Sensational LIb Dem GAIN and boost for Jane Dodds

I have incredibly fond memories of Llandrindod Wells this Summer. I spent a very restorative weekend there and in many beautiful villages delivering leaflets and canvassing. I was so proud when Jane Dodds won.

So I am particularly thrilled to see that we have crushed the Tories in a by-election in Llandrindod Wells, taking a Powys County Council seat from them by some margin.

We didn’t stand a candidate last time.

It’s a really good sign for the General Election. Congratulations, Cllr Jake Berriman and the wonderful Llandrindod team.

Jane was well chuffed.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • The one trend in tonight’s results is how badly Labour are doing. In Devon they retained a seat but look at the result

    Labour HOLD Heavitree & Whipton Barton with 32% (-19) of votes.

    CON were 2nd on 31% (-1), LDM 3rd on 18% (+11), GRN 4th on 17% (+11) & For Britian 5th on 2% (+2).

    No UKIP (-5) as previous.

    In Daventry they lost a seat and camp third
    Conservative GAIN Abbey North (Daventry) from Labour with 41% (+14) of votes.

    LDM were 2nd on 31% (+10) & LAB 3rd on 29% (-11).

    No IND (-7) or UKIP (-5) as previous.

    Source Election maps twitter

  • John Marriott 25th Oct '19 - 8:04am

    I’m no psephologist but I reckon that a box of chocolates should be on its way from Lib Dem HQ to the Green Party. Surely it’s time that both parties looked at ways of further cooperation, which means give and take on BOTH sides, especially if a General Election is in the offing before Brexit is resolved. In fact, if ALL the non Tory parties don’t park their egos at the door and come up with a combined strategy, it could easily be, as is usual under FPTP, another case of ‘divide and rule’, especially if the Tories and the Brexit Party get together.

  • John,
    Twitter ( I know not the most reliable of sources) suggests the Green’s couldn’t find a candidate. So either through design or lack of candidate no Green stood.

  • John Marriott 25th Oct '19 - 9:48am

    Point taken; but the fact that there was no Green candidate, given the vote the party got last time, must surely have had an affect on the final result. Let’s assume that, whatever the politicians say, the next General Election could prove to be a ‘Brexit’ Election. In current circumstances, as far as England and Wales are concerned, we are likely to have the Tories and the Brexit Party on the ‘Brexit/No Referendum’ side and the Lib Dems, Greens, TIGs and Labour (?) on the ‘Remain/Referendum’ side. For NI and Scotland you can also factor in the other parties that send representatives to Westminster. If the Tories and the Brexit Party can negotiate an electoral pact and the parties on the other side do not, there can surely be only one result.

  • Things very fluid at the moment.
    Comm Res poll asked people for voting intentions if we have not left EU on 31st October: result:
    Labour 27
    Con 26
    Brexit 20
    Lib Dem 18.
    Results yesterday tend to emulate that. I had hoped for maybe 4 gains, went close in 3 but Brexit and Greens seemed to have prevented that.
    Need to squeeze the Greens?.

  • John,
    I keep hearing of a Remain Alliance, “We won’t stand here”, ” Greens won’t stand there”, not sure who comprises the Alliance, I suppose he that lives will see.

  • “”””So I am particularly thrilled to see that we have crushed the Tories””””

    There has been a lot of talk this year (99% of it coming from the left and hard left of the political spectrum) about severely policing the language that we use when talking about and referring to our political opponents and those with whom we do not agree.

    Myself, as a liberal, go for the widest allowances of freedom of speech and expression, with its borders at direct incitement to violence (“hang X”, “burn down Y”, “throw acid in the face of Z”), or defamation (“X is a Nazi/racist/etc” when there is no evidence to support it).

    I may not think it’s decent to refer to opponents as “sabateurs”, “traitors” or their views as “surrendering”, but they are conveying a viewpoint. They are using evocative and emotive language, but it’s a valid viewpoint, albeit one that I don’t agree with. And first and foremost, freedom of speech is paramount. In the same vein, I may not think it very decent to talking about “crushing” your opponents (very violent and agressive language, as well as evocative and emotional). But it’s conveying a viewpoint. And freedom of speech is important.

    I hope those of us that read and contribute to this site (but especially the contributors), might pause for thought the next time they want to point fingers at others about the language being used whilst standing on a pillar of “virtuous censorship”. It looks rather silly to demand the policing of “problematic” language their opponents use, but then use equally “problematic” language themselves. In fact it looks a bit like trying to censor a view that they don’t agree with. Quite the opposite of being a genuine liberal

  • Paul Barker 25th Oct '19 - 2:36pm

    There were 8 contests yesterday of which we stood in 7; our vote share fell by 9% in one & the rises in the others ranged from +11% to +47%. A pretty impressive set of results altogether.
    The story in The Polls isnt so good, we have been drifting down for the last fortnight; currently we are somewhere between 18% & 19%. Since July we have bobbed up & down but the underlying change still seems to be slowly upward.

  • @ Paul Barker Call me old fashioned if you like, Paul, but in my day, when we had to study the law of gravity, something couldn’t be ‘drifting down’ at the same time it ‘still seems to be slowly upward’.

    There is a dose of reality in the poll in Theakes contribution – 18%….. less than in February, 1974 when 19.3% returned 14 Liberal M.P.’s. I wonder whether it is wise to risk a credibility gap for Ms Swinson to keep claiming to be ‘your candidate for Prime Minister’.

  • Paul Barker 25th Oct '19 - 5:16pm

    We havent had any real Polls for 4 Days now, I would ignore all the “How would you Vote If……” stuff, such questions have a very poor record in predicting anything.
    The interesting point about our Polling performance over the last 2 Years is that we havent just been bobbing up & down, we seem to have kept most of the gains we made. I suggest looking at a Graph of Polling Averages like the one published by “Britain Elects”.
    We have gone from averaging 6% in July 2017 to just over 18% now.
    We should be getting at least one new Poll tommorow.

  • @ Martin “(as you refer to her)”. Are you implying that’s not her name ? In the same way in polite circles it should be Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn ?

    I suggest caution in making inflated claims because in my experience it produces a negative reaction (and even guffaws) from the electorate – a different audience to a party conference. I’m also long enough in the tooth to remember that 19.3% (not the current 18%) in the polls in February 1974 produced 14 Liberal M.P.’s.

    Mr Johnson is many things, much of which I don’t like, but I have yet to hear anything to suggest he is incontinent. Maybe you know better ?

    In my opinion, Ms Swinson should be authentic and realistic, not exaggerate, and to focus on policies for a more just and compassionate society (not just on Brexit).

  • We’re consistently up in real polls, and even if they aren’t on a massive scale, we should be pleased.

    I think a bit of drift, both up and down, in polling is fairly normal too and often ties in with just how much air-time we or our rivals have been getting in that time. If you are on social media it can be tempting to interpret minor changes, that are within the margins of error, as significant and directly related to whatever it is your bubble have been saying.

    What we do know is that our predicted vote share jumped substantially around about the time of the local and European elections and while the latter especially is thanks to a fairer voting system, that vote share has sustained. Also supported by the extra exposure we got during the leadership campaign, especially giving our two candidates the opportunity to discuss non-Brexit issues on a variety of news outlets that normally pretend we don’t exist.

    Alas, that kind of media attention is harder to maintain the rest of the time, although we can be grateful that our conference was given reasonable coverage this year. For a variety of reasons, the news is filled with too much other drama for our politicians and points of view to feature as much as we’d like, which is why it’s notable that our predicted vote share is still holding up, especially with some of the dishonest tactics designed to frighten Labour voters against supporting us.

    The key now is to ensure that the media knows that our vote share is up in most of these local elections along with the polls and that we must be given a proper hearing in any election campaign. There will be attempts by both Tory and Labour leaderships to shut us out of the narrative, and this is something we must fight – inbetween trying to get all of the other messages across. Good luck everyone!

  • @ Martin “Incontinent describes Johnson’s dishonesty and mendacity”.

    A great relief to hear that.

  • Alex Macfie 26th Oct '19 - 8:59am

    theakes, David Raw:: And in 1997 we 46 seats, more than double our previous representation, on a reduced share of just under 17% of the vote. The difference between that and 1974 (as well as 1983 & 1987) was targeting. In the earlier elections the Liberals/Alliance didn’t target very well, relying principally on the air war. We have a targeting strategy for the next election, so uniform national swing is not going to be a good predictor of our share of seats, and I expect it’ll be more like 1997 than 1974 or 1983.

  • Alex Macfie, You are right in your analysis of how our targeting strategy evolved and ultimately succeeded between 1974 and 1997, and one key factor was the ruthless dropping of constituencies who failed to do the necessary work (both quantity and quality). Also at all times we were well aware of the limits of our central organisation to support and sustain the number of target seats.

    However, this time I do not see any evidence that we are taking into account our seriously depleted central organisation which is much smaller now than it was in 1997. The massive reduction in staff, due to the losses of short money after 2015, is still the biggest factor we face in determining how many seats we can realistically suppport and target. The number of seats I hear being mentioned makes it seem too much like 2010 when we lost MPs due to reckless optimism than 1997 or 2005.

    In addition, there are a mass of activists now who have been brainwashed into despising the architect of that targeting strategy without thinking, and a lot of the things we learned about how to succeed have been deliberately ignored or even rubbished because they are associated with him. This includes people looked on as very senior activists and that is a real worry.

  • While these results are encouraging the big surge in May has not been increased except in a few seats though of course they are random and not in all the country as would be the case in a general election. It is also notable that where an independent or local party stands the Liberal Democrat vote does not rise so strongly and where there is a Green candidate likewise as in the Heavitree result. A combined Lib Dem/Green candidate might have won. The Liberal Democrats have not yet become the go to party everyone is talking about and this is essential for a real transformation of the political scene. Opposing Brexit alone is not enough – there have to be some eye catching and popular domestic policies.

  • Of course Alex Macfie is correct to say, “in 1997 we (won) 46 seats, more than double our previous representation, on a reduced share of just under 17% of the vote”.

    However, my point not to over egg the pudding because it will not impress the electorate still stands. Paddy did not become Prime Minister any more than did Charlie Kennedy or Nick Clegg with similar votes.

    The conundrum remains……. will there be more defections to the Lib Dems and some sort of realignment in British politics…..or…..will Mr Corbyn retire to his allotment when/if he loses the next election to be replaced by either Keir Starmer, Hilary Benn or Rachel Reeves all of whom are more electable.

    Ms Reeves (an intellectual heavyweight) was particularly impressive and formidable chairing the Select Committee on the Thomas Cook fiasco this week.

    The question of Scottish Independence still lurks. Will Scotland opt for a more social democratic independence within the EU …… and will this condemn England and Wales to permanent Tory Government ?

    Interesting, if worrying, times.

  • Alex is right when he notes that a good Target Seat strategy can mean that an actual national vote of say 19% (our average over the last 9 Opinion Polls) can today produce more MP’s than the equivalent or higher vote share (such as 25.5% in 1983) did, in the weak or non existent pre Target Seat Strategy days of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Such a Target Seat strategy brought us our 3 successive electoral records of MP wins in 1997, 2001 and 2005. The 62 MP’s/22% of the vote in 2005 was -and still is – our highest number of elected MP’s since 1922, that is in just short of a century.

    Since the excellent local election results of May 2019 our national opinion poll ratings have more than doubled from the flat lining 7-8% of late 2010 -early 2019. It is though worth remembering that just before this years local elections we were still being written off and, even here on LDV, people were panicking that the fresh new CHUK/TIG’s or some similar fresh ‘Centre Party’ would replace us. Six months later however, with a much improved national picture plus a good Target Seat strategy, we can expect an improved number of MP’s at the next GE.

    However it is also worth noting that we now seem to be running two different Target Seat strategies. One is recognisable as the 1997-2005 model where a seat’s winnability is judged on a mix of criteria including a) actual election results/success (at all levels) over recent years, b) a strong well organised local Campaign Team that are/can deliver a serious, constituency wide, ground campaign c) preferably, an already well known PPC with an already well established local campaign profile.

    The second Target Seat strategy is completely different and is based in the new Core Vote strategy allied to ‘Remain fever’. This involves Targeting seats, some of which we have never previously come anywhere near winning but where we ‘ought to be able to’ based on socio economic make up and high Remain vote levels from 2016. It is a strategy that saw an early trial in for example Vauxhall in 2017. These seats get a lot of national money spent on paying for commercially delivered national mailings and closer to election time members for miles around are urged to drop everything and go and campaign there.

  • Of course, Targeting your resources in one place means denying them to another (as we keep telling Boris you can’t actually have your cake and eat it). So some seats that would have qualified under the ‘old’ Target Seat strategy are denied resources (because they are the wrong type of voters) whilst some seats that would never remotely have qualified previously, get funds lavished on them. It will be an interesting experiment to analyse after the election.

  • Paul Barker 26th Oct '19 - 2:35pm

    I feel deeply grateful that I dont have to do the Targeting, its hard enough now but what if we have a “Cleggmania” type surge & get near to the Magic Number of 30% ?
    Most Models suggest that we would get around 50 Seats for 20%, 150 for 30% but 350 for 34%. Suppose that some Polls have us on the low 30s & others the mid 20s, where do we “Send” resources then ?
    Trying to “Guesstimate” the likely result of this Election is just impossible, this may be time when we have to “Leap before we look.”

  • Paul Holmes 26th Oct '19 - 2:43pm

    Paul Barker -always worth remembering that the very brief ‘Cleggmania’ in the Opinion Polls actually resulted in just 23% of real votes in 2010 compared to 22% in 2005.

    Wildly optimistic over Targeting, much of it very last minute as a result of Cleggmania, resulted however in a fall in the number of MP’s compared to 2005 -the biggest net loss since 1970 although soon to be far surpassed in 2015.

  • Alex Macfie 26th Oct '19 - 5:38pm

    Cleggmania was an inherently superficial surge, based on a good performance in the first leaders’ panel debate of 2010, which he was not able to repeat in the subsequent debates. I’m not sure whether our post-Cleggmania strategy can be called “over”-targeting; what I assume is meant is we spread our targets too widely (I’d call that “under”-targeting). Our increase in support since May/June this year has been sustained, so any judgements about what’s feasible for targeting is likely based on realistic assessments, rather than the panic-driven opening up of targets in 2010.
    Tight targeting is how we managed to increase our number of MPs in 2017 despite a reduced share of the national vote. But we don’t want to win Richmond Park by 10,000 votes, but miss out on unseating Dominic Raab in Esher & Walton by 500, and that is the danger of overly tight targeting at current polling levels.

  • Paul Barker 26th Oct '19 - 6:48pm

    My recollection of Cleggmania was that it found the Party as a whole looking like a rabbit in headlights; we didnt seem to expect it, didnt know what to do with it & found it uncomfortable. By the time we got our act together it had faded.
    Obviously we cant Expect a repeat this time but I hope we are at least prepared for the possibility & have some ideas how to use it if it does happen again.
    The basic reasons for Cleggmania still apply, most Voters didnt take us seriously & were amazed when Clegg seemed human & thoughtful. Of course when the 2nd & 3rd Debates came round Voters had switched from underestimating Clegg to having unrealistic expectations about his performance. Cameron at least had upped his game considerably.
    If Jo gets to debate with Johnson & Corbyn I expect her to do very well, if she doesnt then we can accuse Labour & Tories of being afraid. It seems to me that The Party are more professional now & our activists much more comfortable with the whole idea of A “Leader” in the current sense.

  • David Evans 26th Oct '19 - 7:41pm

    Paul Barker – The whole point of targeting was to get out of the short termism of “Look at this latest opinion poll” and instead focus on the real value added of long term campaigning. And it worked.

    Your Leap before we look suggestion is based on a philosophy of “We can learn nothing form the past, the new is always different,” – The absolute antithesis of Lib Dem Evidence based politics. This time we need a strategy to gain seats and deny the Conservatives (+Brexit Party and any ex Con who want to return) anything close to a majority. We can’t afford to mess it up with more wishful thinking.

  • David Evans 26th Oct '19 - 8:09pm

    Alex – You say “But we don’t want to win Richmond Park by 10,000 votes, but miss out on unseating Dominic Raab in Esher & Walton by 500, and that is the danger of overly tight targeting at current polling levels.”

    It is precisely this sort of self delusion targeting is designed to stop. Dominic Raab has a majority of 23,298. Elmbridge Council has 19 conservatives, 17 Residents Association, one Brexit and 10 Lib Dems. The area returned six conservatives, one Brexit Party, and two residents association councillors to Surrey County Council.

    The Lib Dems did well in the council in 2019. But they really should be targeting help elsewhere in a General Election.

  • “So some seats that would have qualified under the ‘old’ Target Seat strategy are denied resources (because they are the wrong type of voters) whilst some seats that would never remotely have qualified previously, get funds lavished on them.”

    But that’s the logical consequence of the party’s voting profile having changed. Just look at the different changes in different regions in the Euros (compared to 2009) – massively up in London and to an degree the SE. Up by very little in the most northely regions. A meaningful targeting strategy needs to reflect that.

    Given those sort of changes there may have to be a bit of ‘punt taking’. But that’s happened before and sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t.

    What it will need is accurate data – and accurate canvass data above all. My worry would be whether you get that from new and inexperienced, single issue motivated canvassers. I could see a lot of ‘undecided but said they oppose Brexit so put them down as Lib Dem’ type results

  • The other thing I remember about Cleggmania in 2010 was that the other parties – and their friends in the tabloids – started attacking us more ruthlessly than ever. For a week or so in the middle of that campaign they perceived we were a genuine threat. I remember both sides – the Mail/Sun/Express and the Mirror – all really tearing into us – and into Nick personally. I think it was this, plus our ‘rabbit in the headlamps’ response – that helped do for us in seats like Rochdale and Chesterfield. (though of course Paul I will defer to your personal experience in the latter).
    If we are hoping to make a surge in this campaign, we need to have a cool-headed strategy for how to both capitalise on it and avoid the shit-storm of attacks it will bring.

  • Paul Barker 26th Oct '19 - 9:50pm

    Im certainly not in favour of getting excited by single Polls, I always advise looking at averages & looking hard at Regional Polling where it exists. Clearly we should have a lot more Targets in London than we did last time.
    I am not saying that we cant learn from the Past but we actually cant afford to play it safe, there is no safe anymore.
    We cant avoid Attacks ( & smears) from other Parties, we just have to be ready to respond; above all we need to avoid sounding apologetic – Voters dont respect apologies.

  • Hywel -but that does rather assume that the way people vote in an EU election is reflected in the way they vote in a subsequent GE whereas usually they treat EU elections (as often with Parliamentary by elections) as a chance to make a protest outside of the ‘real’ election as many voters term it.

    It also assumes that the brand new Targets have been picked in a realistic way. The Vauxhall experiment in 2017 is not an encouraging one. How often have we gone from a low 3rd to 1st in a General Election especially with only a few months build up?

    Maybe this will indeed be the GE that goes against almost 100 years of precedent, Brexit has certainly shaken some traditional loyalties up. As I said before it will be interesting to analyse the results of this experiment after the election.

  • TonyH is right to ask for a cool-headed strategy. The Cleggmania reaction that led to some change on the basis of one TV debate was misplaced. That kind of event should only lead to how to use it in our target seats. Likewise how to react to any adverse events in order to continue the battle in our target seats should be the best way, rather than changing a strategy.

  • David Evans: Your analysis re Esher would make sense if we hadn’t done well in the Council elections there. We have to acknowledge that the seats we are going to target for the next election may not be the same as the ones we would have targeted in the mid-2000s; we should be looking at more recent election results than the last general election to decide which seats are winnable, especially if our poll ratings are now at 18-20%, up from 7%. But this is not the same as the rabbit-in-the-headlights response to Cleggmania, in which we basically abandoned most targeting in favour of the failed one-more-heave strategy of 1974.
    The difference between our recent surge and that of Cleggmania is that the recent surge has been sustained. And Jo has already shown that she can handle attacks better than Clegg ever could, and generally has more political nous. Clegg played politics like a gentlemen’s parlour game (as befitting his public-school+Oxbridge background), Jo knows full well she’s not dealing with “gentlemen”.

  • David Evans 27th Oct '19 - 1:04am

    Alex your response shows precisely what is mistaken with so many Lib Dems ideas on the criteria for targeting. It is not just about a single look at one particular headline result.

    Sure in 2018 Elmbridge Lib Dems improved a lot and made gains. But equally
    – We got 5,000 votes less than the Cons in those elections
    – We only put up 13 candidates for 16 wards. The Cons put up all 16, and even Labour put up 14.
    – Local Residents parties got over 2,000 more votes than us with only 8 candidates.

    I don’t know what the stats are for other MPs and Councils in Surrey, but I know our MPs are under pressure in Sutton. Quite simply targeting Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton would be a total waste of resources.

    Also I note and agree with your view of Nick and his expertise in real political situations. But Jo was also an MP for those five disastrous years, saw it happen to her area first where our share of the vote in the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections collapsed. And she never raised a single concern for the next four years. Doubtless she knows that the Conservatives are not “Gentlemen,” but if her key advisers only give her good news headlines, or she chooses to ignore the less good stuff, her political nous will not be sufficient.

    We have to get out of this naïve “We can win anywhere” mindset. We can win where we have done enough work over the last 15 years to ensure we have been able to mount credible campaigns year after year over that period. Failing that we need a lucky break to get a winnable by-election.

  • David Evans 27th Oct '19 - 1:05am

    Of course I should have posted “Sure in 2019 Elmbridge Lib Dems improved a lot …”

  • chris moore 27th Oct '19 - 7:47am

    The brief Lib Dem “surge” in the polls in 2010 was not a direct result of the 1st debate. Pollling carried out BEFORE the 1st debate, but published afterwards already showed a marked increase in Lib Dem support.

    I hope the creation of (previously hopeless) target seats in Remainia is as a result of private constituency polling. (FInchley and Golder’s Green is one example of a very promising constituency poll.)

    Esher is utterly unrealistic.

  • The time is not right for a complete upending of British politics. The LibDems are not at all likely to manage it and the Brexits certainly are not. So resources should not be wasted by attempting to target 150 seats. There is no evidence of that being realistic at all.

    The important aspect is also realistic, to deprive Johnson of enough seats to enable an opposition to offer a People’s vote and hopefully stop this brexit nonsense in it’s tracks. For this the LibDems probably need to gain thirty odd Tory seats and the SNP to gain 10 of them. One pollster thought the Tories were only likely to gain 10 Labour Leave seats and have a more distant prospect in another 13.

    As a small exporter I wonder how we have got to the point where the Leave lot promised free trade, free of restrictions but now their leader is apparently offering possible tariffs into Europe and Ireland, with special complicated checks on some goods going into N.I. and risking the Peace Process with it. All previously described by them as “Project Fear”.

    If the BBC were not so cowed, they would play those broken promises back to Farage, Johnson, Hannon and the rest of them over and over, but they keep shape shifting into lower and more refined versions of little ingerlunder nationalism. Nothing they said previously matters to them. It’s all about feelings now.

  • @Paul Holmes

    There is a huge tonne of evidence that the EU elections don’t represent ‘real world’ politics as happens at a general election. The Euro elections didn’t seem to translate into Peterborough or Brecon and Radnor for example (B&R is a bit of a warning counter shot to over-enthusiasm).

    However the counter point to that is that we are in turbulent poltical times and a chunk of voters who would not have considered voting LD (at least post 2010) now would.

    That said we are in somewhat uncharted waters and no-one really knows until there actually is an election – but I’m sure of a few things:
    1) The voter profile of Lib Dem support has changed
    2) So some seats that were previously targets/held are not as strong a prospects as they were in 2010
    3) And some seats not previously considered winnable may now be

    Working out which is in which category is not going to be an exact science – and there needs to be a lot of caution against over optimistic assumptions (qv Vauxhall in 2016). The best prospect seats are likely to be those with
    1) A historic level of strength
    2) Decent previous performances (in 2010 or before if not in 2015)
    3) A strong remain profile – ideally with a leave leaning Tory MP
    4) Some other major ‘game changing’ factor which makes all the stars align (F&GG may be such a seat). When that happens it can make up for other weaknesses like ground organisation and money (pulls out Burnley 2010 t-shirt!) but they need to be big and tangible to be real game changers. I’m not convinced there will be huge numbers of seats where that is true.

  • Really the situation is so flexible and surreal that it is almost impossible to make judgements. My gut feeling suggests that The Brexit Party will poll very well in a pre Brexit election and how could this impact against all parties- we could lose votes to them as well, and skew results for both Conservative and Labour.
    We should pray that Revoke strikes a cord with both those who want to Remain and those Leave voters are so fed up they just want it finished and to be able to get on with their lives. In that scenario we could hit the high 20’s.
    But there is much more to an election than Brexit, have we got instantly recognisable, popular policies to cut through there.

  • Paul Holmes 28th Oct '19 - 3:54pm

    Hywel. Sensible analysis and words of wisdom based on experience from you, as always.

    Which is why I am worried that there is far too much optimism that the EU results a few months ago are a guide to a forthcoming GE. Rather than for example the post Conference season Opinion Polls which have shown a pretty slow but steady trend of Cons support increasing, LD drifting down and Lab stagnating around 24%. Yesterday’s Con 40%, Lab 24%, LD 15% may be a one off but the trend is not out of keeping with that of the 10 Opinion Polls over the last 6 weeks.

    Now, I know that Great George Street tell us that they have never before spent as much on private polling (and commercially delivered direct mail) and we should trust them because they know what they are doing. But then they told us the same in 2012-2015 and were utterly and completely adrift from reality, to say the least.

    Here’s hoping their very ambitious and expensive gamble pays off this time. Because a strong Conservative majority would not just mean a harder Brexit but 5 years of domestic policy misery at the hands of people like Rees-Mogg, Raab and Patel.

  • Paul Barker 28th Oct '19 - 4:10pm

    The situation now is that 3 out of 5 Voters dont see us as a serious alternative. Changing that during an Election Campaign is a massive ask but we have made huge advances before; in 1983 for example when we had a similar background of both main Parties being unpopular.
    There are grounds for wild Hope.

  • @ Paul Holmes “Because a strong Conservative majority would not just mean a harder Brexit but 5 years of domestic policy misery at the hands of people like Rees-Mogg, Raab and Patel.”

    It might be permanent rather than five years Paul if the Scottish people decide to take total control of their politics to stay in the EU.

  • David Evans 28th Oct '19 - 5:40pm

    Paul Barker – of course we didn’t Change that during an Election Campaign in 1983. The huge advance then was based on four years of hard work and the launch of the SDP, not a quick election campaign.

    There are only grounds for wild hope in the minds of those who prefer to believe in dreams and fail, rather than face up to the hard fact that it will take huge amounts of hard work over decades to make a breakthrough of that size.

    The simple fact is we could gain fourteen or forty, but if we try in 100+ target seats we won’t even get the fourteen, and in that the Cons will win and Brexit will go ahead.

    It really is very disappointing to see so many Lib Dems who failed to face up to the facts in coalition and let the party be almost totally destroyed, still fail to learn from their mistake and prefer dreams, hubris and total failure to learning from past mistakes, hard work and success. I really do hope our leaders have learned the lessons from coalition they say they have.

  • Paul Holmes 28th Oct '19 - 6:49pm

    @David Raw – first the Scots would have to win an Independence Referendum and then apply to rejoin the EU. But I certainly take your point.

    If Scotland leaves the UK then, under the ridiculous FPTP system, we do indeed face the danger of a long term Cons majority albeit on a long term minority of the votes. All the more reason PR should have remained the deal breaker for any Coalition. As it had been since 1974, until Nick Clegg abandoned it (before the 2010 election was even held) in the single worst of many decisions he took.

  • “Now, I know that Great George Street tell us that they have never before spent as much on private polling (and commercially delivered direct mail)”

    I’m not involved at all any more so not privy to such insights. But quite a lot was spent on polling in 2012-15 as you say and I”m nt convinced it worked out that well. The problem isn’t polling, its the analysis and not just making the assumptions you want to hear. There need to be people in the room who will challenge easy assumptions – I used to get a lot of (good natured) needling about my negative/pessimistic approach. But that was built on a record that every time I made those easy assumptions they turned out to be wrong and resulted in losing campaigns.

    I don’t think you are wholly right. But nor do I think you are wholly wrong.

  • Well @Paul Holmes. I guess we’ll soon know 🙂

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