Archive for the 'Lib Dems' Category


Lord Ashcroft has not unexpected gloomy news for the LDs in the battles where they are most vulnerable to LAB

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

But the choice of seats ignores the interesting battles

Sorry about the delay in getting this up but I’ve been in London all day and have only just got back.

The figures are what you’d expect and the seats selected for the poll are the ones where Clegg’s party is likely to struggle most so the extrapolation from the four listed paints a very bad picture

Undoubtedly the yellows will suffer badly at the hands of the red team but they will do better where there are strong, well-recognised local incumbents like Simon Hughes and Lynn Featherstone.

In general elections you do not vote for a party or a leader but for an individual to be your representative at Westminster which is why naming candidates in polls can give a better picture.

    I agree with the view of UKPR’s Anthony Wells that “it’s a bit of a shame Ashcroft didn’t include some more challenging LD-Lab fights like Cambridge, Hornsey & Wood Green or Bermondsey.”

I’ve suggested to a couple of bookmakers that they run markets on the number of LD losses to LAB.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Lord Ashcroft’s promised CON-LD battleground polls could either take the pressure off Clegg or add to it

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

What’s going on in LD-held seats is critical

The 6% share for the Lib Dems in today’s YouGov/Sun poll is the lowest the firm has reported since it began its online operation in 2001. The party was just 1% ahead of the Greens. While Opinium, which generally has the worse figures for the yellows has had them at this level before the latest finding will add to the discomfort in the party coming as it does after the appalling performance in the Euros on May 22nd.

So far there’s been little pressure on Clegg himself. In fact he’s been rather helped by the cack-handed move by Lord Oakeshott at the end of last month with the revelation that he’d commissioned a series of ICM polls in key constituencies.

The difference between those surveys and the Ashcroft approach is the adoption of the two stage question which we’ve discussed here before. After the standard “which party will you vote for” the Ashcroft structure is to ask a second question in which respondents are invited to focus on their own seats. The results have generally seen a big uplift.

So the promised surveys from Lord Ashcroft “this month” could not be timed better. For if even with the helpful second question the LDs look set to lose a fair number of defences against the Tories then that will really knock the spirit out of the party.

    For the one thing that’s been keeping yellow hopes alive is the perception that things are different in their strongholds. If Ashcroft undermines that belief then who knows what will happen?

Quite when this month the polls will appear I do not know.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Should the Lib Dems treat the 2015 election as their Rorke’s Drift

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

The video above is what it must feel like to be Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems and what awaits them in next year’s General Election.

James Kirkup in the Telegraph writes about the Lib Dems in Newark

If Labour was passive in Newark, the Lib Dems were non-existent. Not a single Lib Dem MP campaigned there, and only a single peer. (Lord Newby). The cash-strapped central party gave no support to the local candidate. Finishing sixth and losing the deposit surprised no one.

Arguably, this was rational: the Lib Dems have scarce resources and have decided to concentrate them on those seats where they have a realistic chance of holding on; trying to make gains is almost entirely ruled out. Phil Cowley of Nottingham University has snappily dubbed this a Zulu strategy, Clegg’s redcoats retreating to the last line of mealie bags.

Prof Cowley persuasively says that’s “a sign of a party that is sensibly marshalling resources.”

I agree with Professor Cowley.

Whilst we have first past the post, the national share of the vote is irrelevant, it’s all about the number of the seats you win. As seems likely on current polling, next year, UKIP will outpoll the Lib Dems, but the Lib Dems will end up with more MPs, the fact the Lib Dems have started to do this a year before the election leads me to believe they’ll do better than currently anticipated.

James Kirkup seems to think Lib Dems as having to give up on any pretence of being a national party.

Whilst this looks bad in the newspapers and upsets the activists at their breakfast, this would be for only one electoral cycle, they could use their base of seats from 2015 onwards to rebuild.

If it comes down to losing 200-400 deposits and having 40 MPs or losing 50 deposits, but only having 20 MPs, we all know which option we’d go for if we were in the Lib Dems shoes. It is easier to rebuild with more MPs than fewer MPs.

You can bet on the number on Lib Dem seats at the next election, the 31-40 band looks appealing. 

Of course this is all predicated on the premise that Clegg and co are like Chard and Bromhead and not the Zulus.




Lib Dem incumbency would be overwhelmed on current polling

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Their current national figures would see losses on the same scale as the local elections

Cockroach-like.  That was Tim Farron’s description of Lib Dems’ resilience in withstanding a hostile climate.  The inference was that no matter how tough things might be across the country, where they have elected representatives, their vote would hold firm enough.

He had a point: Lib Dem MPs and councillors have in the past proven notoriously difficult to shift due to local campaigning, popularity and hard work and their being transfer-friendly to tactical votes.  Is it still true though?  The recent constituency polling Lord Oakeshott commissioned suggested strongly not, though it should be noted that the methodology ICM used was unfavourable to his former party.

A better case study was the local elections: for every four seats held last week, three were lost.  Not all of them will have been in constituencies the Lib Dems represent at Westminster or even ones they’re competitive in but by definition they must have been locally strong in the relevant wards and yet more than 40% defended still went down.  The same rate of loss at a general election would leave the Yellows with 33 MPs.

In some ways, that wouldn’t be at all bad: to lose half your vote but keep more than half your MPs would be good going, especially under FPTP.  After all, 33 MPs is considerably more than the Liberal-SDP Alliance won in the 1980s on close to three times the current polling.

Incumbency can only hold out against the tide so far though: there comes a point when there simply aren’t enough votes to go round to return large numbers of MPs: UNS cannot apply at the bottom end because you can’t lose (say) 14% in a seat where you only had 8% to start with.  Of itself, that means that more have to come from the middle or top to make up the difference.  If we further assume that the top end also outperforms because of incumbency, that implies a tremendous and probably unrealistic collapse in the middle.

To give an example, suppose the Lib Dems poll 9% at the election.  On the same turnout as 2010, that would reduce their votes received from 6.8m to 2.7m (not that the turnout really matters but keeping it the same removes one variable).  If they polled 30% in twenty seats, 35% in another twenty and 40% in a further twenty, that alone would be close to a million votes – and those shares might well see them win the 33 mentioned above.  It would, however, leave just 1.7m to be spread across the 570 other constituencies at an average of just 6.4%.  With presumably other seats where the Lib Dems have a reasonable showing, it’d imply near-extinction levels across many and lost deposits in about half.

If Polling into single figures is inconsistent with keeping the substantial majority of seats presently held but the question is which side which part will prove to be false.  One clue could be provided if the polling companies routinely asked people to think about how they’d vote in their constituency.  We know this can have an effect on responses and as everyone does vote in their constituency, there’s no real reason not to phrase it like that.  If there is an incumbency bonus, doing so might bump up the polls and square the circle.  On the other hand, if the polling is right – and present figures lie smack bang between the Lib Dems’ actual scores in the locals and Euros, just as you’d expect – then the Yellows are in for big losses.

David Herdson


A masterclass in how not to conduct a political assasination

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


Lord Oakeshott resigned today from the Lib Dems following the publication of those polls. He said “I am sure the party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change”

It also emerged there were other polls, that unsurprisingly showed Danny Alexander losing his seat, but very surprisingly Vince Cable losing Twickenham.

The always perceptive Damian Lyons Lowe of Survation and his colleagues have analysed the first batch of Oakeshott polls, and their analysis is (which should lessen the impact of the polls)

We believe that a candidate named, regular methodology poll from ICM would show Cambridge and Sheffield Hallam as clear Lib Dem holds. Tessa Munt is not 20 points adrift in Wells and that Redcar is a likely Labour gain on paper should be a surprise to no-one.

As a Conservative, I can tell Lord Oakeshott, the best way to replace a Leader, is not to stab them in the back, but to stab them in the front, usually publicly, as the late Lady Thatcher and Iain Duncan Smith can attest to.

I suspect the following will be the outcome from Lord Oakeshott’s manoeuvres, and not in the way he intended.

i) Nick Clegg is now in place until the election, the Oakeshott polling and the YouGov polling for The Times, shows those Lib Dems holding out for a hero to save them at the election will be disappointed, the Lib Dems won’t be doing better with another leader. It maybe the best or least worst option for Nick Clegg to take the hit in 2015 and allow the Lib Dems to regroup after the election.

On Saturday and Sunday I placed bets on Nick Clegg not to be leader at the General Election, on reflection, I’m not expecting those bets to be winners, as I’m not sure anyone else wants to lead the Liberal Democrats to an  epochal defeat in 2015, the likes of Tim Farron won’t want that on their CV.

ii) Given the single digit polling and anticipated seat losses, I wonder if the Lib Dem differentiation strategy may get increased further as a way of trying to boost themselves in the poll. A near wipe out at the European Elections maybe viewed as a harbinger for next year. Could the coalition end sooner than anticipated?

iii) Will Vince Cable have to resign? Without wanting to go all Howard Baker, What did Vince Cable know and when did he know it? There appears to be some confusion on what he did know.  According to the Guardian 

Cable has admitted that he was aware of the anti-Clegg polling being conducted by Oakeshott. He did not know that Oakeshott was polling in Clegg’s constituency, and in Danny Alexander’s, he said. But – contrary to the impression he gave yesterday – he was aware of the other polling being carried out. That other polling included questions designed to show whether the Lib Dems would do better with Cable as leader. Earlier Sir Menzies Campbell said he would be surprised if Cable had know about this.

It takes a very special kind of talent to miss your target, and potentially fatally damage the career of the man you’d like to be the new Leader  though I think Vince is safe judging by this tweet.





Lib Dem voters sticking with Nick Clegg according to new YouGov-Times poll

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

After several days of pressure on Nick Clegg new YouGov polling for the Times suggests that most current party supporters want him to remain as leader. Even amongst those who voted for the party in 2010 he has a lead.

The point, of course, is that those still supporting the party are likely to be loyalists. Amongst all sampled, however, 42% say he shouldn’t remain with 30% saying he should.

    As to whether the party would do better being led by Vince Cable, architect of the tuition fees policy and the Royal Mail sell-off, the poll finds that a switch would make no difference to the party’s GE15 prospects.

We’ve also now got the detail of the privately-funded ICM polling in four key LD constituencies in which the standard ICM voting question was put.

The experience from the extensive Ashcroft marginals polling is that you can get a very different outcomes when the two stage question is asked.

“1. If there were a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for? Would it be Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, Plaid Cymru [Cardiff(North(only] or another party? If ‘another party’: Would that be, the Green Party, the British National Party (BNP), or some other party – or do you not know how you would vote?

2. And thinking specifically about your own constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand there, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for in your own constituency at the next general election? “

This teases out tactical voting and the incumbency impact which in LD-held seats can add 10 points or so.

Clegg has still got some hurdles to mount but as we’ve seen many times over with politicians deemed to be “in trouble” they generally have extraordinary resilience. Look out how Brown survived in the 2007-10 period or even John Major in the years leading up to GE97.

I’m not betting on an early Clegg departure.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Someone or maybe a group of Lib Dems are spending serious money trying to oust Clegg

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

But who is behind it and what’s the next step?

Hopefully later today ICM will release the detailed data from the private polling that’s splashed by the Guardian this morning. The broad message of what’s been leaked is that the party stands to do worse in four key seats that it already holds without a change of leader.

The choice of pollster is interesting. ICM has over the years tended to show the most favourable position for the Lib Dems.

What struck me are not just the numbers but the fact that serious money is being spent on the effort to try to get Clegg out.

Constituency surveys like this are just about the most complex and expensive political polling that you can do. They can only be carried out by phone and the bill for this job will have been tens of thousands of pounds. It also takes time and planning. It is not the sort of thing that could have been commissioned last week.

    The conclusion I come to is that someone, or maybe a group of people, are trying to create the environment that will make it even more difficult for the current leadership to carry on

    If so Clegg would appear to have an organised and well-funded rebellion on his hands

The polling goes to the very heart the party’s current perception about its GE15 chances. This is that although they’ll struggle across most of the country they are doing OK in their strongholds.

Under British Polling Council rules ICM will be required to publish the poll details but whether the funder’s name will be made public is a different matter. Who is it? I’ve got my suspicions but I’m not going to reveal them.

Update on my effort to identify who is behind the poll

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Leaked private polling shows Clegg losing Sheffield Hallam and finishing third behind the Tories!

Monday, May 26th, 2014

If there’s one thing that gets people like us excited and interested is a leaked internal/private polling, especially ones conducted by ICM.

The polling finds

The electoral oblivion apparently confronting the Liberal Democrats as led by Nick Clegg was underscored on Monday by leaked opinion polls in four seats showing that the party will be wiped out.

Commissioned by a Lib Dem supporter from ICM and subsequently passed to the Guardian, the polling indicates that the Lib Dem leader would forfeit his own Sheffield Hallam constituency at the next election.

The party would also lose its seats in in Cambridge, Redcar and Wells, costing MPs Julian Huppert, Ian Swales and Tessa Munt Westminster seats.

If the business secretary, Vince Cable, were to take over as leader, the Lib Dems would perform marginally better, the data suggests. Appointing Danny Alexander, the chief secretary, would give the party a more modest boost.

The Guardian notes

The polls undertaken in April and May are of all respondents expressing an intention to vote and are turnout weighted. It does not include some adjustments ICM uses for national polls. The polls also question the value of a personal-vote showing. Although Munt, Swales and Huppert have positive ratings for a good job by their constituents, fewer than half recognise them.

One of the things that has made ICM the gold standard of UK polling is their adjustments, such as their spiral of silence adjustment, so it’s not quite the usual ICM poll we’ve come to know.

I would caution PBers before betting based on these polls/articles until we see the full data tables, although we may never do so, as these are private polls, never meant for public consumption, so as I understand, ICM are under no obligation to publish them.

But you can get 7/1 on Labour taking Sheffield Hallam, but IIRC, the Lib Dems on Thursday’s council elections, won the wards that make up Sheffield Hallam, I won’t be taking up this bet.