Archive for the 'Nick Clegg' Category


David Herdson asks: Where’s Cleggy?

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Solving the riddle of the election’s missing man

Two Kings and a Joker is the hand the media traditionally aims to deal the public in their coverage of general elections. They don’t always manage to do so as it depends on the real-life characters available but the battle for No 10 is usually best told as a contest between two big parties with a wild-card element thrown in.

That wild-card has usually been the Lib Dems, or the Liberal-SDP alliance before them. Would they ‘break the mould’, or at least make substantial gains, and if so, at the expense of who? Several times it looked as if they might; usually they didn’t. Most spectacularly, Nick Clegg’s party led several of the campaign-period polls in 2010 following his success in the first debate only to wind up with fewer seats than they’d started off with once the voting had taken place. But that’s to get ahead of ourselves: the point is that the Lib Dems’ progress was a central part of the coverage of that campaign. By contrast, this year, both Clegg and the wider Lib Dem team are notable only by their absence.

The reason is simple enough: there’s a different Joker. For a long time it looked as if Nigel Farage was being set up for the role. The election of several hundred UKIP councillors in 2013/14, their victory in the European elections and the two MPs defecting to them – consolidated in by-election wins – all pushed UKIP to polling scores regularly in the higher teens and sometimes into the twenties, scores which would have seen them make further Westminster gains if realised on May 7. Since the New Year, however, UKIP has gone backwards and now looks at least as likely to make net losses as net gains. No story there then even if, as is still probable, they finish third in the popular vote.

Instead, of course, it is the SNP which has produced the Joker and to which the media (and rival parties) have turned their attention – with good reason. Virtually every poll since the referendum has pointed to the kind of landslide swing in voting intention for Westminster that the SNP has already achieved at Holyrood. There’s a strong probability that they’ll have the third-most MPs after the election and will not only sweep Scottish Labour from the pre-eminence they’ve enjoyed at UK general elections since the 1960s but reduce them to a taxi-cab of a delegation. It’s the kind of dramatic story that none of the other potential Jokers – nor the Tories or Labour for that matter – have been able to deliver.

Sturgeon gate-crashing the party hasn’t changed the Two Kings and a Joker formula though, with the result that the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens have received only perfunctory coverage. Nick Clegg might have been granted the occasional TV appearance but the Lib Dems still have five other cabinet ministers: when was the last time you saw or heard from any one of them?

Does that matter? Apart from the question of lost deposits, you might think not. After all, the seats they’re really interested in are those they hold and those they think they can win; constituencies where they’ll already have a very strong ground game. Considering that Cleggmania didn’t help them particularly in those sort of constituencies in 2010 the reverse ought to hold true this time: a collapse in national support among those who have little direct contact with the party will not necessarily feed through to places where the party is strongly established – or at least, not to the same extent. On the other hand, the lack of any national media presence or policy impact has reduced their candidates to effectively a collective of independents.

A more pertinent effect will be the indirect one on the Con/Lab battles. With no means of attracting them back, the dissipation of the 2010 Lib Dem vote is now hard-wired into the voting patterns in those constituencies. In effect, Sturgeon might be causing Labour havoc north of the border but she’s done them a favour south of it.

David Herdson

p.s. One factor not being sufficiently taken into account in considering what might affect voting during the remainder of the campaign is the royal birth. Reports suggest that this will very probably happen before polling day and if so will be the lead story for two or three days. Obviously campaigning will continue but for those swing voters, particularly those whose involvement in politics extends to casting a vote only once every five years, a lot will have their own attention distracted and all will see far less that might make them change their minds.


The GE2015 prospects for Clegg, Salmond, and Farage are all dependent on tactical voting either for or against

Thursday, March 19th, 2015


So what combination will fail to be elected on May 7th?

One of those attending the PB party on Tuesday, a long standing lurker who has never posted, told me that one of his favourite bets at the moment was the then 50/1 he’d got that Farage, Salmond and Clegg would all fail to be elected at the election.

This was pleasing to me personally because the market on which combination of the three would make it was one I’d designed and suggested to Betfair Sportsbook.

    Election betting is always more fun when it is about people and with each case of Clegg, Salmond & Farage you can make a case that they won’t be elected.

Of the two current party leaders and one former leader only one of whom at the moment is an MP, Nick Clegg, and in Sheffield Hallam looks to have the biggest fight on his hands. The polling that’s done been suggests that LAB could take the seat a fact that has attracted many party activists to join the fight to oust him. This of itself could be Clegg’ salvation because it might encourage CON voters to back him to stop LAB.

Farage is if course the marmite politician – you either love him or you loathe him and he’s clearly got a tough fight in the three way marginal of Thanet South. He might be saved by the anti-UKIP vote being split between CON and LAB.

Salmond is seeking to get back into the Commons in the current Lib Dem seat of Gordon where the incumbent is retiring. A challenge is that the area voted overwhelmingly for NO last September and the Ashcroft polling did not have the SNP in as strong a position as in other Scottish constituencies. If there’s the anti-Salmond/SNP tactical vote bandwagon takes off he could be hit.

Latest prices on the combinations of who’ll be elected.

All 3 6/4
Clegg and Salmond 3/1
Farage and Salmond 11/4
Clegg and Farage 9/2
Salmond only 8/1
Clegg only 25/1
Farage only 25/1
None 40

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


New report suggests that students could tip the balance of power at GE15 provided they register to vote

Monday, December 1st, 2014

And that could mean trouble for Clegg in Sheffield Hallam

Following the Lord Ashcroft Sheffield Hallam poll last week which had the LD leader with a lead of just 3% over LAB there’s a new analysis of student voting patterns by Oxford’s Stephen Fisher suggesting that Nick Clegg and other Lib Dems could be vulnerable in seats where there are a lot of students on the register.

The British Election Study Internet Panel Survey shows a collapse in LD support among students, from 44% in 2010 to just 9% now with LAB the main beneficiary.

Students are only half as likely to support UKIP as the rest of the population 7% versus 15%. The report notes that parliamentary seats with a high density of students are ‘safe’ seats, which limits their electoral power. However, at the next election, differential voting behaviour by students could alter the outcome in up to a dozen seats the big one being Sheffield Hallam.

What could theoretically help the LD leader is the shift from household electoral registration to the new system of Individual Electoral Registration. This impacts on students more than other groups because they are highly mobile, often live at two addresses during the year and are ill-served by the transitional arrangements to the new registration system.

    Some higher education institutions however, notably Sheffield University, have linked their electronic enrolment systems to the compilation of the electoral roll. Early indications suggest this has been a successful way to reduce the impact of the change in registration. It also adds to Mr. Clegg’s re-election challenge.

A key factor in Hallam is what Tory voters do. At GE10 they accounted for 23.5% of the vote in Hallam and some might just be receptive to a tactical message by the yellows. After all the big objective for the blues on May 7th is to stop the reds from chalking up enough gains to put EdM into Downing Street.

In fact the more that Labour, which just got 16% of the vote in 2010, look set to take the seat the more it could encourage efforts to stop them. A high profile student campaign against Clegg might be what saves him.

PaddyPower has LAB at 7/2 to win the seat.

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




The worry for Nick Clegg is if moves like this in Nottingham gather momentum

Monday, June 16th, 2014

At the moment the pressure is very limited

So far according to Lib Dem blogger, Stephen Tall, just five of the party’s branches have had formal meetings to discuss the leadership and only two, Nottingham and Ribble Valley, have voted in favour of a contest.

The three others – Cambridge, Southwark and Salisbury – voted against. In Cambridge and Southwark the LDs currently hold Westminster seats and will be trying to fight off challenges from Labour.

Under the party rules 75 branches have to decide that way in order for a contest to be triggered and that has to be done within a strict timescale.

Tall’s conclusion, which I agree with, is that there is nowhere near the level of momentum to set a formal process going.

“..I doubt there are even 75 local parties planning to hold a general meeting. And, based on the current split in results, it looks like around 150 would be having to plan to do so in order to get to the magic 75. As it stands, therefore, it seems highly likely Nick Clegg will remain as party leader...”

Whatever these developments are going to be an ongoing irritant which of themselves hurt the leadership.

My view is that the party’s polling position is going to be important. Tonight we should see the latest monthly survey from ICM – the firm that generally gives the yellows their best position. In May it had a 13% share which was two points above the post GE10 low for the party.

The other polling that we are expecting is the Ashcroft CON-LD battleground seats survey. If he handles this like he did with the LAB-CON marginals then we’ll see a series of 1,000 sample phone polls in a handful of key constituencies.

Ladbrokes have 2/1 on Clegg being replaced before G£15 and 1/3 that he won’t.

  • Coming up later: News about the PB Ilkley gathering three weeks from tonight. The plan is to gather from about 6.30pn in a town centre pub not far from the station.
  • Mike Smithson

    Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble for more than a decade


    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


    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.