What does the economic chaos mean for us?

Yesterday’s YouGov poll gave Labour an unprecedented 33 point lead over the Tories. With Lib Dems dropping to 7% you might think that is bad news for us, but, as we all know, polling is granular, and it actually increases our chances in Blue wall seats.

In the Guardian, Gaby Hinchcliffe reports on our chances in Surrey, driven by fears over fracking as well as the cost of living (which has now gone far beyond high energy prices).

For in his (Jeremy Hunt’s) South West Surrey seat and Dominic Raab’s Esher and Walton, plus neighbouring Guildford and Woking, Lib Dems are snapping closer to Tory heels.

Seats like this only really wobble in a crisis, as happened in the mid-1970s after economic turmoil under Ted Heath, and in the 1990s after the last sterling crisis. The combination of economic chaos and threats to the green belt is theoretically a gift to them. But is it enough to collapse the “blue wall”, that small but strategically important set of Tory-held seats where Labour can’t win but the Lib Dems just might?

Neil Sherlock, a former adviser to Nick Clegg, fought South West Surrey for the Lib Dems in 1992. He remembers the thrill of feeling the tide running his way, until the last few days when voters suddenly got cold feet. “They’d say, ‘I’d love to vote for you, but we’re not having that Neil Kinnock’,” he recalls. The Lib Dems thrive under opposition leaders who don’t scare their voters, a description that increasingly fits Keir Starmer. But still, though they came within a few hundred votes of snatching South West Surrey in 2001, it’s always hovered just beyond reach.

The YouGov poll may be a bit of an outlier, so we need to watch the general trend, of course. However the vultures are gathering.

For example, a petition to Parliament to “Call an immediate general election to end the chaos of the current government” is already well past the 100,000 threshold that triggers a debate in Parliament.

As we reported yesterday, Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative conference and recall Parliament so MPs can debate the economic crisis.

And there are rumours that letters of no confidence in Liz Truss have already been sent to the 1922 Committee. Although the rules state that a leader should not be challenged for at least a year after a contest, there is nothing to stop the Committee changing the rules.

Now we guess not many of our readers buy the Daily Star so we thought you would enjoy yesterday’s front page.

* 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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14 Comments

  • Mary, What it means for us is that we have to raise our game massively. Tories in chaos. Labour surging. Lib Dems drifting unnoticed.

    We have to realise we are no longer a big party and stop thinking if we manage our internal systems better good results will ensue. Our national party needs to be a dynamic, campaigning organisation, responding quickly to issues as they arise, getting us noticed and emphasising the benefits of a successful Lib Dem party to our nation. We can do it in by-elections. Why don’t we do it across the board?

    We should not be an administrative and bureaucratic behemoth that takes two committees to decide that what is needed – a profile raising conference – cannot be rearranged because it is all too difficult. We have many good long standing Lib Dems on FCC and Federal Board, but as a unit they suffer from the malaise of wanting to do everything perfectly, that they totally ignore the truth that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.

    We need to stop talking continuously about the minutest detail of our own personal favourite issue such as PR and how to get Labour to help us change the electoral system sometime in the future and instead focus on how to make our party relevant to the people of our country right now.

    Without a successful Lib Dem party all our favourite issues will go nowhere.

    We need desperately need a shake up.

  • There have been 6 Polls since Friday & 5 of those are fairly close – they suggest the Labour lead is around 19% & Libdems around 11%, in line with our results over the last month.

    The crucial point for us is the relationship between our Vote share & The Tories – these figures would see us making gains across The Blue Wall.

    Its looking increasingly like a repeat of 1997, minus Scotland.

  • Paul Barker 30th Sep '22 - 2:06pm

    When I said this was 1997 again I was thinking of The Major Parties. I don’t think we will make a full recovery till the end of the decade. Cancelling Conference was a crap idea & I am open to anything that gets us in the News.

    Looking at the most recent Polls, Labour still seem to be creeping up, to 48% now. There is no consensus on where The Tories are – a couple of Polls put them in the high 20s & a couple in the low 20s, with nothing between.

    We are still around 11%.

  • Jason Connor 30th Sep '22 - 2:06pm

    I agree with most comments above. This poll figure is not good news for the Lib Dems and is very worrying. It will embolden Labour to campaign even more in seats where the Lib Dems are the main challengers and to step up their efforts from the by-elections the Lib Dems won. It also means some seats will stay Tory if the Labour vote creeps up splitting the opposition. I agree some sort of mini conference is needed urgently post the Conservative one so the party gets its share of the limelight.

    Something the Lib Dems is pick up on issues like dental waiting lists and shortage of NHS dentists forcing people who can’t afford it to go private , on ITV tonight last night. Much of this caused by Brexit of course. If the Lib Dems can just pick on these sorts of policy areas which affect so many of us as the did in the by-elections eg NHS waiting lists and ambulance delays then it will give the party more attention show they acting on the concerns of many lower/middle income people and are seen as a progressive alternative to the arrogant and triumphalist labour party.

  • Roger Billins 30th Sep '22 - 2:07pm

    These polls are sensational but will calm down. I am old enough to remember 1981 when at some stage the Lib/SDP were at over 50% in the polls and the Tories were in the 20’s.The Falklands happened and Thatcher won a huge majority ! However, there is no doubt that we need to up our game and next month hold a one day conference in a major city dealing only with the economic crisis.

  • Chris Moore 30th Sep '22 - 2:31pm

    Strongly agree with Dave and others’ call for a special conference. Yes, one day or a weekend.

    Also that banging on about PR is a total turn off to the electors. Jason’s absolutely right: issues like ambulance times, NHS dentistry is what engages the electorate.

    Special conference: but please don’t waste 3 hours debating which flavour of PR is more proportional or how many drugs we’re going to legalise. The country is in a very serious plight; we need to up our game.

  • Jason Connor 30th Sep '22 - 4:01pm

    100% agree Chris and on the obsession with PR. No wonder Labour are so smug. It’s time to get back to the issues that are affecting people’s everyday lives, not the esoteric ones.

  • It is concerning that we are on 7% whilst Labour are on 54%. Ed in particular needs to show he can step up and seize the moment.

    Yes Labour had a good conference but their offering is basically a bit of centrism with a nod to the traditional left on taxing the rich a bit more, nationalising rail and energy and not reversing Brexit at all.

    That should leave a nice big radical liberal pond for us to fish in.

  • Jonathan Maltz 1st Oct '22 - 2:52pm

    Let’s face it, under first-past-the post virtually all Lib Dems at this time would settle happily for 10-11% of the vote and 25 MPs at a GE held in 2024. I know I would. Who knows, we might even find a potential leader among them.

  • It’s worth noting that generally the two most accurate pollsters are:

    Yougov, associated with the Tories; &

    IPSOS, associated with Labour.

    Recent large fluctuations between pollsters appear to reflect mainly samples taken on different days relating to government announcements and events, causing opinion to swing wildly.

    Another LibDem possible is John Redwood’s Wokingham seat. It would be poetry and worthy of a song ( in Welsh) to get out that architect of leaving the EU (in order to avoid the Savings Directive and Transparency Directives, that appeared the day we left the Single Market), so he and Mogg’s distant investments, tax avoidance and hot money could avoid scrutiny and control.

  • Laurence Cox 5th Oct '22 - 11:46am

    @John

    “It’s worth noting that generally the two most accurate pollsters are:
    Yougov, associated with the Tories; &
    IPSOS, associated with Labour”

    You should not be using the word accuracy in connection with pollsters. In fact all the pollsters manipulate their raw data as Peter Kellner, former president of YouGov, admits in this article:

    https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/how-significant-is-labours-poll-surge

    That particular pollsters happen to be closest to the actual result at a given election is no guarantee that they will be closest at a future election.

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