Archive for the 'Lib Dems' Category


Vince Cable the next Lib Dem leader?

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Video of Vince Cable’s most memorable moment from when he was the acting Lib Dem Leader in 2007

Today’s Sunday Times reports

VINCE CABLE, the business secretary, is being tipped by senior Liberal Democrats as the party’s next leader if Nick Clegg loses his seat or resigns after a poor result in the general election.

Cable, 71, who had all but ruled himself out of any leadership contest, is now being promoted by senior Lib Dems as a “safe pair of hands” who can steer the party into a coalition with either Labour or the Tories.

Given a few weeks ago, he very publicly criticised  Tim Farron, the favourite to succeed Nick Clegg, this is what he said.

“I mean, he’s [Farron] a very good campaigning MP, but he’s never been in government and has never had to make difficult decisions and I think his credibility isn’t great. You know, he’s an entertaining speaker and has a bit of a fan club. But I suspect he would not be seen as a very credible leader, at least now. Maybe in five, 10 years time, things are different.”

You do have to wonder if Cable was on manoeuvres, there’s been polls from several pollsters showing Clegg is on course to lose Sheffield Hallam, and it would be remiss of Vince Cable not to be doing some planning on the leadership front.

If the Liberal Democrat do as badly as some expect and their leader loses his seat and other heavyweights have lost their seats or have stood down, then Vince suddenly becomes the most experienced MP in the party as he’s been in government for the last five years, something Farron has not experienced.

The line of “this is no time for a novice”, might get an airing, especially if the Lib Dems are in negotiations to enter a new coalition with either Labour or the Tories.

Some might say Vince Cable’s age might be a barrier to becoming leader, he is 72 next month, but he could point out, that the favourite to be the next President of the United States of America, is only four years younger than him, and she’ll be 69 when she takes office.

Vince Cable is  currently 8/1 with several bookmakers to be the next Lib Dem leader.



It can be argued that the flawed polls are those that don’t name candidates

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

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Why the LDs are releasing some of their private polling

Yesterday I received the full media briefing on the controversial private LD polling which has attracted a lot of attention. I was able to ask about any seat and have a pretty good picture of how things are looking.

The reason for the part disclosure is to make a very simple point that naming the candidates can make a huge difference – as seen in the one poll that was published on Lynne Featherstone’s fight to beat off LAB in Wood Green & Hornsey.

She won the seat in 2005 and has built up a powerful personal support base that is directly linked to what she has done on the ground. Effectively she has become the brand not her party.

The Ashcroft polling of the seat was about parties even with the second voting question asking people to think of their own constituencies and the candidates who might stand. It showed her some way off. The LD poll in which candidates are named, had the gap at just 1%.

The fieldwork and tabulation was carried out by Survation but the poll designed by party. As has been pointed out the voting question was not, as is the norm, put first and that can have an impact. Also it was weighted back fully to 2010 without a misremembering adjustment.

What I came away with is that the polling is designed almost solely to help the party decide where to put its resources in the final stages of the campaign. Some current LD held seats are going to be given lower priority as s result of the data. Others are going to be given boosts.

The best guide to what the polling overall is showing is in the betting prices in each constituency. Clearly the data filters out to party workers many of whom are having a punt.

My conclusion is that where the LDs are tighter than 5/2 the polling has shown that they are in with a shout.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Norman Lamb, my long-term bet for Clegg’s replacement, moves a step closer to being a leadership contender

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

The Indy on Sunday is reporting this morning that a number of the party’s peers and MPs have approached him about being a candidate should there be a post May 7th leadership contest. It reports:

Speaking before the Lib Dem spring conference in Liverpool this week, Mr Lamb admitted he is thinking about running.

‘When people raise this with me it inevitably makes you think, in the circumstances envisaged, what would I do?” said Mr Lamb. “I have to answer the question. I’m fiercely loyal to Nick. I always have been, but at some point there will be a further [leadership election] and I will consider the position. I am open-minded about it. My view is if people think well of the job that I’ve done [as Health minister] and people then, as a result, conclude they want me to have a go for the top job, then I will consider it.’

Lamb is one of the strongest LD favourites to hold his seat (N Norfolk) at the election and has the backing of the party establishment. The latter is usually the determining factor in the party.

He’s seen as a very safe pair of hands who in his own low key way is a highly effective communicator. My guess is that the party grandees would prefer him to Farron who is popular with activists.

I first got on him at 25/1 in April 2011. He’s now into about 6/1.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


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?