Archive for the 'Lib Dems' Category


Big question in blue-yellow battles is how much you can trust the Ashcroft 2 stage seat specific questioning

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Illuminating observations from the inventor – UKPR’s Anthony Wells

There’s a big debate going on over the Lord Ashcroft style two stage questioning in his single constituency polls of which there have been more than 150. It will be recalled that after asking the standard voting question he puts a second one suggesting that those sampled focus on their own seat and the candidates who might stand.

The numbers that are highlighted are the responses to the latter not the former. In his CON-LD seat polling the two stage approach is producing very striking results suggesting that there will be fewer easy pickings for the blue team than might appear from national polling.

The issue, which could be crucial given the importance of the blue-yellow battleground to the outcome on May 7th, is how much the Ashcroft approach can be trusted. The good news is that it was tested in a limited fashion by UKPR’s Anthony Wells prior to GE10. He wrote recently:-

“Personally I have confidence in the two-stage constituency question. It’s something I originally used in marginal polling for PoliticsHome back in 2008 and 2009, to address the problem that any polling of Lib Dem seats always seems to show a big jump for Labour and a collapse for the Lib Dems. This would look completely normal these days of course, but you used to find the same thing in polls when Labour were doing badly nationally and the Lib Dems well. My theory was that when people were asked about their voting intention they did not factor in any tactical decisions they might actually make – that is, if you were a Labour supporter in a LD-v-Con seat you might tell a pollster you’d vote Labour because they were the party you really supported, but actually vote Lib Dem as a tactical anti-Tory vote. The way that it only has a significant effect in Lib Dem seats has always given me some confidence it is working, and people aren’t just feeling obliged to give as different answer – the overwhelming majority of people answer the same to both questions.

However the fact is the two-stage-constituency question is only theoretical – it hasn’t been well tested. Going back to it’s original use for the PoliticsHome marginal poll back in 2009, polling in Lib Dem seats using the normal question found vote shares of CON 41, LAB 17, LDEM 28. Using the locally prompted second question the figures became CON 37, LAB 12, LDEM 38. In really those seats ended up voting CON 39, LAB 9, LDEM 45. Clearly in that sense the prompted question gave a better steer to how well the Lib Dems were doing in their marginals… but the caveats are very heavy (it was 9 months before the election, so people could just have change their minds, and it’s only one data point anyway.) I trust the constituency prompted figures more, but that’s a personal opinion, the evidence isn’t there for us to be sure..”

To my mind Anthony is right that the consistent pattern of this only showing big differences in LD seats suggests that something different is happening in those battles that should be taken into account.

Certainly, looking at the betting prices in CON-facing LD seats, punters appear to putting their money behind the two stage approach.

The LD are literally betting the party at the election on their individual candidates being the main selling point. They are effectively running “Mayoral election” type battles.

Not long to wait till the early hours of Friday May 8th when we’ll know for sure what’s happened.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Is Lord Ashcroft the reason Nick Clegg is still leading the Lib Dems?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

If so, who will be more grateful? The Lib Dems or their opponents?

One of most striking things of this parliament, is the Lib Dems’ unshakeable calm whilst the national opinion polls suggest in May the Lib Dems are headed for an epochal defeat that may end up being a modern Charge of the Light Brigade. We regularly get polling with the Lib Dems in single digits nationwide, and recently, in fifth place behind the Greens, yet there’s no appearance of outward panic.

There’s probably been more talk about Ed’s leadership than there has been of Nick Clegg’s leadership in the last few months. So why haven’t the Lib Dems replaced their leader or even discussed it publicly?

I think the answer is because Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling which shows the Lib Dems doing better than national polling indicates, a recent batch in Lib Dem/Con marginals showed only a 2% LD to Con swing in these seats. Without this polling I think the Lib Dems would have removed Nick Clegg as it is easier to reassure colleagues worried about losing their seats, that there’s non internal polling showing them holding their seats.

A few years ago, Nick Clegg criticised Lord Ashcroft’s influence on British politics and tax status, but today he might be very thankful for the Good Lord’s intervention, which confirms we live in interesting times, with a Tory MP urging his constituents to back the Greens and the Tories hoping for the SNP to do well. This all tells us this is going to be a fascinating election.

We should also remember today’s political opponents, may soon become tomorrow’s allies.



BES study shows that voters in LD seats have far more trust in their MPs than those in LAB or CON constituencies

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

A bit of Xmas cheer for the LDs

Earlier in the month a big divide appeared between the huge joint university initiative, the British Election Study, and Lord Ashcroft’s polling of individual CON facing LD held seats. The former pointed to disaster while aggregate data from latter’s latest batch found that the yellows were 9% ahead.

    The reason, of course, is that you get very different responses in these seats when you ask voters, as Lord A does, to think specifically about the candidates who will stand locally and the generic national voting questions.

This was very much reinforced by the above BES data from Nottingham’s Prof Phil Cowley, on the differing responses when you ask whether people trust their own MPs. The actual question was how much trust responders had in MPs ‘in general’ and how much they have in the MP ‘in your local constituency’. The response were on a seven point scale, from 1 (no trust) to 7 (a lot of trust).

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

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

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

The Lib Dems look set to lose a lot of MPs on May 7th but not on the scale that poll ratings of 6% suggest.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble



Is Clegg set to announce his departure today?

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Some interesting movements over at the bookies


It is worth checking out the next Lib Dem Leader/Lib Dem leader at the General Election markets Take the 6/1 and 12/1  on Vince Cable, Tim Farron and Danny Alexander




Clegg’s big day

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

So what will be the big surprise(s) from Clegg’s speech.

I expect the issue that damaged the Lib Dems from the start, tuition fees will get an airing, as that probably helped defined the Lib Dems in government, but as he apologised in the past with no benefit, it might be a mistake to bring it up again as it might remind a certain segment of the electorate why they no longer vote Lib Dem.

As David Cameron showed last week, a conference speech can lead to a poll boost for your party, so I’m expecting a few rabbits out of the hat from Team Clegg.

With David Cameron’s unfunded tax cuts promise last week, I’m also expecting Nick Clegg to use theme that the neither the Tories or Labour can be trusted to run the country on their own, particularly as the likes of Danny Alexander have said they are p***ed off with the Tories taking the credit on the economy. 

If the Lib Dems don’t get a boost from this for the next few days, then you get the feeling they will be in the polling doldrums until the general election campaign begins.

The fact that Nick Clegg is 1/16 to be remain the Lib Dem leader at the next general election given i) his personal ratings ii) the party’s ratings, tells you that the Lib Dems are backing their man, the question is will the country?



Voters think Lib Dems will fade away within ten years but UKIP is here to stay

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

In the last few weeks, YouGov polled the following question about the Lib Dems and UKIP

“Which of the following comes closer to your opinion about the future for the Lib Dems/UKIP”


As we can see the voters think going forward that UKIP will be more relevant than the Lib Dems.

I suspect the current Westminster VI polling is driving this, as the Lord Ashcroft marginal polls showed, the Lib Dems are doing better than national polling suggests, more so than normal, the next election will be about seats won, rather than the national share of the vote.

So the Lib Dem relevance will still be important in UK politics, I and others have speculated that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems might be the only constant in government this decade. I expect both the Lib Dems and UKIP are here to stay.

History has also shown that writing off the Lib Dem isn’t wise, as they following video shows, a week later after this intervention, the Lib Dems gained Eastbourne from the Tories in a by-election.



Norman Lamb says a coalition with Ed would ‘enormously damaging’ for the Liberal Democrats

Monday, October 6th, 2014


Yesterday Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem MP said

The Liberal Democrats must not go into coalition with Labour even if they win more seats after the general election because the association with Ed Miliband would be so “damaging” for the party, a minister has warned.

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem care minister, said his party would be come under sustained attack if they make a coalition deal with Labour if the party get a small majority at the next election because Ed Miliband will prove to be as unpopular as Francois Hollande is in France.

Mr Lamb, one of Nick Clegg’s closest allies, warned that any deal would results in “zero honeymoon” time and instead the Lib Dems would be attacked from word go.

Mr Lamb warned that being “latched to” a Labour-Lib Dem coalition in such a scenario would be “enormously damaging” for the Liberal Democrats.

What makes this intervention so interesting is that as the telegraph alludes to is Norman Lamb’s closeness to Nick Clegg, I’m guessing such an intervention must have been vetted/approved by the Lib Dem leader.

Although some in the Labour party will be amused and annoyed that a party that is polling in the single digits is saying a future coalition with Labour will be damaging for the Lib Dems, for those who have been critical of Ed Miliband in recent weeks, will be able to point out that Ed’s performance is so bad, that the Lib Dems don’t want to be associated with us.

My instinct after this intervention is to back the 8/1 Ladbrokes are offering on a Labour minority government after the next election.



CON hopes are based on the LDs flourishing in LAB-CON marginals but not in CON-LD ones. The opposite is the case.

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

GE2015 will see the return of big time tactical voting

Because so much has been going on politically in the past few days very little attention has been paid to the latest round of marginals polling that was published by Lord Ashcroft last Sunday afternoon. The focus was on Lib Dem seats and the chart above is based on Lord A”s aggregate data from 17 separate polls.

We’ve talked so often before about the collapse of the Lib Dem vote providing the main boost to Labour in its CON targets. This polling shows what’s happening in seats the Tories need to win but where LAB has little interest.

The big figures are that the coalition partners are level pegging on 32% each which represents a swing from LD to CON since GE2010 of just 2%. This is the best performance by Clegg’s party in any polling and will give heart to his beleaguered party as delegates gather in Glasgow for their party conference – an event that had to be put back from its usual mid-September because of the IndyRef.

With current Lib Dem seats it is very hard to find common trends. In some places they are doing poorly while in other defences there is a CON to LD swing since GE2010.

    The most interesting feature and one that will concern Tory planners is that the polling shows that once again LAB voters are ready to switch to stop the Tories. 22% said they’d do so in this latest round.

That’s based on looking at the two-stage voting intention question which Lord A uses. An initial one and then a second asking responders to focus on their particular seat. So we can see from the data the scale of change.

That the LDs might be winning back some of this vote is critical because much of the Lib Dem success in previous CON battles has been down to persuading LAB voters that their best interest lay in switching.

With relations between the coalition partners inevitably getting worse as we get nearer to polling day the easier it will be for the Lib Dems to win over more tacticals which is why I’m expecting the party do do better in terms of seats than even the latest Ashcroft polling suggests.

Expect the very public spat this week between Theresa May and Nick Clegg to be amplified in Glasgow. That helps the yellows.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter