Why Labour and Conservative supporters should vote Liberal Democrat

We are facing four main scenarios for after this election; they are:

  1. A Labour led government with some sort of support from the SNP.
  2. A Labour led government with some sort of support from the Liberal Democrats.
  3. A Conservative led government with some sort of support from the Liberal Democrats.
  4. A Conservative led government with some sort of support from UKIP and the DUP. (Blukip)

It is hard to dispute that a Conservative in a Labour – Liberal Democrat contest should vote Liberal Democrat, and likewise a Labour supporter in a Conservative – Liberal Democrat contest. I will argue that for the first time, the converse is also true. Conservatives and Labour supporters should elect Liberal Democrats competing with their own candidates.

This does hinge on an overall majority being unlikely, and the 4 options above being the ones that are in play. This seems to be true.

Take a mainstream Conservative supporter in a Conservative – Liberal Democrat contest. Electing a Lib Dem makes scenarios 2 and 3 more likely at the expense of 1 and 4. Outcome 1 will bring us closer to the destruction of the United Kingdom which you are against. Option 4 may have some appeal to the Conservative fringe but would undermine any attempt to negotiate reform in Europe, and the weekly stories of UKIP politicians’ ludicrous prejudice will undo any efforts to make the Conservatives appear modern, reformed and electable.

Similarly, a Labour supporter in a Labour – Liberal Democrat contest, has a great deal to fear for the country from a Blukip government. And the politics of being held to ransom by the SNP are uttely toxic. The SNP would use whatever influence they have to weaken the union, and seek preferential treatment for Scotland. Both threaten to make Labour unelectable in England.

I accept this is a strong claim and a curious result. It should not be like this, and it would not be if Labour and the Conservatives were willing to work together in government to preserve the union and keep out the kippers. They should be willing, but they have too much invested in theatrical opposition to each other for that to work for them politically.

That leaves only the Liberal Democrats, because we are able to work with both Labour and the Conservatives, as the vital ingredient in enabling a moderate, stable, pro-UK government to exist. Vote Labour or Conservative where the Lib Dem could win and you are forgoing half of your chance to make this happen in exchange for a nightmare that you will be responsible for.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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133 Comments

  • matt (Bristol) 17th Apr '15 - 11:06am

    Vote for us – we make you nightmare outcome slightly less unappetising but still not quite what you actually want.

  • @Joe Otten

    ” Vote Labour or Conservative where the Lib Dem could win and you are forgoing half of your chance to make this happen in exchange for a nightmare that you will be responsible for.”

    I live in a Labour / Liberal Democrat constituency where the sitting Liberal Democrat Mp only has a 310 Majority.

    I will be voting Labour and I am happy to take the responsibility for my vote and take my chances.

    I am not going to have my vote misused again by the Liberal Democrats like in 2010, Who do have a ” responsibility” for the cuts to services that disabled people rely on And who has taken “chances” with my Health & Well being.

    How you could have the cheek to make an appeal to a Labour leaning supporter after the 5 years of mudslinging that you have thrown at the Labour Party and its supporters astounds me.

  • “Vote for us – we make you nightmare outcome slightly less unappetising but still not quite what you actually want.”

    That’s pretty much every election pitch ever, matt (Bristol).

  • matt (not Bristol) – it’s well known that you’re a Labour supporter and its therefore unsurprising that you will vote for a Labour MP in a Labour/Lib Dem marginal.

    The more interesting question would be if you lived in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal.

  • Tabman

    ” it’s well known that you’re a Labour supporter and its therefore unsurprising that you will vote for a Labour MP in a Labour/Lib Dem marginal.”

    No I am not a Labour Supporter, I am a floating voter and have made that very clear over the years having voted Labour and Liberal Democrat over the years and Liberal Democrats in 2010. I have made it clear that I will be voting Labour in 2015 that is true.
    Whether I will vote Liberal Democrat ever again, remains to be seen what happens to the party after May 2015 and who wrestles the party back towards the center left, or whether the right wing of your party like you, the Joe Ottens. Simon Shaws. David Laws and the Danny Alexanders continue to dominate the party and take it in a direction that I find distasteful.

    “The more interesting question would be if you lived in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal.”

    After what has happened over the last 5 years. I would vote Labour , hoping that each election Labour would eat into the majority until it finally won the seat.
    I will not ever use my vote to vote for a Tory Lite

  • matt (Bristol) 17th Apr '15 - 11:34am

    Tabman — well, not always, sometimes people have policies you want to vote FOR.
    And it’s still depressing anyway.
    I hate FPTP.

  • “Tabman — well, not always, sometimes people have policies you want to vote FOR.
    And it’s still depressing anyway.
    I hate FPTP.”

    Amen to that.

  • matt – “After what has happened over the last 5 years. I would vote Labour , hoping that each election Labour would eat into the majority until it finally won the seat.
    I will not ever use my vote to vote for a Tory Lite”

    I’m not a Tory. I have no idea what “Tory Lite” is.

    Under FPTP (which Labour promised to remove but failed to) most people have no influence. Those that do are usually faced with voting for the least worst option.

    You, however, are prepared to vote in a way that makes a Conservative MP more likely. That’s fair enough, but it seems perverse given your declared aim is fewer Conservatives.

  • matt – as a matter of interest what seat are you in? There are very few (far too few – lack of work 1997-2005 passim) Labour / Lib Dem marginal.

  • Tabman

    I am pretty sure you know what Tory Lite is, it is the same term as soft Tory. It is the basis on which you run your campaigns in the South West and hence the reason that you are doing so badly there now.

    Labour are offering electoral reform. Elected House of Lords, reducing voting age to 16. I am sure the Liberal Democrats would be in a strong position to get STV in negotiations for local elections, which would then open the door for General Elections.
    I very much doubt those on the right of your party would grab that opportunity though by working with Labour if there was a straight choice between Labour and Conservative.

    Gives a straight choice, Nick Clegg and his team would take us into another 5 years with the Tories.

    Whilst these people hold the reigns of the party, they will never woe back my vote or people of left of center politics.

  • I am in Norwich South.

    Used to be a Labour seat up until 2010 { I could not bring myself to vote for Charles Clarke again} So I voted Simon Wright

  • Uber loyalist nonsense. The most likely outcome is either Labour or Conservatives being the largest party and the other one allowing the larger to get on with being a minority Government.

    Even UKIP don’t think they can win more than 12 seats, probably 4, in either case not worth any party doing a deal with them.

    I don’t know what it’s like on the streets of Sheffield but I’ve not come across a voter who’s top concern is to cut a bit less than the Tories and borrow a bit less than Labour.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again – Nick Clegg should be trying to build alliances with all the smaller parties – instead he has ruled out more coalition partners than any other party leader. What an advocate for proportional representation.

    Of course it would be quite wrong for a Party with 4% of the vote and a single MP in Scotland to take any notice of the 45-50% of people voting SNP. I mean, imagine, listening to the people, what ever next ? Allowing them a referendum on EU membership when they want it, not when Nick Clegg says they can have one.

  • @Caracatus

    “I said it before and I’ll say it again – Nick Clegg should be trying to build alliances with all the smaller parties – instead he has ruled out more coalition partners than any other party leader. What an advocate for proportional representation.”

    I agree.

    I have found it very odd that Nick Clegg has been telling us since 2009 that 2 party politics is dead and “plural politics” is the new politics of the future and it would bring a new open,honest, transparent, fairer way of doing politics.

    And yet Nick seems to be now telling us that Plural Politics is bad, unless of course it is only Liberal Democrats in Government as the junior party.
    This the party that has been calling for change, Calling for STV for years.

    It says a lot about Nick Clegg and his crave for Power, rather than real change and reform

  • The assumption that the election will yield No Overall Control is far from a certainty. The binary but alleatoric nature of FPTP means that there is a high chance of an overall majority one way or the other. Joe’s arguments do depend on treating No Overall Control as inevitable.

    Joe’s “some sort of support” is necessarily unspecified and very vague. To even begin to consider his argument, voters would need clearer assurance. In fact, it is very far from evident that Lib Dems could be enticed into anything other than the loosest interpretation of “some kind of support”. In the run up to the election it is against our interests (for the opposite of Joe’s rationalisations) to make out that we are likely to walk away from possible coalitions, however the policy realities, the triple lock and the lack of any overriding issue that might form the basis of a Con or Lab offer mean that a formal coalition is much less likely than in 2010.

    Joe’s opinions “And the politics of being held to ransom by the SNP are utterly toxic. The SNP would use whatever influence they have to weaken the union, and seek preferential treatment for Scotland” are contentious, though the prospect that a coalition with SNP might “threaten to make Labour unelectable in England” is more realistic. In reality, I would have thought that SNP whilst obviously standing up for Scotland, have an interest in demonstrating that they are responsible partners. It is not evident to me that an SNP/Labour coalition would be worse than Labour alone. In fact, using Joe’s logic, to maintain that SNP/Labour would be worse could be the basis for an argument for Lib Dems to vote Labour.

    In reality for those whose prime concern is to maintain the UK, any outcome that might involve a referendum with the possibility of a Brexit is by far the greater threat and the outcome most likely to lead to disintegration of the UK.

  • Tabman 17th Apr ’15 – 11:25am……matt (not Bristol) – it’s well known that you’re a Labour supporter and its therefore unsurprising that you will vote for a Labour MP in a Labour/Lib Dem marginal……

    This appears ( along with your “betcha’ line) to be your stock in trade… I’m almost certain I have voted Lib(Dem) far more times than you and yet, you and those like you, are the reason I’m unlikely to vote LibDem again in the foreseeable future….
    You and those like you, are major recruiters for the Labour party; well done…

    I’m reminded that when Brian Redhead was accused of political bias by Conservative Chancellor Nigel Lawson, he, in reply, enquired “Do you think we should have a one minute silence now in this interview, for you to apologise for daring to suggest that you know how I vote…

    Tabman, .I’ve told you how I’ll vote but I’m sure there are others, whom you so recklessly label “as well known Labourites/lefties”, who aren’t…

  • Glenn Andrews 17th Apr '15 - 12:18pm

    matt;
    I very much doubt that the Labour party would follow through on electoral reform or an elected House of Lords unless it’s written into a coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats…. obviously the reduced voting age would go through with a Labour minority administration, but if you really want those first two implemented then you need as many Liberal Democrats in parliament as possible…. oh, and as a Liberal Democrat of the south-west I can assure you I know of very few soft tories.

  • I find all this second guessing and faux outrage somewhat futile.

    The mathematics will point to a solution once the electorate has spoken, as it did in 2010. Second guessing this outcome is pointless until the maths is established. Only then will the pre-election posturing (which is designed to maximise votes and seats) be replaced by hard-headed approach to what deals can be struck.

  • Expats – “Tabman, .I’ve told you how I’ll vote but I’m sure there are others, whom you so recklessly label “as well known Labourites/lefties”, who aren’t…”

    Expats – I’ve been frequenting this message board far longer than you have, and since matt’s emergence in 2010 following the coalition he has consistently played a “betrayal – I’ll never vote for you again” line. So I’m perfectly entitled to make the comment that I have – he’s been making the same point (that he’ll vote Labour in 2015) for 5 years!

    So yes, its well known that he’s a Labour supporter and will vote Labour in 2015.

  • matt – “I am pretty sure you know what Tory Lite is, it is the same term as soft Tory. It is the basis on which you run your campaigns in the South West and hence the reason that you are doing so badly there now.”

    No, I don’t know what Tory Lite / Soft Tory is. Can you enlighten me as to what these mythical beasts support?

    As to running campaigns in the South West, surely the party is standing on its manifesto.

  • Oh dear. This is desperate stuff. We need some inspiration please, not a treatise on Tactical Voting.

  • Tabman 17th Apr ’15 – 12:20pm
    I find all this second guessing and faux outrage somewhat futile.

    Erm excuse me.

    Who have been the most vocal voices of the party on this website?

    The more vocal people have been those to the right of the party, who most strongly object to a coalition with Labour even if the numbers allow them too, The more vocal voices of the party have said that in these circumstances Liberal Democrats should spend a term in opposition rather than going into a coalition with Labour. it flies in the face of what Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg has said about “plural politics”

    So it is not second guessing at all. This website is a reflection on the parties views,
    The Loudest people being heard is that of those on the right of the party.

    I feel sorry for the Matthew Huntbach, The John TIlly, George Potters and David Allens who are fighting for the left of the party. I hope after May 2015 they are able to start to drag the party back towards its natural roots.

    Until the party has been handed back to its “natural supporters” we left of center voters are forced to think the worst on what the party will do

  • @Tabma

    So I’m perfectly entitled to make the comment that I have – he’s been making the same point (that he’ll vote Labour in 2015) for 5 years

    Erm I dont think I have been making that point for 5 years somehow. Unless you care to back up that claim with some proof and go through my historic posts.

    I did not make my mind up entirely until 12 months ago, And over the course of the last 12 months the Liberal Democrats have made that decision easier and easier.

    I do not, have not and will not ever belong to any party. I will always be a floating voter who will never vote Conservative, Never Vote UKIP and whilst the Liberal Democrats are being dominated by Right of center politicians will never vote LibDem

    That does not leave me whole lot of choices

    But I look forward to a future when I have a REAL Choice again

  • Philip Rolle 17th Apr '15 - 12:44pm

    Well I voted Lib Dem from 1983 to 2001 and was a member for some years. I abstained in 2005 because the party had tacked too far left for my liking. In 2010, I voted UKIP because the Lib Dems were not open to alternative views on Europe and control of immigration. I have continued to vote Lib Dem at local level ( some see this as perverse ).

    If anything, the haemorrhage in Lib Dem support has been accompanied by a bunker mentality on the European question, and so I cannot vote for the party next month. But I would also be worried by the lack of reformist zeal in the party. I saw the Orange Book in 2004 as a breath of fresh air and am not sure there is anything like that now.

    Even worse, elements within the party seem sometimes to be unwelcoming of those with opposite views. It is the first time in my life that I can remember that being so.

    The Lib Dems were however quite right to go into coalition and they have achieved a number of things, the best of which is the pension reforms. I was surprised that they decided to go full term; to my mind it would have been better to have pulled out at the beginning of the year.

  • matt – “So it is not second guessing at all. This website is a reflection on the parties views,
    The Loudest people being heard is that of those on the right of the party.”

    The loudest voices are those who’ve been banging on for years that the coalition was a great betrayal, that the party has been taken over by right wing entryists and are trying to pressure those people into leaving.

    “I will always be a floating voter who will never vote Conservative, Never Vote UKIP and whilst the Liberal Democrats are being dominated by Right of center politicians will never vote LibDem”

    So that leaves you Labour, Green, SWP, Communist, Monster Raving Looney …

    Are you going to answer my point about “Tory Lite”?

  • This is not a good message. To be honest, as a left leaning liberal, I’m not worried about a Labour Government. I’m more bothered by a continuation of this one or a Conservative government. I did not vote for the bedroom Tax or the Student Fees hike or the mess in Libya or the heavy handed use of sanctions or locking people up for “inciting” a riot that didn’t happen on a Facebook post that was withdrawn an hour after it was posted. The point is this government has been nearly as bad as Tony Blair internationally and in most respects worse at home. I would like to vote Liberal because I’m a Liberal not because the Bogey Man might get me. The only sensible reason for another coalition is to deliver a more progressive set of policies as far as I’m concerned. I will be voting Lib Dem because I like the candidate and the Lib Dem Party is going to need every vote to survive and will hopefully recover it’s radical edge after Clegg has gone, but if it comes down to vote for more of the same then it is going to be difficult.

  • Tabman

    “The loudest voices are those who’ve been banging on for years that the coalition was a great betrayal, that the party has been taken over by right wing entryists and are trying to pressure those people into leaving.”

    I am talking about the voices of Liberal Democrat MEMBERS not ordinary voters

    The Loudest voices within the party are from those on the right.

    You know exactly what I mean by Tory lite and so I am not going to waste board space or my energies with it.

  • matt (Bristol) 17th Apr '15 - 1:03pm

    I think matt would probably prefer in place of the LibDems two ‘liberal centre’ parties; one that is centre-left reformist and has the Stephen Heskeths, John Tilleys etc and one that is centre-right reformist and has the Simon Shaws, Joe Ottens, etc. Then he could vote for the more left-wing option.

    I suspect in such a situation I would alternate my vote.

    In any case, such a situation isn’t going to happen under our current voting system unless the party splits into regional entities and gives up fighting a national platform.

    We have long been told that the total, one-member FPTP system that we have doesn’t favour minorty parties – that’ snot exactly true, it doesn’t favour mintority parties that can’t concentrate their votes and resources. The SNP are proving that a national minority party that has a plurailty of votes in one territory can do quite well.

    I don’t think there’s any immediate chance of Matt in Norwich getting an Anti-War Reformist Democrats of East Anglia Party, whilst I get a South-Western Devolutionists party and Joe Otten gets the Mainstream Centrists of South Yorkshire, but it would be one way of addressing some of the problems Liberalism, with its pluarilty of perspectives, faces nationally – a diapora of liberal groups speaking for different parts of the UK and acting in varying degrees of coordination (rather like the Nat-Green group huggees do; they are effectivley able to act one party with three spokespeople and three targetted messages).

  • I am left with Choosing between Labour or Greens though and the greens are not a credible enough party for government imo.
    So like I said. I look forward to the future when I have a real choice again.
    Which will be If or when the Liberal Democrats are steered back towards being a left of center of party, who shares the same values that I do, especially when it comes to the poor, vulnerable and disabled, Education and the NHS

  • matt – “I am talking about the voices of Liberal Democrat MEMBERS not ordinary voters. The Loudest voices within the party are from those on the right. ”

    That is not my experience.

    “You know exactly what I mean by Tory lite and so I am not going to waste board space or my energies with it.”

    If you are going to taint me by accusing me of being something, at least have the decency to explain what you mean by that terminology. I do NOT know what you mean which is why I’m asking you – applying undefined labels to people is not very Liberal.

    So, please explain to me what you believe a “soft Tory” (or Tory Lite) is, so I can fairly answer the charge.

  • Tabman

    A Tory Lite in my opinion is a party that
    a) supported the bedroom tax
    b) supported increasing the amount private companies could earn from the NHS
    c) supported cuts to services that disabled people rely on, cuts to independent living fund

    The list goes on and on. And before you come back with rhetorical Labour did this, Labour did that, There are things that I never agreed with about Labour, Hence the reason I did not vote for them in 2010.

    Just because Labour did something in Government, is not an excuse for a party to go further still in my opinion, especially when the policy is clearly wrong.

  • A Tory Lite party is a party that in my opinion
    whilst in coalition as a junior party, did not have the courage to stand up to their coalition partners and condemn the language used to constantly denigrate those on welfare
    A party that allowed their coalition parties to constantly vilify and demonize the poor, unemployed and disabled .

    No Liberal Democrat Minsters had the courage to speak out when the Tories constantly did this.

    Danny Alexander whilst in opposition and held the brief of shadow minister for DWP, he spoke up for disabled people, the disgraceful and not fit for purpose medical assessments disabled are put through and how they were treated by ATOS and the DWP.
    He promised to champion these people and Since getting into Government Nothing, Not only did he abandon these people, but nobody else in the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party picked up the mantle either in his place.

    That to me showed me that the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary party became Tory Lite.

    I use parliamentary party as I would never want to offend people like Matthew Huntbach, John Tilley, and the Geroge Potters by tarnishing them with the same brush

  • So in revenge you’re going to vote for the labour party who introduced these policies and who’s spokeswoman declares she does not want to represent people on benefits.

  • Philip Rolle 17th Apr '15 - 1:37pm

    You can be against benefit cuts and the appalling treatment of the vulnerable and still be on the right of the party.

    It’s just that those on the right of the party ( and some of those elsewhere in it ) decided on the whole to tolerate both. The advantage was that the Coalition lasted full term and there may have been some benefit to the country overall. The disadvantage is that Nick Clegg will not now get away with campaigning on the basis that he is against Tory cuts.

    What is that they say about Coalition always damaging the smaller party?

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Apr '15 - 1:45pm

    Joe, first of all I think this is exactly the sort of article more people need to be writing right now. Simple, to the point and in campaign mode.

    I voted Lib Dem in the Europeans and locals, but at the moment I am favouring spoiling my ballot. I was excited to vote Lib Dem again, but I think the manifesto has come out too left wing.

    In the spirit of being constructive I hope something can be done at the last minute to entice some more “economically liberal” people back into the fold.

  • “What is that they say about Coalition always damaging the smaller party?”

    Indeed. Cameron has actually shot himself in the foot, because stitching up the Lib Dems won’t help him get a second term in Downing St given the likely electoral arithmetic.

    Although TBH he doesn’t look that enamoured of winning a second term – perhaps this is the election to lose.

  • matt – I took this test and here is the result: http://wsyvf.com/x/pbfb

  • @Tabman

    “So in revenge you’re going to vote for the labour party who introduced these policies and who’s spokeswoman declares she does not want to represent people on benefits.”

    First of all I do not vote in revenge. I vote for the party who i think is best or closest to my beliefs and principles.

    Second of all, You are being disingenuous about Labours DWP spokesman Rachel Reeves, try reading the full article what she said about representing people on benefits.

    And finally Labour did not introduce the bedroom tax. They introduced a LHA for the private sector, however this did not affect people who were already living in private rented accommodation, They were not forced out of their homes, unlike the cruel way in which the bedroom tax was implemented.

  • Alex Sabine 17th Apr '15 - 1:54pm

    @ Philip Rolle: Of course you can be “on the right of te party” and oppose specific measures the coalition has taken in the area of welfare, or the implementation of some of the policies. But to imagine it would have been realistic to tackle a 10% of GDP budget deficit without some measures to curb total welfare spending is a stretch. Bear in mind that the total effect of the coalition’s welfare savings has been to produce roughly a real-terms (not cash) freeze in social security spending over this parliament. The”cuts” are relative to a baseline that assumed spending would increase substantially in real terms. If these increses had simply been accommodated there would have been a bigger squeeze on departments, larger tax rises or a larger structural deficit to be bequeathed to the next government.

  • @Tabman

    “matt – I took this test and here is the result: http://wsyvf.com/x/pbfb

    What was you trying to prove ? Your results say you are just as suited to the Tories as you are Liberal Democrat? and your point is?

  • @Alex Sabine

    The cuts to “working age welfare” was totally offset by the increases to welfare for people of pensionable age.

    It was a redistribution of welfare from the unemployed, sick, and working poor to the silver voters.

    That’s the reality of these cruel welfare cuts

  • matt – my point is you accuse me of being a Tory.

  • Tabman

    But you scored the same for both Tory and Libdem. So a combo of both could be easily claimed to be tory lite lol

  • @ Matt

    “Which will be If or when the Liberal Democrats are steered back towards being a left of center of party, who shares the same values that I do, especially when it comes to the poor, vulnerable and disabled, Education and the NHS”

    I think you’ve missed the point a bit here fellah – the values of our party haven’t changed one bit, but being in coalition with a more right wing party has resulted in a government with some right wing policies.

    Its easy to blame the Lib Dems for this – but it was the will of the people. The tories were the largest party and Labour didnt win enough seats to govern alone, or form a stable government with us. Its our duty to form a stable government in my opinion, even if its bad for the party in the long run. If we end up in a coalition with the Greens, SNP, Labour etc it’ll be government that overall leans to the left. I’m sure there will be many people on the other side of the spectrum very unhappy with this prospect!

    Long and the short of it is the nation rejected Labour last time round. Maybe they wont this time. Either way if the only way to form a stable government is to support a party that won the most seats and we feel we can work with them, we will.

  • @Gareth

    I agree the country did reject Labour. But they also rejected the Conservatives.

    Nowhere in the coalition agreement did you state that the Liberal Democrats would
    Support the Top down reorganization of the NHS
    Introduce a Bedroom Tax
    redistribute the welfare budget from working age claimants to Pensioners

    Along with a whole host of other nasty things.

    I do not claim that the Liberal Democrats did not have to compromise, of course they had to compromise.

    However, it is a bit rich that as a party it compromised to the point of voting for policies whacking poor people and the disabled, with punitive cuts and reforms. And then a couple of months before the election have a change of heart and say we got it wrong.
    Maybe the bedroom tax was a bit unfair, oh and maybe those on benefits have been sanctioned unfairly.
    We now going to change our mind and try to woo these people we have clobbered for the last 5 years

  • Gareth Wilson 17th Apr ’15 – 2:12pm ………I think you’ve missed the point a bit here fellah – the values of our party haven’t changed one bit, but being in coalition with a more right wing party has resulted in a government with some right wing policies…..

    Er, No! There is a difference in ‘acceptance’ and open support…..Clegg signed straight up for the original Landsley NHS re-organisation…The ‘Bedroom Tax’ could/should have only applied where suitable alternative accommodation had been refused; instead it was applied unfairly….

    Complaining, after parliament had been dissolved, that you didn’t agree with what you voted for is ‘too little; too late’…

    If the best that the LibDem party has to offer is that it will be like the Tories in a Conservative led government and like Labour in a Labour led government, why should anyone bother? After all there are ‘leftish-Tories’ and ‘rightish-Labour members already…

  • The people voted Liberal Democrats because they believed that if they got into coalition they would either

    A) curb the excessive spending Labour and the authoritarian wing of the party
    or
    B) Curb the extremities of the Tories that would always be a party of the wealthy and who would want to ideologically dismantle the size of the state.

    They also believed that politics would be more open, honest and transparent. That’s certainly what I believed and voted for. And it is not what we got.

    Now we are being told to believe the same old message again, That Nick Clegg will bring heart to the Tories and a Brain to Labour,
    Sorry if I am not allowing myself to be duped again

  • Alex Sabine 17th Apr '15 - 2:36pm

    @ matt
    You are right that the overall real-terms freeze in social security spending includes a rise in spending on pensioners offsetting a reduction in working-age welfare. I don’t think this distributional choice was particularly equitable (though the politics were obvious). However, the big fall unemployment has also helped to push down working-age welfare costs in a way that I would imagine is widely welcomed.

    Note that the main driver of the increased spending on pensioners is the ‘triple lock’. (The projected savings from means-testing Winter Fuel Payments and free TV licences as per the Lib Dem proposal for the next parliament are a mere £125 million per year, which is barely even a rounding error in government budgets.)

    So, yes, I think it would have been fairer not to have introduced the triple lock at a time when working-age welfare was being capped. However I don’t see the Lib Dems disowning the triple lock; on the contrary they proudly proclaim that it was their idea and that they will safeguard it in the next parliament. Their campaign for inter-generational equity in social security spending appears to amount to targeting £125 million of savings from better-off pensioners.

    This is an evasion of the real source of upward pressure on pension spending – and the yield is so vanishingly small because the cut-off point for continued eligibility to pensioner benefits has been set at the level of the higher-rate tax threshold. Few pensioners have income this high and you cannot get really large savings from a small number of people.

    The pretence that you can do so – in defiance of arithmetic – seems to underlie the main parties’ approach to tax policy also. And to the extent that it is feasible, you end up with a tax base that is dangerously reliant on a small minority at the top whose incomes and asset values are highly cyclically volatile, with the resultant destabilising effect on the public finances. The IFS are among those who have expressed concern about this trend in the UK’s tax base.

  • Philip Rolle 17th Apr '15 - 2:45pm

    The reform of the welfare state ought to have focused on reducing the numbers eligible for state support – a astonishing thirty million. This should have included phasing out of child benefit over five years; an immediate capital means test on tax credits; abolition of the pensioner add on benefits save for those entitled to pension credit; and a freeze the level of other benefits, while maintaining eligibility criteria.

    This would have reduced the overall spend while maintaining the safety net.

    The effect of the policies implemented has been to remove the safety net for some people. I would argue that the fiscal benefit of this is outweighed by the moral case and public duty of a government to look after its most vulnerable citizens. Besides, now that Lib Dems have been complicit in such implementations for the last five years, surely few will now believe any manifesto commitment apparently to the contrary.

    Mistake, pure and simple.

  • @Joe Otten

    Hurrah for the Politics of Fear! In further news, evidence of more fear:

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/17/austerity-and-a-malign-benefits-regime-are-profoundly-damaging-mental-health

    That’s over 400 Mental Health professionals condemning the coalition.

  • I don’t think Joe Otten has begun to realise how unpopular the LibDems are. Like Matt I voted LibDem in 2010, but never again while they have the current leadership. I’m voting Labour – like many ex-LibDems – but I would vote Tory before I’d vote for a party led by Clegg, Alexander, Laws etc.

  • matt (Bristol) 17th Apr '15 - 3:26pm

    Malc, I don’t think it’s the LibDems (and even the current leadership) as such are iherently unpopular, the arch-unpopular party is the Tories, they’re so contagious and corrosive, anyone who gets close to them is tarnished.

    What is hard to excuse is that our leaders have pretended all along to believe we didn’t notice this depth of feeling and can keep smiling and ignoring it, or (worse) sneer about it as if its irrational (which generally, to be fair, they have aviolded more recently).

  • Nick Collins 17th Apr '15 - 4:04pm

    It’s time for something positive and cheerful on this thread. So here it is: James Anderson has just drawn level with Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383 wickets for England in Test Cricket.

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Apr '15 - 5:23pm

    I’ve got an idea: can’t we look into cutting the job’s tax or VAT? These affect small businesses and I think the manifesto needs to offer us something a bit more.

    Regards

  • Alex Sabine 17th Apr '15 - 5:56pm

    I agree with the sentiment, Eddie, but it’s a bit late for that now that the manifesto and costings have been published. Reducing NI or VAT also has a high ‘price tag’ for the Exchequer – about £5 billion for each percentage point off either. A more focused policy might have been a cut in business rates ahead of a wider reform – this is the one pro-enterprise tax policy I think Labour have and it would be of particular benefit to High Street retailers and small businesses.

  • Philip Thomas 17th Apr '15 - 7:19pm

    I wish our party was not deeply unpopular with much of the electorate. I think we should be trying to win the electorate with our ideals ad our policies, not be trying to persuade enemy loyalists to “tactically” vote their own MPs out of office. Too clever by half…

  • If anyone wants o know why the Lib Dems are down to 6.4 per cent in England in the latest opinion poll, then this sort of thinking is the answer.

    Voters in British General Elections do not elect a government. They elect individual MPs. They do not have a clue as to what other people in other constituencies will be voting or how this will turn out in terms of Parliamentary numbers. To try to construct an argument in terms of what you would like voters to think about in a hypothetical scenario after May 8th is a ludicrous thing to do. Thankfully, there are still Lib Dem MPs who have a coherent case to put to their constituents as to why they are the best choice to represent them across a wide range of issues. And some of them will win. They will do so with five to seven times the level of support of the average Lib Dem candidate whereas last time there were few Lib Dem MPs indeed who got more than twice the average support level.

  • Peter Watson 18th Apr '15 - 12:32am

    @Tabman “I took this test and here is the result: http://wsyvf.com/x/pbfb
    It does look like you’ve answered your own question to matt about what tory-lite or soft tory means.
    Interesting website though, In the interest of full disclosure I had a go: http://wsyvf.com/x/pki5 and the quiz suggests I’m Labour/Green/Lib Dem.

  • Joe,

    A couple of flaws in your thesis:

    Given that almost every comment by a Liberal about Labour in coalition assumes it to be with the SNP it seems safe to assume that the Lib Dems have no intention of supporting a Labour government.

    The Labour Party showed that they were willing to work with the Conservatives in the referendum, at great expense to their electoral prospects, there is no reason to assume they wouldn’t do it again.

    And, if the goal is to protect the Union and European credibility then your logic would point to all Liberal Democrats voting for their Labour candidates and fighting for a Labour majority.

  • matt from Bristol: “I don’t think it’s the LibDems (and even the current leadership) as such are iherently unpopular, the arch-unpopular party is the Tories, they’re so contagious and corrosive, anyone who gets close to them is tarnished.”

    It’s more than that. While the Tories are unpopular, they are still 4 times as popular as the Lib Dems. Certainly there are some people who are pleased with what the Coalition has done; but most of them vote Conservative. For them, the Coalition is doing what it is expected and supposed to do.

    Meanwhile the Lib Dems have hæmorrhaged support, not just to Labour, the Greens, and the SNP, but also to the Tories and even UKIP. Those who like the new Tory-lite Lib Dems figure they may as well vote Tory. Those who were primarily protest voters may now be voting Green or UKIP. But the biggest problem for the Liberal Democrats is not just that they are tarnished by association with the Tories, but that they come off appearing as the direct opposite of the party they present themselves.

    Many people joined and stayed with the Lib Dems expecting it to be a forward-looking progressive party that was against war, against racism, against xenophobia, against the police state, and against targeting and blaming the weakest in society, and against the centralised, authoritarian, tribal virus that infects so many other parties. But over the past five years the Lib Dems in Parliament have, almost systematically, undercut every single pillar of their principles and left the majority of their partisans feeling betrayed.

    There are many good people in the Party. The principles it avows are sound. But the Party has not lived up to those principles, and has compounded its failure by prevarication, equivocation, and staggering political missteps. The RMS Liberal Democrats has not just been steered toward an iceberg, it has actually struck it. We here are just standing around on deck waiting for the ship to sink.

    Hopefully most of the passengers can be saved. Hopefully the officers will not try to commandeer the lifeboats for themselves leaving everyone else stranded. But the outlook is grim and the waters are cold. There is not much point right now in pointing fingers; the real task is to have a plan for what to do when the ship goes down.

  • Bill le Breton 18th Apr '15 - 8:22am

    As so often I find myself agreeing with David Mark One.

    My experience on the ground is that saying we are anchored on the centre ground, talking up Blukip on the one hand and the bogey of the SNP/Lab on the other is driving waverers into the arms of the Tories or Labour.

    Again our national strategy is totally at odds with what is required on the ground. It makes a nonsense of the idea of fighting a series of by-elections.

    If I were wrong on this we would have seen a different positioning of the polls.

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 8:47am

    Hmm. I don’t know. There are fair few soft-cons who disagree with the Tories about Europe but are with them on issues like welfare cuts and defence. They would be susceptible to both messages. I agree that soft Labs aren’t that likely to fear SNLAB- a simple Blumaj message might work better for them.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Apr '15 - 8:54am

    Exactly what David-1 and Bill ‘s Breton say.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Apr '15 - 9:01am

    matt (Bristol) 17th Apr ’15 – 1:03pm
    “I think matt would probably prefer in place of the LibDems two ‘liberal centre’ parties; one that is centre-left reformist and has the Stephen Heskeths, John Tilleys etc and one that is centre-right reformist and has the Simon Shaws, Joe Ottens, etc. Then he could vote for the more left-wing option.”

    Matt, the “left wing option” supported by myself and very many others is in fact nothing more than traditional preamble Liberalism. Social Justice Liberalism.

    Clegg himself has been a disaster for the party primarily because he does not represent or have his political roots in the values of British Liberalism. This man wrote political speeches for Leon Brittan for goodness sake!

    He may be personally and societally liberal but economically he clearly accepts the conservative economic agenda. This crystalises as his aliberal equidistant centrism with its attendant line in insipid slogans.

    Equally damaging to the party however has been his internal coalition with the economically Conservative ‘Orange Book’ free marketeers. This has resulted in the party not only being seen as being too close to the Tories through our apparent acceptance of their austerity / small state analysis but in the driving out of many traditional Liberal members and simultaneously in the emergence of some very pro-big business interest groups within the party.

    Having damaged us, the likes of Jeremy Browne and those from crevice groups such as liberal vision have moved on (stating themselves to be voting or even joining the Tories) but others such as ‘Tabman’ declare they are planning to stay and continue their battle to take over our party.

    We can only hope Cleggism comes to and immediately after May 7th.

    Him and/or his centre-right circle having their hands on the party’s levers of power is unlikely to end happily for us as the party of social justice Liberalism.

    Matt(Bristol) – social justice Liberals have long out numbered economic liberals in the party. One result of the Clegg-economic Orange Book coalition could easily be a lasting and deepened schism between these two strands.

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 9:03am

    I’m just wondering, when the Titanic was heading towards the iceberg, were there any passengers who shouted “We’re all doomed, we’ve already hit the iceberg, there’s nothing we can do, its a disaster!”

    Maybe there were those who said to them “would you mind helping out here, we need all the help we can get?”

    David, Bill, Stephen, there are good Social Liberals who are in danger of going down with the ship. Publically bewailing the disaster is at best unhelpful for them.

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr ’15 – 9:03am………I’m just wondering, when the Titanic was heading towards the iceberg, were there any passengers who shouted “We’re all doomed, we’ve already hit the iceberg, there’s nothing we can do, its a disaster!”.Maybe there were those who said to them “would you mind helping out here, we need all the help we can get?”

    Not an accurate assessment…It is not the passengers, it’s the junior crew members (those that do the menial tasks like delivering leaflets, etc.); the seamen, etc. who for years have been shouting up at the senior officers on the bridge, “Change course”…
    When the reply has always been, “There’s no need to change course; we support the captain, etc”, is there any wonder that the seamen give up wasting their breath and start getting the lifeboats ready….

  • I find myself in good company, being in agreement with Bill, Stephen and David-1.
    I also find myself admiring matt for his patient ability to out up with some foolish comments and his well argued reasons for voting Labour. Not something I would do myself for the reasons that David-1 sets out.

    I joined and have continued to work forays contribute to a party which is –
    forward-looking, against war, against racism, against xenophobia, against the police state, and against targeting and blaming the weakest in society.

    This is a slight variation of what David-1 said in his comment because I recognise in myself a tendency towards tribal loyalty to the party of which I have been a member for 45 years. I would also add a lot of positive beliefs of the party such as being for tolerance, for humanity, for peace, for a sustainable way of life, for a republic of the free in which none are enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformit. I rather lke the ideas of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

  • In Scotland, Wales and the North of England the party is polling 5% or less, most of these people won’t vote LibDem under any circumstances. This is the LibDem MP’s fault they had the chance to get rid of Clegg after the euro’s, but chickened out.

  • Joe Otten,
    To go back to your original piece, if I am allowed a second comment in this thread, I think that what you and I want are different things.

    You conclude your piece with a desire for –
    “….moderate, stable, pro-UK government”.

    There is nothing wrong with you wanting that. It is a respectable ambition and one that would be shared by a lot of moderate people who yearn for stability and are worried about any conceiveable danger that might come out of change. Throw in a bit of Unionism (pro-UK Government) and on paper you might have a winning formula for a Danny FInklestein / Matthew Paris type of conservative party.

    That is not what I want. That is not why I joined the Liberal Party / Liberal Democrats. I welcome change, we need a lot more change and we need it now.
    I look forward to radical changes not just in the neigh ourhood where I live, in England, the UK, the EU and the whole world.
    Radical change is necessary to build the sort of society described in The Preamble to the constitution of the party.
    Moderate, stable, UK Government will not deliver that change.

  • It’s nice to read all the mutual back slapping and Private Fraserisms boys.

    Stephen Hesketh. The Orange Book contained arguments by those well known crypto Tories Steve Webb and Vince Cable.

    I’ve been in the party for over 30 years and I’m damned if I’m letting it go back to the irrelevance of the past 60.

  • I get a touch fed up with easy come easy go supporters and members,
    Sensible arguments are different.

  • Sadie Smith 18th Apr ’15 – 12:53pm …….I get a touch fed up with easy come easy go supporters and members…….

    It’s the ‘easy come, easy go’ voters who decide elections….There are Tories who would vote for a monkey in a blue rosette and, likewise Labour……
    Aping (no pun intended) either party will make no difference to those voters but will alienate those who are neither….

    Since 2010 the wider electorate has seen the LibDems as “Tory”; the polls, election results, etc. confirm this, The party has had 5 years to show that there was a difference between the two and has failed miserably….From the ‘love-in’ through the LDV headline that “Three-quarters (75%) of the Liberal Democrat manifesto is being turned into government policy, compared to noticeably less (60%) of the Conservative manifesto”; what were the electorate supposed to think?…….

  • Sadie Smith 18th Apr '15 - 4:03pm

    Expats. If only it were. It tends to be the nonvoters.

  • Sadie Smith 18th Apr ’15 – 4:03pm…..Expats. If only it were. It tends to be the non-voters……

    Non-voters can be classed as “all the above” or ‘none of the above”….However, I’ll agree that LibDem/Tory/Labour supporters, who don’t bother to vote, affect the result…..

  • BTW….. having seen ‘Dave’ decked out in a yellow headscarf in Gravesend, I wonder if he’s decided to change sides?

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 4:46pm

    Joe Otten- in Lab/LD seats LD supporters should vote LD of course. And indeed elsewhere as the proportion of votes case for us retains symbolic importance. But your arguments against the SNP are indeed arguments for LD voters in seats where Labour is running second to the Tories/SNP (or first with Tories/SNP second) to vote Labour- this reduces the chance of a Labour deal with the SNP by potentially giving them the option for one with us. Of course the flaw in this argument is that a vote for the LDs anywhere in the country still affects the national proportion.

  • Nick Collins 18th Apr '15 - 4:51pm

    It’s actually a turban. And he came out with the line “Britain is not just red white and blue, but orange too”. Perhaps someone can enlighten us as to the significance of orange turbans , which seemed to be much in evidence at the Sikh festival which Cam & Sam attended today. That might be more interesting and enlightening than what has appeared thus far on this dismal thread..

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Apr '15 - 4:57pm

    Sadie, as one of the “easy come easy go” supporters I can tell you it is because I am not planning a career as a politician, so I see little benefit in staying loyal to a party even when I disagree with it. I do, however, have a lot of respect for career politicians.

    I believe in being fair to the party. I just don’t think the manifesto has come out pro business enough. I got such a fright reading through it that suddenly checking out Labour’s business manifesto seemed like a good idea, never mind the Conservatives.

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 4:59pm

    “Saffron / Orange – a colour representative of showing devoted allegiance” (Sikh website)

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 5:01pm

    Eddie, with regards to the Tories, effect on business of UK leaving EU should be considered. Also effects if Tories manage to “reform” EU to restrict Free Movement, thereby lowering tourism revenue etc.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Apr '15 - 5:33pm

    Thanks Philip. Just checked out Labour’s business manifesto. Tumbleweed. Not many good ideas in there.

    As I said, I’ll probably spoil my ballot, but if the party can come up with just one more good policy at the last minute it would sway me. I can’t be the only person who thinks small and medium sized businesses need a bit more support. And by support I don’t mean more subsidised loans.

    Regards

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 5:51pm

    That is four people I know/have met that are going to spoil their ballot papers. Could be a record set at this election if my personal experience is magnified nationally!

  • Bill Le Breton 18th Apr '15 - 7:01pm

    I have spent the last four or five days in what is probably going to be the closest Tory/lib Dem marginal. The more we big up the Lab/SNP bogey the more we drive a) soft cons to go hard con and b) Soft Lab to vote Labour or even UKIP.

    Bigging up BluKip obviously emboldens the UKIP vote among a) certain LD 2010 voters and many Labour voters who were previously LD tactical voters.

    To point this out and to get those in the wheelhouse to actually think local ( because we are running a 50 odd by-election campaign ) is designed to stop the air war actually pouring more petrol on to the flames.

    You do not win over tactical voters by abusing their preferred first choice or by suggesting that there is a existing entail reason why they need to vote for their preferred first choice. It is as if the Lib Dems have found the Tory and labour dog whistles and decided to blow those whistles for them.

    There is no clear thinking going on at the centre.

  • Bill Le Breton 18th Apr '15 - 7:04pm

    ‘Existing entail reason’ above should of course read ‘existential reason’.

  • Nick Collins 18th Apr '15 - 8:05pm

    Perhaps you should have said “existing entrail”: just a gut feeling on my part.

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 9:00pm

    Bill le Breton. I fear you are right. Do you have any constructive suggestions as to how we can recover voters in the last few weeks of the election?

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Apr '15 - 10:13pm

    Tabman 18th Apr ’15 – 12:16pm
    “The Orange Book contained arguments by those well known crypto Tories Steve Webb and Vince Cable”

    Really? That must have been why my precise words were ” … the economically Conservative Orange Book free marketeers” to distinguish the Browne, Marshall, Laws, Astle etc group from mainstream Lib Dem figures such as Vince Cable.

    Re your “I’ve been in the party for over 30 years and I’m damned if I’m letting it go back to the irrelevance of the past 60.”
    Ah so that would be the irrelevance of having more MPs and MEPs and many thousands more Councillors and a generally improving outlook for our party than we now have under the present leadership?

    It was not the appeal of centrist Cleggism that placed us in a position of being able to take part in government, it was first and foremost the efforts of Liberal and Lib Dem activists over the past 50 or so years, the effects of the FPTP electoral system and the breaking down of the two-party duopoly. Through his failure to clearly represent the distinctive values of this party and to adopt a business-like relationship with the Tories, NC has squandered much of the opportunity slowly built up by the ‘irrelevance’ of the efforts of countless activists, councillors, MEPs and MPs over the past 60 years.

    Fina

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Apr '15 - 10:29pm

    Bloody I-pad … finally, I would like to apologise to Bill Le Breton whom the I-SpAd curiously renamed as “Bill ‘s Breton” this morning.

    Re my “We can only hope Cleggism comes to and immediately after May 7th.” Hopefully it is clear this should have said, ” … comes to an end … “.

  • @ Stephen
    Naturally I assumed, in an outbreak of loyalism, you meant “We can only hope Cleggism comes to [a place near you] and immediately after May 7th”
    😉
    Cleggism, lest we forget, is the stronger economy and fairer society made flesh…

    Sarcasm aside, I actually think the Cleggster is making a pretty good fist of this campaign. Whether his ‘moderation’ message is getting through I couldn’t say – and it may not be enough to prevent a halving of Lib Dem parliamentary representation – but his cheerful resilience in the face of adversity is admirable, I think.

    I know many posters here see it as denialism, but going round with his tail between his legs apologising for what the coalition has done would look both pathetic and inauthentic. Instead he seems to be arguing the opposite: that voting Lib Dem is the ticket to continuity while the Tories and Labour would veer off to the right ad left. I don’t wholly buy this characterisation but there is enough of a basis for it that the Lib Dems could still get some mileage out of it as voters contemplate the various coalition/deal scenarios that might arise.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Apr ’15 – 10:13pm
    “……… more MPs and MEPs and many thousands more Councillors and a generally improving outlook for our party than we now have under the present leadership?
    It was not the appeal of centrist Cleggism that placed us in a position of being able to take part in government, it was first and foremost the efforts of Liberal and Lib Dem activists over the past 50 or so years, ”

    Stephen, you are of course 100% correct with this brief history of the party since 1955.

    If Tabman, or any of the Marshall Laws Brigade could recognise the one fact of how the party grew in success between 1955 and 2005 it would be something.

    There has been a constant denigration ( by those behind The Orange Book delusion ) of the life-times of work that went into rescuing and building up the party through the decades until 2005.

    Until someone offers a better, proven route for rebuilding the party we are going to have to start that long march all over again on 8th May. When it comes to getting the Liberal Democrats back on the road to success, the obscure and outdated nonsense of The Orange Book will be about as useful as a Jeffrey Archer novel when what you need is a car repair Manual.

    There will be some people in the Westminster parliament after 8th May, they will need to join with the rest of us in rebuilding and renewing the party outside. It is the Liberal Democrat party which needs strengthening and reinvigorating.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Apr '15 - 8:24am

    Tabman 18th Apr ’15 – 12:16pm
    “I’ve been in the party for over 30 years and I’m damned if I’m letting it go back to the irrelevance of the past 60.”

    Further to the above I think you are intentionally missing the point that the Liberal Democrats are predominantly a party of social justice Liberalism.

    The wish of all our members must be for the party to be relevant and electorally successful. Where we clearly part company is on what basis we measure relevance and success. I am a Liberal Democrat first and foremost because I believe in a society with values in line with those envisaged in our Preamble. If I merely wanted to be on the winning side and so be involved in a party of power I would have joined Labour or the Tories.

    Relevance can not be measured by ‘being in power’ but only through what values we strive to achieve through the exercise of that power. I am sure we agree on that point also.

    However, the massive flaw in your view of relevance is that you are essentially saying that the active social justice foot soldier majority in the party should be happy to leaflet, canvass, work on local councils etc between general elections and then follow a centre-right economic pro-wealthy, pro-powerful interests agenda in government!

    Tail and Dog spring to mind.

  • Alex Sabine 19th Apr ’15 – 12:04am……. Sarcasm aside, I actually think the Cleggster is making a pretty good fist of this campaign. Whether his ‘moderation’ message is getting through I couldn’t say – and it may not be enough to prevent a halving of Lib Dem parliamentary representation – but his cheerful resilience in the face of adversity is admirable, I think…………..I know many posters here see it as denialism, but going round with his tail between his legs apologising for what the coalition has done would look both pathetic and inauthentic. Instead he seems to be arguing the opposite: that voting Lib Dem is the ticket to continuity while the Tories and Labour would veer off to the right ad left. I don’t wholly buy this characterisation but there is enough of a basis for it that the Lib Dems could still get some mileage out of it as voters contemplate the various coalition/deal scenarios that might arise……………

    What would be gained by Clegg apologising? For 5 years he has enthusiastically supported the Tories on policies (NHS, Welfare, Bedroom tax) that should be an anathema to LibDems; the coalition should have been about compromise not capitulation.
    There may well have been ‘behind the scene’ arguments but what the electorate saw was senior figures (and LDV) boasting about the influence of LibDems in government (“punching above our weight”,”75% of government policies are LibDem”, etc). An election, that seemed so far away in the heady days of 2010, is now here and we have to live with it. The party may well do better than the polls suggest but claiming 26 seats as success smacks of a Pyrric victory…

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 10:00am

    Alex. I agree Clegg’s performance is fair. He is still a good politician and I hope he has many years of useful service to the party ahead of him. He has had clear sight of the need to attack the Tories- starting his campaign in OXWAB, for example, or his question to Cameron in the first debate, and that is very important. More of the same will be needed for the final weeks of the campaign. We must not lose our focus.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 10:01am

    Expats indeed, 26 seats would be a clear failure in Nick’s own terms.

  • Alex Sabine 19th Apr '15 - 2:56pm

    Commenters here who attack Clegg from the left naturally focus on the element of the Lib Dems’ 2010 support that has defected to Labour and the Greens. That is fair enough, since clearly it explains a big chunk of the drop in Lib Dems’ national vote share. But perhaps they should be equally concerned about the swing to the Conservatives in the South West which suggests a large number of traditional strongholds are in jeopardy. The ComRes poll the other day showed a 13-point swing from the Lib Dems to the Tories, which would imply a Lib Dem wipeout in the South West.

    Now I can’t see that happening, partly because the swing is much larger than that shown in Ashcroft’s constituency polling in the South West and partly because I don’t think you can translate a regional swing into seats held or lost across the whole region. But all polls show a substantial direct shift of support from the Lib Dems to the Tories in the South West and even on Ashcroft’s figures the Lib Dems stand to lose about half their MPs from the region. Losses to the Tories in the South West and the SNP in Scotland are likely to play at least as big a role as losses to Labour elsewhere.

  • @Alex Sabine 19th Apr ’15 – 2:56pm

    The ComRes poll in the South West shows as many voters fleeing from the Lib Dems to the Tories as it does to Labour, as it does to UKIP/Greens combined: you’re overplaying the Tory issue. The issue in the South West is that the Lib Dems represented the anti-Tory consensus: the role of the party in the coalition has destroyed that. This isn’t an issue of Lib Dems to Tories, these are voters running in every direction away from the party. And you’re underplaying how bad it’s going to be.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 3:52pm

    Oh, yes, I have met them on the doorstep (admittedly not in a target seat yet): “We voted Lib Dem in 2010, we really love the coalition, and now we’re voting Tory”. (I also meet 2010 Tories who are now voting Lib Dem because the Tories have moved to the right, and my sample size isn’t large enough to tell which is more significant).

    Anyway, I don’t wish to attack Clegg from the left, or the right for that matter. I don’t want to attack him at all, we have an election to win. It is however clear that the ground we are fighting on- “equidistance”- is ground of our leader’s choosing and he must bear the consequences of what results from it- for good or ill.

  • SIMON BANKS 19th Apr '15 - 5:15pm

    I don’t understand why option 1 brings the destruction of the UK nearer. Scottish nationalism has thrived on Scots feeling they have no part in a government they dislike. When Scots held the two most powerful offices in the UK, it was different!

    Lots of people, including many Liberal Democrats, campaigned for a NO vote in the Scottish referendum. They won. The implication of that is that Scotland and its elected representatives continue to have a voice in the affairs of the UK. If a lot of Scots choose to elect SNP MPs, they’re entitled to a voice at Westminster. Showing they have power at Westminster is a good way of undermining the case for independence.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 5:25pm

    Thanks Adrian. Anyone else have any bright ideas?

  • Joe Otten: (I missed your reply to me yesterday) – I should have been clearer, I was particularly thinking of Scottish seats where I am sure your argument is being used to urge anti SNP voters to rally behind Labour.

    FPTP is so erratic that we should not be assuming a result of No Overall Control, however if this is the outcome, the apparent support for SNP is such that Lib Dem + either Conservative of Labour may well not be sufficient to form a coalition and if our vote is markedly down there is likely to be little appetite for a coalition in the Party. In fact if the number of Lib Dems is halved, I do not think a formal coalition would be feasible. Either we would not have suffcient Lib Dems in government positions or insufficient numbers of backbenchers who are free to criticise the government.

    I think you are right to note that a Labour SNP coalition would put both parties in potentially severe difficulties, though there would be as many difficulties in a Lib -Lab coalition. We might urge Labour to be fiscally transparent, but would we really be calling for deeper cuts when Labour would be seeking to use us as a pretext for their unpopular measures?

    With a strong onus on SNP to establish itself as a responsible Party in Westminster, I really doubt whether an SNP/Labour coalition would be worse than Labour alone, though I could well be found to be wrong,, Actually; in terms of difficulties, I think Labour, if they get to be in government in any form would soon be in a lot of trouble.

  • David Allen 19th Apr '15 - 5:53pm

    The reason why an SNP / Labour coalition is a scare story is simple: The Tories always need a scare story if they are to win an election. Therefore the Tories have made up a scare story.

    The SNP can have leverage over a minority Labour government, ONLY if the Tories allow them to have that leverage. If a responsible Tory Opposition (yes, I know, a contradiction in terms) were to abstain or vote against any “outrageous” SNP proposals, those proposals would go nowhere. Miliband would thus be empowered to stand up to Sturgeon and refuse to let the SNP influence policy. The SNP, who have pledged not to let the Tories back, would have nowhere else to go.

    If the SNP are “scary”, it’s solely because the Tories want to use them as a frightener!

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 5:54pm

    Not deeper cuts, higher taxes. I agree if we are down to (say) 28 MPs it does get very difficult to form a coalition and sitting it out/confidence and supply are on the table.

  • If someone wants a majority Labour or Conservative government then they should vote for the party they support. If they want to see the Liberal Democrats in government then they show vote for them. If they support Labour but live in a Conservative-Lib Dem marginal then they should vote Lib Dem as the least worse of the two and if they support the Conservatives in a Labour-Lib Dem marginal then they should vote Lib Dem as the least bad option.

    @ Joe Otten

    You make a good case for why it would be good if Labour was in government and had to put the case for deficit reduction. However if they were in coalition with us then they will blame us for every cut and so you have also made the case for why we shouldn’t be in a coalition with them. Therefore if a person wants to see a Labour government they should vote Labour because to vote Lib Dem is not likely to bring about a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. This assumes that our party will put the interests of the party first and not go into coalition with Labour to destroy what is left of the party after 7th May.

    The argument that SNP influence on the government would be bad is flawed. It is in Scotland’s interest not to change the Barnet formula, which is Labour’s position. If the Conservatives are in government there is going to be an EU referendum and if England votes to leave and Scotland votes to stay then the SNP will demand, quite rightly, another referendum on independence which they would win. The greatest threat to the unity of the UK is from the Conservatives being in government, not the SNP trying to make a Labour government more progressive.

    Your point about deficit clearance being good and waiting longer being bad is nonsense because as a party in coalition we have supported waiting longer to clear the deficit and I have not heard any economist say we should have reduced the deficit faster.

  • Alex Sabine 19th Apr '15 - 6:24pm

    You may be right that I am underplaying how bad it is going to be for the Lib Dems. We’ll have to wait and see. My guess is that the LDs will cling on to between 5 and 8 of those 14 seats in the South West.

    On the change in vote shares, the ComRes data shows a 22-point drop in Lib Dem support, a 5-point gain in Tory support, a 6-point gain in UKIP support and a 7-point pick-up in Labour support (plus a rise in ‘others’). So on the face of it, yes there is a dispersal of previous Lib Dem support in all directions.

    But whereas you might expect the rise in UKIP support to come at the expense of the Tories, the Tory vote share has gone up – which suggests either that the UKIP votes have come from elsewhere (perhaps including the Lib Dems) or that the Tories have gained enough from other places (particularly the Lib Dems) to more than offset the loss of support to UKIP and put on a net 5 points.

    You say the Lib Dems represented the ‘anti-Tory consensus’ in the South West. But the combined vote share of the Tories and UKIP is now 54%. The combined Labour and Green vote share is 18%, and the Lib Dems are on 26%. So even if you assume that all Lib Dem voters are left-leaning and implacably anti-Tory rather than centrist ‘floaters’ – which I don’t find plausible – you only get to a maximum of 44%, which is the same vote share that the Tories are on. Then there is UKIP’s 10% to take into account.

    Even if the Lib Dems squeezed the left-wing vote to the point that Labour and the Greens each polled zero – which is clearly never going to happen – they’d still only get to bare parity with the Tories. This suggests the ‘anti-Tory consensus’ in the South West simply isn’t large enough for the Lib Dems to rely on as the basis for winning these seats. They need to win back a large chunk of those who voted Lib Dem in previous elections and now intend to vote Tory.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 6:31pm

    “You make a good case for why it would be good if Labour was in government and had to put the case for deficit reduction. However if they were in coalition with us then they will blame us for every cut and so you have also made the case for why we shouldn’t be in a coalition with them. Therefore if a person wants to see a Labour government they should vote Labour because to vote Lib Dem is not likely to bring about a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. This assumes that our party will put the interests of the party first and not go into coalition with Labour to destroy what is left of the party after 7th May. ”

    Most people who want to see a Labour government also have a strong desire for there not to be a Conservative government (This and vice-versa is why a grand coalition is unlikely). So vote Lib Dem, in seats where the Lib Dems are the best chance to beat the Tories, is the best option, regardless of whether Lib Dems would enter coalition or confidence and supply or just sit there powerless letting the SNP run the show.

    I don’t particularly want a Labour government, and I particularly don’t want a Labour majority, but I really don’t want a Conservative government.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 6:53pm

    Alex, you’re right of course we do still need to be winning soft Cons. The left of the Conservative party is traditionally pro-European, so that is an important note to emphasise (I am assuming there are a totally insignificant number of “soft Ukip” voters. In fact the BLUKIP campaign is rather designed with this in mind. Our economic competence should also play well with these voters. Insofar as there are soft-hearted One Nation Tories left, they might want to think twice about the full extent of Tory cuts.

  • @Alex Sabine 19th Apr ’15 – 6:24pm

    “You say the Lib Dems represented the ‘anti-Tory consensus’ in the South West. But the combined vote share of the Tories and UKIP is now 54%.”

    Yes, I did say anti-Tory consensus. You’re mistaking that for anti-right. The fox hounds on Boxing Day ravage the working class UKIP voter’s garden just as much as the Labour voter’s. If you live in a West Country constituency, there are a lot of reasons for not voting Tory.

    The picture is also complicated by the fact that, as the Tories have toxified the Lib Dems for some of the latter’s followers on the left, the Lib Dems have detoxified the Tories for some of their own followers on the right (after all, they are people we can do business with).

    “Even if the Lib Dems squeezed the left-wing vote to the point …” But it just doesn’t work that way. Because of the nature of the Lib Dems’ appeal in the South West we’re not talking about movement in – of necessity – one dimension. One of the great imponderables will be the numbers of those voters in the South West who react to the coalition in the context of only seeing two possible selections of MP – Lib Dem or Tory – and, after much thought, just don’t bother voting.

    I think one of the grand incompetencies of the party leadership has been the failure to grasp, to plan for, what happens when it isn’t a Labour-Lib Dem-Tory race. You may be right in your estimation of how many seats are held onto. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be bloodier, and more unpredictable.

  • Alex.
    by your own estimation the pick up of the Tory vote is 5%. Even if all came back it wouldn’t counter act the swings elsewhere. So the idea that the Lib Dems can retain seats by appealing to soft “Tories” is even more flawed than the notion of an anti-tory block vote. . Here what I think. The Lib Dems gained support by offering voters policies they liked and have lost support by publically abandoning those policies. The collapse in support happened from almost day one of the coalition which does rather suggest that much of the support the Lib Dems had built up did not want a coalition with the Conservatives not because of crude anti-tory scaremongering, but because Conservative Governments tend to effect them negatively. If you look at where the Lib Dems are struggling it is where the consequences of policy decisions have hit hardest. The Lib Dems for instance had a very strong appeal amongst public sector workers and the disabled. In other words we clobbered are own voters. The point is that most people vote based on policies and actions, The other point is that the Conservatives vote share has gone down since 2010 so wherever soft Tories were gone it wasn’t to either the Lib Dems or the Conservative Party!
    And lets also be honest If it wasn’t for the SNP this election wouldn’t even look that close.

  • And, in the last couple of months, I have been asked to help with online voter registration. Those asking for help were in the mid 30’s to 50 year old. None of those 11 people I’ve helped register, has ever voted before. And it brings me to a curious conclusion. All the ‘poll commentary’ is of where the each party’s core voters have shifted (from) ~ (to). But,.. no one appears to have a grip on the level of *middle aged, newly registered to a first time vote*?
    Questions :
    ~ What do you think is the impetus for these previously *absent voters*?
    ~ Can you guess who their intended vote is for?.
    ~ Are polls and predictions are being blindsided by a new voting phenomenon which is not yet on any ‘poll radar’, and not yet factored in to present polls?.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Apr '15 - 2:45pm

    Alex Sabine

    Commenters here who attack Clegg from the left naturally focus on the element of the Lib Dems’ 2010 support that has defected to Labour and the Greens. That is fair enough, since clearly it explains a big chunk of the drop in Lib Dems’ national vote share. But perhaps they should be equally concerned about the swing to the Conservatives in the South West which suggests a large number of traditional strongholds are in jeopardy.

    So, do you really think there’s a big batch of people who used to vote LibDem in places where the LibDems were the main party of the left and the Tories are the main party of the right, and who think that the Coalition demonstrates the LibDems are much more lefty than they supposed, so they’re going Tory?

    I don’t think so. I’ve not been involved in politics in the south-west, but I do have some experience of politics in places in the south-east where the main competition is between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and I can ASSURE you that Liberal Democrats voters in those places are mostly NOT “soft cons”, and that making the LibDems more right-wing is NOT the way to attract them back after they’ve left us in disgust at the coalition.

    Part of the issue is that most ordinary people don’t think in terms of a straight left-right scale in politics. So, there are some who are leftish economically but rightish on social issues, who would have voted LibDem in the past, but now the LibDems have lost the leftish economic image go to the Tories as they are closest to their views on social issues. Of course, a big chunk of that sort is going to go UKIP. However, the LibDems going more right-wing economically will not win them back, which I think is what you are trying to hint at.

    There are others who are dropping off from the LibDems for no reason other than “Uh, not sure, but haven’t the LibDems gone all wrong?”. These are people who have very little interest in politics, so not much of a clue about what any of the parties stand for. So often they’ll vote on very superficial grounds. The “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks on the LibDems from Labour work on these people, as does the very negative and unfair coverage the LibDems get in the media. We saw something similar when the Liberal SDP merger happened. Negative and untrue media coverage of what happened (reality – the merger went smoothly with almost all activists in both parties joining the then SLD; falsehood, as reported by the media – there was a splintering into several parties of equal strength all fighting each other) led to a big drop in support from people whose only reason was “”Uh, not sure, but haven’t the Liberals gone all wrong?”, and it took about a decade of campaigning really to convince them they had been told untruths by people in the media, some of it out of malice, but much out of ignorance. Again, I can assure you that the LibDems adopting a more right-wing economic lien is NOT the way to win them back.

    To quite a big extent, what you are actually seeing is people who used to vote LibDem switching to “don’t know” and quite often to “don’t care”, and people who used to vote Tory sticking with Tory. This will give an appearance of a LibDem to Tory swing, but it does not mean an actual growth of right-wing thinking. Maybe a dose of UKIP-type right-wing thinking, but that’s what UKIP is there for – to syphon off votes from people who might be tempted to go left by painting a very superficial traditional left coating on a thoroughly right-wing body.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Apr '15 - 3:06pm

    Alex Sabine

    They need to win back a large chunk of those who voted Lib Dem in previous elections and now intend to vote Tory.

    OK, typical conversation:

    Canvasser: “How are you going to vote?”

    Voter: “Er, oh, I don’t know, all you politicians are all the same. All you care for is the rich. My son and his girlfriend want to start a family, but they can’t afford a house and can’t get a council house. My daughter has been unemployed for two years, she’s got good qualifications and experience, and applied for hundreds of jobs, but can’t get anything”,

    Canvasser: “OK, but if you were forced to choose, how would you go?”

    Voter: “Oh, er, well I always used to vote Liberal, because the Liberals seemed to be something a bit different, they weren’t just like snooty politicians, they seemed to be people like us and spoke up for us. But now I can see, they’re just the same, no difference between them and Labour and the Tories”.

    Canvasser: “So, you’d vote Liberal Democrat then?”

    Voter: “No, never, not again, they’ve betrayed us”.

    Canvasser: “So, is it Labour?”

    Voter: “Oh no, Labour’s a bit weird, I never vote for them”.

    Canvasser: “So what then?”

    Voter: “Well, they’re all the same, so it doesn’t matter. Maybe Conservative”.

    Canvasser: “Why?”

    Voter: “Well, they’re all the same, but I guess if you have to vote for one, you might as well vote Conservative, they aren’t weird like Labour, and they haven’t all gone wrong like the Liberals”.

    Now, the conversation might be a bit ruder than this, and might involve moans about housing and jobs going to immigrants, but it’s quite typical. Underneath, these people have been influenced by THE Sun and the Daily Mail, although they insist they haven’t been. Also by the utter failure of Labour to build a convincing image in the south where they never had the old Labour industrial image that still lingers in the north. Hence the “weirdness” bit, because when the LibDems were the main party of the left, Labour tended to be the party of a handful of posh ideologue types, who hadn’t a clue how to get through to working class people and didn’t like them much anyway.

  • http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2015/04/20/the-monday-afternoon-rolling-polling-blog/

    This thread on political betting shows the voter churn from 2010 in a great graphic. What’s interesting is where our vote has gone, and its by no means all leftwards. Similarly we’ve picked voted up from both Labour and the Tories, and there are a significant number of our 2010 voters who are undecided.

  • Alex Sabine
    If you read what Adrian Sanders says in this thread and what Andrew George has said at public meetings in St Ives – the message from tŵo MPs who know about these thins and about what should be done in the South West is very, very clear.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Apr '15 - 3:21pm

    What we need to do is convince such people that we are on their side against the establishment. We need to show that we do understand their concerns which can lead to lashing out on things like immigration, but also gently push them away from being encouraged by the likes of UKIP to suppose that’s at the heart of the problems they are facing, as we know it is not. We need a different sort of politics that attracts their attention, a way of making them think about the real issues, and a way to make it clear that we are democrats, meaning we see ourselves as a mechanism whereby ordinary people can get together and take control of how things are run. We used to have it and we called it “community politics”. OK, in practice we never used it to its full potential, and we let it become just an election-fighting mechanism and forgot the deeper reasoning behind it. But I still think that it had great potential, and to some extent that potential was wrecked when we had the SDP-Liberal alliance due to the SDP not understanding it, and those Liberals who were for it stubbornly saying “We’ll show you” and to do that turning into a Stakhanovite election-winning mechanism and forgetting the deeper principles that were behind it when it started.

  • Philip Thomas 20th Apr '15 - 3:39pm

    That makes sense. I was deeply puzzled by people saying “we used to vote for you but you betrayed your principles by getting into bed by the Tories… and so we’re voting Tory now” but it does make sense.

  • Alex Sabine 21st Apr '15 - 3:02am

    Matthew and Glenn: I am not arguing that the answer to the Lib Dems’ troubles in the South West is as simple as moving to the right economically. I am querying the idea that there is no point competing for ‘soft Tory’ voters, since:

    – The polling figures do suggest a significant amount of ‘churn’ between the Tories and Lib Dems between 2010 and now. Yes there has only been a 5-point pick-up in Tory support, but I’m assuming a good part of the 6-point pick-up in UKIP support has come from former Tory voters, as elsewhere in the country. If so then the Tories will have had to gain significantly more than 5 points to offset the losses to UKIP and end up 5 points up on their 2010 tally.

    – Irrespective of the number of Lib Dem to Tory switchers, on these figures a strategy of colonising the entire left-leaning or ‘progressive’ vote would only be sufficient to draw level with the Tory vote share – and only if you assume that everybody who currently intends to vote Labour or Green could be persuaded to vote Lib Dem. That doesn’t seem particularly plausible.

    – Bolano points out that anti-Tory and anti-right are not the same thing. He implies that a chunk of the 10% UKIP vote is there for the taking. That is possible, given that some of it probably came from the Lib Dems in the first place. But I suspect the kind of anti-establishment voters who once voted Lib Dem and now back UKIP are unlikely to be persuaded that the Lib Dems are an anti-establishment party when they have just been in government for five years. And, insofar as the EU is part of the establishment that they so dislike, such voters are not going to be won over by the Lib Dems’ stance on that issue. I could only see the Lib Dems winning votes from Labour, the Greens and UKIP by becoming a catch-all protest party and that option is now closed off.

    @ Matthew
    “Hence the “weirdness” bit, because when the LibDems were the main party of the left, Labour tended to be the party of a handful of posh ideologue types, who hadn’t a clue how to get through to working class people and didn’t like them much anyway.”

    I know plenty of Labour people who would have a diametrically opposite view of perceptions of them v the Lib Dems when it comes to connecting with working-class people, in the South and nationwide!

  • Bill le Breton 21st Apr '15 - 7:30am

    Alex and Philip – there is a very useful diagram from YouGov which I hope you will find here: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CDB4CT0W0AA1wS3.png:large

    YouGov interviewed 32,200 electors on the eve of polling day 2010 and they have reinterviewed them now. A little evidence to go into the debate.

    Yes there are some who voted LD in 2010 and are now suggesting they will vote Tory in this election, but of course we don’t know how many of these are in our Labour facing seats. I would imagine that most are. There are many Labour facing seats in which we were the challenger in 2010 and in which we shall now be a poor third or even fourth. And in which we may lose our last remaining councillors.

    What is helpful is that there is a good reserve of our 2010 vote in these 32,200 people who are still answering ‘Don’t Know’.

    Of course our air campaign has not really helped these people. Telling them that they were essentially people who voted for us because we would never get into power and that we were a comfortable haven for them helping them avoid responsibility was never going to endear us to them again. Clueless comes to mind.

    On the subject of so-called soft Tories (and our 2010 voters who are now saying they will vote Conservative) the assault on SNP hardens them up and the BluKip campaign has a similar effect as they become determined to have the Blu without the Kip. The Tories must be laughing their heads of that we should waste energy on helping them blow their own dog-whistle !

    Meanwhile, there are clearly half a dozen seats that Ashcroft polling tells us are on a knife edge. Please do what you can for those seats.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Apr '15 - 7:53am

    Would you mind listing those seats please? (Any in London?)
    And, are there any tactics you would recommend for soft Tories?

  • @Philip send some LDV firebrands round to persuade them?

  • Hi Bill. Thanks for the link to the YouGov chart, that’s interesting. It corresponds to the picture I would expect to see on a nationwide basis, with more Lib Dem to Labour switchers than Lib Dem to Tory (but still a significant amount of the latter).

    Given that the Lib Dems have been in coalition with the Tories and that very fact was always going to alienate (at least) half of the party’s former supporters, it’s not surprising to see this pattern. Clearly you’d expect a higher proportion of 2010 LD voters who supported the coalition to stay on board compared to 2010 LD voters who disapproved of the link-up from the off. Had there been a Labour-LD coalition you’d have seen the opposite pattern, ie a lot more Tory to Lib Dem switchers. (I agree with Glenn when he says that the collapse in left-wing support happened very early on, much of it straight away and the rest after the tuition fees debacle. By the end of 2010 it was gone.)

    However, I was highlighting the different dynamics in the South West as indicated by the ComRes polling. I agree it is multi-faceted though – as is the phenomenon of the rise in UKIP support in northern seats where they are positioned to become the main challengers to Labour and the LDs to be squeezed out of the picture. The number of UKIP second places in the north of England will probably be a more telling stat than the number of seats they actually win (probably no more than 3) or even their national vote share (I’m guessing this will be squeezed back to 10% to 12%, still enough for third place unless the Lib Dems exceed expectations on vote share as well as seat-by-seat Maginot tactics).

  • Alex Sabine 21st Apr '15 - 1:02pm

    Mistake in my 2nd para. It should read: “Had there been a Labour-LD coalition you’d have seen the opposite pattern, ie a lot more Lib Dem to Tory switchers.”

  • Philip Thomas 21st Apr '15 - 1:10pm

    TCO- although I have been canvassing on several occasions since January, except on the rare instance when I find someone who cares about Europe I am not that effective with Conservatives. (I am not much good at it full stop).

    Right at this moment, my message on the need for greater LD-Lab solidarity would probably go down like a lead balloon with Soft Cons.

  • Alex Sabine 21st Apr '15 - 1:50pm

    PS Bill, yes there is a sizeable contingent of 2010 Lib Dem voters among the undecideds in that YouGov chart, the equivalent of about 4 percentage points by the looks of it. I suspect a good number of these will revert to the LDs, which is why I can see the LD vote share recovering to 10% with a following wind – although this modest uptick overall would clearly not reflect a uniform nationwide pattern but regional/tactical differences. This could help the LDs cling on in more target seats, although I note that there is only a slightly smaller contingent of 2010 Tory voters among the undecideds who might go back into the blue corner as well as the scope for them to win back defectors to UKIP.

  • @Philip am I correct in thinking you’re an OE? Surely you just deploy the light blue stripes when the drives are long and gravelly and that famous charm in all other circumstances 😉

    Canvassing is about voter ID pure and simple – to provide information for GOTV, movement between elections, where to target messages etc. Ask them which way and mark it down as quickly as possible. Canny punters will try and delay you to stop you canvassing others.

    Sometimes you do come across an undecided. Hopefully they will tell you which way they lean. In those circumstances it depends upon the seat – who holds it, who’s the challenger and how marginal is it.

    A soft Con message could be as follows:

    – we’ve given more heart to the government than your right wing has
    – We’re more pro Eurpoe (but not one to volunteer)
    – In a Lab marginal where they’re not the challenger “we prevent Ed Miliband majority government – will ensure deficit is addressed responsibly”

  • Philip Thomas 21st Apr '15 - 2:55pm

    Yes, I am an OE. But I do not advertise, unless I deem it necessary. I will bear in mind what you say about voter ID.

  • Canvassing in the pre-election period is useful but long term data is the most useful.

    Usually we have limited resource out canvassing so we need to use it effectively. That means not getting waylaid with voter conversations (that’s what candidates are for), but getting the information down quickly.

    A full canvass should provide you with:

    – who to GOTV
    – who not to disturb (hard supporters of other parties) in the hope they forget to vote
    – who to target messages at – usually third party squeeze in a marginal
    – over time, how your support is varying
    – where to target for county and district elections

    But you have to get the data. That’s the tricky bit. Are you phone canvassing or door knocking?

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Apr '15 - 9:10pm

    Alex Sabine

    Given that the Lib Dems have been in coalition with the Tories and that very fact was always going to alienate (at least) half of the party’s former supporters, it’s not surprising to see this pattern.

    Which is why the party’s leadership should have done all it could to keep them on board. Instead it has done the opposite, all it can to make thoroughly sure they are alienated. If that was done as a deliberate tactic to move the party permanently to the right, congratulations, you seem to have done it. But no-one much seems to want the party you’ve turned it into.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Apr '15 - 9:14pm

    Alex Sabine

    @ Matthew
    “Hence the “weirdness” bit, because when the LibDems were the main party of the left, Labour tended to be the party of a handful of posh ideologue types, who hadn’t a clue how to get through to working class people and didn’t like them much anyway.”

    I know plenty of Labour people who would have a diametrically opposite view of perceptions of them v the Lib Dems when it comes to connecting with working-class people, in the South and nationwide!

    Well, they would do, wouldn’t they if they were Labour people?

    How well do you know the south outside London? I have no idea, maybe you do. But I mean the real south, the south of people who aren’t the sort of wealthy mansion-owners with fat cat jobs in London that outsiders seem to suppose almost everyone who lives in the Home Counties is.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Apr '15 - 9:21pm

    Alex Sabine

    And, insofar as the EU is part of the establishment that they so dislike,

    Oh, so the hedge funders who fund UKIP and newspaper editors who pump out the anti-EU line are not part of the establishment, whereas someone who earns a modest salary and lives in a small terrace house is just because he thinks that on balance being in the EU is a good thing, and one of the reasons for that is that the international co-operation of the EU is the only way to combat the REAL establishment of global financiers playing divide and rule against the democratic states?

    By “insofar” here what you actually mean is “as they have been conned into thinking as a distraction”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Apr '15 - 9:30pm

    Alex Sabine

    I could only see the Lib Dems winning votes from Labour, the Greens and UKIP by becoming a catch-all protest party and that option is now closed off.

    No, it’s not a “catch-all protest party”. It’s not aiming to catch protest votes from the rich who think anything that stops the holding into their money and squeezing the poor is a bad thing. There is a unified reason why people want to protest, and that is that the UK has moved from being a country which was fairly equal in wealth and opportunity to one which is about the most unequal country in western Europe. Why do you suppose that is not something that it is worthwhile protesting about?

    The continuous growth in inequality in this country under government of both the major parties is surely a big issue, and therefore something that warrants a political movement that sees it as something that needs to be tackled seriously.

    Again and again you are throwing out the line that the chance situation which meant a Conservative-LibDem coalition the only stable government in 2010 means we should accept our party being permanently shifted way from where it used to be. I DON’T accept that. I am content to accept that we had to form the coalition and make the necessary compromises that involved, and I have defended them. But I don’t agree that we should make out those compromises are what we really now would want in the first place – which is what the Cleggies are doing.

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