Archive for the 'Nick Clegg' Category


The post Nick v Nigel debate reaction

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The YouGov poll on who won the debate is out.


My own feeling is that the real loser from tonight is David Cameron and The Tories, today and next week, Nigel Farage has been given one hour to hoover up the Euro-sceptic vote.

I’ll update this thread if further polling is released.



EU referendum poll blow for Farage only hours before the TV clash with Clegg

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014


Labour’s “Get Clegg” decapitation strategy fails to impress punters. He remains an 80pc chance to retain Hallam

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

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So Nick versus Nigel is on but it should be on national TV not LBC

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Ladbrokes open debate betting to be settled on a voodoo poll!!

Well done to Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage for agreeing to a debate ahead of the European elections. This will certainly add fizz to the Euro Elections and could boost turnout beyond the 35% of last time.

Given Nick Clegg’s position and his party’s numbers in the polls the challenge was a smart move and will help the LDs in its efforts to position itself as the party of IN.

For Farage this is also a bonus and he’s been right to seize on it. Battling against the leader with the worst personal ratings should present him with plenty of opportunities.

    Isabel Hardman in the Speccie has this right: “Farage and Clegg are pitching to completely different voters, so both will come away from the debate feeling as though they’ve got what they wanted from it.”

There’s already talk that even Eurosceptic Tory ministers will be cheering Clegg on in the hope that he’ll be able to burst the UKIP balloon.

Inevitably LBC has tried to take ownership of the debate given that Clegg proposed it and Farage accepted while broadcasting on the London news station. But that is a poor platform and will diminish the event. It needs to be on national TV.

Meanwhile Ladbrokes are offering 5/6 on both Farage and Clegg winning the debate – this to be deduced from the LBS “poll” afterwards. Having a market is fine – using a voodoo poll as the settlement mechanism is utter garbage. Ladbrokes can do better.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Will Farage accept Clegg’s challenge?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

And will it help Clegg and the Lib Dems?


This morning Nick Clegg has challenged Nigel Farage to a live debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union before May’s elections.

I wonder if this the new approach is to do with the fact that senior Lib Dem MPs such as Tim Farron are publicly warning that the party’s “very presence in the European Parliament could be at stake” as it contends with poor opinion poll ratings that consistently put the junior coalition party behind UKIP. Every pollster bar Ipsos-Mori has them in fourth place behind UKIP in Westminster voting intentions.

It would give Clegg and the Lib Dems visibility to carve out a distinct position from their coalition partners, and an ability to hoover the Pro-EU vote in the country, which recent polling shows is nearly evenly split about remaining or leaving the EU. What they have done so far clearly isn’t working in the polls.

UKIP’s Director of Communications has responded and from my initial reading of this, is they will only accept if Ed and Dave are also invited. 

Last night I spoke to a Lib Dem activist friend in Sheffield Hallam and the conversation turned to the matters of the EU one of the things that struck me, and I haven’t appreciated in the past, one of the reasons why Nick Clegg is a committed and passionate supporter of the  European Union, for his mother is from the Netherlands and his wife is Spanish.

A Clegg v Farage debate would make for fascinating viewing, we all remember the last time Nick Clegg took part in some debates with other party leaders, he’s very good at them.

If Farage doesn’t take part, I think there will be a downside for him, it will make his complaints about not being included in the 2015 debates a bit hollow if he’s not prepared to debate with the Deputy Prime Minister (and Leader of the Liberal Democrats) over the EU.

Some in the media are already goading/teasing Farage if he doesn’t accept Nick Clegg’s offer.

All eyes (or should that be ears) on Nigel Farage on LBC tomorrow morning.



Labour to launch a decapitation strategy against Clegg?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

This morning reports emerged that the Labour party is briefing that it has launched a “major bid” to defeat Clegg in his Sheffield Hallam constituency at the next election, with one NEC source declaring that it is “pouring resources” into the seat.

There is a Lord Ashcroft poll from October 2010 which showed Labour trailing the Lib Dems by 2% in Sheffield Hallam, and marked shifts in the 2010 General Election voting if voters had known Clegg had gone into government with the Conservatives.

From my knowledge of the seat, I know the Lib Dems have been very active in the seat, holding their council seats in the constituency, such as the Fulwood by-election last year, when they achieved a swing from Labour, and the seat is atypical for a Northern Seat. 

One of the advantages for the Lib Dems in Sheffield Hallam is that there aren’t any other nearby seats that Lib Dem activists are needed to help defend, so resources won’t be diverted from other seats.

As Lord Ashcroft also noted on the Lib Dem decapitation strategy of 2005 (see page 304 of this report)

“My polling uncovered many interesting facts, including that voters in the Liberal Democrats’ decapitation seats were less inclined to vote against the sitting Conservative MP when they were told of the decapitation motivation…Oliver Letwin clearly understood the message because when he was interviewed by Ann Treneman of the Times during the campaign, he asked her to use the word ‘decapitation’ a lot because he said it would help him to get elected”

The other negative for Labour from this is, if there is a hung parliament at the next election, and the chances that the next government after that election to be run by two MPs from South Yorkshire have probably diminished following Labour’s targeting of Nick Clegg.

Perhaps this is as Labourlist suggest, Labour’s way of saying No Thanks Nick, to his recent overtures to Labour. 

I know that some Labour people from the very top of the party have no love for Nick Clegg. A few years ago, Ed Miliband  said  “Nick Clegg, is a betrayal of the Liberal tradition. David Cameron and Nick Clegg are texting each other like teenagers in love because they agree with each other. It’s not some forced marriage, they ideologically agree with each other.”

As a wise man once said, Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement.

There are other seats in Yorkshire that Labour should be focussing their energies upon, such as Dewsbury, Elmet & Rothwell, Calder Valley, Keighley, Pudsey & Bradford East, seats which are more likely to fall to Labour than Sheffield Hallam ,a seat Labour have been in third place since the 80s, and a seat they have never held in its 129 year history, despite being in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire. 

If you think Labour’s approach is going to work, both Paddy Power and Ladbrokes offer odds of 5/1 on Labour taking Sheffield Hallam in 2015. I won’t be backing Labour to win Sheffield Hallam.


(Who grew up in Sheffield Hallam, and since last summer has been living in seat again)


Clegg will survive the Rennard crisis but if he doesn’t watch out for Norman Lamb, the LD John Major

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

In a crisis go for the grey haired man

I’ve been getting a number of requests for my view on whether Clegg will survive the Rennard crisis and what my thoughts are on a likely successor.

Certainly what appears to be open warfare between LD peers and the leadership together with the threatened legal action by Rennard make this a tricky period for Clegg. There might be factions who’ve never been supporters who could use the issue to try to force change.

    I believe that Clegg has an extraordinary level of resilience and if he wants to carry on then he will do so – any observations I make here on the leadership have to be seen in that context.

A key figure is former leader Paddy Ashdown and I would be very surprised if he isn’t totally supportive of the leader in both public and in private with his fellow LD peers.

In the what I consider the unlikely event of Clegg standing aside then the views of Ashdown and fellow grandee, Shirley Williams, would be crucial. The coalition would still be in existence and they would give their backing to the contender best equipped for the demanding 16 months until GE2015.

    I’ve got a hunch that they would avoid current betting favourite Tim Farron simply because he’s not a minister. Instead they’d opt for health minister and Clegg’s ex-chief parliamentary and political adviser, Norman Lamb.

Lamb, like John Major in November 1990, is not widely known but he’s is a safe pair of hands and a good communicator with few enemies within the party. He’d be a unifier in a way that Farron, Cable or Ed Davey wouldn’t.

He is able to be assertive without being aggressive and would get good support within the Parliamentary party. His best chance of leadership was always if circumstances meant that a contest took place before the general election.

I bet on him nearly 3 years ago at 25/1. He’s now at 10/1. I’m not putting any more on because I don’t think there’ll be an immediate vacancy.

Mike Smithson

Ranked one of the top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Clegg’s big EE2014 gamble: pitching the LDs as the party of “in” and leading the fight against UKIP

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Can the yellows retain their 4th place?

The Telegraph is leading this morning on attacks by Nick Clegg and Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, on UKIP with them pitching the party as the only one which is enthusiastic about remaining in the EU.

This is the first serious campaigning ahead of May’s elections which are now less than five months away.

The Clegg argument is that a strong vote performance by UKIP in the election will send out the message to business that Britain is less than fully committed to the EU which could make it more cautious about investing in the country. A big UKIP vote could undermine the recovery.

Clearly, given his party’s current Westminster polling position and its record of doing poorly in these elections, the LDs could struggle even to win a single MEP. There is also the possibility that they could finish fifth behind the Greens.

In his New Year message Clegg says: UKIP want out. The Conservatives are flirting with exit. And Labour don’t have the courage of their convictions on this.”

The big question is whether this niche approach, going for the pro EU segment of the electorate, will stave off what many had predicted as being a disaster for the party.

From Clegg’s perspective there is little to lose and maybe a lot to gain by being the one who is not equivocating in his approach to the Farage threat. Also it might be smart positioning the party as the main opponents of UKIP.

Time will tell.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004