Research on impact of change of leader on four key seats

Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Vince Cable vote for the Make it Happen resolutionThe Guardian today leads with a sorry tale headlined: Clegg taking Lib Dems to wipeout.

An unnamed Lib Dem supporter has commissioned ICM to carry out research in four key Lib Dem constituencies, including Nick Clegg’s own seat, and the report has been leaked to the Guardian.

Voters were asked how they would vote in a General Election if the party were led by Nick Clegg, Vince Cable or Danny Alexander.

The results seem to show that in the Labour facing constituency of Redcar, currently held by Ian Swales, support would drop from 45% to 15% or 16% whoever was leader, with the Lib Dems falling into third place behind UKIP. In Wells, where the Conservatives are the main opposition to Tessa Munt, support would drop from 44% to 21% under Clegg, 24% under Cable and 20% under Alexander.

The analysis of the other two constituencies is more complex because all three parties are in contention. In Julian Huppert’s Cambridge seat the 2010 vote share is Lib Dem 39%, Con 26% and Lab 24%.  According to the research, these would become 28% / 17% / 41% under Clegg, 31% / 16% / 32% under Cable and 29% / 17% / 32% under Alexander.

In Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg attracted 53% of the votes in 2010 compared with 24% for Conservatives and 16% for Labour. The research claims that if he stays as leader the vote share would be Lib Dem 23%, Con 24% and Lab 33%. This would be 25% / 24% / 27% under Cable and 22% / 23% / 28% under Alexander.

If correct, a change of leader would only have a marginal effect on the Lib Dem vote share, but with more Don’t Knows under Cable or Alexander.

A word of warning – the poll was carried out before Thursday’s elections. A Liberal Democrat spokesperson is quoted as saying:

We have no idea where this polling comes from but it has clearly been commissioned and leaked for political purposes. It bears no relation to the result we saw on Thursday night, where Liberal Democrats secured 38.7% of the vote across Sheffield Hallam. Labour managed 23.6%, whilst the Tories came fifth with just 10.7%.



* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Radical Liberal 27th May '14 - 8:36am

    Its clear Clegg can’t continue. I read in the Independent that local parties have begun calling meetings to express no confidence in him. They need 75 local parties to trigger a leadership contest, its not a great deal. Numerous critics of the petition said that party members should do this if they wanted to get rid of Clegg. Well, it looks like thats what is now happening. I wonder what such critics will say now.

  • ASLEF shrugged 27th May '14 - 8:43am

    Combined voting on Thursday for the five council wards that are part of Sheffield Hallam says otherwise

    LD 12134
    Lab 7413
    UKIP 4549
    Green 3939
    Con 3361

  • Its not in the least clear Clegg can’t continue. It’s clear that the usual suspects want him gone, as usual. They’ve always wanted him gone. It’s clear that certain ‘activists’ deliberately weren’t very active ahead of these elections because they wanted a poor result. They should be ashamed of themselves and they should stop their plotting now.

  • Malcolm Todd 27th May '14 - 8:52am

    “It’s clear that certain ‘activists’ deliberately weren’t very active ahead of these elections because they wanted a poor result. ”

    Seriously? You think the power of this supposedly unimportant minority of the party is so great that they have managed to manipulate the results to be as bad as possible for the Lib Dems under Clegg? (Why you think people should be obliged to work for a party pursuing policies they don’t support is beyond me, anyway, but that’s a separate issue.) This is desperate stuff.

  • From the Guardian piece:

    “The polls undertaken in April and May are of all respondents expressing an intention to vote and are turnout weighted. They do not include some adjustments ICM uses for national polls. ”

    That is a planned campaign at least 2 months old.

    Now, it still needs to be known who is behind that website. Anyone?

  • @Malcolm Todd
    Where I live it took one person to ‘forget’ that boxes of leaflets for the European elections had been supplied – until it was too late to do anything with them.

  • Tony Dawson 27th May '14 - 9:02am

    Of course Nick Clegg can continue. He has done worse things, so far and he has the power to stay put unless there is a major explosion within the Party. But, to quote Sir Humphrey:

    “Do you think that would be wise, (Deputy) Prime Minister?”

    It is also foolish for any ‘Party spokesperson’ to quote extrapolations from statistics from just one set of elections held on Thursday on the same day when individual voters treated the Party in two very separate ways on that same day and no one in Party HQ has a clue as to how this will pitch out in individual constituencies next May.

  • I would imagine support for the Lib Dems is less todaythan last week, therefore this poll may in fact be flattering our level of performance. Lib Dem headquarters needs to stop denying this and that and say quite clearly Yes we have very serious problems, respect will then start to come back, at the moment it is zero, I get the impression their PR operation is akin to the Iraqi’s the day the US entered Baghdad, remember that!.

  • How long do you give a leader to show what he/she is capable of? 8 years is ample time to get a team in place, work on your weaknesses, develop strategies etc. We could barely have lost more MEPs had we tried.

  • Constituency polling is notoriously rubbish

    The idea that Clegg will get a better vote in his own constituency if he isn’t leader is ridiculous – leader’s get a boost at home (don’t ask me why but…)

    We held a by-election in Redcar in the locals, 15% is not going to happen

  • Chris. Entirely agree. Its not the electorate, its the activists.
    2014 Euro elections – 91% of MEPs defeated
    2014 Council Elections – 42% of running councillors defeated
    2013 Council elections – 26% of running councillors defeated
    2012 Council elections – 44% of running councillors defeated
    2011 Council elections – 40% of running councillors defeated
    Results like that have nothing whatsoever to do with the electorate hating you, no clearly its the activists having an off day on purpose.

    Are you mad? Look at this? Your party has been smashed year after year after year. You’ve gone from running councils to having a couple of seats left in the space of a few years. I’m sure your activists work their arses off, and for what? Just as the establishment implanted Tory Blair to destroy Labour’s link with its traditional voter base, so they have done the same to you with Clegg. They want us to have indistinguishable parties with identikit policies so that although its a democracy the choices are all the same.

    Are you going to leave Clegg in place to sack another 40% of councillors for election next year?

  • BTW before I get accused of bias, yes I am a Labour party member. And frankly its in our short term interest for you to keep Clegg as we do very nicely taking all those councils and seats your leader loses for you.

    But in the longer term progressive politics needs the old LibDems back. Westminster with the Tories weakening, UKIP on the rise, you lot still reactionary and disappearing, with only the odd green and the party of my own party that’s managed to shake off Blairism, that’s not good for progressive politics. You once were a party of ideals and honour. And could be again. But not with Clegg as leader.

  • Whilst the mechanics of how this poll came to be are less important than the substance of the debate, the decision to commission it, the choice of constituncies and the timing are influential.

    The debate about the way forward is the most important thing, but I would be fascinated to know who set this poll up and why.

  • Apologies for crossposting, but:

    Is there an electoral pact with the Conservatives going on in Sheffield Hallam? If so, it would support the notion that Nick’s in trouble in his own constituency. The reason I ask is that the Conservatives didn’t run candidates in 2 of the 5 wards in Hallam. That’s distinctly odd; why would they give the Lib Dems a clear run in 40% of the only constituency in Sheffield that’s ever been electorally favourable to them?
    By contrast, in the remaining 23 wards of Sheffield – which is not exactly traditionally fertile territory for the Conservatives – the Tories managed to stand candidates in 20 out of 23 wards. The probability of candidates not having been put up in 40% of Hallam without a pact seems to me slim – I can work out the mathematical probabilities, if you like; but to cut a long story short, the odds aren’t plausible.
    Then there’s the choice of the 2 wards the Tories didn’t stand in. One is Crooke’s Ward, the constituency’s student ward, where you might expect our party to not do very well in the current climate. We lost it to Labour, but only by 2,100 votes to 1,800 – so it was fairly close. I’m assuming that in the absence of a Tory candidate we put out a Tory squeeze. But was there a pact with the Conservatives in the first place? I’d be very interested to hear the thoughts of any Hallam activists.
    One thing is certain, though – any pact couldn’t extend to a general election. As a Unionist party, the Conservative Party’s constitution explicitly commits them to fighting every parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom. I’d be interested to see what Thursday’s local election results in Hallam would have looked like if the Tories had contested 40% of the seat.

  • Radical Liberal 27th May '14 - 9:29am

    Amazing. A poll comes to light which shows Clegg would lose his own seat (interestingly we also lose Wells – a seat with a main opponent who is a tory – so much for winning in those seats) and people obsess over the background of it and accuse things of being underhand etc. Don’t you think the leaders office ever does anything like this? Everything is underhand with those lot from smearing activists who disagree as ‘insignificant’ to even refusing to face the media but demanding a pre recorded interview with one journalist as Clegg did yesterday. But for some reason people fail to see all these little numerous ways in which Clegg and his aides try to dictate this debate.

    The fact is this: we have been warned by the voters both in polls and in real elections. They hate us. Clegg is not getting any message through. They hate him. Dump him.

  • “It bears no relation to the result we saw on Thursday night, where Liberal Democrats secured 38.7% of the vote across Sheffield Hallam. Labour managed 23.6%, whilst the Tories came fifth with just 10.7%.”

    It’s absolutely meaningless to try to predict the result of a general election by adding up the results of local elections. People vote differently in local elections and general elections, and the turnout is very different.

    A prediction based on the European election results would have just as much (and as little) validity.

    But if that projection based on the local election results were meaningful, it would be far from reassuring for the Lib Dems. It would represent a drop of 15 percentage points in the Lib Dem vote. How many Lib Dem MPs would survive that?

  • The Sheffield Hallam claims look particularly dodgy. Presumably, if this is a ‘leak’ (whatever that actually means), it is unverified. Obviously, if actually true, such a finding would be the kind of killer blow that the leak is trying to bring about. Clearly to have any credibility the source needs to be identified.

    It is obviously in the interest of other parties to damage Clegg’s leadership in order to further damage the Party. Lib Dem supporters need to look beyond the short term. A Clegg putsch would generate media excitement but is likely to marginalise Lib Dems from the political argument. It would also make it even harder to take ownership of Lib Dem achievements in government, whilst failing to shake off the negatives. It would be shooting ourselves in the other foot.

    Nonetheless, there must be a very high likelihood that there will be a new leader in 16 months time, but who? Obviously an MP, which could well restrict the options.

    Is there a suitable candidate who is demonstrating a persuasive ability to advocate the cause of Liberalism? I am not so sure there is. The better advocates seem to me to be less suitable or may lose their seats. Within the next year, we certainly need to strong candidates to emerge.

    Those who do yearn for a new leader need to be thinking of who they could support and do what they can to help their re-election. Those who would be a new leader should setting forward a vision of Liberal Democracy that can inspire.

  • David Bertram 27th May '14 - 9:36am

    Mike Smithson on his Political Betting site points out that this constituency-level polling will have cost thousands and been well-planned in advance. Perhaps by the same people behind the open letter? Smithon has engaged in a Twitter conversation with a Lib Dem MP he thinks may be involved. Their exchange may be read on Smithson’s site.

  • Chris: Moreover, those council election results are meaningless if in 40% of the constituency there were no Conservative candidates, and a squeeze was in operation on the Tory vote. That won’t be repeated at the general election, for the reason I go into above.

    Was there a pact to get the Tories to not contest 40% of the only Sheffield constituency that’s ever been particularly favourable towards them?

  • Tony Dawson 27th May '14 - 9:41am


    “Where I live it took one person to ‘forget’ that boxes of leaflets for the European elections had been supplied – until it was too late to do anything with them.”

    A cunning way of increasing the local Lib Dem vote?

  • “They want us to have indistinguishable parties with identikit policies so that although its a democracy the choices are all the same.”
    That one sentence from Ian Bailey (9.09am), is absolute key to understanding the visceral anger out there, and the rise of Ukip. Britain is slowly following the USA model, whereby Americans vote Republican or Democrat, but still get ‘the establishment’
    UK Voters want a new deal, and not the faux democratic singular establishment choice, irrespective of whether they vote for a red, blue or yellow rosette.

  • Well the debate is taking place – big time! But that doesn’t make the provenance of the poll less fascinating.

    On the debate – I get that the results were bad, they were, terrible. I get that Nick Clegg has a big negative poll rating and this is a problem – obviously. One rational solution to propose is that Nick goes – and I think we’ve noticed it has been proposed

    What I don’t get is why, for many who propose that Nick goes, they seem to think that absolutely anything that happens next is better. I may be doing them a disservice, perhaps they do have a preference for what happens next. But most don’t go beyond ‘Clegg out’.

    What is supposed to happen next and why is it better?
    Who is the new leader who cannot be trashed in the same way as Nick Clegg? (And I don’t necessarily mean name names, is it a current or ex minister? Is it a someone who hasn’t been a member of the government?
    Why won’t they get the same treatment from the Mail/Guardian etc?

    (Still curious about that poll’s backer. Sorry!)

  • Aslef Shrugged@

    The turnout was a lot less than a general election so who knows ?

  • @Tony Dawson

    Hmmm! Maybe we’ll come back to what ‘the party of in’ was supposed to mean to the electorate when we’ve got bored with our current fascination. (Not meant as an anti-European comment by the way, more about the communication value)

  • Radical Liberal 27th May '14 - 10:00am

    Lord Ashcroft has said he will be doing a poll of tory/lib dem marginals. That will make interesting reading and if it is anything like Wells, a tory/ld marginal, it will make for depressing reading.

  • Chris@

    That doesn’t stop my local Lib Dem Focus team.

    They put out a leaflet saying – for the EU elections ! – that there was no point voting Tory or Labour.
    Misleading to say the least. They used a bar chart of the Welsh Assembly results.

    The embarrassing thing is that by their own way of presenting things, based on Sunday night’s results their next election leaflet should say ‘Only Plaid or Ukip can win here’. Most amusing.

  • Ian Bailey admits to being a Labour Party member. I have suspected for sometime from some of the illiberal comments (Ian is just unliberable) posted that we had lots of infiltrators. Shouldn’t we just allow comments from Party members?

  • Ian Bailey admits to being a Labour Party member. I have suspected for sometime from some of the illiberal comments (Ian is just unliberable) posted that we had lots of infiltrators. Shouldn’t we just allow comments from Party members?

    That a joke?

    You’re descending to UKIP levels of paranoia about lefty fifth columnists undermining unity in blog comments.

    Given the moderation on this blogsite, and current public contempt for the Liberal Democrats, you’re probably only exposed to a small part of online abuse against your party.

    Instead of demanding that your critics shut up, or imagine they are part of some grand conspiracy, perhaps it would be best to reflect on why you are unpopular and what you could do about it.

  • That Poll is from September 2013? If a week is a long time in politics then that was ‘so last year’

  • Radical Liberal 27th May '14 - 10:16am

    Simon Shaw – Ashcroft is doing another one, he announced it on twitter recently. I see we were behind in September of last year according to his poll then. I wonder if we still are. I see no reason to think otherwise.

  • Mark Pack has tweeted Oakeshott asking if it was him. In view if what Paddy said he would do to him, I hope hhas protection, if it was him.

  • It’s clear the Guardian has an agenda in this, seeking to atone to it’s readers of backing Blair and failing to back Brown.

    As to who commissioned the poll, there aren’t too many mps with piles of cash.

  • Mary Reid says in her introductory piece that the poll commissioned by an unnamed Lib Dem supporter has been “leaked” to the Guardian. In the interests of accuracy, what seems to have happened that the poll was not leaked to the Guardian but deliberately passed on to the Guardian, whether directly by the individual who commissioned it or with that individual’s full knowledge, and, as Simon Shaw has noted above, that is not exactly the behaviour of a Lib Dem “supporter”.

  • The Guardian piece to which Mary helpfully provides a link contains the following —

    “…… Clegg claimed it had not “crossed his mind” to resign, adding that he would not hesitate if he thought it would help the Lib Dems in the long term.
    “If I thought any of our real dilemmas would be addressed by changing leadership, changing strategy, changing approaches, bailing out now, changing direction, then I wouldn’t hesitate advocating it,” he said in a carefully choreographed interview.”

    So Clegg is offering — no change in strategy, no change in direction, no change in approach, no change in direction.

    The consequence of this ‘no change’ will produce exactly the same results next May as it did on Thursday.

    Clegg’s mantra of no change produced virtually no support, virtually no MEPs, and in 18 London Boroughs and all of Manchester, literally no councillors.

    And next May it is safe to assume it will produce virtually no MPs.

    If this is what he says and this is how he looks in a “carefully choreographed” interview, I guess we should be pleased that he was not just speaking off the cuff.

  • Even if the polls were accurate, which is contested by actual results from Hallam last Thursday, why on earth would we change leader to achieve a couple of percentage point advantage subject to Vince/
    Danny getting the media trashing treatment, which woikd diminish even that marginal improvement? These polls seem to be saying we’re sunk whatever leader we have in 2015. But more comprehensive polling has suggested that we’ll end up with 37-45 MPs and could hold the balance of power again.
    I am delighted that Baron Von Potshot and the Winchester Kamikazies are talking to some local parties. Let’s see how that goes. I’m not holding my breath

  • We all know the results of Ashcroft’s poll, they all say the same thing.

    “Where we work, we win”. I can see the future!

  • @John Kelly

    Yes, why not do that…increase the bunker mentality even more.
    screen out the posts from people who voted Lib Dem but say they won’t any more,
    screen out the posts from people who support other parties but see that a decent, honest Liberal party might be a good thing for the country but what the Lib Dems are presenting at the moment isn’t providing that,
    screen out posts from ex-Lib Dems,
    screen out posts from Lib Dem sympathisers or wannabe returners who aren’t party members.

    What good will that do ? The party is not sustainable with just its small number of members – it needs to be reaching out, regaining support or a sense of fellow travelling from other parties and floating voters.

    Bunker mentality won’t help. The members only forum on LDV is for your secretive posting – to suggest the whole website is closed to external comments seems extreme and illiberal.

  • “Ian Bailey admits to being a Labour Party member. I have suspected for sometime from some of the illiberal comments (Ian is just unliberable) posted that we had lots of infiltrators. Shouldn’t we just allow comments from Party members?”

    There is a members only forum but I gather only five or six people ever go there.

  • Charles Boney 27th May '14 - 10:33am

    Local Parties calling members meetings .. 75 needed etc.. is being commented on. But anyone know which parties are doing so or is this just hype?. It might sound easy but, see the Federal Party Constitution, meetings must be properly called for the specific purpose and be a full members meeting which is quorate. This could get very messy – who validates the meeting was called properly? do motions have different wordings? who tallies the 75 and then decides some did not conform to the rules?

    As a local Chair (SE Cornwall) I am OK about calling a meeting if that is what members want (or if ,say, the Region asked for this to happen) but this could get very messy, not least of which would be the Press camping outside every meeting and then local members bickering in front of reporters.

    It gets back to a relatively simple question which only Nick can answer.

    Will the Party perform better with someone else as Party leader?

    It is not a weakness for any leader to ask close colleagues for advice on that question and then make a judgement. Many of us our now assuming that such a private consultation is exactly what is happening during this week.

    By the time of the Queens Speech, Nick will either have gone or we will be rallying around him again.

  • @Simon Shaw – I’ve been involved since 1997 – long enough to know that attempting a squeeze when there’s a Tory candidate in Hallam at the general election is very different to achieving a Tory squeeze when the Tories didn’t put up candidates in 40% of the constituency. Clegg is clearly in trouble.

    The release of the poll – showing Clegg in third place in Hallam if he’s still leading the party in 2015 – also makes it less likely that Hallam can plausibly pull off a squeeze in such circumstances.

  • “Even if the polls were accurate, which is contested by actual results from Hallam last Thursday …”

    Paul, surely you know better than to think adding up local election results across a constituency will tell you what the result would be in a Westminster election?

    If that were true, the Lib Dems would have won the constituency I live in in 1992, instead of the Tories holding it with a majority of more than 10,000!

  • Smithon has engaged in a Twitter conversation with a Lib Dem MP he thinks may be involved. Their exchange may be read on Smithson’s site.

    To be specific, John Hemming, and Smithson takes Hemming’s reply as confirmation that he commissioned these polls.

  • Paul Walter, do calm down. Playground name-calling of an entire constituency party, one of the few that actually did well last Thursday, is not going to improve your credibility.

    On the more serious point you make — ” …. more comprehensive polling has suggested that we’ll end up with 37-45 MPs and could hold the balance of power again.”

    Eduardo Gonçalves elsewhere has made this point —
    . Since the general election (if you exclude Oldham west and saddleworth) the average Lib Dem byelection result has been -11%, and the best local council election results has been a net loss of 124 councillors.

    The key questions for Clegg —
    (a) what is his target for the 2015 general election,
    (b) what is the strategy for hitting it?
    If he does not have a credible answer to these questions, and so far he has yet to say what they are, then
    (c) why does he insist he is the best person to lead the Lib Dems into the general election?

  • Richard Dean 27th May '14 - 10:51am

    Small percentage differences aren’t really significant because intelligently-led hard work can change the results. UKIP is an example! But LibDems only have a year. If much of the year is spent on internal bickering the media would get want they want, but there won’t be much time or electoral credibility left for the party to work with.

  • Indeed Caracatus, those results bear out what today’s poll says: Nick is in real trouble in his own constituency, particularly if he stays on as Leader. He’s currently looking at coming third, on 23%, if he stays as Leader – though he has a fighting chance of defending the seat if he’s no longer Leader.

    If we really want to show some loyalty, surely the best way to help Nick Clegg the MP for Sheffield Hallam is to relieve Nick Clegg the Party Leader of his leadership duties, and give him more time to defend the seat?

  • @JohnTilley

    “…… Clegg claimed it had not “crossed his mind” to resign, ”

    Well, let’s think of things which HAVE crossed Nick Clegg’s mind. Having an AV referendum unnecessarily early which became a disastrous referendum on Nick Clegg. Choosing to initiative a debate with Nigel Farage at possibly the worst possible time. Allowing the NHS ‘deforms’, which were not in the Coalition agreement, to dominate two years of British politics. Allowing himself the notion that the public of Great Britain would agree that a ‘pledge’ was something to be casually discarded. Deciding that losing half the Lib Dem councillors in the UK was ‘a price worth paying’.

    In view of the above, why would anyone expect the notion of resignation to cross Nick Clegg’s mind?

  • Mike Smithson is claiming that this Poll was commissioned by one of our MPs & that it cost more than £20,000. With MPs like this who needs enemies from other Parties.

    On the survey itself, constituency Polls have a very poor record of predicting results except where they are taken a few weeks before the Election itself. This survey tells us nothing about what will happen.

  • The full ICM data has now been published:

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th May '14 - 12:34pm

    @ Helen Tedcastle,
    I do wish you would stop posting on here.Just when I think that’s it, time for a change in voting behaviour, your posts undermine my resolve.

    I can’t see any alternative to voting Labour at the GE though because I don’t want to give any positive reinforcement to a party that is led by someone who allowed the distasteful policies that you speak of, and I am also extremely concerned about Ukip and the nastiness lurking beneath the cover, and on present performance, the Lib Dems are not the party to defeat them.

    I just find it all very sad.

  • Simon Hebditch 27th May '14 - 1:17pm

    The most disturbing aspect of Nick Clegg’s response to the electoral collapse is to say that we have to simply explain things better to the electorate – as John Tilley says, there is no sense that a change of strategy or direction is being contemplated. Sounds like the Charge of the Light Brigade to me. I am not convinced that Nick stepping now will make a major difference and could conceivably make it even worse (if that is possible) so either we go for full scale change now – meaning coming out of the coalition and ditching our current collective leadership – or we have to soldier on to collapse next year and pick up the pieces afterwards

  • David Bertram 27th May '14 - 1:18pm

    The Spectator reports that the British Polling Council is to investigate whether ICM has broken its rules by obfuscating the identity of the client as simply “a Lib Dem member”. Good.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th May '14 - 1:39pm

    @ Helen Tedcastle,
    Thank you for your response. There is not a lot I can disagree with although I rather hope that Ed Miliband will take Labour in a different direction to the direction that Tony Blair took the party. ( Hope springs eternal!).

    Given that I am swinging wildly between options, in truth I really don’t know what I will do when I get into a voting booth in 2015. This time I stayed loyal to the Lib Dems, but others I chat with changed their voting behaviour and voted for the few left of centre options on the ballot paper. Some voted Labour in an attempt to deny Farage coming first in terms of votes. There are a lot of people out here who are really in a quandary about what to do for the best.

  • It’s a great pity “one of our MP’s” couldn’t think of a better way to help the Party if they had £20k to spend in the run up to the elections.

  • Dean W. – You think that given the scale of Thursday’s Euro defeatsl, throwing £20,000 at an awful result would have made the slightest bit of difference?

    The question is surely what we do now, and where we go from here. The people have spoken. Let’s not be pig-headed and stubborn enough to keep ignoring them, or they’ll just shout louder next year.

  • Cleggs message that the party just needs to get out there and deliver it message better is absurd.

    What part of the message from the electorate is he not understanding? Especially from those sections of the electorate with left leaning tendencies, The very same people that the Liberal Democrats used to rely on who have now abandoned the party. And the very same people the party needs to try and woe back.

    These people are those that

    1) Are appalled at the top down reorganization and reforms of the NHS which was not in the coalition agreement
    2) Those who appose the bedroom tax, which was not in the coalition agreement
    3) Those who appose cuts to disability benefits
    4) Those who are apposed to more Nuclear power stations and Fracking
    5) Those that appose the rise in Tuition fee’s which was a signed promise
    6)Those who are apposed to secret courts
    7) Those who believed Nick Clegg was genuine when he said “no more broken promises”, “more open,honest and transparent politics”

    These are just a few of the things that former members and voters feel angry and passionately about. And yet Nick Clegg and the team around him just refuses to listen to the message.

    It’s not the electorate who are not listening to the message . It is Nick Clegg, his team and advisers who are not listening.

    Nick Clegg’s message is that the party will continue down the path ever close to the right spectrum, something that many former members and voters feel is a betrayal of their trust and support.

    There is no place in politics for another right wing party, Tories and UKIP have that nicely tied up.

    The electorate understand that coalition governments means there needs to be compromise. However that compromise does not mean supporting policies that where not in a coalition agreement. Nick Clegg and the party had a perfectly legitimate veto in these area’s and yet failed to use it.

    I agree getting rid of Clegg will not be enough to win back former supporters, it will take a change in direction and a withdrawal of the coalition on a confidence and supply basis. That’s the only way the party can begin to repair itself and win back it’s former supporters. The question is, does that party want these people back? or are we regarded as wet lefties not worth worrying about?

  • @Jayne Mansfield

    I certainly see where you’re coming from, and its hard to see how we Liberal Democrats will be able to mount a decisive challenge to UKIP and their fellow travellers in the wider world, particularly while this leadership stuff is going on.

    But, I can’t agree that Labour is the answer. Unfortunately, Miliband seems to be surrounded by those who advise him to adopt UKIP’s ideas and their attitude to diversity of whatever sort, in some cynical sellout that tries to create the illusion of a reconnection with ‘ordinary voters’.

    You can’t defeat an enemy like UKIP by adopting their weapons – their fearful, uninformed and often hateful ideas cannot create, only destroy. And by taking up those weapons, any positively minded party would lose any redeemable features it might have.

    The question is, how much progress can the reactionaries in UKIP roll back, how long will we let them and how much reconstruction will political liberals of whatever party affiliation have to do in the aftermath of the Blair-Clegg-Farage sequence.

  • Forgot to add that those on the left do need relate to the message “delivering both a stronger economy and a fairer society.”

    When family incomes are still below that before the economy crashed, When families up and down the country are still feeling the pinch. When those on lower and middle incomes were severely squeezed during the recession.
    And as we now know, there was no recession for those at the top of the income scale, indeed these powerful elite saw their wealth sky rocket.

    That is not a stronger economy for all, And it is not a fairer society.

    It is messages like that which quite frankly infuriates people because the message is a lie.

    More open, honest, transparent politics! I think not

  • Seth, You don’t need a pact for your political opponents to do some strange things. UKIP did not stand in most wards in Winchester but only in he country, i.e. Tory wards. We most certainly did NOT hvae a pact with them!! But they did perhaps want to pile more pressure on the Tories! Now work it out for yourself.

  • It’s really quite disturbing to see what seems to be many decent and intelligent people to be drinking the Kool-Aid and regurgitating the rubbish that it’s not the LibDem messages that are wrong, it’s just that they haven’t been clearly communicated enough for the electorate to understand.

    Er, no. The electorate have been listening and watching for last 4 yrs, have fully understood LibDem messages and priorities and gave their judgement in the local & Euro elections just gone. If you wish to insist on making your messages ever simpler so as to engage us with your “version of grown-up politics” (yes, I am using sarcasm to match the condescension of your leadership), then go ahead and see how that works out for you at the 2015 ballot box.

  • @Helen
    “They are instinctively authoritarian and they do little for civil liberties.”

    You can put that criticism of Labour. But the LibDems have not been very vocal on getting rid of control orders

  • Ian Bailey (Labour) 27th May '14 - 5:17pm

    Am entertained that my posting caused some controversy on a forum which states it is open to all comers. Nor am I sat here gloating or calling you names. Over a decade ago I nearly quit Labour over Iraq and joined you, a good friend had become a LibDem, Kennedy was someone I could believe in and Blair wasn’t. In the end I just sat on my hands and retired from activism until last year, so I’m not here to try and wind you up. If you don’t want other viewpoints say so, change the all are welcome statement and I’ll leave you to your fate.

    Ask yourselves this. You made a principled stand defending the EU and lost. Is that a bad thing? To have principles? Your parliamentary party spends its time passing bills to wage war on the sick and needy in direct contravention of all you allegedly stand for – and their unpopularity has eviscerated your local government representation and almost wiped you out of Europe principled stand or not. Is that something you can accept any longer?

    Your principles aren’t being listened to because of the things your leader and MPs do in direct contravention of your principles. Its hard to claim political principles having made Tuition fee pledges at the same time as secretly deciding to drop the policy and eventually vote against it. You member didn’t do this, Clegg did, yet you are all tarred with the same brush.

    Again to set aside the inevitable accusations of bias, electorally its in the Labour party’s best interests that he remains leader – we like taking hundreds of council seats off you. But regardless I implore you to get shut of this disaster of a man and reverse course. Progressive politics needs the LibDems back, not this Tory lite Orange Book obscenity. Its New Labour. Its Cameronism. Its the political bidding of the elite by the elite.

    Are you the elite? They why do their job for them?

  • @IanBailey.

    Let them keep Clegg, they never listen to anyone, that’s why they are being punished.

  • @Helen
    “fought to replace them”?

    Actually you replaced them with something worse. What is being done to hold LibDems accountable on this?

  • @Helen
    I did read the article and I maintain my position, that it was wrong for the LibDems to replace control orders with something worse

  • Peter Chivall 28th May '14 - 11:26am

    We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. As I read Oakshott’s polls, changing Clegg for another Leader won’t of itself make much difference. As Matt says, our record of acquiescing to illiberal and anti-working poor measures in so many ways has totally negated the positive effect of the £10k Tax threshold and other measures in the Coalition agreement. The Tories bamboozled us over the introduction of Academies and Free Schools which have destroyed any hope of a joined-up education system in each Local Authority area, but we walked open-eyed into the NHS restructuring that was in direct contravention of the Coalition Agreement.
    If not Clegg himself, then those around him must take responsibility; the little, unrepresentative ‘claque’ of SPADS, peers and Orange Booker MPs who seem to be the only people he will listen to. The so-called ‘quartet’ seems to have a permanent ‘conservative’ majority of 3-to-1.
    The Party at large has a wealth of radical, social justice policies on taxation, wealth and inequality, green energy, education and youth employment; even the EU. We hear small whispers about differentiation from the Tories: we should have been shouting from the rooftops four years ago and refusing to vote for the NHS wrecking proposals.
    Instead, all we ever heard from Leadership mouthpieces was ‘it’s all the fault of Labour’.
    Yes, Labour might have been too profligate in their spending – how about Bliar blowing £30bn on Iraq for a start. But the real fault of Labour was that they were a top-down, authoritarian Party, and still are if the likes of Balls and Cooper had their way, and were a soft touch to the City slickers who wined and dined them.
    Perhaps we were afraid then that Cameron and co. would declare the Coalition ‘unworkable’ if we stood up to them and call a 2nd General Election in 2011 where we would get thrashed. So what? We’re thrashed now and look like getting thrashed next May.
    Meanwhile, I hear that Federal Policy Committee have an ‘awayday’ in 2 weeks time. Perhaps Clegg and his team should join them and get re-educated about what Liberal Democracy means and the policies to apply in Government and include in our Manifesto next year. Then we might have something to continue working for – in my case it will be 44 years and counting….

  • Kevin Colwill 28th May '14 - 12:46pm

    This kind of thread reminds me of those endless football discussions about playing 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 or the diamond or – you get my drift. It’s all about how the team can win (or lose less badly) and nothing about what the “team” stands for

    I’m woefully romantic about these things but I’d say it’s best to focus on core values and key policies. If you want to be a party of what old timers like me still think of as the economic right, where markets are God then stick with Nick and sod the consequences. If you genuinely believe we need to temper capitalism with true respect for the environment, a desire to moderate the power of big business and the need to create a society where everyone is valued regardless of their earning power… maybe a change of leader is in order.

    Nick Clegg may or may not be a super nice bloke – never met him. In my eyes he’s the poster boy for a switch away from the values I emphasise as important about the Lib Dems and towards attitudes I’ve associated more with the Tories.

    You may well get my vote back if you ditch him but only if I believe that switch of leader represents something more significant.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 28th May '14 - 1:59pm

    Whatever Lord Oakeshott thought he could achieve by promoting his friend, via 4 polls, he has delivered an appalling result for the party. Now Lord Oakeshott has the media hanging on his every word – which is what he wanted. He will do our party: no good result but great damage along the way. Who knows how this debacle will turn out.

  • Kevin Colwell. Over the last 70 years there has been a massive increase in public sector white collar employment . We now have extensive cronyism and patronage between the civil service , local government, NHS, education, academia, politics at district, county, national , EU and UN levels,various NGOs( many charities), the BBC, the media by largely left wing wing middle class arts graduates which does nothing to improve the quality of life on those on average and below average income in the private sector and very little for blue collar workers in any sector.

    The liberals belief in small. competent, transparent government free from cronyism and patronage and the ability to live within one’s means was why we were supported by Non-Conformist craftsmen, shop keepers and small farmers who gave the World, the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions. The Dissenting Academies which largely educated the craftsmen who created the Industrial Revolution were not set up by government but individuals who knew what education was required. Inequality was reduced by ensuring people had the academic and technical abilities plus confidence to run their own companies and lives FREE from the interference of government. Much government until the mid 19C was incompetent and corrupt.

    Much of the modern day LD Party s appears to comprise middle class white collar arts graduates dependent upon government spending. We appear more like a 18 Century Anglican rector living off the tithes paid by working men and women, rather than a 18C craftsmen hard at work creating the Industrial Revolution. Appointment to well remunerated livings was usually due to patronage , similar to being appointed to the BBC or a QUANGO or NGO. If we had a few MPs who were craftsmen who had created their own companies perhaps we would obtain more votes?

    In many ways we are returning to the Middle Ages when the King ruled for all, priests prayed for all , knights fought for all and labourers worked for all. Many senior members of government, civil service, local government, BBC, NHS, QUANGOS, NGOs, etc, etc look like well fed Abbots or Abbesses.

  • Gareth Hartwell 30th May '14 - 4:28pm

    For a sensible and objective assessment of this (and all other polls), see It’s an excellent site edited by people who really know what they are talking about.

    In this particular case, they conclude that although Nick Clegg is 1% behind when the normal polling methodology is applied, Lib Dems incumbents usually do better than general polling in their constituencies.

  • “In this particular case, they conclude that although Nick Clegg is 1% behind when the normal polling methodology is applied, Lib Dems incumbents usually do better than general polling in their constituencies.”

    But for Nick Clegg to be behind at all implies an absolutely enormous swing against the Lib Dems, particularly when you consider that it’s Labour that he would be behind – in 2010 Clegg was 29.9 points ahead of the Tories and 37.3 points ahead of Labour.

    And before putting too much faith in the benefit of incumbency, it’s worth recalling that in 2010 a uniform swing calculation would have been almost spot on in predicting the number of Lib Dem seats.

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