period of reflection and thought, but the most striking things are:
    (i) In general, we lost more votes to Labour/Greens/UKIP than to the Conservatives;
    (ii) This was in areas where Labour/Greens/UKIP had no chance of winning. The electorate knew that, but still voted for them. In the case of Labour and Green voters, we clearly lost the trust of voters with integrity and idealism, a fact which should really make us pause for thought.

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 11:52am

    TCO – you obviously need it spelt out. I do not and would not support the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale in this and any future leadership election. How tiresome you are.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 10th May '15 - 11:57am

    Bolano – that simply cannot be true in Yeovil. The LDs lost about 13,000 votes 2010-2015. On a crude transfer, about half went to the Tories and the rest scattered elsewhere. If the half that went to the Tories hadn’t gone to the Tories the LDs would have won.

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 12:14pm

    Nick T writes; “And have a look at Yeovil. It was clearly won initially by Paddy successfully squeezing Labour.

    “But over time it is clear that many Tories started to vote Lib Dem. The last time the Tories won Yeovil before Thursday (in 1979) the Tories got 47.9%. In Paddy’s last election there they got 27.7%.”

    This precisely why I was always amazed and opposed to comments by Clegg and others that scorned tactical voting.

    My whole approach to spreading the attraction of Liberalism was that one first had to win people over, perhaps on a single issue or even as a borrowed vote and that you could then slowly but surely ‘convert them’ to full, proud and committed Liberal Democrats by example.

    This Paddy did in Yeovil – you need to realise what the atmosphere was like in the first Thatcher administration and how unemployment affected so many including the children and grandchildren of Conservatives. Paddy campaigned on the effects of unemployment on young people in one of those old mining communities of Somerset.

    He built his vote from both former Labour supporters in those communities but also from those Tories who could not stomach the economic effects on their families of Thatcher’s policies.

    He then steadily won them over in ’87 and every subsequent election as you describe Nick.

    That is how you build support for Liberalism. There are no short cuts. And eternal vigilance is required to maintain it. Constant campaigning. Constant resistance against the forces of the Establishment.

    THat slow organic method did not chime with people in a great hurry. And Clegg articulated this impatience. The hard slog on the ground. The time spent away from the attractions of the Westminster Village and the high life of socializing with political correspondents. Just read Jasper Gerrard’s book on the Clegg Coup.

    Those who really disliked this kind of campaigning were always going on about how there were short cuts and how if we just had a chance to show how good we were in GOvernment all these ‘soft Tories’ would come to our banner. There were plenty before Reeves saying this. And they came from both the Liberal and SDP traditions.

    But it was fool’s gold they were chasing and it has turned out to be so.

    I’d like to thank Adrian for his great service to the Party AND for those interesting stats for his constituency. I know nothing about Yeovil, but I’d like to see similar stats AND I’d like to know what Les Farris thinks went wrong. Mr Yeovil Constituency himself.

  • “Bolano – that simply cannot be true in Yeovil. The LDs lost about 13,000 votes 2010-2015. On a crude transfer, about half went to the Tories and the rest scattered elsewhere.”

    Actually it wasn’t half, it was 41%, if we accept a totally static base of participatory voters.

    “If the half that went to the Tories hadn’t gone to the Tories the LDs would have won.”

    And if the 59% that didn’t go to the Tories had stayed with Laws the LDs would have won by even more.

    So let me first point out that rather than the votes Laws lost splitting equally down the middle between Tories and the rest as you make out the rest are actually 50% bigger than the Tories.

    Secondly, let me also point out to you that – as anyone who lives in the constituency knows – the years and years of Lib Dem occupancy presented until recently a sense of the unassailable Lib Dems: some Tories haven’t voted because they didn’t believe there was any point. The trend has been from around 22,000/23,000 down to 18,000 (ignoring the Blair bump). While those on the right of the party believed Laws unassailable because of the Ashdown legacy and because of the perception that he was the most Tory-like Lib Dem MP in the country, the Tories here energised those lapsed voters with a real sense of hope – and this was highlighted by Cameron’s visit here – symbolically, to of all places, Norton-sub-Hamdon.

    The Tory increase held a substantial number of Tories return to the polling booth, scenting blood. Part of this can be seen in the numbers of Laws voters who sat on their hands and refused to vote for anyone, being natural Lib Dems but unwilling to vote for Mr Tory Lite (myself included). Common sense tells you that this was more than the 3% Laws lost – and further I’m telling you I know from the constituency a lot of these refuseniks. The numbers are masked by the returning Tories.

    Thirdly, Laws was the most Tory of the Lib Dems. If ever one MP should have benefitted from your effect, he would have the most. And the figures just don’t back up your claims. You have to up the figures from 41/59 to 50/50, and postulate an implausible complete transference of votes from Laws to other parties to make a halfway convincing case. And neither are true.

    I repeat. I’m in the constituency. I posted early that Laws was out. I posted Cameron’s visit to Norton. All of this was ignored then. And now you’re trying to re-write history.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “But it was ‘the Left’s’ fault that they spent most of the following 4 years attacking the Lib Dems (and unfairly so) rather than trying to win over any converts from those who voted for the Conservatives in 2010.”

    Actually one of the things that struck me about the Labour campaign – at a national level at least – is the degree to which they turned a blind eye to the Lib Dems and concentrated fire almost solely on the Tories. Labour’s website kept referring to “the Tory government” which I thought was a generous gesture towards the Lib Dems.

    The Lib Dems on the other hand seemed obsessed with attacking Labour. That was certainly the case here, where anti-Labour articles outnumbered anti-Tory ones by about five or six to one. Given that most Lib Dem seats were Tory-facing, and it was obvious the party had lost much of its appeal to left-leaning voters, this seemed like a very odd strategy to me, and I said so before the election.

    “enjoy the next 5 years of Conservative Government”

    Hardly. Believe me Simon, I’d have liked nothing more than to see the Lib Dems hold on to most of their seats and deny the Tories a majority. That this didn’t happen certainly isn’t the fault of anybody on the left. Some of us have spent the past five years trying to warn your party of the likely result of your mistakes – alas, to no avail.

    The legacy of some of those mistakes will be felt for years to come. When the Tories (for whom the 35% strategy has worked a treat) feel they have the right to dictatorially tinker with the electoral system and party funding rules – this will be partly the fault of the Lib Dems for helping them start the process. When student debts sky rocket yet further – this will be partly the fault of the Lib Dems for allowing the new system to have such easily changeable parameters.

  • @Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 11:59am

    “You guys on the right … ” Could we try and use language in a sensible way?

    You’re right. I meant the minority of members of the Lib Dem party who hold your views, or even more extreme right-leaning ones. The ones who lost the party the election. The ones who dream that the Labour party lost voters when they gained them. The ones who can’t count. The ones fearful that their relevance is fading. The ones who drove the party so far right it didn’t just lose voters to Labour, Greens, UKIP but even to druids.

  • FWIW I was seriously considering voting Lib Dem but was concerned they would do a deal with Labour.

    Reading the comments here maybe I am a bit too “clasical liberal” for the direction the party is looking to take.

  • Interesting post – thanks NT.

    Going alone with your line my cousin in Vienna was much less shocked than me – she had to explain Obliegenheiten to me as it’s a German word i don’t use much – means incumbency – but she was not at all surprised that the smaller party gets squeezed for pro incumbency votes – it’s coalition learning point number one for many continental parliaments. By all means there needs to be wide and broad discussions re policy, but we also need to face that strategy in coalition and in the campaign was pretty hopeless.

    If LDV is in any way representative, there is little consensus on which way the party should go. We should welcome this chance for debate. It’s needed. Being brought up in a rural part of Newbury and then living in Hornsey and Wood Green, I was lucky to see two brilliant LD MPs in action – but they tailored their messages quite differently through necessity – this was a fault line some saw, some didn’t, some said binaries were a thing of the past – how we square that is anyone’s guess.

  • To be fair I don’t think anyone could have foreseen that spending five years telling the electorate that the Tories were basically right would lead to people voting for the Tories.

  • @Stuart “Actually one of the things that struck me about the Labour campaign – at a national level at least – is the degree to which they turned a blind eye to the Lib Dems and concentrated fire almost solely on the Tories. Labour’s website kept referring to “the Tory government” which I thought was a generous gesture towards the Lib Dems.”

    How naive of you.

    By calling it a Tory government they were painting us as Tories and ignoring our distinct contribution.

    By ignoring us they didn’t want to give us any publicity or relevance. They wanted as ever to make it a binary choice.

  • @Adrian stick with us. There are plenty of members who agree either you. This board is just a place for some of the leftish activists to let off steam; if I’m being generous I don’t think you’d find many more than z dozen distinct posters and they all reinforce each other. It doesnt reflect the more nuanced views across the party.

  • David Evans 10th May '15 - 1:27pm

    Nuanced – from the person who puts things in inverted commas that the other poster didn’t say? To a liberal that’s a nuance too far.

  • @John Nicholson.

    That’s why the party shouldn’t give up hope, I’m sure many of the voters in SW London would return
    if the party went back to being Libdem’s. Their not asking for Labour stooges, many had grown sick of that party.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 10th May '15 - 1:32pm

    I have put a bit of data from 5 fairly randomly selected LD-Tory marginal seats at the foot of the post, with a bit more of a response to some of the points that have come up in the comments.

  • @TCO thanks that’s encouraging.

    I am not adverse to redistribution, I am actually quite keen on LVT, but I am also a very market orientated kind of guy.

    I will continue to monitor the situation = )

  • Speak to the activists in any of the Tory-facing held/target seats who were out on the doorstep and they’ll tell you quite clearly that people who’d been pledging to support their local LD candidate a week out from the election switched to backing “the Tories” (not the local Tory candidate) between then and election day, primarily because of (as it was explained to me many times on the doorstep) the need to “support the Tories this time” / “because Clegg would prop up Salmond and Miliband.”

    That’s not to say we would have had an amazing election night otherwise but the incredibly effective “vote Clegg, get Salmond” message pushed us from 25-30 seats to 8. There’s no other explanation that explains several thousand people in our Tory-facing seats suddenly voting Tory on election day when they said they planned to vote LD only weeks before.

  • “Blaming the voters and your opposing political parties is not going to help. The simple fact is you can’t slag off the Labour Party publically, and join Conservative attacks on the Labour party, and propagate bunkum economics for 5 years, then lose, and blame a lack of Left Unity.”

    This is a very important point. One of Labour’s big tactics throughout the first few years of the last Government was to use the ‘we told you so line’ and it did not win them anything; it is certainly not going to win us anything.

    As has been said above, the Lib Dem party now needs to ask itself why so many voters decided to vote Green, Labour or XXXX, despite knowing it would lose them a Lib Dem and gain them a Tory. Once we answer that question, we need to work on regaining those votes.I suspect that doing that will go way beyond the ‘Right / Left’ wing divide.

    I also believe that Adrian’s letter and comments offer a very solid explanation that provides a clear basis for the answers we need to find to the questions on why we lost so many votes and how to regain them.

    Of course, it may be silly of us to listen to someone who was an MP for 18 years about politics and campaigning. The strategy we used for the previous election did not end too badly.

  • @Thomas Long, there is another explanation: what people tell you to your face and do in private can be, and often are, different. I remember when I was standing for election in some council elections about 1 year and half into the election. Based on our canvassing and other research from campaigning, it looked like we were going to be OK. The strong response we were getting on the doorstep was ‘Yes, we will certainly vote you nice young men and women’. It looked like we were set to retain most of our seats, and even had a few where we could potentially make gains.

    The final result, we lost all but of our seats on the Council to Labour. Those people did vote, but they voted Labour.

    The idea that we lost so many seats this election just because we did not win the soft Tory votes relies on the strange presumption that soft Tories vote Lib Dem in Tory areas.

    Sure, we may have lost some votes to the Tories, but the proportion we lost to the Tories in these seats is Tiny compared to the numbers we lost to other parties.

  • Nick T – thank you so much for addressing the most interesting question of the election. It is really incredibly obvious why we lost to Labour in places like Cambridge and Hornsey/Wood Green (‘propping up Tories’ & tuition fees). And yes there are places like Torbay where we lost to Con but losing left leaners to Greens and Labour was key.

    However what is genuinely interesting/hard to understand is how people in places like Twickenham and Yeovil could vote LD for over 20 yrs and choose now, after five yrs of LDs being pro business, supporting benefit reform & cutting taxes, to switch to the Conservatives.

    Very good analysis by Bolano in Yeovil, I’d be interested to read similar reports from other LD losses to Con.

    The only general explanation I can think of is that pro business liberals didn’t think Tony Blair was the end of the world so didn’t feel a need to tactically vote Conservative 97-’10 but were so abhorred by Miliband and Sturgeon that they would expressly vote to keep Lab/SNP out of Downing Street.

  • The only difference the tory vote made was the amount which the Libdem’s lost by.
    You were still going to lose.

  • I think the “where do we position the party to get the most votes” argument is part of the reason we have done so badly. It is co mpletely cynical. Where is the party of principle that I thought I belonged to? In 2010 the voters wanted us to be a breath of fresh air, to stand up to the Tories and the usual bland statements about what politicians will do. Instead we caved in immediately, abandoned our principles , our stated promise to vote against any increase in tuition fees, and made a mad dash for power. We lost most people’s respect right at the beginning.
    For goodness sake let’s stop all these arguments about where did our vote go . It went to several different parties in all of our seats. It really doesn’t matter. We lost. We have to rebuild. We are a party that is proud of our member one vote so in the absence of any other leader will Sal Brinton please set in motion the initial steps of rebuilding. Obviously we have to find a new leader but we also need to involve the membership in deciding what sort of society we want to create for our children and grand children . What do we stand for not what would get us most votes.
    We need our traumatised staff, ex and existing MPs, and the Lords to shake themselves out of this terrible torpor of trying to be like the Tories, They played a brilliant game and truly stuffed us as a party right from the word go. Get angry get truly angry not just about this but about what they are going to do to our country in the next five years. Many people are going to suffer because we lost and because we were part of a cruel regime of benefit cuts which will intensify now. Find your passion again and express it directly, That is why UKIP and the SNP attract so many voters. They are the only ones who express any .passion.
    Let us find our values, fight for the individual, stop the poorest and most vulnerable from always paying for recessions and stop our country from polarising between nations and between the rich and the growing poor.

  • @Nick Thornsby 10th May ’15 – 1:32pm
    “I have put a bit of data from 5 fairly randomly selected LD-Tory marginal seats at the foot of the post, with a bit more of a response to some of the points that have come up in the comments.”

    I understand that, as someone on the right of the party, Nick, it is of interest to you how voters on the right of the party might think – how in that Lib Dem/Tory hinterland the ebb and flow of these relatively small numbers (in comparison to the overall picture) is quite fascinating to you. Could the party have gained more voters with views close to your own? is a valid question.

    But you’re not actually dealing with the issue of importance to the vast majority of people here. The issue of how the party lost 49 MPs – and the issue of how the party is going to get them back. The overwhelming majority of the voters who abandoned the party between the two elections were on the left – the tiny minority who abandoned the party over that period were on the right.

    Any sensible Lib Dem is going to be concerned with the whole picture – and is going to be primarily concerned with addressing the biggest issues that involve the greatest loss of voters. You’re not – you’re only concerned with the loss of a small minority. You’re not concerned with the 59% of voters who abandoned Laws – you’re concerned with the other 41%. You’re concerned if the party behaves in a manner that loses the 41%; but if the party behaves in a manner that loses the 59%, well, that just tough for those voters and you’re not going to do anything about that: you’re not even going to waste an article looking at their issues.

    Why I’m saying that you are stuck in your ideological position is because it would be equally possible for someone to sit and write an article about losses to the Greens, and ignore all other losses by deciding that actually the core of the Lib Dem party is actually Green, and that as this is the case, the real problem is not the voters lost but only the voters lost to the Greens – because the Green vote is the ‘core’ Lib Dem vote. And they’d be just as myopic as you.

    It’s about the election – it’s not about you.

  • @Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 2:06pm

    “Has it ever occured to you that maybe the problem is your own viewpoint?”

    You couldn’t work out whether Labour’s vote had gone up or down. I’m beginning to wonder if you’ve worked out what happened to the Lib Dem vote on May 7th. You’ve been a voice here supporting the positioning of the party on the right for how long? And how did the voters react?

    At the ballot box, your vision of the party was wiped out. But of course, it’s everyone else’s fault.

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 2:41pm

    Thanks for these extras Nick. Aggregates are interesting too. There seem to have been 5,000 net votes to the Tories in Yeovil. In the absence of hearing from Les Farris – I hope he’s still alive – we should take note of Bolano and of course Yeovil was catching up with those seats which lost votes in 2010 because of expenses. One cannot avoid that issue I am afraid.

    But there remain the two big strategic campaigning mistakes: the self inflicted wound of Blukippery – ie the actual Blukip campaign and the positioning argument that it supported. To repeat, it encourage UKIP deciders and Tory deciders to leave us. I think you agree with this.

    Secondly the failure to respond to the Tory Lab/SNP scare which was all the more virulent in the absence of any similar fear of what a Tory majority government would bring. I realise we tried on this, but more intellectually than emotionally.

    The best thing I have seen written about us from an outsider – though he had obviously spoke to Gaving Grant – is : http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/lib-dems-painful-lesson-splitting-difference-doesnt-work

    The fortress seat strategy was an illusion as many of us said at the time: we couldn’t possibly fight 50 or 60 by-elections on one day.

    And I also think that Clegg’s change of strategy just a little over mid-way through the Parliament was a huge mistake. I would have wanted differentiation at the start of the Parliament with some moderation later on to show Coalitions were something not to fear. You may disagree. But neither of us would have wanted the late-on emphasis on differentiation that looked so contrived and which meant we lost all ownership of beneficial change achieved by the Coalition.

    I am afraid I never thought much of Clegg’s grasp of politics. The fact is that a Laws run party would have delivered far more than 8 seats in this election. But, then, one better advised by those with more experience would have won even more.

    It is sad if a struggle to write the history of the party 2010-2015 should mask these straightforward lessons.

  • @Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 2:06pm
    “Has it ever occured to you that maybe the problem is your own viewpoint?”

    Here’s an example of my viewpoint, from April 16th – no doubt I was completely wrong, no doubt my viewpoint askew:

    ‘“How the hell are we in danger of losing so many seats to the Tories in the South West?”

    Because the Lib Dems are, in the South West, the anti-Tory party above all else. They exist as the party in opposition on the left on the Tories who have far fewer natural supporters than the Tories but function as a grand coalition, united by their hatred of the Tories. This coalition is now shattered by the act of going into coalition, by representation by candidates who are soft Tories, by having made those who aren’t support Tory laws. The impact on the party was obvious from day one of the coalition. and addressing that impact was in the hands of the leadership, for whom it was not any kind of priority, over the many years since.

    The South West is toast. Laws is toast.

    Rome is burning north of the border and in the South West, and Clegg is on his fiddle.’

  • @Bill le Breton 10th May ’15 – 2:41pm
    “In the absence of hearing from Les Farris – I hope he’s still alive – we should take note of Bolano and of course Yeovil was catching up with those seats which lost votes in 2010 because of expenses. One cannot avoid that issue I am afraid.”

    The expenses issue was far less of an issue than is commonly supposed.

    Laws’s sexuality was not the greatest secret in the constituency before the 2010 election – and his desire for privacy on that issue was also not exactly a secret. Just before the 2010 election a Tory leaflet making much of their candidate’s status as a “Family man” unlike his Lib Dem opponent was delivered to a huge number of households. It actually was the deciding factor in my voting for Laws (and for a number of people I know). Even if I didn’t agree with Laws I was damned if I was going to ignore such a coded attempt to use sexuality to determine an election; as if was, Laws gained an even greater majority – the greatest share of the vote in that constituency by a Lib Dem ever. After that, Laws’s explanation for his expenses was – to me, and probably others, to a degree – understandable, or at least, more excusable. And I can’t recall one person making expenses an issue for not voting for him.

  • Dave Orbison 10th May '15 - 3:11pm

    Rather than focus on what would have won more votes for the Libdems more Tory-lite or some fanciful U turn and deal with Labour, or anyone else who would get you ‘power’ why not just decide what values and policies should define the LibDems and go out and campaign for them regardless. That’s what you used to do before you sold your souls

  • @Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 3:02pm
    ‘Bolano
    “You couldn’t work out whether Labour’s vote had gone up or down”

    Yes I could! If you refer back to 9:55pm yesterday you will see that I referred to Labour’s vote share going up from a dismal 29% in 2010 to (what in many ways is a lot more dismal) 30% in 2015.’

    Well done on working it out.

    ‘If that was all that was worrying you will you now answer the question as to what percentage of the UK electorate you consider hold “extreme right-leaning” views? 55%? 60%? 65%?’

    I’ve absolutely no idea; I’ve never considered the question. There are a handful on here – but I wouldn’t consider them representative of a large percentage of the population. Are they?

  • outsider looking in 10th May '15 - 3:19pm

    I read through about the first 100 replies and then scrolled through the rest.

    I don’t get it? I just don’t get why all the lib dem supporters are missing the very obvious? It has been mentioned once maybe.

    Lib dems got annihilated because of a ‘trust’ issue. It really is as simple as that. a second reason was the silly “head to labour heart to tories” line. I’d don’t my best to concisely why a floating/pragmatist voter like myself would never contemplate voting lib dem in this issue.

    1) TRUST problem:

    In 2010 voters like myself, could not longer support a Brown labour govt, but could also not support a tory govenment (mp exenses, torys still nasty), Suddenly Nick clegg arrived and promised to be different, A different principled politics, transparent etc. With a great signature policy of scrapping student tuition fees. Defitnely I’ll have a bit of that.

    As you know the first thing clegg does in government is to triple tutition fees not scrap them… “what???”…. Now it isn’t just the actual tuition fees.. it is the break of trust the it represented “hold on you said you’d be different!!! Your not!! you lied to me!!!!…

    From that point onwards, it doesn’t matter what anybody from lib dems said or did, I would not believe it. That is why you are given no credit for your time in government ” you would say that wouldn’t you” to paraphrase mandy rice-davies.

    It is what was offered, it isn’t how you campaigned… it was all about TRUST. it had been broken in 2010. never to be regained.

    2) your message “a heart for tories a head for labour”

    What was that all about? In plain Enlgish what doe it say? Vote Lib dem and have no idea who you will get… What is the point in voting for something mildly- labour? If i wanted to go left I’d vote abour, if I wanted to go right I’d vote tory.

    This is way in those marginals the lib dem vote went moved to the conservatives. THe country didn’t want milliband/over-spening labour. I want someone solid on the economy. If I vote lib dem… who knows who I will get,,, sod that I will vote tory.

    This is what has happened.

    Why do lib dems still not see that it is a fundemental trust issue? I don’t understand?

  • “Hannah – could you expand on the final bit of your comment?”

    For the last five years and continuing into the election campaign, the Lib Dem leadership has explicitly and implicitly supported the Conservatives economic framing. This framing is untrue (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/08/opinion/paul-krugman-triumph-of-the-unthinking.html), but the Lib Dems’ acceptance of this has, among other factors, contributed to it being elevated to established truth (perhaps especially in areas where Labour hasn’t been campaigning to any great degree), and of course it was David Laws that released “that note.” This helped to create a situation where conservative-leaning and apolitical voters decided that, while they may like their Lib Dem MP, a vote for the Conservatives would be the safest bet in preventing Labour turning us back into Greece, possibly in conjunction with the SNP (who the Lib Dem leadership also contributed towards delegitimising). Hence my comment about the Lib Dems’ messaging bolstering arguments that have been successfully turned against them.

  • Check the guiding principles are correct but wide enough to encompass change – as needs will change for everyone.

    One member one vote would solve a huge range of policies thereafter. Appeal to our demographic and stay on our toes as policies change over the years. Never again allow diktats from on high. It’s not follow the leader, it’s follow the membership – as we should re-affirm. The members can also be totally wrong but that is democracy.

  • Would somebody be kind enough to provide a pointer, or link, to where Bill Le Breton’s ”astonishing disclosure that the Party’s own internal polling was being manipulated to hide the truth ” can be found ?
    Thank you.

  • Peter Hayes 10th May '15 - 4:03pm

    “The SW is toast”

    This time at the GE maybe. But since 2010 the LDs in Cheltenham have held all their local seats and actually gained one from Tories. So why did Martin Horwood loose? First the Conservatives used a lot of paid for advertising, particularly in the long campaign before cash limits came in. Second the greens did not stand in 2010 but did this time and they and UKIP took the ‘none of the above’ vote. Finally the last Tory leaflet was the Labour/SNP scare story. My view is the national campaign was wrong, it should have emphasised our values not gone for heart or brain to be transplanted in other parties. Now we will have to build from the ground up because the circumstances this time are unlikely to repeat.

  • Before people get too carried away with the idea that this election result was a ringing endorsement for the coalition, it should be noted that the former coalition partners’ combined share of the vote went down from 59.1% to 44.8% and their seats from 363 to 339.

    @TCO
    “By ignoring us they didn’t want to give us any publicity or relevance.”

    You say that, but an awful lot of Lib Dems believe the exact opposite i.e. that Labour were “continually” attacking the Lib Dems. Clearly you can’t all be right! Actually, it’s you who is right on this.

    You have to admit though, that if Labour’s strategy was to paint the Lib Dems as Tories by referring to “the Tory government”, the Lib Dems didn’t exactly do much to counter that impression. The evidence is there for all to see – just look back over the past six weeks of the LDV archive and count the anti-Tory articles. There have been hardly any.

    If Lib Dems really want to understand why LD/Tory waverers in the south west and elsewhere reached for the Tory comfort blanket, they should look a little closer to home. Nick Clegg spent much of the past two weeks telling voters that (a) the SNP were a foreign menace and should be kept from power at all costs, and (b) an inconclusive result would lead to chaos and another election by Christmas.

    This being so – have any of you considered the possibility that Nick Clegg was actively campaigning for a Tory government, albeit one with himself and a handful of other Lib Dems still in Parliament and, in the event of the polls being accurate, even in with a chance of still being able to access the ministerial limo pool?

  • @Nick Thornsby: “Lib Dem/Tory waverers wanted continuity, but they voted Conservative to achieve it”.

    Emmmm, I (sort of) disagree. I see it more like this: Tory voters wanted continuity, and the voted Conservative to achieve it. Hence the reason the Tories didn’t get a vastly different share of the vote than they did in 2010. 2010’s Lib Dem voters however didn’t like what the party voted for in 2010 did in government, so they abandoned the party because they believed the party had abandoned them.

    Essentially what happened was that the Lib Dems voter base collapsed whilst the Labour Party only saw their voter base collapse in Scotland. These two collapses in core support happened for two very different reasons.

    Despite my disagreement with the article author I think this is a great thread because the comments contain both the kinds of thinking that got the Lib Dems into this mess and the solutions to it.

    The people that correctly judged the situation and hence saw what was coming were posters like Matthew Huntsbach, Bill Le Breton, Peter and Theaks to name a few. I believe the party would be wise to listen to those people now that they have largely been proven right. Likely wise I’m sorry to say that posters like Simon Swan have been proven wrong and if the party continues to be guided by that kind of thinking I expect it will become a thing of the past. I would suggest that those who have been proven so badly wrong accept that they were mistaken, show a little humility and learn from those who clearly know better.

    I believe failure to face reality was what lead to the Lib Dems getting into this state, The outcome of this election should have been obvious based on the outcome of every other election after 2010.

  • David Evans 10th May '15 - 4:29pm

    Adrian raises an interesting point and that is how bad we are at influencing our MPs, and how little they listen to anyone outside their personal little bubble. The unfolding disaster was clear for all to see from the day of the Tuition Fees Vote. We had a massive swell of dismay at Paul Burstow’s NHS reforms, and many Lib Dem parliamentarians worked hard to do something about it, but the party was clear it was not enough. Two emergency motions about it went to conference in Gateshead – one was clear and unequivocal; the other the so called “Shirley Williams” motion was clearly developed as a dog whistle spoiler to dilute the party’s anger and disappointment. The SW motion was selected by less than 10 votes after a massive operation from the party hierarchy to get the paid staff votes all behind it. However, after it I hoped the leadership would realise the problem and change its approach.

    I was wrong; instead Nick drew inwards even more and set up the barricades. At a LDLGA conference in Bedford, in a Q&A session Nick was asked to include some people in his advisors on dealing with the coalition. A short curt answer followed and no more questions. Secret courts and the Nigel Farage debate followed. Finally the Euro election fiasco. Not one MP stood up alongside Martin Tod when he roasted Danny Alexander that night.

    Ultimately, Lib Dems who will walk over red hot coals to help a constituent get their housing benefit, would not stand up for their party and its values when its leader went rogue. It all happened on our watch; we are all responsible; and we need to vow we will never let it happen again (and mean it).

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 4:32pm

    It is in the member’s forum. I do hope that the FE at some point investigate this.

    The point is that the questionnaires asked early on a voter intention question. Later it began to ‘test messages’. However these messages were positive and specific about our own candidate; eg Mrs B has won backing for the much called for dualing of the trunk road do you approve … or The Liberal Democrats have increase income tax allowances by … saving x million £y. and then negative about opponents i.e. The Ts or Lab have … done something very nasty. These were followed by a second VI question which of course was considerably higher than the first VI. They really were that useless.

    Challenged as to why negative messages against us or positive messages in favour of our opponents were not included the decision takers defended their decision saying it was not necessary to test negative messages against our candidates as these were already well known.

    These polls were carried out by Survation. Pollsters that publish polls must publish details I think within three days and so observers such as UK Polling Report immediately asked when details would be released. Survation eventually broke the news that the questions and analysis had been done by the Party with the polling company only using tab and field facilities as so were not obliged to publish the data. I understand the Party refused to authorize their publication.

    Soon after the Party did release two (I think) further polls but interestingly the field work had been done later than the breaking of the original stories. So they could have been efforts to salvage their authenticity. Even these considerably overstated the standing of our candidates. You may wish to read this article in the light of this: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/27/lib-dems-ramp-up-scottish-campaign-after-polling-data-boost.

    I warned people about the dangers of the first set at the time. Both in terms of destroying our reputation among the press and because targeting decisions based on them would have been wrong and wasteful.

    This is a guess, but I think had we taken the % for the first VI answers and put 6% on for incumbency (a recognised figure for how LDs defend their seats) they would have been dead on … one imagines they would have shown us winning 8-10 seats. And that was with field work in March. The party’s head of strategic research could do that first thing tomorrow morning.

    The original set of polls cost the party £350,000. It would seem to have been an exercise to try to bolster our standing at a time when independent polls and Ashcroft polls were saying something totally different.

  • Paul In Wokingham 10th May '15 - 4:50pm

    @David Evans – I recall that in the members’ forum in the aftermath of the Euro debacle I suggested that surely the parliamentary party could not be so collectively weak as to sit on their hands while the party was manifestly facing an existential crisis. The response was that nobody wanted the leadership before the GE as it would be a “poisoned chalice”.

    I am sure that over the next few months various recollections of all this will appear, mediated by whatever self-serving spin the author(s) wish to impart. But if I am being brutally honest then I have to question whether we haven’t passed the point of no return: 8 MPs, only 55 second places, and a local government base that was again – almost without mention – decimated last week.

    A year and 9 days ago – before the Euros – I posted on this forum that “now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of the party” : https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-i-joined-the-lib-dems-20-years-ago-and-am-still-proud-to-be-one-39590.html#comment-290517. But now I find my thoughts turning darkly to whether we have passed the point of no return.

  • Thank you Bill.

  • Julian Critchley 10th May '15 - 5:56pm

    Still the denial continues, and still some incredible claims that the lost voters were part of some Greek tragedy, rather than an entirely predictable, and predicted, result of taking a party with a broadly centre-left support base and moving it to the right.

    Ashcroft’s polls are not the Word of God, and should be taken with much salt, but take a look at his question 3 on the link below.

    If these figures were accurate, they’d suggest that nearly a quarter of Labour voters in this election voted LibDem in 2010. Fully half of Green voters were ex-LibDems. That’s nearly 3m voters just there, before you look at the “none of the above” types who went off to UKIP. In return, the movement of ex-Green/Lab voters to the LibDems was tiny, just over 200k. Meanwhile, those much-vaunted “soft Tories” Clegg was targeting arrived in handfuls – just 350k of 2010 Tory voters went to the LibDems, whilst three times that number of 2010 LibDems went to the Tories.

    I don’t trust Ashcroft, or his polls, and there’s an element of this poll which implies that the LibDems lost more 2010 voters to other parties than they actually had in the first place. But the big picture is pretty clear. As a direct result of the Cleggite leadership’s positioning of the party, the LibDems lost a net 750k voters to the Tory right, while they lost a net 3m to the Lab/Green/SNP left.

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/LORD-ASHCROFT-POLLS-Post-vote-poll-summary1.pdf

    There is no space in British politics for a new centre-right party. There never was. I wrote that here immediately after Clegg’s strategy of ditching the progressive left LibDems in favour of soft Tories was made explicit after the 2010 election. If I could see it then – and I was not alone by any means – then the question which must be asked is why Clegg and the party leadership could not, and why so many people here still seem to be struggling with the concept.

  • tony dawson 10th May '15 - 5:59pm

    History argues for electoral reform.

    In Southport, the Conservatives, who somehow now have an overall majority in the country, received their lowest vote share in history (yes, that is centuries) in the 2015 General Election. We Lib Dems, on the other hand, only received the lowest vote share since Ronnie Fearn first stood here as Liberal in 1970. The Labour Party received their best share since John Prescott came second here in 1964 – as usual, their votes were totally wasted in terms of electing anyone. Luckily, we stopped them from doing more damage than what they did which was to succeed in securing the election of two Tory councillors who should have been seen off had there been a few more votes for Lib Dems here rather than Labour..

  • @Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 4:45pm

    “Bolano. do you know what I find really annoying? It’s when people post on here pseudonymously and call people like Nick Thornsby and me ” extreme right-leaning”, and when challenged continue to dance around and refuse to withdraw or justify their comments.”

    I’ve said before that I find proselytisers of TTIP leaning towards the extreme right as implementation would profoundly damage our sovereignty of our democracy. Is that dancing?

    “Is that what you really think, because saying you’ve “never considered the question” isn’t really good enough, is it?”

    Oh dear. Use of pseudonyms here annoys you, my answers aren’t “really good enough”. I think what you’re most annoyed at is seeing someone have the temerity to challenge you on your figures as robustly as you challenge others – and I can understand how embarrassing it is when you can’t even tell whether the Labour vote went up or down without corrections from other posters here. If use of pseudonyms here bothers you, I suggest you take it up with those running LDV: sadly, although most of the parliamentary party has gone, they don’t appear to have left you in charge.

  • Julian Critchley 10th May '15 - 8:46pm

    @Simon Shaw

    I’m sure your strange kind of terminological pedantry has a purpose for you and an audience which appreciates it. However, while you may think that whose precise definition of “centre-left” or “centre-right” is the key issue facing the party, back in the real world, those of us who understand exactly what those terms mean in the context of Thursday’s catastrophe don’t need to indulge in such pointlessness.

    You may not still understand why it was entirely predictable that taking a party which had built its support on a series of pro-Keynesian, pro-public services, anti-authoritarian policies into the wholehearted support of an anti-Keynesian, anti-public services, authoritarian coalition, would result in the loss of the majority of its supporters. You may prefer to spend a happy evening comparing notes about precisely what it means to be left, centre-left, hard-left, soft-left, marginally-left, or indeed, left-with-only-8-MPs, but most people don’t find these terms so hard to understand.

    This isn’t even a matter for debate – it’s a matter of record. The data is very clear. The voters left, and the overwhelming majority of them left for parties whose positions were closer to the LibDems’ pre-2010 platform than the Cleggite LibDems were in government post-2010. In fact, as I know you like terminological exactitude, those voters didn’t leave the party – their views on policy remained the same – the party left them when it jettisoned so many of its central principles pre-2010 to enable a right-wing conservative government.

    The fact is that plenty of us have been entirely accurately predicting this disaster for 5 years, on these very pages, only to be derided by those who would rather indulge in meaningless definitional wordgames, or “right-wing” (feel free to start a separate thread seeking precise definitions of that term too) Cleggite loyalists seeking to deny the reality which has been all too obvious for 5 years. Now that we’ve been proved absolutely correct, and for precisely the reasons we gave, it is almost beyond belief that those, like yourself, who have hectored anyone who dare challenge the party’s inexorable progress towards the abyss, seem to think that you’re best served continuing to do so even as the wreckage of what you’ve created lies around you.

    THAT is what I mean by denial.

  • Leezeeweezee 10th May '15 - 8:46pm

    It was all tactical voting to keep the Scots out.

  • @Simon Shaw 10th May ’15 – 8:46pm

    No more! No more!

    I point you towards Julian Critchley’s admirable words at 8:46.

    I am dancing, and hold a large board above my head with all of his words on it. May this image serve.

  • Nick Thornsby stated off with the hypothesis that in our Tory facing seats we lost because more of our lost voters voted Conservative. If this was true it should work for every seat. He didn’t test this hypothesis. About 14 examples have been given that clearly disprove this hypothesis.

    His new hypothesis is that in more of our Tory facing seats if those extra people who voted Tory had voted for us we would have won. It is like a child saying if we received more votes than the Tory we would have won. It is not about switchers from us any more.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 10th May '15 - 10:37pm

    Michael BG –

    “Nick Thornsby stated off with the hypothesis that in our Tory facing seats we lost because more of our lost voters voted Conservative. ”

    I have never made such a suggestion, not least because it is patently false. But if that is your interpretation of what I actually wrote, I am not sure there is much I can do to assist your understanding.

  • @ Simon

    In 2010 Liberal Democrats campaigned clearly to the left of Labour and won 57 seats
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

    After entering coalition, Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, David Laws, Jeremy Browne and Norma Lamb, took the party off to the right and slightly more towards Authoritarian than they were previously and so they ended up to the right of the Labour Party and were reduced to just 8 seats
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2015

  • I find it remarkable that your coalition partners stabbed you in the back and did so with such vigor and there are hardly any acknowledgements of it anywhere,
    I would have thought you should be damn mad what those [email protected] Torirs did, the underhanded way they went about targeting your seats in the south West, after all you had done for them in government over the last 5 years.
    But there is none of it.

    It;s like some people are still living in the rose garden and have not yet managed to move on

  • Simon and matt:
    to the left, aligned, to the right of Labour …. it is all rather sterile and concedes to discussion on Labour’s terms. In reality we positioned ourselves as more Liberal than Labour. What would be the point if we didn’t? Such a position can be variously categorised as left or right without meaning very much.

  • Liberalism is what defines us as a nation. The United Kingdom has always shown kindness to strangers , cared for our children, been at heart ethical and supportive of the common man. We lost that on Thursday. Now we must get it back. Nick Clegg did not get into bed with the Tories, he and his party were a moderating factor against what a full Tory government would have been. The people will rue the day for the way they voted. We now have an undiluted Tory government who tragically have the mandate to do what the Liberal Democrats have prevented them from doing over the past five years. Nick didn’t lose our trust, at least he didn’t deserve to. He took the party into that coalition for the sake of the Country and to his own and his party’s detriment. If they were at fault in their campaign it was in not talking enough about what they achieved during that time.

  • nick,
    I dont get what you are arguing. from your figures the lib vote fell. 4.5% went to conservatives and 13% went to other parties. the lib voters did not move to conservative, they went 3:1 anywhere else they could. You point out that conservatives gained more of this redistribution than did labour. But still more of the lib vote went elsewhere than to either of the two main parties. this is too simplistic a view, because the totals must mask movements between other parties as well, even including voters moving to the libs. but on the face of these figures, what they show is that lib voters do not like either labour or conservative, and thats why they voted lib to begin with. As soon as libs decided they were really conservatives in disguise, that was game over.

    UKIP has been labelled here as a right wing party, as evidence the right has gained ground. If farage had been standing in my town I well might have voted for him in preference to my only other choice, labour. I am pro EU and not bothered about immigration, so that might seem absurd. But he comes across with integrity, and has raised valid complaints about the EU which ought to be addressed. I think the house of commons would be better with him in it than without. he is an example of the sort of appeal liberals have traditionally had and need to get back, which transcends left-right. Though most would also say my politics are left. Farage himself might almost be a classic liberal candidate if he had not formed his own party. (oh, and having a view fundamentally opposed to one allegedly a core lib view. Maybe thats been thrown out too?)

  • @ Nick Thornsby
    “But if that is your interpretation of what I actually wrote, I am not sure there is much I can do to assist your understanding.”

    You could apologise for expressing yourself so badly. If someone doesn’t understand what I am saying or misinterprets it then I expect it is because I haven’t been clear enough in what I have been saying.

  • Michael BG 11th May ’15 – 2:27am
    “….If someone doesn’t understand what I am saying or misinterprets it then I expect it is because I haven’t been clear enough in what I have been saying.”

    I agree, that is my usual reaction if people do not understand me.. However, there are those who assume that everything they say is so brilliant and clear and full of wisdom that the rest of us must understand and agree with them.

    The very title of this article – “Lib Dem/Tory waverers wanted continuity …” assumes we all understand what the author has in mind when he uses words “waverers” and “continuity”. Unfortunately, those words often mean different things to people in the Westinster Bubble who spend their time blinking at screens with “polling data” rather than talking to ordinary human beings.

    People vote for all sorts of different reasons. People are not born with Tory stamped on their wrist. In the recent past we have won majorities for MPs in some of the weathiest seats in the countries. Richmond Park constituency where I have lived and been politically active for decades is one of the wealthiest places in the country. For years people who did not understand scratched their heads and wondered why such a place would elect an MP who was a Liberal Democrat,” surely ” they would say “this is natural Conservative territory”.

    Persuading people who experts would say are natural Conservatives to vote Liberal Democrat is not that difficult, some of us have done it for decades. So it is interesting to speculate what Nick Thornsby might mean when he uses the words he does. For me his article seems to have no connection with the real world or the real human beings who live and vote there.

  • Nick Thornsby
    In 1968 when I was 16 years old I started taking an interest in elections.
    In this borough (where I have lived ever since) there were 59 Conservative councillors elected and one Labour.
    In those days there were also unelected Alderman who held exactly the same powers as an elected councillor, there were 14 Conservatives and one Labour.
    It took 18 years to move to a situation where we had enough Liberal /SDP Alliance councillors to run the council just sortof a majority.
    It was not until 1994 that we had a majority on the council.
    It was not until  1997 that we had a majority on the council AND both MPs were Loberal Democrat.
    I stood down as Liberal Democrat Leader of the council in 1997.

    I take you through this brief political history of Kingston and Surbiton to illustrate the point  that maybe, just maybe, I know a little bit about  getting a community that traditionally was rock-solid Conservative to vote for Liberals because they trusted us to do a good job and some of those people even became Liberals themselves when they saw practical community Libralism  in action.  

     I never suffered from the fantasy that there were  Conservatives that might vote Liberal if only Liberal Democrats behaved, thought or acted more like  Conservatives.

    Thanks to the strategy of “moving to the right” (which has  often been promoted here in LDV ) we no longer have any MPs in Kingston borough, we do not have a majority on the council (although I am pleased to say that we had two council by-election victories  on Thursday).   We also have no MEP in London.

  • Not Who I Say I Am 11th May '15 - 9:26am

    Ah, the the looking glass prism of Southport and Bootle.

  • @Simon Shaw

    SO your saying http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010 is wrong then?

  • The primary reason for the Lib Dem implosion was that the party built a highly unstable electoral coalition which was inevitably going top collapse as soon as they got near government regardless of who with. A coalition compromised of people who thought Labour was too right wing, centrists, centre-right libertarians and the protest vote is completely unsustainable and as seen by the election just gone it fractured in all directions to the Tories, Labour, UKIP and the Greens. As an example seats like Brent Central and Devon North have absolutely nothing and common and the values and beliefs of the electorates in these two seats are worlds apart yet the Lib Dems won them both in 2010 and when the party was forced to govern it was inevitable it was going to upset at least one (though the Lib Dems alienated both by not clearly coming down on one side or the other).

    The fundamental question that the Lib Dems must answer is what kind of a party do they want to be. If they really want to be a viable political force they cannot continue to be an all things to all people party and need to decide where they belong. If the party goes down a Liberal Left (Linda Jack-esque) path it will have to be prepared to surrender the vast majority of the West Country to the Tories or if the party wants to become more Libertarian right it will have to come to terms with never again winning or being competitive in places like Cambridge, Manchester, Liverpool, Haringey, Brent, Newcastle etc. The only alternative would be to be true centrist though this would be harder to succeed with electorally as it is much harder to make centrist policies sound inspiring.

  • David Pollard 11th May '15 - 9:51am

    Is there anyone able to herd this load of cats? But its great that so many people care.

  • @Simon Shaw
    Would be interested to see the article if you can find it

  • @JJ
    Why do you think a Linda Jack party cannot win in the West Country?

  • @Voter the demographics dear boy. As technology improves work becomes an activity not a place … and the better off will continue to relocate to places with a better quality of life

  • @Julian Critchley

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.

  • Simon, you may be referring to this:

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3065

  • @voter. A Linda-Jack-esque (for want of a better term) may win in parts of the west country when in opposition due to the protest vote and local campaigns but as soon as you form part of some leftist coalition most of the seats will be lost Tories. The reason for this is the vast majority of the seats in the west country have views and opinions which are of the centre-right and thus they feel far more affinity with the Conservative Party than with Labour (who is despised in much of the rural west country). Some forms of Liberalism are popular in the west country (particularly anti-state/libertarian types) but left wing politics is about as popular as cholera in most places, with the noteable exception of Bristol and parts of some of the larger towns like Frome but any leftism of that town gets swamped by the heavily Tory inclined rest of the constituency. In short you cannot be part of a left wing government and expect to win constituencies where the prevailing political views are far more in tune with the Tories than with Labour or the Greens.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 12th May '15 - 8:51am

    “After four years of supporting a Conservative-led coalition, the Lib Dems’ previous constituency was splintering. But contrary to expectations, it didn’t move largely to Labour. Instead, previous Lib Dem voters who were reasonably satisfied with the coalition record and/or appalled at the idea of a Labour government tugged left by the Scot Nats migrated into Conservative ranks.”

    This is worth a read: http://m.washingtonexaminer.com/further-observations-on-the-british-election/article/2564331

  • kevin colwill 12th May '15 - 4:34pm

    What if the coalition acted as Tory detox. Some voters looked at the Tories under Cameron and saw a more socially liberal party that no longer “hated” gay people?
    What if voters looked at the Lib Dems and couldn’t see much between them and the Tories so they decided to go for the full-fat version and ditch Tory lite?
    What if there really isn’t a position in British politics where you’re Tory clones on the economy and try to define yourself purely in terms of social liberalism?
    UKIP got many more votes across the country- wanna steal their clothes before Labour or the Tories do?

  • @Nick Thornsby 12th May ’15 – 8:51am

    This is worth a read: http://m.washingtonexaminer.com/further-observations-on-the-british-election/article/2564331

    It’s so not worth a read. The author is a regular Fox News pundit. Further, regarding his own country’s last presidential race: “Barone’s presidential predictions were among the least accurate offered by major political observers” (source: http://www.voteseeing.com/2012/11/2012-presidential-prediction-rankings.html)

  • Tamara Church 19th May '15 - 9:38pm

    I live in Somerton & Frome… A year ago I looked on the internet to find out about my local Lib Dem candidate. When I checked a few weeks later, the announced candidate had resigned. I looked at other candidates in my general area & found various examples of other resignations.

    Since then, I have received only 1 brochure from the Lib Dems … no-one came to my door during the election campaign (I live in the central district, and other parties did knock on my door)). I had no idea what the lib dems stood for, and had the impression that the lib dem party themselves abandoned ship a year ago. Losing your grass roots in these seats, a year or 2 ago, seems to have prevented any kind of campaign having been carried out, door-knocking, delivery of literature etc. I expect that implosion within the party was the real problem in these seats… not wavering voters punishing the lib dems.

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