For once I do not need to add a caveat about changes being inside the margin of error and not necessarily being significant – today’s YouGov poll for the Sun shows a huge surge for the Liberal Democrats on the back of Nick Clegg’s debate performance, putting the Lib Dems ahead of Labour and into second place. The topline figures are CON 33%(-4), LAB 28%(-3), LDEM 30%(+8). The surge in Lib Dem support therefore seems to have come pretty evenly at the expence of the Conservatives and Labour. This is the highest level of support YouGov have recorded for the Liberal Democrats since the aftermath of the Brent East by-election victory, way back in 2003.

On a uniform swing these figures would leave Labour the largest party, despite being in third place. The Lib Dems would have around about 100 seats. In reality though, it’s almost impossible to say how this would translate into an election result. In 1983 when the SDP Liberal Alliance almost pushed Labour into third place UNS was actually a pretty good predictor of the result, but who knows how it would work in practice now. If the Lib Dems stay at this sort of figure I’m sure we’ll eventually see some more detailled polling to see how the electoral plates are shifting, but till then it is speculation.

The questions now are firstly whether other polls show the same thing? Secondly how long this boost lasts. Is it mostly a publicity boost that will rapidly disappear, or will it stick around? Boosts after things like the Brent East by-election didn’t last long, but in this case the Lib Dems will probably enjoy a further publicity boost from the very fact there are polls showing them in second place, and on top of that there are two more debates to go. Thirdly, how does this change the narrative – can the Lib Dems start painting themselves as a contender to actually win?

739 Responses to “Lib Dems overtake Labour”

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  1. oldnat

    “In the US meaning of the term, we probably are!”

    you are getting boring again

    ““Scotland and Wales are not separate states” as E/ S/ W/ NI are the UK.

    The UK is not- yet- a Federal state nor does it have a Federal constituiton.

    If a landslide DC administration (ho ho ho) wanted to pass a bill abolishing the Scottish parliament they could and therein- really- ends this silly sideshow.

    Now if you excuse me I have more imporatnt things to think and write about namely a UK general election ;-)

  2. @Simon
    Chris D-The bulk of polling must have been after debate, with 7% increase.

    Tories/Labour must highlight LD weakness = Policy.
    LD are far too pro EU for middle England and soft on immigration. This must be highlighted
    Simon, why should Labour do any such thing ? It is doing nicely, thank you very much. To get a similar number of seats with conventional breakdown it would need circa 33/34%.

  3. Alec
    I wonder if Lord Ashcroft is thinking he should have just put his money in a building society account like the rest of us?
    What, like Northern Rock? :-)


    “The “I am going to emigrate” posts have started again on ‘political betting’”

    But they always let is down by staying!

  5. So ComRes and ICM tonight both showing Labour largest party again. Labour just needs most seats, thats it. Conservative vote in freefall

  6. @richard O

    “The big thing is how long, and how sustained will the LD rise be”

    well on PB yesterday the punters-in-the-know were saying it would last one day.

    By my maths this is now day 2……

  7. Neil @ 4:40 pm
    What possible justification could there be for Alex Salmond appearing in a debate in England, about issues which, as he himself pointed out, mainly only concern England, when his party are not contesting any seats in England, and he himself is not contesting any seats at all!

    None whatsoever, had it been broadcast only in England, which has three major parties. The problem – which was what the 1995 case was about – is that it was broadcast in three other nations, each of which have four major parties. Northern Ireland is arguably different in that none of the the party leaders present last Thursday are offering candidates for election in that nation. Scotland and Wales are entirely different in that each of those nations have a major party which was excluded from the debate, so giving an extra 30 minutes prime-time party political broadcast to each of their competitors.

    If that strikes you as fair or democratic then so be it, but it may help others to appreciate why supporters of the party which received the most votes in Scotland at the last two electoral tests feel short-changed and why the Court of Session banned the 1995 John Major BBC Panorama from being broadcast in Scotland.

  8. @ Simon

    Think it shows some consistency with earlier more knee-jerk polls, that’s why it’s interesting. Good news for the Conservatives it certainly isn’t. They will probably poll more than 31% in future polls, but I predict Cameron is a spent force. The fascade has come off.

  9. Rich:

    “Northern Rock”

    Might just as well……….

  10. Is it just me, or are polls leaking earlier and earlier nowadays?

  11. @AlJ

    “’ll give them a lift in my car ;-)”


    You think the volcanoes will be erupting all the way to polling day then?

    Crisis brewing – economy threatened – how will GB handle it?
    Whose side are the gods on?


    Sunday Telegraph/ICM

    Con 34 (-3)
    LD 27 (+7)
    Lab 29 (-2)

    ComRes/Sunday Mirror/IoS

    Con 31 (-4)
    LD 29 (+8)
    Lab 27 (-2)

  13. @Rob,

    I know, it’s worrying (for me as a Con supporter).

    Still a long way to go though. Some of the posts saying the Tories are finished, when they still have a 5 point lead, is partisan wishful thinking, but you can see scenarios unfolding that are not great for them. I am most worried about them attacking the Lib Dems, as not sure it is a good ploy by any means.

    The way its going, for the next debate, Cameron is going to need to give a performance with the authority of Thatcher and the humility of Ghandi to turn this round.


  14. @AlJ

    “’ll give them a lift in my car ;-)”


    You think the volcanoes will be erupting all the way to polling day then?

    Crisis brewing – economy threatened – just as well I bought a pineapple the other day – how will GB handle it?
    Whose side are the gods on?

  15. It’s a shame the air problems will delay the frightening exodus we’re threatened with.

  16. ComRes/Sunday Mirror/IoS

    Con 31 (-4)
    LD 29 (+8)
    Lab 27 (-2)

    Sorry if this has been mentioned elsewhere!

  17. Sorry for the double posts – it’s the website hanging (as I predicted when I was still 1/2 hr behind)

  18. @ Neil

    What are the ICM figures? Not seen them.


    ‘It’s a shame the air problems will delay the frightening exodus we’re threatened with.’

    Ferry or the Tunnel ???

  20. The Cons are finished I feel – Labour offers experience the Libs offer real change, the Cons are squeezed out and I feel they will be a redress over the next few days but it won’t be of benefit to the Tories.

    Every poll performed since the debate has shown the greater shift toward Lib Dems than Labour.

    There’s a lot of South West marginals the Cons were aiming for, and can pretty much kiss those goodbyr, hell I think the Lib’s will take a few of the Cons down there.

  21. GreenGrass

    lol I was thinking more of the airport -but one never knows -I may be forced to take them to a sea-port instead. ;-)
    Now that you’ve mentioned it -I wonder how long the eruption will continue!! It’s all happening at the same time.

  22. Over on Conservative Home they’ve started to panic with 31%. They don’t know which way to run.

  23. @ Richard O – Cameron is going to need to give a performance with the authority of Thatcher and the humility of Ghandi

    Cameron as Ghandi?? Now that IS wishful thinking…..

  24. Comres poll is also out and shows Conservative 31, Liberal Democrats 29 and Labour 27.

  25. Ian: too slow for my liking.

  26. New Thread folks!

  27. Before Labour posters get quite so extactic over the switch from Conservatives to LibDem please take a moment to consider the position of the LibDems on Europe, do you think that many Conservative leaning or soft voters will embrace the LibDem policy when they find out what it is?

    As I have posted earlier today, the swing vote from Conservative to LibDem is likely to return to the Conservatives, the same does not hold true for the swing vote from Labour to LibDem.

    It would seem that Labour posters on here are a really excitable lot, a few weeks ago they were posting that Labour would overtake the Conservatives when an odd poll showed only a 2% lead for the Conservatives, then some Labour posters said that the Conservatives could not hit 40%, the Conservatives went through it. Now Labour are in third place in the polls and suddenly according to Labour supporters they are winning by losing ground.

    I really find it ironic that some posters do not realise that historic precidents do not exist for this situation and keep trying to find them and what is worse apply them to the present situation where we are only 18/19 days away from the election itself.

    Everybody should calm down and realise that the sun will still rise tomorrow and we can all still see massive change yet in the polls. Oh, and by the way my prediction still stands, in fact I may have been a little bit too liberal with the Labour share of the vote on election day, but it is only 0.5% so I will stick with:

    C = 37%
    LD =29%
    L = 24%

    I would add that it is almost certain that the Greens and UKIP will now each win their first seats at Westminster.

  28. I might do some reverse pyschology.

    On Betfair, Labour are still over 5-1 to win most seats. Is that worth £50? Conservatives are odds on still to win most seats.

    Those odds seem very generous, and my thinking is this;

    If I lose my £50, I will be happy Cons are likely to get in to Govt. If Labour are largest party and Brown stays, I win £300 towards offsetting what it will cost me in high NI,Council tax and other stuff that will increase under Brown. :-)

  29. also should add that Labour majority has actually drifted out to 20/1, so markets giving that no chance. Not sure if thats interesting to anybody.

  30. Cameron has to abandon the centre and move towards the Right. He can’t win in the centre now.

  31. RAF – with all due respect to you personally your suggestion is not even going to be contemplated – nothing Labour would love more than for the Conservatives to move right, it being the only hope Labour have of not ending up on 22% of the vote.

  32. @Bill roy

    sorry but NOTHING in the trend (Con=35) nor current data (Con=31) now projects that the Conservatives will be anywhere near 37%- thats just partisan wishful thinking.

    Clegg for Cameron: its events dear boy events………

  33. Just an observation…are we witnessing the big clunking fist?

  34. Bill Roy

    Voice of sanity. If 1.5 hours of three leaders saying relatively little can do this, then a further 3 hours of the leaders saying relatively little more can also lead to almost anything. The fact is no-one knows and what is really needed is to see whether what has happened so far is replicated in the marginals – I suspect to some extent but probably not to the extent of the national polls.

  35. yokobs

    “what is really needed is to see whether what has happened so far is replicated in the marginals – I suspect to some extent but probably not to the extent of the national polls.”

    The voice of conservative optimism- bon chance. But aren’t you the type who always argues that national swings between parties are heightened in ‘the marginals’?

  36. Bill Roy
    I agree completely that Lab have been desperately trying to push Cameron to the right. And that the Tory inner circle have thought (like the rest of us to date) that this would be electoral suicide for Cameron.

    However, whether the current LD surge is temporary or not, it has scuppered DC’s carefully crafted campaign to appeal to the centre ground. There will now be intense pressure on DC to find some clear blue water. And for the first time of late this now makes sense. After all, if we accept Lab and LD are largely centrist/c left, the Tories are the only party on the Right.

    How DC deals with this change of strategy (or not) will determine his fate.

  37. Rob Sheffield

    The reason I said anything could happen and no-one knows is because that’s actually what I think ie I don’t rule out the Conservative vote falling below 30% or the LibDems actually getting the highest share of the popular vote.

    As regards marginals, the answer to your question is No. I have never argued that! If I am following the marginals correctly, as reported, (and I may not be) I have picked up the impression that the swing to the Conservatives was higher than the national swing.

  38. Emigrating is very difficult for most people but I am quite certain that, if Labour form the next government, there will be a large exodus.

    Five more years of Labour is just unthinkable and frankly, if they form the government with 27% of the vote I think there will be serious unrest.

    Surely, the next week will see Clegg as pro-immigration, pro-Europe and that his policies will leave the country with a less effective military than Iran.

  39. the improvement in libdem standing as a result of equal coverage makes one wonder what would happen to “other” support if they got anything resembling fair coverage

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