LibLink: Stephen Tall – Five predictions for 2014

Over on ConHome, LDV’s Stephen Tall has been gazing into his crystal ball.

Here are his first two prophecies:

1) The four current main party leaders – Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Farage – will still lead their parties in a year’s time. They’ll all face threats. Cameron will when Ukip beats the Conservatives in May’s Euro elections; Clegg will when the Lib Dems likely suffer another disappointing set of results in both the locals and the Euros; Miliband will if Labour gets beaten in the Euros and he is forced into an embarrassing compromise with the union paymasters at the special conference he called in the wake of the Falkirk / Unite row; and Farage will as his party and his leadership comes under closer public scrutiny (as already shown by this week’s ‘reverse ferret’ over admitting only Christian but not Muslim refugees from Syria).

2) The economic recovery will pick up pace and start to be noticed by voters. Growth is forecast to be 2% and unemployment to keep falling – that will start feeding into a more general feel-good factor. However, as real wages won’t begin to rise for another year, you can expect to hear more, much more, from Labour about the ‘cost of living crisis’. Conservatives will hail George Osborne as an economic saviour (as Geoffrey Howe was a generation before) while ignoring how he diluted Plan A when it was failing and how he has back-dated much of the public spending cuts to after the 2015 election. Whatever the facts of the matter, the politics of it is straightforward: a fragile economic recovery suits the Conservatives, who will have only to point at Eds Miliband and Balls and ask “Do you really want to hand the economy back to Labour?” The Lib Dems meanwhile will, I suspect, receive increasing traction for our ‘Stronger economy, fairer society’ pitch to the electorate, acting as a buffer between the worst excesses of either Labour or Conservative single-party rule.

You can read the remaining three here.

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

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  • Can we please stop talking about UKIP as being one of the “main parties”? It has virtually no presence in Scotland or Wales, and little in England outside the South and Midlands. I fully expect that this will remain the same after the Euros – even if UKIP do manage to win the most votes – so I’d still argue that until they can break through in Scotland and Wales they can’t be considered as anything more than England’s answer to the SNP or Plaid.

  • 4 Labour will still lead the Conservatives in the polls in a year’s time, but it will be closer than the 5% the current average of polls shows – mostly as a result of Labour declining than the Tories’ attracting more support. The polling in 2014 is likely to be quite erratic, as Ukip’s expected strong showing in the Euros will spike their vote, hitting the Tories worst but also Labour. I don’t expect to see much, if any, uplift in the Lib Dems’ flat-lining 10% polling yet (I think it will happen, but much closer to the general election). I think 2014 will mark Ukip’s high point, however: support will drift away the closer we draw to the May 2015 general election. Okay, I’ll stick my neck out… The polling averages for the parties (according to UK Polling Report at 31 Dec 2014) will be Labour 36 per cent, Conservatives 33 per cent, Ukip 14 per cent, Lib Dems 10 per cent.
    5 And while I’m riding for a fall, here’s my current best guess of the Euro election results. I think Ukip will edge the popular vote, but that Labour may still win most seats. Let’s say Ukip 26 per cent (24 seats), Labour 25 per cent (25 seats). That means the number of Conservative MEPs could be halved, down from 26 to 13 on, say, 18 per cent of the vote. And it also means I can see the Lib Dems losing out, notwithstanding the protection offered by proportional representation in these elections – perhaps only retaining three seats compared with our current 12.

    I think the UKIP vote depends largely on the behaviour of the media. If UKIP’s past record and prospective policies are properly scrutinised it will not do as well as Steven and others predict. In any case, its performance will be England based (and not help the NO vote in Scotland, whose success is Steven’s prediction 3). Furthermore, by the elections, it may be already possible to show that any influx of Romanians and Bulgarians is only a trickle.

    To help ensure that UKIP are effectively challenged, it is important that Lib Dems reaffirm our commitment to the work of MEPs and the EU parliament and to focus on EU issues that do require cooperation with the other Member States. Some will worry that we could alienate sceptical Lib Dem voters but not attract pro European Labour and Conservative voters, however the greater risk is to let the anti EU noise and UKIP’s incoherent posturing pass by default.

  • peter tyzack 2nd Jan '14 - 1:11pm

    notice how the broadcasters often ignore the existence of any party other than the old two, we should learn from that and never give Ukip the benefit of even mentioning them.!
    I applaud the analysis of Stephen’s piece, but don’t share the predictions of dire consequences, that’s the Mail’s line of self-fulfilling prophesy at play there. What we should be doing is looking at how we take advantage of the lack-lustre forecasts for the other three leaders, get behind ours and proudly promote the differences we offer.

  • Regarding UKIP, it’s interesting that its membership reportedly rose by 13,000 to about 32,500 during 2013.

    If there were similar growth in 2014 (and if Lib Dem membership again grows by no more than a few hundred), UKIP would have a larger membership than the Lib Dems by the next election.

  • All the leaders will face threats. Mystic Meg eat your heart out.

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