LibLink: Stephen Tall: Ignore the Liberal Democrats at your peril, and don’t write them off

Stephen Tall has been writing for the Times’ Red Box on Liberal Democrat prospects for the election. He makes the point that although commentators seem keen to ignore the party, we may yet be serious players in the next Parliament.

However, the Lib Dems’ 120+ polls reveal something Ashcroft’s polling has neglected: naming the candidate makes a big difference for the Lib Dems. In seats as diverse as Labour-facing Cambridge and Tory-facing St Austell and Newquay, asking voters to think about whose name will actually appear on the ballot paper is enough to flip these seats into the Lib Dem column.

Even in Scotland, where the SNP surge could flatten all before it, the party rates its chances of holding a clutch of seats, such as Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine. Oh, and anyone betting against Charles Kennedy needs their head examined.

The margins, though, are wafer-thin. On a good day, with a following wind, the Lib Dems could hold up to 40 seats (though few expect the final tally to be quite that high).

You can read the whole article here (£).

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3 Comments

  • A bit quiet in here Stephen?
    Never mind, fingers crossed LD’s get at least 25 MP’s? It can be a tad cold, even in late May. 🙂

  • I accept that this is anecdotal, but you may find it interesting and it is, very relevant to this thread?
    A couple of sisters I know very well, (late 40’s) were out in town with their father ( late 70’s). They were collared by pollsters who were trying to gauge the voting intent of the three of them. Father is a staunch ( I’ve been Labour all my life), kind of chap. All three said they would be voting Labour.
    I know for a fact from conversations with the sisters that they intend to vote Ukip. And *no*, no pressure from me. They have put forward very direct grievances against the Labour party which are not being addressed by Milliband, and they find the Ukip message more acceptable to remedy those grievances .
    Here’s the thing.
    Ukip have been so demonised *by just about everybody*, that many voters are actually fearful of acknowledging (in front of family and friends), that they are looking to Ukip. The sisters had no intention of stirring the wrath of their long time Labour supporting Dad in front of him.
    In short. In the privacy of a ballot booth, I am convinced that a great deal more folk will put their mark against Ukip than you imagine, even though they will do it secretly ?
    All the polls were way out of kilter last May (2014), and I suspect that they will be wrong again 7 weeks from now?

  • SIMON BANKS 14th Mar '15 - 7:52pm

    No doubt there will indeed be some people rightly a bit ashamed of voting UKIP who will actually do it, but many people are angrily proud of being UKIP supporters. I suspect the hidden UKIP vote is quite small compared to, say, the hidden Conservative vote in South Yorkshire or South Wales. There is also plenty of evidence that many voters loathe UKIP and will vote for almost anything to stop them, so don’t be surprised at a Labour or Tory surge in seats where UKIP are clearly in the running.

    As for the Liberal Democrat prospects, if you look at local polls the most likely result is a bit above 25 but a bit below 40. That is still, of course, a bad result and the year or so after the election will be crucial in determining whether we rediscover our pride and cease to be apologetic about our principles.

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