Stephan Shakespeare: “It is becoming harder for any party to win an outright majority”

There’s a terrific post in today’s Times by YouGov chief executive Stephan Shakespeare assessing 10 things you need to know about the electoral scene. What makes it fascinating is his summary of quite why 2015 is, in so many ways, hard to read.

For instance, Labour has a small lead in the polls for an opposition party 18 months out from the election – but a small lead may be enough given the current boundaries.

But, set against that, is the fact that voters don’t regard Ed Miliband as prime ministerial and think a Labour victory would make for a worse economy.

However, voters do think Labour is more in touch with their concerns than the Tories, a crucial factor in President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.

Yet the Tories will very likely benefit from the first-time incumbency boost of the 147 MPs elected in 2010.

Add in the Ukip wildcard and the Scottish referendum and the minor matter of this current government being the first Coalition in modern times and you have a mix of utterly unpredictable variables all of which mean “the outcome of the next election is the hardest to predict in a generation”.

Here’s the most significant point from a Lib Dem perspective:

8. It is becoming harder for any party to win an outright majority
Contrary to received wisdom, governing parties do sometimes increase their share of the vote between one election and another. It happened in 1955, 1966 and October 1974 but three big factors mean it will be hard for Mr Cameron to find the extra votes he needs for a working majority. First, lots of unhappy left-leaning former Liberal Democrats will boost Labour’s share of the vote . Second, the Lib Dems will probably hold on to most of their seats. Even if Nick Clegg’s vote halves, he could easily keep three quarters of his MPs, as we saw at the Eastleigh by-election. And third, the most significant postwar voting trend is the decreasing share of the vote enjoyed by the two main parties combined (see graph). This makes it increasingly hard for any party to gain a working majority.

If you can access The Times’ paywalled website, the whole thing is well worth a read: here’s the link.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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41 Comments

  • “And third, the most significant postwar voting trend is the decreasing share of the vote enjoyed by the two main parties combined (see graph). This makes it increasingly hard for any party to gain a working majority.”

    This is often said, but (1) obviously the polls indicate that that trend has reversed very sharply in the last three years and (2) a decrease in the non-two-party share of the vote makes it harder for any party to gain a majority ONLY if it translates into more seats being won by the other parties. Scotland and Northern Ireland aside, I don’t think anyone expects a significant number of seats to be won by any party other than the Lib Dems. So it really hinges on how many seats the Lib Dems win, and not on the size of the combined Tory/Labour vote.

    As for the Eastleigh result indicating that Clegg ” could easily keep three quarters of his MPs” (!), that is a very strange thing to say. Firstly, I thought everyone was aware of the danger of extrapolating from Lib Dem by-election results to a general election. Secondly, not even in Eastleigh was the seat won easily. But most importantly, in Eastleigh the Lib Dem vote dropped by more than 14 points, and it would not have been held if there hadn’t been a similar drop in the Tory vote. Obviously the role of UKIP was crucial, and if UKIP is squeezed during the 2015 election campaign, then the defence of Lib Dem seats against the Tories could be anything but “easy”.

  • Interesting article by Thrasher, how many lost deposits will the Lib Dems experience in 2015? With the collapse of the party in the country it could be considerable. Anyone like to guess, I will start at 250+. Interesting betting odds on Political Betting website, lose 100, you get 6-1, lose over 150 you only get 7-2. This could be the worst embarrassment since 1955.

  • Depends rather on how many candidates we put up, doesn´t it?

    Who is going to put up the deposit in a seat where absolutely nothing has happened in terms of campaigning since the last election?

    How many candidates are we going to put up this time round?

  • Paul in Twickenham 2nd Nov '13 - 8:04pm

    And in other news, tomorrow’s Observer carries an opinion poll that puts Lib Dems on 7% (-1%), with Labour 37% (-1%), Conservative 31% (+4%) and UKIP 16% (-1%).

    Among the party leaders Mr. Cameron is on net -18% personal approval, while Mr. Miliband is on -21% and Mr. Clegg is on -46%.

    So essentially with 18 months until the general election, the Liberal Democrats continue to trundle along at sub-10% while the party leader is as popular as…. something not very popular.

    So hurrah – the party implodes, it has only a handful of seats, its activist base is decimated but due to the wonderful contortions of FPTP the Lib Dems still have enough MPs to hold the balance of power.

    Well whoop-de-doo.

  • Julian Critchley 2nd Nov '13 - 8:43pm

    The degree of wishful thinking going on here is astonishing. Talk about rose-tinted glasses. The LibDems – my ex-party of 20 years – are going to be decimated at the next election, in terms of both votes and seats. At the moment, they have less than half the vote of UKIP, who are a bunch of nutjobs with some seriously dangerous tendencies, yet many LibDem posters here are hoping for a big vote for this nationalistic group of nostalgic little-Englanders to save just enough LibDem seats that the parliamentary party will need two minibuses after the next election, instead of just one. This is truly tragic.

    We had a movement. A genuine mass-support political movement which had been built around a steady agenda of liberal social democracy. We were the intelligent party who adopted rational positions designed to appeal to thinking voters with a social conscience. It took 30 years to build that position, and a solid fifth of the electorate voting at each election for the alternative choice.

    Three years and Clegg has thrown that away. If any other political party in the developed world had shed nearly 70% of its voters in three years, lost great swathes of its local representatives, and was facing disaster at the next election, there’d be at least some sign of life, some attempt to reconnect with the people it had lost. Instead, Clegg says he’s happy to have lost the majority of his voters, and the remaining minority simply sit in their seats as the bus approaches the cliff, and accept that they’re going to die but politely debate the height of the drop.

    At school, I remember studying “The Strange Death of Liberal England”. Give it another five years and there’ll be a sequel. The Orange Bookers and their pre-2010 minority of supporters within the party have successfully killed off this party as a political force. And for what ? The increased tax threshold and the pupil premium ? That’s what the last 30 years was about ? Good luck explaining that to the historians.

  • Simon Shaw – Unlike 1964, which was a real breakthrough year for the Liberal Party (one taxi up to 2 or 3 taxis!) 2015 will be a real disappointment for the party. Unless of course, Lib Dems also calibrate their expectations very low .

  • Retaining most MP seats and going into opposition after a spell in government would be a reasonable outcome for the party. It means the party has shown it can govern and isn’t just a protest party. More importantly though retaining a sizeable parliamentary presence means the stage is set to attract voters while in opposition as it has the credibility of a parliamentary presence behind it.

    Going into coalition again might be a tempting possibilty were it available after the next election but should be avoided at all costs. Rebuilding the voter base is more important for the medium to long term.

  • John Broggio 3rd Nov '13 - 12:13am

    @ Julian Critchley – you are far too modest in your claims. Decimation means that only 1 in 10 get felled…

  • David Allen 3rd Nov '13 - 12:23am

    There’s a lot of blind faith being put into the proposition that even if we score 7% or so nationally, the “incumbency benefit” will come to our rescue and save us a respectable number of seats. But will it?

    OK, Lord Ashcroft’s polls do suggest that we are doing much better in held seats, at the moment, than anywhere else. Then there was Eastleigh – insofar as dropping 14% despite an army of byelection volunteers counts as a triumph. And then there is local election experience, which again shows us doing OK in strong areas, terrible elsewhere. But….

    Lib Dem election winners in the past have won on a very personal basis. Even in the 2010 GE, nobody expected to vote a Lib Dem into government. Our voters were voting for good, highly individual, constituency MPs, who were expected to be operating from the opposition backbenches, thinking good ideas, and keeping a critical watch on whatever government was formed.

    In the 2015 campaign, voters will wake up to the fact that it isn’t like that any more. Clegg wants to go back into government – almost certainly with the Tories – and for that he needs lobby fodder, just like all the other parties. So the question to the voters will effectively be – Do you want to provide lobby fodder for what is effectively the Tories’ pale pink branch, or don’t you?

    The advantages of incumbency could quickly wither away, if the voters understand what they are really being asked to vote for.

  • Paul In Twickenham 3rd Nov '13 - 8:32am

    @Simon Shaw – “Rubbish!”.

    I’m sure you are correct. It is self-evident that no party leader wants to see his party being ground into oblivion under his watch.

    But that doesn’t alter the facts: consider the poll a few days ago that shows a quite staggering loss of support for the Liberal Democrats among the “squeezed middle”, falling from 29% at the last general election to 8% now – a loss of over 70% of the party’s support among a critically important set of voters.

    Given that the party has been languishing at this appalling poll level for several years now and has never shown the slightest hint of reviving, what is the strategy that Mr. Clegg and those around him will use to turn these disastrous numbers around?

    Because if they have a strategy then frankly it is too subtle for me to see, unless constant repetition of a bunch of vapid soundbites qualifies as a strategy.

    In my opinion Mr. Clegg doesn’t want those people to desert the party. But he is quite prepared for them to do so provided that the electoral arithmetic works out as to an on-going a coalition with the Conservatives after 2015. And as Julian Critchley observes, there are an awful lot of Liberal Democrat MPs who seem resigned to their fate, or are as flat out of ideas as the leadership.

  • Simon Shaw, you say coalition with Labour would be worse than coalition with the Conservatives. Is this view widespread in the Lib Dems and do you think the best interests of your party are served by no longer appealing to the tactical anti-Tory voter?

  • Simon Shaw – Why do you have to go on the attack with these points? It does not display my ignorance at all. While, of course I accept your MP figures, the number of votes cast was an entirely different matter. Were you there, in any case? I was.

  • Julian Critchley 3rd Nov '13 - 10:52am

    @Simon Shaw

    “There are a group of people – they are perfectly free to do this in a free democratic society – who like to throw stones from the sidelines, who like to be associated with causes where there’s never a difficult decision needs to be made, who don’t actually like parties being in government. And who always scream ‘betrayal’ when any party goes into government. In other words, people who like protest but not the reality of power.

    ‘And I make no apology of saying to those people, we are not the party for you. If people want just protest politics, if they want a sort of ‘I don’t like the world let me get off” party, they’ve got one. It’s called the Labour Party.”

    This is Clegg’s quote. It’s about as clear as you can make it. Firstly, he defines anyone who disagrees with him as “a protest voter”, as opposed to someone with alternative policies they thought the LibDems represented. Then he suggests that such people don’t want to be in government at all, as opposed to believing that the point of being in government is to implement the policies they believe in. Finally he invites them to stay away.

    This isn’t the only time he did this. Clegg has essentially said that in the LibDems, the only possible policy approach was the Orange Book neo-liberal one. Anything else wasn’t a realistic alternative view, but an impossible “protest”. This is precisely the sort of nonsense which the right-wing media have practised since Thatcher – define the political discussion in such a way as to suggest that There Is No Alternative. Clegg’s problem is that two-thirds of his 2010 supporters believed in precisely such alternative views.

    In any case, actions speak louder than words. Clegg’s lost 2/3rds of his support in 3 years. If he was unhappy about that, he’d have tried to do something to regain that support. Instead, he has criticised those people for daring to have a different view than him, and invited them to stay away, while happily sailing on with an ever-decreasing rump.

    There was no room for a third Thatcher-Blair party in British politics, while there was room for a genuinely liberal non-authoritarian social democratic party. Pre 2010, the LibDems fit that description, and had a large support base with an upward trend. Post 2010, the LibDems are simply another neo-liberal bunch of careerists indulging in the narcissism of small differences at Westminster, with a small and shrinking support base, and no future.

    Uniquely in British political history, Clegg invited the MAJORITY of his supporters to leave, and told them there was no place for them in the LibDems. We shouldn’t be surprised that the majority then left. Nor should we be surprised that the 2015 election will see the LibDems reduced to the smallest numbers since the 1970s. I confidently predict that the LibDem parliamentary party will be able to drive around in a single minibus in 2015, while the scorched earth of local and European election results will continue. Clegg has been a catastrophe of epic proportions. Yet LibDem Voice simply posts ever more desperate attempts to find a way of believing that other parties’ results will somehow save them through the odd mechanics of the electoral system. Truly tragic.

  • I notice how the naysayers always quote the lowest poll when actually the range is anywhere between 7 and 16 per cent. Chances are the party will lose votes and seats but it’ll survive. I’d put my money on around 14 per cent nationally and about 25 seats which though will be painted as poor and a disaster is a base upon which to rebuild. Though tbh even when the party gains in votes or seats it’s always painted as a disappointment. The 1983 vote of 26pc for the alliance was portrayed as a failure in the media. My disappointment with the current situation ( and I do understand all the limitations of coalition) is that we are in a period when liberalism has never been needed more. The threat to our civil liberties, to the principle of innocent til proven guilty and to many other areas liberals should be standing up for has never been greater yet we seem muted.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Nov '13 - 3:00pm

    In1959 the Liberal Party won 6 seats but 2 of them were held as a result of a pact with the Conservatives ( Bolton West and Hudddersfield West) and these were lost to Labour in 1964 but the other 4 seats were held and 5 more seats were gained outright without any pact so you could argue that effectively the party more than doubled its representation in Parliament. There were 12 elected in 1966 but only 6 in 1970 when the Conservatives won but this increased to 14 in February 1974 when Labour won. Labour victories have almost always resulted in an increase in Liberal/Lib Dem representation but that might change because of the coalition. The figures can be hard to interpret sometimes because of pacts with other parties when an apparent setback was the result of the end of a pact – the Liberals lost North Dorset and North Cornwall and possibly North Cumberland in 1950 because Labour put up a candidate which they had not done at the previous election.

    Governing parties normally improve their position when there is a general election and polls seem to show that the electorate feels that the LDs have stopped the Conservatives doing some things which were unpopular whereas the Labour Party is not trusted on the economy. My guess, based on past results, is that when the election comes, provided that the economy continues to improve and there are no unforseen disasters, the present governing parties will be returned to power unless the spirit of 1945 is abroad and the electorate wants to give Socialism another try. There is certainly a mood about which is very hostile to business and the wealthy. These revolutionary sentiments can be very destructive and counter productive but people sometimes lash out when they feel their voice is no longer heard. Apres moi le deluge so to speak. But even at that time conservative forces still managed to recover. ( Napoleon etc)

  • Bill le Breton 3rd Nov '13 - 3:59pm

    What were YOU doing in December 1981?

    Worth recalling – if that is you had been born. If not, have a look at the polling figures here: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/images/1983graph.jpg – just look at the Tory recovery from the nadir.

    Most people failed to spot the Tory turn and always said it was the Falkland’s effect at work.

    But ‘It’s the economy, stupid’.

    The stats show their 1982 poll pick-up is fairly steep *prior to * the Falklands. It was then a case for them of holding on a respectable amount of time so as not to be seen to be calling a khaki election.

    Without a Falklands effect, the recovery in their support may be less steep this time and they may still get a bit of a kicking at the Euros – largely because economic recovery will be experienced by a small part of the population by Spring next year. But that psychological transformation will widen and deepen as the year progresses.

    At present the Party strategy seems to be “Look what we stopped the Tories doing”. (Which message of course can only realistically be delivered by the present leader). However that may be a dud message by Autumn 2014.

    Well, I know as much and as little about these things as Messers Shakespeare and Bastion 😉

  • Are you sure, Bill? The Falklands War ran from March to June 1982, and although there is some sign of Tory support picking up before April, it doesn’t really rise until April/May. Look at Mark Pack’s polling data – you can download it from here http://www.markpack.org.uk/opinion-polls/

    The Tories were helped by a new Labour leader who was not taken seriously by the voters, but we (the Liberal Party then) were doing quite well. 1983 would see the highest Liberal vote before or since in some constituencies. If the Liberal and SDP leadership had worked together better back then, (you’ll remember “the two Davids” saying opposite things, and the two party organisations fighting each other as well as the other parties), and if we’d targeted in the way we do now, things would have been very different. But that’s another story…

  • Julian Critchley 3rd Nov '13 - 6:27pm

    @Simon Shaw

    You can play the aggressive keyboard warrior if you like, trying to score meaningless pedantic points on an internet forum, but Clegg has indeed made it very clear on several occasions that he is happy to have lost the supporters he classes as “protest voters” (ie, didn’t agree with him), or indeed those who he saw as left-wing. This message has been remarked upon on this very website on numerous occasions. As one of those ex-voters and activists, I received the message loud and clear, and left. I’m sure your ability to split hairs about exact terminology will offer you some comfort after the next election, when Clegg leads his rump party to annihilation.

  • Ashley, the 2005 result was portrayed as a failure in a wide part of the Parliamentary Party (63 seats!!) which is widely thought to have been the motivation for a movement starting to unseat Charles Kennedy. That, of course, was the largest 3rd Party representation since the 1920s! When Clegg promised to take the number of MPs to 120 or more (doubling the representation from 2005) he craftily avoided setting a target for what became the 2010 election. So, in his own terms, whether we reach 25, 30, or only 12 in 2015, it will represent failure on a fairly massive scale. The problem for us in the country is that there were a substantial number in the Parl Party who seemed desperate to get into Govt at any price, and when votes were cast in 2010 which allowed them to do that, they are trying to claim a great achievement, despite the fact it was only about par. The main feature of pre GE events driving our vote higher was “Cleggmania” following the first TV debate, but with our poll ratings racing backwards following the other TV debates, towards the lows they had started from, we narrowly missed 2010 being a disaster anyway.

  • Simon Banks 4th Nov '13 - 9:33am

    Julian: I agree with most of your passionate attack, but disagree with your conclusions about the election. By the way, “The Strange Death of Liberal England” is a piece of academically disreputable special pleading achieved by ignoring plenty of facts.

    Chris and Julian: the trends are measured by actual results, not opinion polls. If we relied on opinion polls, that long-term trend would have been reversed several times over. In any case, I don’t hear anyone saying the long-term trend meaning our vote will go up next time – just not drop by as much as some expect.

    I agree that Eastleigh should be interpreted with caution. The positive message for us was really not the narrow victory over UKIP, but the evidence, which surprised commentators and other parties, that despite losing many good activists, we could still turn out the activists for a serious fight.

    The evidence which Julian does not address is the evidence of local elections in “strategic” seats, especially those we hold. Apart from the slaughter of 2011, that evidence has been broadly positive, showing our vote holding up pretty well and tactical voting still alive and well.

    We will suffer net losses, but anyone predicting slaughter with absolute confidence is engaging in shallow analysis.

    I wish we could have a major reassessment of our direction without an electoral disaster, but right now my money would be on neither happening in 2015.

  • Bill le Breton 4th Nov '13 - 9:37am

    David, I think you will find that Mark’s spreadsheet confirms that the turn occurred around Christmas 1981 and was well established before the invasion of the Falkland Islands.

    By the time of the invasion, NOP had the Tories on 32.5, Mori on 34. These revealed an uptick from Mori 10th-14th December poll of 27. Gallup had 9th 14th Dec of 23% rising to March 11th – 15th of 31.5% !

    There was also a great spurt in support late April early May (Falklands fleet sailing), but there is every reason to believe that even without the Falklands effect, Tory support would have reached their 1983 election level of 42.4%.

    This support seemed to reach a ceiling mid 1982, (Falkland’s victory) but declined thereafter to the election figure. (which is where I believe it would have reached from Jan 1982 without the Falklands).

    It is the nature of human psychology to miss these turns and to stay in the old emotions entrenched during economic downturns.

    So, the question is; is the economy going in a similar direction November 2013 to May 2015?

    There was a politically engineered monetary squeeze on the economy under Howe/Thatcher. There was a similar monetary squeeze 2010 and 2011 this time through incompetence at the Bank of England. (King unable to get right policy through the MPC hawks). Recovery in both numbers and ‘feeling’ is stronger in the stages following a turn.

    Our own economic turn can be seen to begin on the news of the appointment of Carney (who had set out publicly his own policy to his then employer the Bank of Canada in December 2012 – in effect his job application for the UK position.) This appointment was itself Forward Guidance (intended or unintended) !

    Will there be a similar gradual widening and deepening of the psychological affects of recovery experienced in 1982? Who would bet against this?

    Within 18 months of the late 1981 Tory nadir, I was using Pym’s famous remark that landslide majorities were bad for democracy to help Steve Ross cling to his slender majority in the Isle of Wight.

    The future is a different country.

  • Simon No, 40 – 50 seats would be a failure in his terms. You and I just disagree about what results are likely. I quoted the figures I regard as likely outcomes as things stand at the moment.

  • Peter Watson 4th Nov '13 - 5:51pm

    @Simon Shaw “Not being in coalition at all post 2015 is an 8”
    Just to clarify, by ‘not in coalition’ do you mean ‘in Government alone’ or ‘in Opposition’?

  • Paul in Twickenham 5th Nov '13 - 6:22am

    @Ashley – “when the range is anywhere between 7% and 16%”.

    The BBC has helpfully compiled all the opinion polls for the last 18 months – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18264385. Even a cursory inspection indicate that Lib Dem support is fractionally under 10% with very small deviation, and has been for that entire period.

    Let me ask a question here : if a governing party was to plunge catastrophically at the next election, shedding 70% of its previous support, but it managed to game the dodgy electoral system sufficiently well to continue to hold the balance of power: would that party have the moral mandate to continue in government?

  • Michael Parsons 5th Nov '13 - 12:15pm

    @ Paul
    Yes, it appears that even under different electoral systems the anti-Conservative groups can take a majority in the Parliament (or its equvalent) but not take power. The Tories 308 seats is outnumbered by anti-Tory results, just as the ‘victorious’ Merkel is outnumbered by anti-merkel seats. The Clegg move is to stop wasting time on those who win but can’t take power (i.e. stop seeking a Government that reflects democratic majority opinion); and so he is opposed to a Liberal move which would seek, probably, to break down the concentration of power on one institution, and to devise a more demcratic society. Quite apart from the influemnce of money (whichI think dominates any voting system in our oligarchy) the structure of party-run elections is such that the result can only be the least-worst rather than the preferred option. This result is a continued Cleggian disregard for popular demands (“populism”) interrupted by occasional convulsions of mass revulsion, as in 1906 and 1945. At the moment right across Europe the wind seems setting fair for Social Fascism (who knows – we may live long enough to see Clegg etc. gulping down their castor oil); or perhaps Labour will regain its 1940’s radical socialist front? In the interim, the minutae of “victory” next time round on present form will not stem the tide of probable upheaval, so that is at least worth thinkinbg about: which way shall we jump, cats?

  • nvelope2003 5th Nov '13 - 12:45pm

    Julian Critchley
    Does the fact that a lot of people believe something necessarily make it right ?
    Many who voted Liberal Democrat appeared to have done so because they did not consider that party to be a party of Government. Now that it is in Government those people have drifted off to UKIP or whatever group seems least likely to form a government. If UKIP were to be part of the next Government we can be fairly certain their disillusioned supporters will drift away. Millions of people who traditionally would have voted Labour do not vote because Labour (or anyone else for that matter) is unable to realise their unrealistic dreams. This does not affect Conservatives so much as they do not seem to expect very much or they like things to stay as they are.

  • Peter Watson 5th Nov '13 - 6:46pm

    @Simon Shaw “I meant ‘in Opposition’.”
    I’m a little surprised that you have such a strong preference for the Lib Dems being out of government.
    My gut-feeling is that the Lib Dems’ best chance for a long-term future and to reinforce the party’s centre-ground credentials is for it to be less aligned with the Conservatives. I would much prefer this to be achieved by partnership with Labour in government than in Opposition to a Tory government. I fear that 5 years of opposing a Labour government while defending the record of Lib Dems’ record in government with the tories could be damaging unless the party is able to demonstrate the anti-Labour and anti-Conservative position it had before 2010.

  • Peter Watson 5th Nov '13 - 9:41pm

    @Simon Shaw “It would help if you come indicate your own political “position on the spectrum”.”
    I definitely came to the Lib Dems (originally in the Liberal Party before the merger with the SDP) as someone more opposed to the Conservatives than to Labour. I accept that working with the Conservatives was inevitable in 2010 (though am unconvinced that coalition was the only option) and I believe that the party should be able to work constructively with any mainstream party. But I dislike the way the leadership has given the impression (until very recently) that every coalition policy is a Lib Dem one and has portrayed itself as pro-Tory anti-Labour rather than independent.
    I do not want to see Conservatives in government after 2015 (although it would allow Lib Dems in opposition to show they are not tories), so I would prefer a Lib Dem influenced labour government. I hope that such a government would show that Lib Dems can be an independent and centrist influence (though my bias is left-of-centre). However, I feel so disappointed by the post-2010 Lib Dems that my vote would need to be won back and there is a part of me that would like to see them punished by the electorate: I think the ideal would be for a few key seats to be lost, starting with Sheffield Hallam and Yeovil.

  • nvelope2003 7th Nov '13 - 3:05pm

    Peter Watson
    Have you any idea of the efforts that were made over the last 60 years to win and retain Yeovil ? Laws may not be perfect but he is the sort of Liberal Democrat that could be elected there. Yeovil is not a red hot radical area. The Conservatives in Yeovil are very right wing and have whipped up a camapign of hatred against David Laws filling the local paper with nasty misrepresentations almost every week. He may have behaved foolishly but he is not a crook.

    Dr Geoffrey Taylor who stood at almost every election from 1950 until he moved up from 6,000 votes to 17,000 and second place must be turning in his grave to see this on a Liberal site.

  • Peter Watson 7th Nov '13 - 9:51pm

    @nvelope2003 “Laws may not be perfect but he is the sort of Liberal Democrat that could be elected there”
    A tory? 😉

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