Those Oldham East and Saddleworth polls: what do they mean?

We reported last night the results of the three opinion polls published ahead of the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election this Thursday. Let’s take a look now at the only two questions that matter when reading these polls…

1. Will the opinion polls prove accurate?

Opinion polls in by-elections have a notoriously patchy record — unsurprisingly, as the pollsters are unable to refine their techniques over time and measure their snapshots against actual results as they are able to with their general election predictions. For example, pre-by-election polls in Glasgow East (2008) and Blaenau Gwent (2006) showed the wrong winners.

They are also one-off surveys, and the pollsters can quite reasonably point out that their findings were accurate at the time, but that subsequent campaigning and/or the ‘get out the vote’ operation affected the final result.

That we have three opinion polls — two of them by long-established pollsters, ICM and Populus — all pointing to the same order of the parties (Labour first, Lib Dems second, Tories trailing) suggests we can have some confidence that the current order of the parties is accurate.

However, one of the reasons pollsters in previous by-elections have found it hard to assess the situation is the difficulty of predicting turn-out (usually far lower in by-elections) compared to general elections (where you can assume c.65% turn-out).

By-election success is dependent on two factors united by a common theme: which party can best motivate (i) its activists, and (ii) the voters — because it’s the work of the activists on the ground who will determine how many of the party’s identified voters are knocked-up on polling day.

There are two encouraging aspects of the by-election campaign for the Lib Dems.

First, that the party has had no difficulty in persuading activists from all over the country to travel to Oldham East and Saddleworth, with an estimated 250 out in force yesterday. No matter that many loyal party members are still smarting from the party leadership’s U-turn on tuition fees, they still want the party to win. Such enthusiasm is going to be crucial if the party is to buck the national polls at the English local, and Scottish and Welsh national, elections in May.

The other encouraging, closely related, aspect is this: the party still knows how to mount an effective local campaign. According to Lord Ashcroft’s poll for the Sunday Telegraph, reported here at ConservativeHome, voters are well aware of the the Lib Dems’ campaign: in 6 out of the 7 measures of contact with voters (leaflets, posters, phone, etc) it is the Lib Dems which have the best contact rate. Only on actual door-knocking are Labour in the lead, and then by just 2%.

2. Will any of it matter?

If the polls do prove accurate, Labour are heading for a win, with the Lib Dems second and Tories in third. And if that’s the case, it’s hard to see Oldham East and Saddleworth being a by-election that’s long remembered — after all, how often do governing parties defeat opposition parties in by-elections?

There are two-and-a-half ways in which it might prove a ‘game-changer’.

The first is if the Lib Dems defy the polls and grab a spectacular victory (still possible).

The second is if the Tories defy the polls and relegate the Lib Dems to third place (extremely unlikely) — given the Tories appear to have tried their best not to split the anti-Labour vote, it would’ve been highly embarrassing for the Lib Dems not have been at least runners-up.

And the half is this: if the scale of Labour’s victory were to be off the Richter scale — ie, a swing from the Lib Dems to Labour of 25-30% or more, the kinds of swing we’ve seen governing parties suffer in the past. The ICM and Populus polls indicate a swing away from the Lib Dems of c.8-10%. Would Nick Clegg and the party be happy with that? Of course not. But compared to what commentators have been forecasting is happening to the Lib Dem vote, there would be some measure of relief, too.

Want to prove the opinion pollsters wrong? There’s still time! The last week of the campaign will prove crucial — click here to do your bit to help the Lib Dems’ campaign.

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


  • As I keep saying the fact that this is a 3 way marginal will hide some of the problems with the LD vote.

    The coalition took 57% of the vote at the last election so a Labour win is not so nailed on as you are making it seem. Even in Government, after only 7 months, with the help of Tory tactical voting and the Woolas effect this should be won by the Liberal Democrats. The reason you would not is if you are see a big loss of votes over to Labour – perhaps up to 30% if the polls are right

    Even if Labour have a swing to them of 10% from the Coalition they may still lose. It all depends on the intracoalition split.

    You are looking at the far too simplistically and treating it as a normal by-election when there is a coalition Government and your party is begging for Tory tactical votes

    The fundamental problem still remains – if you start losing 30% of your leftish vote directly to Labour how do you get it back whilst being in Coalition with the Tories. If you can’t where are your votes going to come from and how will you attract them?

  • I think the Conservative shoring up of the LD vote should be concerning. Populus reckon around 1/3 of voters from the last election have defected wholescale to Labour.

    Not that we should beat ourselves up about it. Being right is more important than winning elections.

  • @ Tom

    “I think the Conservative shoring up of the LD vote should be concerning. Populus reckon around 1/3 of voters from the last election have defected wholesale to Labour.”

    If you look at the figures, without that support the LD would be in third place in the polls, and may well be hovering around the recent national polling figures, what is more concerning is the lack lustre campaign of the Conservatives, which is going to show the electorate how close the Government actually is, the media is highlighting this which should give concern to Liberal Democrats.

    I keep saying, May is the critical benchmark, when drafting in campaigners will be very difficult, so on the ground Liberal Democrats will be stretched very thin, and unemployment will have taken a 80,000 + rise in April, and all those friends and family suddenly start to see the results of the cuts, that is when Bankers bonuses will really be highlighted and the follow on to that will be May LE…

    We are seeing a slight movement in the Conservative % if that moves a little more, it would mean they could not afford to support Liberal Democrats in elections without it being very costly.

    All that spells only one thing…

  • Chris Rennard 9th Jan '11 - 3:35pm

    All that is clear from these polls is that it is between Elwyn Watkins and Labour and that the Conservatives are well out of it. A clear second place in by-election polls should not be seen as discouraging and has often helped us to win in the past.

    Nor are the national polls necessarily relevant. When we won the by-election in a very similar seat in 1995, the national polls were putting Labour on 49 and Lib Dems on 13.

    By-elections can move very fast in the last week and the best indication of Lib Dem prospects is often how many of our helpers we can mobilise in the last week. So for any Lib Dem in doubt, it is worth going to help. My own canvassing in Saddleworth last week was very positive.

  • Grammar Police 9th Jan '11 - 4:08pm

    @ Matt – I don’t belive the Government is implementing “draconian right wing policies” but pray, tell us in your opinion what exactly the majority of the electorate did in fact vote for?

  • The electorate voted LD in many cases

    a. because Clegg’s presentation (in particular) struck a chord with the them about politics – a new sort of politics founded on honesty and no broken promises and

    b. because they wanted the LD’s to temper whatever a potential Conservative government had in store for them.

    They didnt get (a) and they don’t see much of (b).

    So don’t be surprised if there is a big anti-LD vote here and also in the AV referendum – the party needs to wake up and remember that the electorate doesn’t vote all the time rationally as if they are some sort of debating society – why should they? Clegg and the LD’s has let them down at an emotional level and they will punish the party on the same basis.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 9th Jan '11 - 4:43pm

    Will a ConDem alliance to control Oldham council have any democratic credibility after Thursday?

  • This by-election is unique.

    Will the Lib Dem candidate be rewarded with a personal vote for his courage in going to court (as I think he deserves) thus giving all parties pause for thought about allegations against opponents? Or will he suffer from defections to Labour in a by-election some people may think was foisted on them by a bad loser – in addition to the expected anti-government and – especially – anti-Lib Dem swing?

    Will there be an even lower turnout than usual for a by-election?

    What about the fact that the Conservatives weren’t all that far behind last time? And the fairly high BNP vote?

    I doubt this by-election will prove much – next May’s locals and AV referendum will be more significant.

  • I’d make four observations here:

    1) I think that a very heavy Lib Dem defeat would be a bigger problem for the party than the article suggests. I have said on here elsewhere that I imagine that the 1922 committee will be looking for any sign that a snap election would yield a Tory majority. A heavy Lib Dem defeat would have tory MPs (not irrationally) taking a long look at what the Lib Dems are bringing to the table, and no one in the party should want that. A snap election would likely be devastating.

    2) By-elections that are forced, as opposed to resulting from, say a death, can annoy the voters. Think Winchester. If there is a sense that a candidate is trying to do in court what they could not do at the vote then the locals do tend to take their frustrations out on the candidate. For this reason, I think that the, ‘let’s just all shriek at Phil Woolas,’ campaign is playing with fire.

    3) Whilst Chris Rennard is, probably, correct that national polls are not really relevant in by-elections, that does work both ways. A narrow, or even reasonably comfortable win in O & S would not, to my mind, herald a brave new dawn of 25+% polling. The article is, to my mind, correct that is is not really obvious how much any of O & S matters in the bigger picture.

    4) Given that the tories don’t seem to be bothering it will be interesting to see how many notional tory voters go for the Lib Dems as a’Coalition vote.’

  • Andrew Suffield 9th Jan '11 - 5:08pm

    Well for starters Liberal Democrats, campaigned on a slower deficit reduction plan, to half the deficit over 1 parliament, The same as what Labour had proposed.
    Take Labours Share of the vote, and Take Liberal Democrats share of the vote, and I think you will find that the majority of the electorate voted for less cuts to public services, and a slower reduction plan

    The manifestos are all still available online – you can go and check these very easily. Labour said “halve in 4 years”, LD said “halve in 3 years”, Tories weren’t as specific but indicated they preferred a number less than 3. The coalition plan, which you can see graphed on the treasury website, is roughly 2.5 years.

    These three positions are not all that different, and it’s pretty clear that what the coalition is doing is a fair midpoint between the Tory and LD positions. Those six months are not a big change. This is a manifesto promise delivered for both the Tories and the Lib Dems, by any fair assessment.

  • Just a comment about incumbent governments and by-elections. It took until the third term of office for Labour to lose a by-election. It is not a given that govts lose, especially straight away indeed it is very unusual. Ofcourse this is not a seat held by the govt but it is a good 3 way marginal.

  • Can you not see the undertaker putting another nail in the LibDem coffin? Can you not see the damage that would be done by gaining second place purely because of Tory votes? You would be better off coming third.

  • Andrew Suffield – I do have sympathy with your point.

    That being said, halve in three years, and, ‘eliminate in one parliament,’ are not the same thing. I’d agree with you that the Coalition plan is probably a reasonable point between the two partners to a point. I think that the criticism though is that in the election campaign Nick Clegg and Vince Cable (on the record saying that cuts are economic massochism) were perhaps not really advertising their thinking.

    I make no value judgment here on that criticism, but but plainly a lot of people feel that the Lib Dems were not as open as they could have been on economic policy. I don’t think that blithely saying, ‘check the manifesto,’ really answers the point.

  • Man on the Bus 9th Jan '11 - 5:27pm

    “A clear second place in by-election polls should not be seen as discouraging and has often helped us to win in the past.”

    A clear second place is one thing, but the polls showing the Lib Dems 17 points behind Labour are obviously VERY discouraging. I wonder how many Tories will decide to stick to their first preference, rather than voting tactically, after seeing these figures.

    The Survation poll is being all but ignored by the news media. As far as I can see the Mail is the only paper that’s even mentioned it – and that only briefly, under a headline reading “Clegg 17 points behind Labour in key Oldham East by-election.”

  • @Benjamin

    True, yes. But are they voting LibDem, or anti-Labour? Believe it or not, it does matter. Especially to the political observers, those that form the media narrative. And I’m not too sure that the absence of a counter argument that is the main problem. The phrase ‘you can’t polish a turd’ springs to mind.

  • David Boothroyd 9th Jan '11 - 6:26pm

    Important to note that opinion polls are not ‘predictions’. They are a snapshot analysis of what people have said in the very recent past. The publication of opinion polls have frequently appeared to change the voting intentions within a constituency.

  • matt
    “Please don’t try and spin what Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats where promising to the electorate as something different, that insults people inteligence”
    And I am sure you are not doing that.

    Two points where you may be going astray:
    1. You keep treating “4 years” and “one parliament” as if they are interchangeable. Is that fair?
    2. The Lib Dem manifesto’s “at a minimum, halve the deficit by 2013/14” surely means at least halving the deficit in less than three and a half years. Maybe that’s what Labour meant as well. Can you tell us?

  • At what point do we realise that the public do not want the coalition to remain in power, after all the main lib dem principles are founded upon democracy; if Labour win this seat with 60% of the vote do we just turn a blind eye for the sake of this newly found ‘power’?

    If Labour win by a landslide then we should start to listen to the public and not by the tory that is overseeing our party; I’m talking about Clegg and not Cameron.

  • Can I ask two straight questions to a LD representative here.

    If we take the following into consideration I cannot understand why you are not going to win easily:

    Lost by 103 votes in May
    Labour MP disgraced
    Strong local candidate
    Total coalition vote 57% vs 32% Labour in May
    Tory leader and senior members not trying too hard (backed up by polling)
    In power and claiming to be delivering on fair, liberal policies
    Election only 8 months ago

    Now I know that no Government has taken an opposition seat since the 80s but we have never had a case in a 3 way marginal where one of the major parties has essentially not tried and indicated to their voters that they should tactical vote (the focus here is on 3 way marginal where the Tories are on 26%)

    Q1: Why do you think not winning this seat is in anyway okay for you?
    Q2: If the polls are right and there is a transfer of the ‘soft’ left vote to Labour – how can you replace then whilst in a perceived right-wing coalition?

  • Simon Shaw

    It is too late – the damage is done and the perception is that Clegg wasn’t honest. His inept comments on the BBC did not help him change this perception.

    I think he was at the very least economical with the actualité

    He has tried to have is cake and eat it – unfortunately for him it did not work.

    Remember what damage perception did to Gordon Brown – not always based on truth, and not all LD being innocent

    It is a harsh world politics and what he needs to do is to change this perception – does he have the room to maneuver? Possibly not

  • @Andrew Suffield

    I see your argument about the period of the cuts as set-out in the various Manifestos – I disagree with your position btw.

    However, what you appear to have missed or chosen to ignore is the reality of the coalition position which has been to front-load the cuts and not to spread them over whatever term you believe is correct.

    Front-loading is what is going to cause real pain next year in terms of job losses, cuts in services, reduced benefits, and wage cuts or freezes, all against a very worrying inflation cycle which appears all but out of control

  • Colin Green 9th Jan '11 - 7:52pm

    I’ve been canvassing in Oldham today. On the door step, more people are saying Lib Dem than either Conservative or Labour. An effectively squeezed Tory vote could well win it for the Lib Dems, but a close second place wouldn’t be a bad result.

  • @David Boothroyd

    David I have to disagree with you on: ‘opinion polls are not ‘predictions’. They are a snapshot analysis of what people have said in the very recent past. The publication of opinion polls have frequently appeared to change the voting intentions within a constituency’

    If someone is asked how they will vote on polling day then that can be taken as a prediction, based on the best available evidence at that time, as to how that person will vote. Where there can be problems is in extrapolating the sample taken vis-a-vis how reprentative it is of the wider population even when the sample has been correctly weighted.

    I do agree that poll publication can affect the eventual vote but not necessarily in one direction. In the current case the polls stating that the LP is on a run-away victory might make their supporters think they don’t need to turn-out but it may make Tory voters more likely to strategically vote LibDem. Or a million and one other possibilities and permutations 🙂

    Quite simply no one knows what the end result will be until the votes are counted although the individual secret party polling will, by now, be providing very strong indicators as to what is actually going down in the seat but last-minute factors sometimes come into play.

    Another thing that should always be remembered about newspapers purchasing polls is how do you know whether they have discarded polls which don’t suit their editorial line or don’t make a good headline. As an ex-journo I couldn’t possibly say that any reputable newspaper would do such a thing although I am always slightly concerned with tiny samples as they are cheaper to do and my natural suspicion makes me wonder whether that means it would make multiple polling fit within a newspaper budget.

    Still, listening to comments on here it seems a lot of people don’t think there are many reputable papers about 🙂

    I note a few posters bravely facing up to possible defeat and saying the by-election doesn’t really mean anything and that May’s votes will be more indicative.

    As a LP supporter I have to observe that if the LibDems hadn’t thrown out their principles on tuition fees and if they had stood up to the Tory’s ideological cutting then O&S would be a cakewalk – the LibDems would have romped home as winners.

    They may yet win but, and I have no personal knowledge of the seat, the polls seem to suggest that is unlikely and if this turns out to be fact then it is a body-blow to the party which will resonate into May when the cuts will really be starting to bite.

    But hey, Nick has plenty of time before Thursday to save the day or to make an even bigger mess than he’s achieved so far. We’ll know when the votes are counted.

  • Ouch.

    I see LDV is getting it’s excuses in nice and early…

    Make no mistake. If Labour win (an eventuality I still only see as 55/45 at best) it will be a crushing blow for Nick Clegg. Why?
    – Phil Woolas was stripped of his seat by law. This should be a gift to the Lib Dems. A sitting MP being removed by the High Court would be a gift to the Tories + Labour – why not the Lib Dems?
    – An ex-Labour MP, relatively local, has just been jailed. Again – a sure-fire gift to the Lib Dems. 2 Labour Party members fall foul of the law and you still can’t win?
    – The Lib Dems forced the seat to sit early. They did this surely to gain some advantage. If none materialises – it would be hugely embarrassing, surely?
    – Elwyn Watkins lost the seat in May by just 103 votes. If that margin grows – despite what this post says – Clegg must be worried. You claim a 10% swing wouldn’t be a disaster? I guarantee Clegg + more importantly Cameron will…
    – Not even the Prime Minister blatantly trying to lend his party’s vote to the Lib Dems would have had an impact. Think about that. The Conservative party in this 3 way marginal has effectively pulled out and still the Lib Dems couldn’t take advantage? And that doesn’t worry you?
    – Clegg and his senior team have been in the constituency how many times? And if that can’tfind the extra 103 votes to win – what would?

    It takes some logic to claim in a tight 3-way marginal that
    – If Labour win, it wouldn’t be a surprise nor would it be of any consequence
    – If the Lib Dems win (from a position only 103 votes behind) it would be a spectacular success

    Good Luck!

  • Man on the Bus 9th Jan '11 - 8:20pm

    “I’ve been canvassing in Oldham today. On the door step, more people are saying Lib Dem than either Conservative or Labour.”

    And that’s in Oldham, not in the parts of the constituency with higher Lib Dem support?

    Presumably that means the Lib Dems are heading for a substantial victory in the constituency as a whole, and that the ICM and Populus polls are very badly wrong for some reason.

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • @matt

    matt have a look at the latest on control orders on the Guardian

  • matt
    “Since the 2013/14 I assume means the end of the financial year in April 2014, I think it is fair to draw the conclusion, That Liberal Democrats, where saying they would halve the deficit over 4 years.”

    The exact words were “at minimum, halve the deficit.

    Also, in order for the deficit to be more than halved in the year 2013/14, compared to the £150 million deficit inherited from Labour (i.e. to be less than £75 million for 2013/14), the rate of deficit would have to be halved within three and a half years.

    That’s maybe what Labour meant as well, but it isn’t altogether clear.

    Certainly what the Coalition Government is doing is compatible with the Lib Dem manifesto commitment.

    Even if it weren’t, I, and I am sure all responsible citizens, would still support it. Labour’s massive budget deficit certainly doesn’t constitute progressive politics.

  • matt
    “You are forgetting the point though, That the Liberal Democrat Party where promising the slowest cuts by saying they would Halve the deficit over 4 years.”

    Just to be clear, you were saying something completely different a few hours ago.

  • All this discussion on the minutiae of cuts problems is actually quite irrelevant.

    Simon Shaw, believe it how you think it is but the polling suggests a large number of voters in May believe you changed policy and were not honest with your position. This perception may or may not be correct – I think it is, you clearly don’t – but it is irrelevant. That perception is fixed now, nobody is going to go back and examine everything in detail – Labour will be choosing the clips of Cable’s and Clegg’s comments very carefully to ensure the perception is reinforced. Nothing you will do will be able to remove it unless you do something drastic.

    The only person to blame for this is Clegg and his appalling communication skills – your party blames labour for lies and misinformation but really how many outlets does labour have in the press now. The only paper that supports Labour is the Mirror. Mostly you have been hoisted by your own petard.

    Before you start crying about how unfair it is – remember how Major and Brown were punished by having negative perceptions of them – not all based on truth but I don’t remember the LD saying at the time that this was unfair. Politics is dirty – get used to it. You seem to like to give but not take!

  • John Fraser 9th Jan '11 - 9:04pm

    Interesting article . Shoul someone not tell Tim Farron about the fact there are 3 opinion polls he only seems gto be mentioning the neck and neck one in his recent e-mail to the membership.

  • “I always thought doing the right thing, was carrying out the will of the people”

    If you say so. I’m against the death penalty on principle, and regardless of whether it is the will of the people, I would still oppose it. Being a Liberal Democrat is not the same as going with the majority.

  • Andrew Suffield 9th Jan '11 - 9:19pm

    However, what you appear to have missed or chosen to ignore is the reality of the coalition position which has been to front-load the cuts and not to spread them over whatever term you believe is correct.

    Uh… what? No it isn’t. The coalition is spreading the cuts over the full term of the parliament. Those numbers that Labour have been throwing around are the five year figures, which are being spread evenly; it’s spending cuts of something around 2% per year (number may be wrong, haven’t looked up the exact figure).

  • Man on the Bus 9th Jan '11 - 9:22pm

    “it’s spending cuts of something around 2% per year (number may be wrong, haven’t looked up the exact figure).”

    This is a joke. Isn’t it???

  • Andrew Suffield

    I would suggest you do not try and guess when proposing what the cuts are – it makes you look like you don’t give a toss and we should just shut up and get on with it like the good old proles we are!

  • matt
    “I have been saying that the majority of the public, and those that voted Liberal Democrats, did not vote for the speed at which the cuts are happening.”

    Don’t be so arrogant! How do you know why people voted the way they did.

    I repeat what I said earlier: “Certainly what the Coalition Government is doing is compatible with the Lib Dem manifesto commitment.”

  • Those Oldham East and Saddleworth polls: what do they mean?

    To be totally on topic….. b#gger all !

    The only poll that matters has yet to be held.

    Whatever Labour supporters believe Milliband has yet to move the party pignificantly away from the policies that contributed to our current position. And they have been guilty of unforgivable behaviour in this constituency.

    Whatever Lib Dem members believe, the public does not easily forgive being lied to. Whichever way it is packaged, a simple promise was made to the voters in an election where Clegg chose “No More Broken Promises” as his most effective campaign slogan. That promise was broken. He then compounded it by his approach to coalition which leaves most people viewing the Lib dem Ministers as Tory lapdogs (they may not be, but it is perception that matters).

    The Tories are what they are. My Grandfather told me that the only good Tory is a Lavatory and I have seen nothing to challenge this since. (And he died nearly thrity years ago!). It’s good that Tebbit popped up in this election as he is the true face of conservatives. His views are those you get in the average Conservative club, given the freedom Osbourne and Fox would dance all day to his tune.

    On balance I would, if I had the chance, vote Lib Dem, whilst making sure my feelings were received by the local party and candidate loud and clear. In other circumstances a protest vote may have been appropriate, but never the Tories, and not Labour at this time and with the circumstances provided by Woolas. the deserve to get truly spanked here, if they don’t blame Clegg and friends who seem intent on portraying coalition government as too close to a love in and have shown zero contrition when they let people down.

    In May they got my vote due to policies and integrity, if I lived in Oldham they would be keeping it as the least worst option.

  • matt
    “Seriously Simon, You are a Liberal Democrat Councillor, Your seat at the upcoming Local election is, as I am sure you are aware, at risk of being defeated”

    Oh really? I thought I just got re-elected automatically without doing any work at all.

    All I can say is that in my constituency we are currently targetting to make two gains.

  • Man on the Bus 9th Jan '11 - 10:04pm

    “I repeat what I said earlier: “Certainly what the Coalition Government is doing is compatible with the Lib Dem manifesto commitment.””

    You can repeat it as many times as you like, it’s still complete bollocks!

    Don’t you remember all the different excuses Clegg gave for changing his mind about the speed of the cuts? It was the situation in Greece, it was Mervyn King, it wasn’t till he saw the books that he knew how bad things were. Blah, blah, blah. Eventually he said he’d changed his mind before the election but not bothered to tell anyone!

    Good God, you must think we were all born yesterday!

  • @Man on the Bus
    Just read what the manifesto said, particularly the words “at minimum”.

    Do you understand what those words mean?

  • “Do you understand what those words mean?”

    It is painfully obvious that many of those who chastise the Liberal Democrats for departing from their manifesto never actually took the time to read it… Just sayin’.

  • “Your Party attracted those disaffected Labour supporters at the last Election, Protest Votes, and those who voted tactically, thinking that Liberal Democrats could possibly keep out a Tory Government. ”

    Oh, I thought it was because of our marvellous manifesto.

    At least you are being honest though. Many of those who have now ‘defected’ from the Lib Dems were never even Lib Dems in the first place. I frankly don’t care if they feel betrayed or let down – if they wanted a Labour Government they should have voted Labour in the first place.

  • Man on the Bus 9th Jan '11 - 10:19pm

    “Just read what the manifesto said …”

    Have you really forgotten that the manifesto stated as an assumption that cuts would not begin until 2011-2?


  • @Man on the Bus
    Sorry, still not clear if you understand what the (fairly simple) expression “at minimum” means?

    The only thing that would have been in breach of the stated Lib Dem manifesto policy would be if the Coalition Government were not planning to at least halve the deficit by 2013/14.

  • @Tom
    “Many of those who have now ‘defected’ from the Lib Dems were never even Lib Dems in the first place. I frankly don’t care if they feel betrayed or let down – if they wanted a Labour Government they should have voted Labour in the first place.”

    I feel let down and didn’t want a Labour Government does the party care ? Or are voters such as me no longer important. I thought coalition with the Tories was the only gig in town, I don’t trust or like them but supported it anyway. It’s too easy to be tribal and think it was only protest voters that are feeling let down and thinking of withdrawing their support.

    @Simon Shaw
    You are correct that the manifesto said minimum. Various Lib Dems also said during the campaign that the planned Tory cuts were too far too fast. Whether clever double talk or changed opinion many people thought the Lib Dem plan was for cuts broadly at a pace with those proposed by Labour and with little in 2010-2011. They also talked about a VAT bombshell etc etc. (Personally I thought Labour were broadly right about the pace of cuts but would not trust them to implement the correct ones.)

    Some of these are the price of coalition, a coalition I broadly supported at outset, but senior Lib dems seem obsessed with saying they are the best and preferred option. When they go against agreed and stated policy only one can be true, either they are the Lib Dem preferred option or the price of coalition.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '11 - 11:48pm


    I always thought doing the right thing, was carrying out the will of the people, And since the Majority of the electorate, did not vote for these draconian right wing policies, It seems to me, the party is not doing the right thing at all. Hence the mass defection from Liberal Democrats to Labour. IMO

    I will not comment on the by-election, not having been working there or having any special knowledge of the political situation there. But I will comment on the above from “matt” (I always use my full name in posting, and it is easily Googleable, I have nothing to hide, my record can be found by searching), though I am getting fed up with ending up writing essentially the same thing again and again in these columns (I gave up bothering some time ago, and only started again having a little more spare time over Christmas, and in response to some development in the situation).

    Now, I am someone on the left of the Liberal Democrats, and VERY unahppy with the current leadership of the party. However, if people like “matt” think they can tempt me overto Labour by writing things like this, they are WRONG. In fact everything I have heard from every Labour supporter and Labour member going only put me off any involvment with that party, even in the current situation where I am THOROUGHLY pissed off with the LibDem leadership.

    The electorate most definitely voted for the current government, because most of them voted for the Conservative or Labour Party and both those parties support the electoral system which gave us this extreme right-wing Tory (wit ha tiny bit of LibDem) government. Not only does Labour support this electoral system just as much as the Tories do, the main reason they support it is BECAUSE of this distortion. Both Labour and Conservative parties argue that the first-past-the-post system is good because it distorts representation in favour of the largest party and against third parties. They say it is good to have this distortion because that is more likely to lead to government by just one party. So both Labour and Conservative parties support the idea it is better to have government with support of less than a majority of the population than it is to have a coalition, even if that means the government is an extremist one, as the current one certainly is.

    So, let us be quite clear about this:


  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 12:00am

    To above comment may sound strange (sorry about the typo, I have little time, I am a bad typist, I have to type fast), but the reason is that the Liberal Democrats don’t support the principle that gave us this government, the Labour Party does. If we had had proportional representation – which the Liberal Democrats support – there would have been many more Liberal Democrat MPs and many fewer Conservative MPs. This would have given the Liberal Democrats much more strength in coalition negotiations, in particular because a coalition with Labour would have had a clear majority and so have been viable. But the system we have, and which Labour supports BECAUSE it has the distortional effect, meant the only viable coalition was Con-LibDem, with the LibDems a tiny and weak part of it. Labour supporters should rejoice at that, because it is nearly what they think better than a coalition – single party government. Because of their support for the First-Past-the-Post electoral system, explicitly on the grounds they think this distortion is good, a vote for Labour is a vote for “Unrestricted Labour government first choice, unrestricted Tory government second choice”, and a vote for Conservative is a vote for “Unsrestricted Tory government first choice, unrestricted Labour government second choice”.

    So this is why I regard anyone who supports Labour and uses the “This government does not have majority support” line as an UTTER HYPOCRITE. No, it does not have majority support, it is far more right-wing than what the people by their votes weanted, but it is what YOUR PARTY regards by their support of the First-Past-the-Post electoral system as better than a fairer coalition.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 12:13am

    Now. let us go to this one from “matt”:

    But it because the party has lurched to the right, propping up a Right Wing Tory Government

    So what else should it have done? By the principles of the Labour Party, politics should be just about them and the Tories, and the Tories “won” the election. If the political system had been as the Labour Party wants it – just those two parties – we would have had a majority Tory government anyway.

    It seems to me this argument about “propping up” is that the election result should be ignored. There was no alternative coalition, there were not enough Labour MPs to form one. Therefore, the current coalition was the only one (apart from a Conservative-Labour coalition) which would have a clear majority. The political uncertainty of a minority Tory government would have been damaging, and they would have called another election arguing “give us stability get rid of the LibDems” in months. In essence, by agreeing to this coalition, the Liberal Democrats are just agreeing to accept government by the party which “won the election” in the way both Labour and the Conservative parties think of “winning the election”.

    It seems to me any Labour Party person who doesn’t accept that is going down the route of suggesting democracy should be ignored if you don’t like the result. That point will remain until the Labour Party commits fully to the cause of proportiomal representation. When that happens, we LibDems should stop supporting the coalition and demand a new election which gives us fair government – and we delay dissolving Parliament while Labour and we pass the legislation to give us that fair representation.

    So, Labour Boy – are you up to that? If not, you are a waste of space, come back when you have something constructive to say.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 12:32am

    Now, onto the case why I believe the current government IS extreme right-wing.

    Much publicity has been given recently to the “Tory right” moaning about the coalition. They seem to be under the strange impression that a Tory-LibDem merger is happening imminently, which will sideline them. Well, now, such a merger means I – as I now live in a Labour-Tory marginal – will be expected to go out and deliver Tory literature and knock on doors asking people to vote Tory. These Tory nutters seem sincerely to believe that Nick Clegg needs just whistle and say “we merge now”, and I’ll obediently jump up and campaign for the political party I have loathed and fought against all my adult (and come to think of it most of my child) life.

    Well, if it comforts the Tory nutters, NO CHANCE!!!! And I am pretty sure the same applies to nearly everyone who puts in time, money and effort to making the Liberal Democrats work at grassroots level.

    But when I look at what the Tory nutters are saying against the current government, it’s not a left-right thing. Or at least, it depends on how you define that scale. I define it as “extreme right wing” means “support for the rich and powerful becoming even more rich and powerful”. Which is what the Cameron-Clegg government with its extreme free market politics and its kow-towing to bankers and big businessmen stands for. What is billed as the “Tory right” opposing Cameron’s “liberalism” are a group of people who are anti-EU (touchingly, still believing power lies there, what rot – power lies with the bankers and big business, and Cameron wants to make it even more that way – the supposed power of the EU is simply something the right-wing press feeds the proles to keep them off the scent of what is REALLY happening), or have a streak of old-style hang’em and flog’em. Well, old style social conservatism is no longer where right-wing is at, for proof of that see the BNP which is certainly hang’em and flog’em, but I’d say is left-wing on the basis of its economic policy. I.e. I’d say the predominant left-right battle now is for and against the power of the bankers and global “Britain is just a convenient place to work, touch me and I’ll defect to Zug” business, and on that scale, Cameron and his government are extreme right-wing. The old-type right-wing at least cared enough about this country to be nationalists for it, albeit it in a nasty way. The new-style right-wing don’t give a toss for this country or it people.

  • Allen Taylor-Hoad 10th Jan '11 - 1:24am

    Matthew Huntbach. I was also on the left of the Liberal Democrats, but I left the party soon after the coalition was formed. I take your point about the parliamentary arithmetic, and I might have stayed in the party longer had the negotiators not been bounced so quickly into a poor agreement because of Tory press scare stories about developments in Greece. It’s not unusual for countries which have coalition governments to take a lot longer than four days to get the details sorted.

    During the last LD leadership election campaign, I corresponded with (and voted for) Chris Huhne. He assured me that if he became leader, PR was the red line. Sadly he didn’t become leader, so we will never know whether he would have stuck to his guns. I was horrified that such a basic tenet of the party as PR was jettisoned so quickly. AV is no compromise, it’s just tinkering with the current distorted system.

    The final straw for me was the composition of the new Cabinet. The man most qualified to be Chancellor was Vince Cable, not Cameron’s Bullingdon Club chum with his History degree. Not one of the top jobs – PM, Chancellor, Foreign, Home, Health or Education, went to a Liberal Democrat. I decided at that point that this would be a Tory-dominated government with only minimal LD influence. Almost everything that’s happened since has confirmed that opinion.

    Westminster politicians have no experience of coalitions, so I suppose we must understand their mistakes. The Liberal Democrats should not have given virtual free rein to the Tories to implement their very nasty right-wing policies in exchange for a few morsels of ‘liberalism’. The Tories have acted with their usual arrogance and as if they won the election by a landslide, even though they didn’t win it at all. The Liberal Democrats should have prevented the Tories from introducing policies for which they had no mandate from the electorate. This should have been a coalition government of the centre, not the right, or there should have been simply a confidence and supply arrangement, as dear old Shirley Williams advocated at the time.

    I don’t believe there was a great risk if the Tories had threatened to call a second election last year. Historically, on the only occasions in the last century when two elections were held in one year (1910 and 1974), there was very little shift in opinion, and I doubt if the voters would have thanked the Tories for making them vote a second time just because they didn’t like the first result.

    Clearly I’ve taken a different route from you. I thought about joining the Greens, and I’m a great admirer of Caroline Lucas, but for the most part I would be wasting my time and my vote. Ed Miliband’s conference speech, and his admission of mistakes, was music to my ears (and no doubt to the ears of other ex-LDs, as it was intended to be), while Clegg appeared to be telling left-inclined Liberal Democrats to clear off. I am now a member of the Labour Party, and I shall continue to support PR and hope that others in the party can be converted to the cause. I also hope that one day soon there will be a re-alignment of the natural centre-left majority in Britain (which Paddy Ashdown sought and on which Tony Blair reneged). The words of Charles Kennedy still ring in my ears: “Labour are our rivals, the Tories are our enemy”. I’m afraid I don’t believe in sleeping with the enemy!

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Jan '11 - 2:33am

    This is a joke. Isn’t it???

    No. The spending review, and it’s ~19% cuts, are over a four year span, not a one year span. That works out to about 3% per year (yeah, wasn’t sure about 2% exactly), with some departments seeing as much as 6% per year and some as little as 1%. (Note that a naive division would suggest 5% per year overall, but this is incorrect; inflation must be recalculated in 1 year increments, and the percentage figures are calculated in unfortunate ways)

    In cash terms it’s not even a cut, as we’ll be spending more in 2015 than we are today – but it will be a much smaller fraction of GDP and should be roughly in line with tax revenue at that point.

    Have you really forgotten that the manifesto stated as an assumption that cuts would not begin until 2011-2?

    An excellent point, yes. The LD manifesto was referring to the 2011-2013 period, so it’s actually a promise to cut the deficit in half over 2..2.5 years. And the spending cuts are starting in 2011, so it’s actually being cut in half over ~2 years. That’s even closer to the LD manifesto than I originally estimated, and it’s a second manifesto promise fulfilled in regards to not cutting before 2011.

    (The “cuts” earlier this year were just axing some Labour projects that really needed to go quickly, like ID cards, and not part of the spending review that was concluded several months later)

    Liberal Democrats Favoured slower Cuts, They said so, on numerous occasions, in leaders debate, in interviews with Clegg and Cable.

    Oh, now that’s grossly misleading. They said, repeatedly, that they were aiming for slower than the Tory proposals, faster than the Labour ones. The coalition government is doing something slower than the Tory proposals, and faster than the Labour ones (and also somewhere in between the Tory and LD proposals). So rather than being spin or deception like you imply, it’s really quite the opposite.

    I am now a member of the Labour Party, and I shall continue to support PR and hope that others in the party can be converted to the cause.

    Yeah good luck with that.

  • Much as I hate taking a thread further off topic I think Matt needs to go and learn the difference between debt (which can be paid off) and deficit (which can not be paid off but can be reduced). Then he needs to learn the difference between the overall or fiscal deficit and the structural deficit. Finally he needs to learn the implications of these things on the differences between the 3 party manifestos

    Page 7 of Tory Manifesto
    “We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural
    over a Parliament”

    Page 4 of Labours Manifesto
    “As we more than halve the fiscal deficit over the next four years”

    Page 98 of the Liberal Democrat manifesto
    “Throughout the summer and early autumn a Comprehensive Spending Review of all departments would be conducted with the objective of identifying the remaining cuts needed to, at a minimum, halve the deficit by 2013–14″

    Halving the fiscal deficit, at minimum halving the deficit and eliminating the bulk of the fiscal deficit actually are not very different from each other with the Lib Dem position being somewhere between that of the Tories and the Labour one (how close to either depends how much more than the minimum of the half of the deficit we actually would have eliminated). The Coalition policy probably amounts to about mid way between the Lib Dem and Tory policies. About the only difference is that we did not want to have in year cuts last year but the about £7billion that was cut is a tiny fraction of overall Government spending and was probably a necessary fig leaf to the bond markets given the Sovereign debt crisis going on in Greece at the time and subsequently spreading to Ireland.

    Basically all 3 major political parties would have made massive cuts this year Labour just don’t want to admit they would have done so now they are in opposition and can instead simply oppose every cut and taz increase as though they wouldn’t have done many of the same things or had to find other cuts or taxes to increase.

    Oh and as for this bit

    The CSR and the treasury website actually claims that over 4 years, they will have paid off 80% of the deficit and in 2015/16 they will start to run a surplus.

    Please do not lie

  • Sorry that should read

    Halving the fiscal deficit, at minimum halving the deficit and eliminating the bulk of the structural deficit actually are not very different from each other

  • Navel-gazing I think

    The perception is that Clegg did a volte-face on a number of issues. Quoting the manifesto and saying actually we only said ‘minimum’ is a bit desperate isn’t it guys? Remember the public aren’t into the detail, they work on perceptions

    The only measure we have at the moment is the opinion polls and all the feedback suggests that you have lost the trust of the voters due to these perceived abandonments of policy. Brown’s Labour party never recovered from his perceived mistakes.

    Do you have any plan to try and woo these voters back – at least Tom is hones as he says he doesn’t care and would prefer a small focused centre-right party. A number of you others are still pretending you can attack Labour as before whilst not admitting to yourself that each day your party’s name is being linked to some very regressive and unpleasant policies. Coupled to this the attack dogs on the right are lining up to make sure your name is linked to every unpopular policy.

    Instead of attacking us, your ex-supporters who at least are still here debating with you, why not ask your leadership what the strategy is for the next 4 years – blind hope?

    Mail suggesting today that the fuel price will be limited – what is your party’s view on this? Fuel getting more expensive so not good but it is not very green to limit price rises on that but then allow massive train fare increases is it – I can guarantee if this doesn’t come to pass it will be your fault according to the Mail and if it does it just gives another feeling you say one thing in opposition…….and Cameron will take the praise!

  • Man on the Bus 10th Jan '11 - 9:24am

    “No. The spending review, and it’s ~19% cuts, are over a four year span, not a one year span. That works out to about 3% per year (yeah, wasn’t sure about 2% exactly) …”

    You people are unbelievable. 19% cuts over four years equates to MORE THAN 5% a year!

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 10:01am

    Allen Taylor-Hoad

    Matthew Huntbach. I was also on the left of the Liberal Democrats, but I left the party soon after the coalition was formed. I take your point about the parliamentary arithmetic, and I might have stayed in the party longer had the negotiators not been bounced so quickly into a poor agreement because of Tory press scare stories about developments in Greece.

    I think you have taken the wrong turn. The Liberal Democrats are a democratic party. The leader of the party is our servant, it is not the other way round. What you have done is like leaving your house to be owned by your servants because your butler is doing a bad job. How stupid is that? The obvious way to deal with the problem is to sack the butler.

    The Liberal Democrats as a party have not yet had a chance to comment in a formal way through the party’s democratic mechanisms on the coalition as those we have charged with working it have performed that role. The special conference which agreed to it in principle was in the early days before we had chance to see how those leading it from our side were working it in practice. Simply because the coalition was agreed in principle does not mean our party agrees with everything its leaders do with it in practice.

    So it seems to me those in the party who are unhappy with the way the person we have chose to lead it is doing the job should stay in and work to criticise that leader, and if he won’t accept the direction of the party whose servant he is when acting in that capacity as leader, remove him from that post. Why should we who have given our time and money and energy to the party – in my case for over 30 years – leave just because of one member who has been given a role by us members and is performing that role badly? The time to leave is if we find the majority of the party is not with us, and we really are no longer amongst fellows who think our way. I hope that will not become the case for me, but if people like you leave for this reason, you are just hastening the day when it will be.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 10:15am


    And I stated that the collapse in the Liberal Democrats support, shows that those who voted for the party are unhappy, as they did not recognise YOUR PARTY and did get what they where promised or voted for,

    Yes, and I agree that the Liberal Democrats have been badly led since the formation of the coalition, and that bad leadership is a contributory factor to the decline in the poll standing of the Liberal Democrats. So what is your point? You appear to think that every member of the Liberal Democrats agrees 100% with whatever its leader says or does. As I explained in a message just above, we are not that sort of party. Unfortunately, national media commentary does not seem to understand that, and so reports the Liberal Democrats in terms of what its leader and those he has chosen to surround him say and do. I wish we had a better national media which actually understood and supported true democracy.

    On the point of democracy, those who voted Liberal Democrat did not get what they voted for. No, and they didn’t get what they voted for in 2005 or in 2001 or in 1997 or in 1993. That is because in 2010, as in those previous general elections, the Liberal Democrats did not win a majority of seats and so were not in a position of absolute control of the government.

  • Everone calm down go have a nice cuppa…

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 10:35am


    Are you suggesting that Liberal democrats therefore possible acted out of self-interest and political survival, rather than what was in the National Interest?

    No, I am suggesting the exact opposite.

    I agree that the coalition has been very badly handled by the poor quality parliamentary and national leadership we have had in our party since it was formed. Nevertheless, I felt seeing the balance of seats in Parliament and the economic situation in May 2010, that it was right to form a coalition with the Conservatives. That was not because I liked the idea, I loathe and detest the Conservatives, and I think the reason our country is in a mess is that it has followed their policies since 1979 (the Labour governments essentially carrying on with them) so it was madness of the country to vote for a party which holds to an even more extreme version of those policies in 2010. It was because as a democrat I accept the people must have what they voted for, and what they voted for in 2010 – by voting Conservative and by voting Labour – was a Conservative government.

    It was vital, given the economic situation in May 2010 that we had a guarantee of stable government for a period of some time, and that could only be made by having a Conservative-LibDem coalition. So I accepted that because it was in the national interest – even though I knew our party, even if it was much better led that it has been, would suffer enormously due to that coalition.

    The reason it would suffer is because of cheap jibes from wastes-of-space who appear not to understand that being the junior partner in a coalition is not the same as being the sole party in a majority government, and who appear not to understand the principle of democracy that you get what you voted for and have to suffer the consequences. If the people vote for an extreme right-wing party, or vote for a party which supports an electoral system which allows an extreme right-wing party to gain power in a minority vote because “strong government by one party, no matter what party, is better than coalition”, then they should not be surprised to find they have an extreme right-wing government. The Liberal Democrats were placed in a position of being able to temper it a bit, but not much. However it was obvious that Labour would issue knocking propaganda which suggested the Liberal Democrats were responsible for all bad things in the government. They were not interested in attempts to form a coalition because they knew a period in opposition and a stream of such propaganda would damage the LibDems and enable them to come back in a few years time. However, the LibDem leadership has handled this very badly by not being more honest about the situation and the very limited influence it has, and instead, extremely stupidly, going the other way and pretending it has huge amounts of power in the coalition under the mistaken impression this would impress the electorate. As you correctly note (but as plenty of others noted it already, it was hardly an original point), it didn’t.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 10:40am


    ” YOUR PARTY regards by their support of the First-Past-the-Post electoral system as better than a fairer coalition””

    I think you will find Labour Party MP’s are divided on this issue

    The number of Labour MPs who support proportional representation is tiny. The vast majority of Labour MPs support the current system on the grounds that it distorts representation in favour of the largest party. The same distortion occurs under AV, which is just a minor variation of the current system. Support for AV is not at all equivalent to support for proportional representation.

    Saying Labour MPs are “divided on this issue” suggests a substantial number of them support proportional representation. That is incorrect, one or two may do so, but they are regarded as eccentrics in their party, they are way outside the mainstream of Labour Party thinking if they do.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    Without trying to get into the middle of you and Matt!

    Matt is correct that the “Labour Party” is not anti AV. And it is also worth pointing out that soime who are against AV are against for reasons other than supporting PTP. Personally I do not believe in AV, I would knock doors for a truly proportional system that would give my vote equal value, I just don’t see AV as achieving this. I also think Clegg, in tying other issues into the BIll has deliberately antagonised some, giving an impression of an anti Labour Bill.

    Where Labour failed miserably is in doing anything about electoral reform with the massive majorities they had in ’97 and 2001. Had they done so the susequent elections would probably have tempered some of their more extreme policies and led to the possibility of a centre left coalition. As it was the current coalition was the only realistic option, but it’s been badly handled IMHO by Clegg.

    Where you are quite right is that Clegg should be a servant of the party and not vice versa. I am waiting to see whether the party takes back control from the small clique who seem determined to drag it ever rightwards. My vote depends on this like I assume many others who feel let down at present.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 10:57am


    Personally I believe If the Tories would have been forced to rule as a minority, Liberal Democrats, would have been able to negotiate much more Liberal Democrats policies, and The Tories would have been forced to water down, their more right wing draconian policies, in able to get them through parliament.

    You are very naive, aren’t you?

    Do you suppose for a moment that if the Tories had formed a minority government with the plan to have another election in a few months time to gain a majority, they would have pushed through draconian right-wing policies? Obviously they would have kept their plans secret, and blamed the markets panicking on the unstable situation, and would have waited until the second general election before unleashing the right-wing draconian stuff.

    Either way, the Liberal Democrats, Underplayed their hand massively, They could have forced a minority government, with a confidence and supply agreement, or they could have demanded more influence based on their 23% of the vote, rather than the 57 members.

    Do you now what is meant by “supply and confidence”? That would have meant Liberal Democrats forced to vote for undiluted Tory taxation and spending cuts policies (“supply”), and for any other undiluted Tory policy support of which Labour or the Tories decided to turn into a vote of confidence (“confidence”).

    As for the LibDems demanding more because of their 23% share of the vote, do you read THE sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times, Express? You can be pretty sure (because we are seeing it now, even with the tiny real influence the LibDems have in the coalition) they would be full of comment about how outrageous it was that 57 LibDem MPs were holding up what five times that number of Tory MPs wanted, and placing the country in jeopardy because of uncertainty because of that. Do you SERIOUSLY suppose THE sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times, Express would ever bother to mention the 23% share of the vote? Most of the electorate (and come to think of it, most of the commentariat) are too innumerate to be able to understand the sophisticated arguments about share of MPs being nothing like share of vote, so it wold be seen as just the LibDems wittering on about something silly and mathematical which real people don’t understand so it can’t be important.

    As it stands though, Plural politics is not working, Liberal Democrat party are proving that, by constantly under playing their hand, This complete Love in with the Tories, the total lack of transparency between the coalition parties negotiations on policies.

    Yes, had you chosen to phrase your comments differently, and not just assumed every member of the Liberal Democrats is 100% in support of what the party’s leader is saying or doing and insulting them for that, instead of arguing furiously against you, I might be agreeing with you.

  • roy's claret army 10th Jan '11 - 11:00am

    Nothing excites LibDem Voice more than an orgy of psephology and discussions on tactical voting.

    Easier to talk about that than the failures of your party’s policy choices I guess.

    The 30 year strategy of hanging about the centre waiting to garnish tactical votes is over. Your party has had to make choices that have taken it off the soft centre and by doing so you have lost half of your core vote and of course hundreds of activists, ex candidates etc who have resigned or simply walked away.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '11 - 11:02am

    Steve Way

    Without trying to get into the middle of you and Matt!

    Matt is correct that the “Labour Party” is not anti AV

    So? That has no relevance to the argument I am making. AV is not proportional representation, it distorts just as much as FPTP does. It corrects the anomaly that under FPTP party B might win a seat even though most of the electorate there prefer party A to party B, but it is still winner-takes-all i.e. local minorities get NO representation of their choice.

  • Calm down with hate guys

    One of the things I enjoy about this site is the debate between current supporters, ex supporters and others who prod a little more deeply

    There is no need for personal abuse and can I also ask some of you LD supporters to not get so defensive – I have noticed more agressive responses to genuine questions/comments for a while now.

    We want pluralistic politics so we should support a pluralistic debate – if you want just signed up LD die hards to contribute then change the access rights – if not then play nicer. For others try not to be too antagonistic

    For my view, I do not think Matt has been too extreme in his comments and he is making some genuine points – oppose them if you wish but calling him a ‘waste of space’ is a bit over the top

  • toryboysnevergrowup 10th Jan '11 - 8:42pm

    Would all those trying to argue that the deficit is being reduced in the manner promised by the LibDems during the election please note that Clegg said (in a BBC documentary after the election) that he had changed his mind about the matter during the last weeks of the election – although I have yet to see any evidence of him having told the electorate of his change of mind before election date.

  • @ Dara

    ” have said on here elsewhere that I imagine that the 1922 committee will be looking for any sign that a snap election would yield a Tory majority. A heavy Lib Dem defeat would have tory MPs (not irrationally) taking a long look at what the Lib Dems are bringing to the table, and no one in the party should want that. A snap election would likely be devastating.”

    The prospect of a Tory majority resulting from any snap election is pretty unlikely. The recent polls would suggest (horrible as the prospect would be) substantial Labour gains, and possibly even an absolute Labour majority. Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas, so the Tories will continue to pimp the LD’s out as long as they can, hoping that the economy turns round, the AV referendum results in a “no” vote, and that the electorate will use the LD’s as a scapegoat for Tory policies. It is in their interests that the LD’s fail….but not yet.

  • David Allen 13th Jan '11 - 7:16pm

    Back on topic:

    “Will the Lib Dem candidate be rewarded with a personal vote for his courage in going to court (as I think he deserves)”

    Yes, quite possibly. It may well make all the difference between a beating and a drubbing.

    Let’s hope someone has the sense to poll the voters and ask them exactly why they voted the way they did. Otherwise, the implications for national politics will be left to the “judgment” of biased spinmeisters from both sides.

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