Study shows that voters in Liberal Democrat seats trust their MPs more

Mike Smithson at Political Betting talks about data from the British Election Study that shows how well thought of MPs are in their own constituencies. Liberal Democrat MPs come out well on top, being much more liked even among opponents than their Tory and Labour counterparts. His graph illustrates thus:

LD MPs wider respected

As Smithson puts it:

The chart shows views of those in LAB/CON and LD-held seats and highlights the split between those who say they will vote for their incumbent (supporters) and those who won’t (opponents).

As can be seen there was a markedly different response pattern from those in CON and LAB held seats and those in LD ones. Even opponents in the latter had a net negative of just 4.4%.

Another interesting finding was whether voters knew the name of their MP. Of those with Labour MPs, under 70% knew his/her while for Tories, the figure was just over 70%. But of those with LD MPs, the name recognition level was 82%.

This knowledge isn’t new, and the Lib Dem incumbency bonus is about to be tested like never before, but knowing that our MPs are so highly thought of is a definite advantage as we enter the fight of our lives.

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41 Comments

  • Clutching at straws a bit. In some cases like Dennis Skinner, Charles Kennedy, Ken Clark and a few others perhaps there is a local following. However, in a national election many just vote for the leadership and their policies. Take John Leech the Withington MP, he is popular and well liked in the area, but he doesn’t have a chance of holding his seat. The bookies have Labour at 1/20 to win, not because John Leech has done anything wrong, but because the LibDem leadership voted to triple tuition fees. John Leech stuck to his pledge, but people just remember the LibDems didn’t.

  • Malc, it is a little bit more complicated, is it not? If John Leech is going to lose because the payroll part of the Parliamentary Party voted to triple student tuition fees even though he did not, why is it that Norman Baker, Paul Burstow and Steve Webb, who all voted in favour of tripling student tuition fees, look as if they are going to win?

  • stuart moran 21st Dec '14 - 11:30pm

    Sesenco

    Because the are up against the Tories as their main opposition and, for all the faults of the Coalition and the complete contempt shown by the party leadership for those of us on the left, some people are still prepared to vote LD in order to keep the Tories out?

    Thos ein Labour facing seats, or SNP, are toast (may be some exceptions to this but can’t think of any off the top of my head)

    If you can think of any people in comparable seats to Leech who are going to hold them then that would support your argument – name that tune!

  • Stuart: We’re probably going to hold Bradford East, despite the Westminster bubble consensus, simply because David is massively popular in his own constituency and Labour in Bradford just assume seats will fall to them because of demographics (despite losing to Galloway on a 37% swing almost three years ago).

  • Chris Manners 22nd Dec '14 - 12:44am

    That was a by-election.

    A win over Labour by only 365 votes in Bradford East last time looks too small.

  • This is the thing: people are just looking at David’s tiny majority, and the fact it’s Bradford, and assuming we’ve lost already. We still hold eight of the council seats–as many as Labour do–after a full round of elections. People who actually know Bradford know that David shouldn’t be counted as gone just yet.

  • Sesenco

    It really isn’t that complicated. I was in Withington when the LibDems won the seat, it has a large student population and nearly all of the LibDem campaign was about scrapping tuition fees. For weeks running up the vote there were LibDem posters everywhere you looked, it was a great campaign. However, when you build up expectations like that and then let them down it’s not forgotten. I haven’t spoken to anyone that will vote LibDem this time around, even though many actually like John Leech. As for the 3 MP’s you mention, two are in what would normally be considered very safe seats – not sure but I would think that both Lewes and Thornbury and Yate are in the top 15-20 safest seats – so nothing like Withington. In the other I don’t share your confidence that Paul Burstow will hold his seat, I have that down has a Tory gain. Don’t know much about Bradford East, but the bookies make Labour the 1/5 favourites.

  • stuart moran 22nd Dec '14 - 2:04am

    Sarah Noble

    So there is one based on your (not unbiased) view. Looking at the odds, the best I can see are 5/1 on for Labour

    You may be right but your assertion of ‘probably’ should be tempered a bit shouldn’t it?

    According to the bookies Clegg has more chance of being beaten than LD do of winning in Bradford East

    Do you really see this seat in a General Election really being equivalent to Galloway winning a by-election?

  • @ Malc

    “In the other I don’t share your confidence that Paul Burstow will hold his seat, I have that down has a Tory gain.”
    So you know better than Lord Ashcroft’s poll showing a swing towards Burstow in Sutton and Cheam, do you?

    Conservative 27%
    Labour 11%
    Liberal Democrat 45%
    UKIP 14%
    Green 3%

    Just goes to show how many people are posting here out of tribal hostility to our party and its prospects. Frankly, it’s getting rather tiresome.

  • @RC

    Their hostility is not tiresome. it’s what you will meet on the doorstep and it’s important to learn how to deal with it. You seem to be doing fine so far.

  • RC

    Lord Ashcroft’s poll certainly makes Sutton and Cheam look a safe bet for the LibDems. William Hill have it 4/5 a LibDem victory, 10/11 a Tory one so very much neck and neck. A lot will depend on whether – at the GE – the LibDems are losing votes to Labour in larger numbers than the Tories are to UKIP. I still think the Tories will take it, but each to his own I suppose. As for “tribal hostility” not sure I’m guilty of that. I’ve voted LibDem in the last two GE, but never again under this leadership. I don’t like being lied too – tuition fees – and I don’t like Tory governments, but I got both from the LibDems under Nick Clegg.

    Martin Land

    @RC

    “Their hostility is not tiresome. it’s what you will meet on the doorstep and it’s important to learn how to deal with it. You seem to be doing fine so far.”

    I’m a lost cause as far as the LibDems are concerned so RC referring to my opinions as tiresome doesn’t really matter. However, I would keep him away from the “doorstep”, he might manage fine behind a computer screen, but I doubt he could cope in the real world.

  • @ Malc.

    “I don’t like being lied too – tuition fees – and I don’t like Tory governments, but I got both from the LibDems under Nick Clegg.”

    Not being able to deliver a policy because you don’t have the money or MPs is not lying, it is not being able to deliver a policy. I’m sure if it had been remotely possible, the Lib Dems would have delivered it. Why would they do otherwise? As for getting a “Tory” government, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Which “Tory” government has cut taxes for the poor, given extra funding for their children at school, extended free school meals, increased participation by students from less well off families in higher education by 30%, stopped an increase in the inheritance tax threshold and increased the top rate of stamp duty and upped capital gains tax? All of that is a totally un-Tory, completely Lib Dem agenda.

    “However, I would keep him away from the “doorstep”, he might manage fine behind a computer screen, but I doubt he could cope in the real world.”

    I do canvass regularly, and with success, so that pops your little bubble. I like a good conversation on the doorstep. I’m not afraid of standing up for the Lib Dems against their detractors because they are mostly ill informed. QED.

  • SIMON BANKS 22nd Dec '14 - 3:46pm

    I don’t think it’s “clutching at straws”. This poll points to a relevant factor which should be taken into account along with the tendency of many people to vote for a national ticket. In fact, it’s clear that once an election is called, more people focus on the local situation and personalities than do when unexpectedly rung by a pollster before an election was happening. So this poll is encouraging just as other things are discouraging.

    Malc – while I broadly agree that we’ll do very badly in Labour-facing seats, the last I saw of the Ashcroft polls had us 1% behind in Cambridge and if that;s true now, Julian Huppert should win on the day. In addition, Mark Williams should be safe in Plaid Cymru-facing Ceredigion.

  • Andrew Watson 22nd Dec '14 - 4:12pm

    Anyone seriously thinking that David Ward will “probably” hold on in Bradford East might want to take the odds available with Paddy Power of 6/1. Labour are a less generous 1/10 on. People who really “know” Bradford have given up making forecasts. The bookies were caught with their pants down in the 2012 by election, so I suspect they will pay the City a lot more attention in 2015 before setting the odds. Despite the attractive odds I’m still not tempted to put money on David Ward to be honest.

  • Nick Collins 22nd Dec '14 - 4:15pm

    @ RC The LibDems did not promise to deliver a policy re tuition fees. Most of their candidates signed a pledge, if elected, to vote against any proposal to increase them. If they did not actually lie, those who voted for the increase, and those who abstained, broke that pledge. By suggesting otherwise, you are , to put it kindly, “being economical with the truth”.

    Having lived through the governments of Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Heath and Thatcher, I can confidently say that the current government is quite as loathsome as any of them which is why I now regret, as so much wasted time, the time which I have spent campaigning for the so-called “Liberal Democrats”

    Unlike others on this thread, I make no predictions about next year’s election, other than that it looks like being a particularly nasty one, but I am hopeful that the LibDems will be severely punished.

    Sorry, does that sound “hostile”? I guess it is; but it’s not “tribal”.

  • Tony Dawson 22nd Dec '14 - 4:51pm

    @RC

    “Not being able to deliver a policy because you don’t have the money or MPs is not lying, it is not being able to deliver a policy.”

    I am absolutely staggered to see any single Liberal Democrat, let alone more than a handful, express this statement as if it had any relevance whatsoever to the matter in question in the electorate’s eyes, and indeed those of the Party itself. But it keeps on happening. If you cannot see the problem, you will never address the solution, which perhaps explains a lot about a lot of people in ‘leadership'(sic) positions in the Liberal Democrats.

  • RC

    “I’m not afraid of standing up for the Lib Dems against their detractors because they are mostly ill informed. QED”

    Most polls have the LibDems at between 6 – 8%. In the euro elections they hung on in one seat, in Wales and I think Scotland, they were in sixth place on vote share. Many hundreds of LibDem councillors have lost their seats. By-election after by-election candidates lose their deposits. All these voters that are deserting the party are they all ill informed? Is there not a chance that all these 100,000’s of voters, who have turned their back on the LibDems, are right about this government and you are wrong.

  • Nick Collins 22nd Dec '14 - 7:05pm

    I forgot Major ; I dare say a lot of people do.

    Btw, RC, if you are “not afraid of standing up for the LibDems, why do you feel the need to hide your identity behind a pair if initials?

  • Nick Collins 22nd Dec '14 - 7:08pm

    Sorry, that should have read:
    ‘Btw, RC, if you are “not afraid of standing up for the LibDems”, why do you feel the need to hide your identity behind a pair of initials?’

  • I’m proud to be an active Liberal Democrat. Unlike the moaners, the gripers and the gloaters, I don’t sit on my arse typing hostile, tribal nonsense. I get out there fighting for my community and fighting for the Liberal Democrats as only the Liberal Democrats stand for the sort of society I want.

  • Malc – £ 50 donation to our chosen charity on the Sutton result ? I say Burstow will win. You don’t . Whoever’s wrong donates £50 to the other’s chosen charity? My chosen charity is the RSPCA. Be ready to pay.

  • Tim Hill

    Your on! I think it’s one of the hardest seats to call, but I fancy the Tories to take it. The RSPCA is one of the charities I support so I’ll be happy to choose them also. I would prefer the money to be donated to a local branch, but I can give you the details who to donate to – ” if I win ” – once we have the result.

  • Tim Hill 22nd Dec ’14 – 11:34pm
    “…….., I don’t sit on my arse typing hostile, tribal nonsense. I get out there fighting for my community and fighting for the Liberal Democrats as only the Liberal Democrats stand for the sort of society I want. ”

    Nothing “tribal” about that statement, I suppose?
    A statement that was presumeably typed whilst standing up, on a phone, whilst delivering leaflets with one hand and fixing pavements with the other?

    I agree with you about the result in Sutton, but would ask you to consider that not everyone who has avoided the trap of blind loyalty to Cleggism and his Centre Party dream is anything other than a proud Liberal Democrat, some of them even more “active” than you.

  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Dec '14 - 9:15am

    Can we have our party back now, please?

  • Simon McGrath 23rd Dec '14 - 10:03am

    @Jenny – my party voted to enter coalition overwhelmingly, has continued to vote to support the economic policy the government is implementing, supported the 45 p tax rate, nuclear power and fracking.

    If you agree with Conference on those points I am not sure what you mean by wanting ‘our party back’

  • Peter Watson 23rd Dec '14 - 10:28am

    @Simon McGrath “my party voted to enter coalition overwhelmingly, has continued to vote to support the economic policy the government is implementing, supported the 45 p tax rate, nuclear power and fracking.”
    Which is why for a lot of people it’s no longer their party.

  • Tim Hill: good to see you have your feet on the ground. All is well with the world then, apart I suppose from the vast tracts of the country where the Lib Dems have all but disappeared.

  • Simon McGrath: I can see that the 45p tax band is a classic compromise, but I had not realised that Lib Dems are supposed to be against Nuclear Power and Fracking on principle. Isn’t it the Greens who are against these?

    I thought an important Lib Dem principle was for evidence based policy that takes into account environmental, social and economic factors, which incidentally could justify all three positions, however I cannot clam to be in a position to judge.

  • Nick Collins 23rd Dec '14 - 10:43am

    Peter Watson: Quite so.

    (comment posted while standing on one leg)

  • Peter Watson 23rd Dec '14 - 12:14pm

    @Martin “I had not realised that Lib Dems are supposed to be against Nuclear Power and Fracking on principle.”
    I interpreted Simon McGrath’s comment as saying that the post-2010 version of the Lib Dems support Nuclear Power and Fracking (along with lower tax rates for the highest earners and a different economic policy).

  • Has the party been completely against nuclear power? I know it has flirted with this position at various times. I do not think it has ever been against fracking in principle, because it is a more recent issue. As for a 45p top rate income tax, for most of this century’s politics a 45p rate would have been considered as a radically progressive tax policy. I do not see any support for “lower tax rates for the highest earners”.

    A lot of politics turns out to be a matter of setting bear traps for your opponents to fall into. Gordon Brown’s 50p rate being a successful example. Those who object to the 45p tax (which is actually higher than 40p) have fallen into the pit and would do better to stop digging. Again, evidence should always trump dogma. I suspect that if the objective is increased revenue, reducing the threshold for the upper tax band would work better. Presumably there are social/political reasons why this is not considered by any of the major parties.

  • I don’t recall the party being against nuclear technology on principle while I’ve been around it. Although I joined while Ming was in charge, so that’s not exactly a huge length of time. The thing is that the energy grid needs a solid, reliable source to provide baseload capacity in all weathers, and today that means nuclear or fossil fuel technology. Our European party is pushing for the creation of a single energy market that will if accompanied by enough new infrastructure allow us to reduce the amount of baseload capacity required to support renewable generation. But some will still be needed and I’d rather it be nuclear power rather than Russian gas, Saudi oil or the proceeds from environmentally disastrous coal mining or fracking at home.

    So, long story short, I agree with the position the party expresses on nuclear power, so don’t regard that position as a betrayal of my trust. I am more likely to become irritated by the way that we only managed to kick the nuclear weapons can down the road rather than securing a realistic solution that fits our actual requirements and capacities in that area. But when you’re one fifth of a coalition you don’t get to set the agenda. It is my hope that after the 2015 election we will be able to discover how much influence comes with being a 30ish seat bloc required to swing the balance of power outside of a coalition.

  • T-J: I am not sure whether your last comment about influence after the election was supposed to be ironic. I certainly agree with the “outside of a coalition” bit as I do not thin it right for the parliamentary system, nor for the well being of the party to remain in coalition if we lose many MPs.

    The likelihood of being able to “swing the balance of power” is, I think, unrealistically remote.

    Those who decry our present influence, parrot the cry that nobody is listening may, I think, have to reassess their thinking if confronted with a reality of little influence and being widely ignored in the media.

  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Dec '14 - 6:29pm

    The economically ignorant economic policy wasting real resources in obeisance to extremely abstract shibboleths like the “deficit”. Stoppesd the recovery foe 2 years , and it was only when Osborne introduced. “Help to bubble” and other expansionary fiscal schemes that any sort of growth returned, mostly captured by the already rich.
    Nuclear power has always been voted against at conferences I’ve been to. Personally I am in favour of nuclear, much cleaner than coal. But I remember being one of about 5 in favour of nuclear at the Brighton conference in 2007? Or theta bouts. I don’t think that policy was ever reversed. And I see no need for fracking; there’s plenty of gas around, more than we can afford to burn, really.

  • Martin, I do think that a strong, unified majority government is very unlikely during the next parliament. Much more likely is a coalition, a minority government or a small, fractious majority that will need to call on other parties for support from time to time. And its fairly likely that we’ll be the ones being called on some of the time.

    Although, yes, we will be greatly reduced and I don’t foresee any chance of us having more influence after next May than we do now, and certainly nowhere near as much as we had in 2010.

  • Simon McGrath 24th Dec '14 - 10:26am

    @Jenny Barnes “extremely abstract shibboleths like the “deficit””. What is absract about borrowing £160bn a year ?

  • Simon McGrath – “What is absract about borrowing £160bn a year ?”

    Quite. And the associated £40bn (? and rising) of associated interest payments per annum?

  • Can I ask everyone reading this to go to the Political Betting site & read Nick Sparrows article on Online Polling. New research demonstrates what a lot of people suspected, that Online Polling is fundamentally flawed & is distorting our Political life. I know its Xmas but at least leave yourself a note to read it later. This is serious research & it shows that much of our reporting of Politics is based on a false premise.

  • Simon McGrath 24th Dec ’14 – 10:26am
    @Jenny Barnes “extremely abstract shibboleths like the “deficit””. What is absract about borrowing £160bn a year ?

    Well I don’t know about you, Simon McGrath, but I have never in my life borrowed £160bn.
    So for me it is the very definition of an abstract concept.

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