Live from Norwich – ICM poll shows close result and Clegg stands by Lib Dem campaign

Ladies and gentlemen, we have the first constituency poll of the Norwich North by-election campaign, and it shows a close contest in store. Before I give you the figures, though, it should come with two big health warnings. First, the poll’s sample size is very small – 500 overall, and fewer than 300 for the voting figures. Secondly, polls this early in a by-election campaign, and when a polling date isn’t yet known, have proven unreliable predictors in the past. With those caveats firmly in place, here it is (comparisons with 2005 general election result in brackets):

Tories 34%(+1), Labour 30%(-15), Lib Dems 15%(-1), Greens 14% (+11).

The Tories will, I suspect, be disappointed to see their lead well within the margin of error. The Lib Dems, clearly, have a lot of ground to cover in the coming weeks. The Greens will be pleased with their showing, given the poll question prompted respondents with the major parties’ names, but not the minor parties’.

Meanwhile, Green candidate Rupert Read – who wrote that rather endearing and mild-mannered post for Liberal Conspiracy headlined Those FibDems… – is upset with the Lib Dems again, this time for reporting his statements and views. Nick Clegg was unrepentant: “We should and we will run this as a positive campaign, but we also need to be plain and straightforward in explaining the differences between the Liberal Democrats and the other parties.”

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This entry was posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • A shame no-one has actually printed Rupert’s wisdom….this move appears to have backfired.

  • What exactly were his extreme views?

  • Mybe bacause if we gets some Green supporters to vote for us and pick up disillusioned former Labour voters then we might stand a chance. If we ignore the greens and let them run an unopposed campaign and they get 14% as per this poll I doubt we will do well.

  • Westminster Worker 26th Jun '09 - 3:33pm

    Rupert Read is clearly annoyed he narrowly missed out on becoming an MEP, but we were right to run a strong Euro campaign in the East of England.

    The Greens are strong in Norwich (Norwich South mainly) and need to be taken on. Incidentally we should be equally annoyed with the Greens who in my opinion cost us the Bromley and Chislehurst byelection in 2006. We lost by 633 and the Greens polled 811. Surely thats politics and everyone has a right to stand.

    Its worth pointing out that when I was a student in Norwich and Charles Kennedy came to City Hall in 2004 for the last Euro campaign Rupert Read (wearing a sandwich board if I remember rightly!) followed CK around shouting slogans at him so much that the tour of the covered market had to be abandoned. This is the sort of erratic character Dr Read is.

    Im confident we can narrow the gap shown in this opinion poll!

  • If these tactics were working then surely the Lib Dems would be winning seats everywhere?

    Fact is that they are not. Maybe the interim CEO will change them?

    They are also tactics that pollute politics. Will the Greens positive approach overcome such tactics is one assessment after the count.

  • I do not know how much work the Greens have been doing at a local level, but I would say that they have as good a chance as any to record a stunning win.

    This poll may convince disgruntled Labour supporters that the Greens are a fair bet. A few Tories may be attracted to the novelty of a different party, particularly those who have voted Labour before.

    Once the Greens pick up momentum, quite a sizeable portion of the LibDem vote will prove ‘soft’.

    Unless the Green candidate stumbles spectacularly, this is not good news for the Libs.

    What will be very interesting is to see how ‘soft’ the Labour vote might be. My hunch is that the Labour vote is generally very ‘soft’ and that the Libs should be doing everything they can to facilitate a transfer of votes from Lab to Lib.

  • The Greens positive approach??
    Don’t make me laugh. They systematically targetted every Lib Dem held seat in Norwich (South – they are not that strong in NN) in turn, trying to eliminate the mainstream party most likely to appeal to small g greens. They deserve no quarter.

  • I don’t see any evidence that the Greens and especially Rupert Read are in the business of positive politics. Read spends his time slagging off other parties (notably us). And the Green campaign featured (did it not?)the claim that you had to vote Green to beat the BNP…and clearly you did not as neither Green nor BNP were elected in the East of England.

  • Herbert Brown 26th Jun '09 - 4:12pm

    I think the poll only confirms how difficult this by election will be for the Lib Dems. It’s pretty bad for the Tories, though I suppose they can point to the danger of Labour holding the seat (perhaps they’ll use a “two-horse race” motif). The Greens will be able to use it as evidence of momentum.

    But on those figures, it looks as though the Lib Dem priorities should be retaining third place and holding on to the 2005 vote share, though even those objectives don’t look entirely straightforward. Launching a personal attack on the fourth-placed candidate and then having to retract part of it isn’t a brilliant start.

  • Peter 1919 – absolutely right.

    And if we don’t squash the Greens here, they will be after every LD in the country soon.


  • David Allen 26th Jun '09 - 5:10pm

    Yah boo. Sucks, doesn’t it.

    Neither the Greens nor the Lib Dems are going to gain respect or support by campaigning like this.

  • I’m baffled by why anyone should find it repellant that we should be trying to expose the inconsistencies of the Green Party. I have campaigned on the environment for more than 40 years, but as a Liberal/Liberal Democrat because I am ideologically a liberal. Members of the Green Party are obviously sincere environmentalists, but ideologically they may be anarchists, socialists, good liberals, or even fascists. The Green Party is as unnecessary in my view as the SNP or Plaid Cymru.

  • Norwich North looks set to become a re-run of C&N, and if that turns out to be the case then I will do nothing to help :-

    The Tories highlight “that” ALDC advice [which is little different from that promoted by any other party] …

    We will devote unreasonable attention to the failings of other candidates …

    We will spend little time promoting the TRUE merits of our own candidates and policies (and principles) …

    We will submit the electorate to a blizzard of repetitive template literature …

    And we will leave Norwich North Lib Dems a weaker, demoralised and disenchanted group …


  • After so many years of having an such a slick by-election machine, the wheels seem to be rattling a little loose. There seems to be too much farting around, too much rumbling and instability behind the scenes. This sort of lack of discipline and a lack of restraint looks set to cause us real damage in a seat where we be realistically looking to pick up second place to behind the Tories.

  • Rupert Read a postive campaigner?

    Is this the same Rupert Read that disrupts other parties events and had to apologise after deffaining another Norwich Councillor on his blog during the 2008 local elections?

  • David Blake 26th Jun '09 - 8:12pm

    I am surprised that the press reports say that our candidate didn’t see the press release before it was released, Is this true?

  • Looks very close indeed with only 1% between the Lib Dems and Greens for last place.

  • John Matthissen 26th Jun '09 - 10:39pm

    I see someone wondering why LDs are attacking the Greens. The simple answer is surely because that is what LDs do, smear the opposition and mislead the public with phoney graphs and erroneous statements about who can and cannot beat whom. Tactics repeated in just about every election I have been involved in. There is just a suspicion that part of the reason is a lack of positive achievements and ideas to talk about. I’m proud to say I got elected (as a Green councillor) without indulging in any negative campaigning, and despite untrue statements by LD and Tory opponents.

    Now which looks like cleaner politics, slagging off Rupert Read, or putting forward policies to solve the crises?

    What does Nick Clegg mean by “positive campaign, but we also need to be plain and straightforward …” ‘cos it surely aint what’s happening.

  • Positive achievements? That’s more than the rate of growth the Greens want for the economy….

  • It’s always amusing to observe the yellow mist of anti-toryism clouding objective assessment of a situation.

    Check out Political Bettings assessment of these figures and it’s like chalk and cheese.

    I’m beginning to think large sections of the Liberal Democrats are simply delusional. Perhaps you have to be to remain active?

  • Rupert Read will be standing for a party whose policies include:

    A ban on all embryonic stem cell research – just like George W Bush

    A ban on all animal research & testing – just like the nutters in the ALF

    Closure of all zoos

    Forcing the NHS to fund ‘complementary & alternative medicine’ on the same basis as real medicine that actually works

    Oh, and don’t forget, Green leader Lucas says flying is as bad as stabbing someone.

  • Herbert Brown 27th Jun '09 - 10:44am

    “Oh, and don’t forget, Green leader Lucas says flying is as bad as stabbing someone.”

    I was curious about this, and found the exchange in question here (at 13.45):

    In a round-table discussion, the UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman (who denies that global warming exists) responded to Lucas by saying that trying to stop excessive flying was “anti-liberty” and told her she “shouldn’t be interfering with people’s freedoms”.

    She answered with a standard argument that people’s freedoms had to be curtailed when they undermined other people’s freedoms, and said that even Campbell Bannerman would agree that “people can’t go around knifing people in the street”.

    He then interrupted Lucas with something not entirely clear (they were both talking at the same time) about whether flying to Spain is the same as knifing people in the street, and she replied “Yes it is – people are dying from climate change”.

    Obviously it was said in the heat of the moment, and obviously it was ill advised. But I don’t think “Lucas says flying is as bad as stabbing someone” is really a fair characterisation of what was said.

  • But that is what she said. I notice you fail to address the other points, which are all Green party policy, detailed on their website.

    The Greens are an anti-science party whose policies do not bear close scrutiny, yet lazy political journalists continue to give them an easy ride.

    Green Party thinking is confused & hypocritical, cherry picking bits of science they like
    – for example evidence for climate change, technological solutions such as renewable energy and enhanced use of the internet –
    whilst rejecting bits they don’t like with no evidence basis – GM, embryonic stem cell research, all animal research & testing, nuclear power.

    Their support for complete nonsense like homeopathy & other ‘complementary & alternative therapies’ on the NHS is just offensive and completely irresponsible.

    Caroline ‘stabby’ Lucas is as ridiculous as her party’s polices.

  • Herbert Brown 27th Jun '09 - 3:36pm

    “But that is what she said.”

    But of course, it isn’t what she said. She didn’t say flying is “as bad as” stabbing someone.

    In response to an extreme libertarian argument she made the perfectly reasonable point that we do curtail people’s liberty if they harm others – for example if they “knife” someone. When asked whether that was “like” flying, she said it was, because climate change kills people.

    I would have hoped most Lib Dems (the extreme libertarian fringe aside) would have agreed with the general point she was making – that protecting the environment requires some curtailment of individual liberty – against the bone-headed “people should be allowed to do what they like”/”global warming doesn’t exist” line that the UKIP man was taking.

    Bu evidently the opportunity for a cheap smear is too good to pass up.

  • I argued at the time of the Green Party’s inception as the Ecology Party that it was unnecessary because the Liberal Party embraced pretty well all of the policies that they were advocating and was a more effective way of attempting to get those policies implemented. Having read the Green Party’s 2005 manifesto I have to say that there is very little in it that I, or most Liberal Democrats, could disagree with. Their grasp of the realities of economic activity seems pretty shaky, and I totally disagree with them about the Euro and the EU constitution, but basically I still don’t understand why they exist: their liberals could join us, their socialists join labour, their anti Europeans UKIP or the Tories, and their fascists the BNP. I don’t think that environmental campaigning would lose out, but perhaps a few anarchists wouldn’t have anyone to vote for.

  • Interesting that Westminster Worker blamed the Greens for the Lib-Dems failing to take Bromley in the by-election as the Greens took 811 votes and the Tories held the seat by 633. What about the 2,347 votes 3rd placed UKIP took in that election? Or what about Hartlepool in 2004? Labour held on by 2,033 but 3rd placed UKIP in that case took 3,193. There are two seats denied the Lib-Dems by UKIP I would have said!

    Also as Jim said “After so many years of having such a slick by-election machine, the wheels seem to be rattling a little loose.” Well I agree with the fact the wheels are coming off the Lib-Dem cart. Possibly the wheel is rattling loose because after so many years of the Lib-Dems being seen as the only possible protest vote there are now other equally as credible parties with whom to register your protest and the Lib-Dems are finally being seem as a bunch of losers who’se only real attraction was that they were NOT the nasty Tories and NOT Labour (although not too far away from Labour to be that uncomfortable). Lib-Dems RIP!

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