Up and down

At Lib Dem Voice we don’t usually cover the results of political polls, because they do fluctuate. Also, paying too much attention to poll results can have unintended consequences for our party’s campaigning. Liberal Democrats were riding high in the polls during the last elections to the European Parliament in 2019, and some people imagined that we could win a swathe of seats in the General Election later that year simply based on the polling data. Seasoned campaigners, however, know that we only win seats if we do a lot of work on the ground – the support shown in polls is never enough.

But we have to admit that it is exciting when our poll position makes a substantial leap from 6% to 13%. The Evening Standard  reports an Ipsos-Mori poll which shows that support for both Labour and the Conservatives has fallen by 4 points since their last poll. The Conservatives are still 9 points ahead, but net satisfaction of Boris Johnson and the Government have fallen to and -16 and -20 respectively. But the Liberal Democrats have jumped to 13%, and this is the first time we have been at that level since the 2019 General Election.

So what do we make of it? Undoubtedly our win in Chesham and Amersham produced this bounce. The party cleverly exploited the publicity immediately afterwards. The image of Ed Davey knocking down the blue wall with a small yellow mallet visually encapsulated our key message to the whole country very neatly – those who criticised it as a stunt clearly don’t understand how the media works.

The main benefit from polling like this is to re-energise our activists. With local elections in London, Scotland, Wales and some counties, plus elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly on the horizon for 2022, now is the time to focus on those campaigns. Summer is traditionally a time when we concentrate on building our capacity by recruiting new deliverers, members and activists on the doorstep. Of course, some of our activists are still very cautious about the lifting of Covid restrictions, but many will be happy to call on our supporters in a socially distanced way, and others can get on the phone.

So let’s do it.

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

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  • Brad Barrows 15th Jul '21 - 12:30pm

    Interesting that the Northern Ireland council elections in 2022 are mentioned in this article and covered by the “now is the time to focus on those campaigns”. Up until now the Liberal Democrats have not contested elections in Northern Ireland – is there a suggestion that this may be changing for next year?

  • @Bard Barrows. You are right, of course – lazy writing on my part. I just checked which elections were planned for next year and should have thought.

  • Brad Barrows 15th Jul '21 - 1:35pm

    @Mary Reid
    Thanks for clearing that up 😊

  • Paul Barker 15th Jul '21 - 2:01pm

    This is the highest we have got since just before The Election, 20 Months ago. However, it is a Week old & is in line with other recent Polls. Broadly we are averaging around 9% & have been since C & A, about 2% up on our performance for The Year before that.

    There is no evidence that this rise is anything but a temporary Byelection bounce.

  • Paul Barker 15th Jul '21 - 2:18pm

    Sorry, I am short of sleep, looking at the Polls again we do seem to be clearly averaging over 9% in the most recent Polls, nearer to 10% in fact.

    So there is some evidence that we may still be creeping up but that is probably still the result of our Byelection win & so likely to be temporary.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Jul '21 - 2:27pm

    Brad, my view is we could say it is right mary should mention Northerm Ireland, we are represented with a party there, but it does campaign for the sister party, the alliance Party, one of the really finest in our international!

  • Christopher Clayton 16th Jul '21 - 8:50am

    To add to Lorenzo’s point the Alliance Party gained a seat at Westminster at the last General Election. It is often referred to as our ‘sister’ Party and in the past Alliance MPs sat with the Liberal / LDems. What is the position now? If the Alliance MP is accepting the LD whip it would mean that in effect ‘we’ had 12 MPs elected in the General Election not 11, so no net loss of seats. Surely a point worth making?

  • Peter Martin 16th Jul '21 - 9:53am

    “At Lib Dem Voice we don’t usually cover the results of political polls, because they do fluctuate.”

    They’ll always fluctuate because of they always come with a degree of inaccuracy which is random in nature. It’s not necessarily a reason for avoiding any discussion.

    This Wiki page gives the best overall presentation with its scatter graph and mathematically derived regression lines. and unlike UK Polling Report, the other option, is usually up to date.

    So are the polls looking up for the Lib Dems? Over previous months: yes. Since the last general election: not yet.


  • The elections in Northern Ireland must be of huge importance to all of is in Great Britain. Northern Ireland has dominated what has happened in our parliament for a long time. We need to talk to and listen to parties in both north and south.
    There are clear signs that the leading parties in the south are seriously preparing for a new situation in which the unionists no longer dominate politics in the north. This is recognised as involving a new constitutional settlement which would mean that the links with the U.K. for many in the north are recognised. We must keep ourselves informed about this.
    I remember at school we were taught that Gladstone on learning he would be Prime Minister said “my mission is to pacify Ireland”.
    Perhaps we can help continue this work.

  • Michael Cole 16th Jul '21 - 10:09am

    “Seasoned campaigners, however, know that we only win seats if we do a lot of work on the ground … ” Very true.

    Experience has shown that where people think we can win, they are much more likely to vote for us.

  • There’s no harm at all in us feeling good about a series of positive polls, as long as we keep them in perspective. Yes we have to keep working hard on the ground – but we can use these polls when urging our local members to deliver this new leaflet or make those phone calls.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jul '21 - 2:01pm


    The very definite relationship between the Liberal Democrats and the Alliance Party, is longstanding and must continue. They , a party born in the troubles, are a fine party.

    The closeness between us, depends on, as one might expect with Liberals or liberals, individual attitudes.

    John Alderdice has always been a Liberal Democrat member and sits as that in the Lords.

    David Ford was always a member of our party even as Alliance leader.

    When the coalition led to a parliamentary presence on the govt benches for our party, Naomi Long, not yet leader, but a new mp, did not join in with the whip, and is not a Liberal democrat member. I think neither is Stephen Flannery.

    I am not from Northern Ireland, but know many there are members of both parties. I think we ought to establish closer ties. We need each other and are sisters, brothers.

  • Nigel Jones 16th Jul '21 - 4:03pm

    Ed Davey’s picture using a yellow hammer to knock a blue wall made an excellent point and was not a stunt. We need to do more of that, not just to attract attention, of course, but to make a substantial point. Too many in our party forget that messaging of substance can only reach large numbers of people if it is conveyed with good images and also with strongly expressed feelings. As Mary says, this applies to the media, without whom we struggle to be seen and heard.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Jul '21 - 11:12am

    I ought to have said Stephen Farry, earlier, spelling wrong!

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