There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow that probably isn’t what David Cameron hoped for on his 100th day in power. Topline voting intention figures are CON 37%(-1), LAB 37%(+3), LDEM 18%(-1). This is the first time an ICM poll has shown Labour catching the Conservatives since October 2007 and the election that never was.

Despite this rather striking finding, the Guardian’s report concentrates upon the findings on the economy, which is rather more positive for the government. 44% thought the government was doing a good job on securing the economic recovery, compared to 37% who thought it was a bad job. 42% thought George Osborne was doing a good job, 33% a bad job (a net approval of +9). ICM’s approval rating for the government stands at +10 (the difference between this and the narrower figures from YouGov will be at least partially the wording – YouGov ask if people approve of what the government is doing, ICM ask if they are doing a good job. ICM’s wording probably picks up people who think the government is doing a competent job at something they don’t necessarily agree with).


130 Responses to “ICM show Labour and Tories neck and neck”

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  1. Can everyone please stop getting excited about the IPSOS-Mori report? As I hinted in the last thread, a rudimentary scrutiny will show that the last polling information that is used in it comes from 23-25 July. So instead of being:

    The Coalition’s First 100 Days
    The public’s verdict

    it should be:

    The Coalition’s First 73 Days
    Some random statistics from a total of two polls we’re putting out and pretending that makes a trend because we couldn’t find anyone to pay for 100 days survey

    Similarly, if you look at the latest YouGov, Osborne’s ratings have slipped down to +7 at nearly 100 days, so maybe Howe regains his crown. If course he’s still best in IPSOS-MORI’s records; but as these consist of 19 data points over 34 years, that’s not exactly world shattering.

    [cleaned up version of part post on Liberal Conspiracy – so apologies if it’s familiar]

  2. Roger,

    Chill man…

  3. A perfect time then to inaugurate my new trend tracking model over on my own blog. (Check the link in my name.)

    With this new poll added, I’m showing a R2 0.67 downward trend, of around half a point per month, on the Conservative lead over Labour.

    I’m growing strongly tempted to call the honeymoon over. But not quite yet…

  4. A bit off topic , but you know when everyone was agreeing about reducing council house tenure and forcing downsizing. Of course when it actually happens:

    ht tp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1303772/Pensioner-83-facing-eviction-home-make-room-families-needing-council-housing.html

    The Daily Mail. Never knowingly consistent.

  5. Rob,

    I second Neil’s charitible suggestion. I’ll even give it to Rob Sheff Plc. if it is preferred.

  6. Roger,

    I scan the Daily Mail daily – pardon the pun…. Occasionally the stories are very worthwhile reading…

    Today’s story on an Israeli soldier’s choice of photographs was most informative.

  7. @NeilA

    Accepted: all donations to Bristol Rovers supporters club !

  8. @ Eoin

    My mother never told me that Applemacs were pretty girls so I’m all right :)

  9. Billy,

    Lol. ICm and YG are both fully paid up members of the sane club of polling… Frankly, it gets harder to separate them with every election. ICM still the gold standard I think, on balance.

  10. @ Roger Mexico

    “The Daily Mail. Never knowingly consistent.”

    Unless it’s dealing with foreigners or homosexuals.

  11. @ Eoin

    Seems to be that way (shame ICM don’t conduct surveys more often)

  12. @Rob Sheffield

    You said “…Same koolade as @Martyn…”

    Rob. You have outlined a plausible sequence of events by which the Coalition can collapse prematurely, to wit:

    A) Bad economic news for >2yrs
    B) LIBs get battered in elections
    C) LIBs panic and split
    D) LIBs engender a coalition collapse
    E) Labour replace the coalition

    Entirely possible. But this is not enough. Let me explain.

    A plausible sequence of events with no known probability for each event is better known as a “conspiracy theory”. Your sequence goes “if A and B and C and D happen, then E happens”. “A” is high-probability, “B” and “C” are unquantifiable, “D” is low-probability. So the probability of “E” is…well, it could be anything. (Except 1) . I don’t even have a method for guesstimating it.

    We know how long previous coalitions lasted. We can say that “Of the previous coalitions, most lasted for years. Of the previous coalitions that were formed at the beginning of a term with a working majority, most (all?) lasted on/near the full term”.

    You’re asking us to replace a deterministic statement (“Coalitions like this have lasted in the past”) with a probabilistic statement (“If this sequence of events happen, then the Coalition will fall”) without any estimated probability, without even a method for estimating them.

    Rob, I can’t contradict your argument, because you’re not making an arguement. What you are doing is saying “If stuff happens, then other stuff will happen. Possibly”. To which the only response is “Er, yeeess. And?”

    Regards, Martyn

  13. I’d propose that it would be more like,

    A) Tip-Over Event
    B) LIBs panic and split
    C) LIBs engender a coalition collapse
    D) Labour replace the coalition

    Unlike Martyn, I understand that D is a high probability, should C occur. Unlike Labour or the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrat party conference has fangs. It does not require consent of party leadership, for the coalition to be dismantled.

    B is also a wider set of possible tip-over stress events on the Liberal Democrat party, Parliamentary Party, or even the Leadership. It includes rejection of the Voting Reform bill in parliament, loss of the AV referendum, economic problems, a huge drop in a by-election, or a policy dispute over items included in the coalition agreement. As such, I rate the possibility of such an event to be quite high.

    What it depends on is the transition points. These are the points where there is a chance to slow things down, or hold them at that point in the chain. It will then be dependent on the strength of government.

  14. @Martyn

    In fairness to Rob’s argument 1) seems very likely indeed. If it does it seems rational that 2) will follow (it might not, the coalition could could get credit for cutting fairly and succeed in keeping the blame on the previous administration but history says voters have short memories).

    I agree that 3) is debatable and I won’t offer my opinion on the Lib Dem’s ability to handle the pressure – they haven’t been tested yet. But if they do split 4) is surely inevitable?

    If that happens then there’s going to be another election (whether Labour or Tories or another coalition win it is sort of irrelevant to the argument about whether this coalition will last the distance).

    It all depends on 3) in my opinion and that’s at least possible. I think it’s way to early the next General Election will be as late as 2015.

  15. I also think problems will stack-up for the government.

    Each time there’s another potential tip-over event, it’ll start up the process again from where they managed to last hold it up. I think it’ll be very hard to stitch any split back up, so a reset back to before A is unlikely.

    This means, I think the government is going to have a maximum life span of six major crisis points. With the government rolling the dice on holding the liberal democrats together with each crisis…

  16. @Jay Blanc, @Steven Wheeler (Lab)

    Thanks for the sensible response. You both make a similar point: rating “D) LIBs engender a coalition collapse” as high-probability. The reason why I rated this as low-prob is because all the paraphernalia surrounding fixed terms, government dissolution, etc is to make it difficult to collapse a Government.

    I assume (but do not know) that Clegg’s European Parliament experience kicked in when it came to the Coalition formation. They’re designed not to be easily dissolvable.

    The “marriage” analogy is useful here: it is logistically *difficult* to divorce. It cannot withstand a full-on “Aaargh! Aaargh! I’m an orange! MUMMY!” stand-on-desk breakdown, but it can withstand an “er, it’s not you, it’s me…I think we should be seeing other people” moment.

    We’re still thinking in old-school rules: parties snog, have a bit of a flirt, say goodbye the next day, no biggie. But this isn’t old-school, it’s an actual Coalition and it’s qualitatively different.

    Regards, Martyn

  17. I think the important thing to note from this poll is that ICM have consistently placed LDs higher than other pollsters for a while now.

    Of course I think that polls wont be too interesting until the Conference Season, simply to see how LDs react to David Cameron being at their party conference. Also to see what happens to labour with a new leader.

    When gordon became PM Labour’s ratings went up for a brief time, but I wonder if the same effect will occur here.

  18. I think the protection accorded by the anti-breakup steps are a lot weaker than supposed.

  19. @Jay Blanc

    Another sensible response. You’re spoiling me. Let’s look at your events:

    i) rejection of the Voting Reform bill in parliament,
    ii) loss of the AV referendum,
    iii) economic problems,
    iv) a huge drop in a by-election,
    v) a policy dispute over items included in the coalition agreement.

    My guesstimates for probabilities are:

    i) ~5%. Quite low-prob this. Who’s going to vote against? Labour. Is that enough? No.
    ii) ~50%. We can guess the prob from the polls
    iii) ~90%. When aren’t there?
    iv) ~50% (total guess)
    v) ~25%. The coalition agreement’s quite wide ranging.

    We can’t multiply them (not independent) but, squinting my eyes and crossing my fingers, the probability of at least one event is very high, the probability of at least six events is quite low.

    Regards, Martyn

  20. @Martyn

    Your selection is just a few of the potential problems that could come up and pressure the Liberlal Democrats. There are many many more, and each one will require a “saving throw” of the dice on not going down the path towards breakup.

    And pretty much any political crisis that comes up is going to be a pressure on the Liberal Democrats. They’ve already had one roll of the dice over David Laws, which they survived.

  21. @Jay Blanc

    Yep. But if we assign a prob to them we can at least do the math and come up with some sort of number. Absent that, it’s just “stuff happens”: interesting, but intractable.

    Regards, Martyn

  22. I think you’re giving into the temptation to attempt to use statistical analysis by inventing data. Yes, it’d be great if we could put firm numbers to these events, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think we can produce reliable probabilities for them.

  23. @ Jay

    Amber proposes that it would be more like:

    A) Tip-Over Event
    B) Dems come to their senses & begin ‘sabotaging’ the government agenda from within the coalition; thwarting the Tories on important votes.
    C) Tories must thole the enemy within & cannot call an election because of the legislation.
    D) This mockery of a government stumbles towards 2015 when the British public, famous for their irony & love of a good farce, end up with another hung parliament. 8-)

  24. Hi everyone, have been watching this site for a while but this is my first post!

    IMHO:

    Although it is impossible, at this stage, to predict how, if or why the coalition will break up, what is becoming clear to me is the following:

    Sooner or later the media turn against you. The Tories are lucky to enjoy a lot of media support, but the Lib Dems are not. As we saw with Gordon Brown, when the media turn against you they choose something and pick pick pick away at it. With GB it was whether there was going to be a challenge from within his party to get rid of him. Why??? because the Tory-hugging press would have loved to see that happen. So give it some time and I think the Tory-hugging press will start to harp on about “what will bring the coalition down”… this could be the never ending story of the parliament.

    Of course the plots against GB were the never ending story of his tenure in No. 10 yet he was never brought down, so this is not to say that the CON-DEMS will be broken up, but being constantly undermined coupled with bad election results is no help when unemployment is growing, the economy ISN’T and people are beginning to say “I didn’t vote for this” (because people always conveniently forget what they voted for).

    Next topic: The Lib Dems up here in Scotland (I’m from sunny Ayrshire).

    Scotland, as you all know, has a four party system… except it really is not a four party system. There are very few constituencies where ALL four parties are competitive.

    In fact, there are 40-ish constituencies where Labour are safe, about 5 or 6 where the SNP are a shoe-in, about 7 or 8 where the Lib Dems are the party of choice and the rest are marginal (for those of you would say that’s too many, I’m counting using the Holyrood constituencies as they have longer-established boundaries at this point)…. and YES I do not believe there is a SINGLE safe Tory seat in Scotland, so forget Edinburgh Pentlands and Ayr… I predict the Tories to lose both in 2011.

    I think we will see Lib Dem support crumble at the next Scottish election. Of course, given that they got around 16% at 2007 election (a bit lower than they previously enjoyed) crumbling would be a result of about 13% (down 20% for them).

    I think this will play a key role in the election. It will not deprive the Lib Dems of any of their constituencies (where they have DEEP roots in the community) but it WILL rob them of seats on the regional lists and I firmly believe that the majority of those votes will go Labour’s way.

    That on it’s own could be enough to tip several constituencies back to labour that were lost in 2007. I’m thinking in particular of places such as Cunninghame North, Kilmarnock and Glasgow Govan. These three West-Central Scotland seats (read: Labour Heartland) just fell by very small margins to the Nationalists at the last election and have no true historical SNP vote (with the exception of Govan, a long-held SNP objective).

    Other Nationalists gains in 2007 (Dundee West, Ochil, Stirling etc.) are more typical SNP territory, having been trending towards them for years, are on the fringe of their “North East Scotland Heartland” and will be harder fought. But given that the 2007 result was SNP: 47 Labour: 46 the SNP cannot afford to lose a single seat. The Lib Dems may just have cost the SNP an election!

    Any thoughts from fellow Scots/Scottish political watchers?

    Have a good night

    Ross

  25. @Martyn

    If we’re going to put numbers in “just for fun” here’s my attempt. We need to consider not just the probabilities of events i)-v) but the probabilities that they lead to a coalition collapse as well so;

    I’ll use your estimations for the probabilites i-v and mine for the likelihood of collapse.

    I)If they can’t even get the bill through parliament when it’s the LibDems main policy things are going very badly – 80% the government collapses. That’s a 96% chance the government survive (95% they win the vote 1% they lose but survive anyway).

    II)This is very damaging but survivable – 10%. 0.04+0.96x(0.5×0.1)=0.088 chance of collapse so far. Lets call it 9% since we’re hardly being exact.

    III)Everyone is expecting this so it probably won’t upset the government – 5%. 0.09+0.91x(0.9×0.05)=0.13095, That’s 13%

    IV)Total guess 10%. 0.13+0.87x(0.5×0.1) = 17%

    V)I’ll say 20%. 0.17 +0.83(0.25×0.2) = 21%

    That’s a 21% chance the coalition fail one of their saving throws considering just the events we know about. Obviously the numbers both of us have put in are very subjective but you have to shift the percentages down a long way to say that an early election is totally ridiculous.

  26. The poll is good news for Labour of course though I don’t think it predicts who will win the next election. The Tories might be ahead given the margin of error but I think that regardless of what happens at the next election, Labour has rebounded.

    I think this polling also shows just how broad the Labour base has become and how broad it remains to be in spite of recent losses. There were any number of reasons for voters to vote against Labour in 2010 and to vote for the Tories…..independent of ideology. But Labour is not limited to its traditional core of voters. Many of the converts to Labour that Tony Blair won over are still with Labour or still voters who would consider voting for Labour even if they voted Tory at the last election.

    Ironically, what hurts the Lib-Dems are all the Lib Dem-Con swing voters. These voters may have planned to vote Lib Dem but then switched to vote Tory out of the fear that a strong Clegg would help prop up Gordon Brown and they wanted Brown out. Even though that’s no longer the case, with Cameron performing reasonably well as Prime Minister, many of these Lib Dem-Con swing voters may be even more likely to vote Tory than before.

  27. @Martyn

    1)

    Rob…you said…
    A) Bad economic news for >2yrs
    B) LIBs get battered in elections
    C) LIBs panic and split
    D) LIBs engender a coalition collapse
    E) Labour replace the coalition

    Er no I did not actually: you are sooo convincing Martyn that you are actually making yourself hallucinate.

    What I said was actually:

    a) Economic retrenchment and excessive cuts with no economic (only a political) justification lead to a massive decrease in coalition support amongst voters

    b) The social and environmental repercussions of the said economic retrenchments are too much for the social liberal element in the Lib Dems- estimated between 70% and 80% of the membership: though granted 50 – 60% of the MP’s

    c) (a) and (b) combined with election defeats in May 2011, 2012 and 2013 irrespective of the AV result- which currently is not looking too hopeful- lead to aforesaid social liberals to demand that lib dems orderly exit from the coalition for fear of being completely wiped out at the following general election (notwithstanding their principled and heartfelt disagreements with the results of the coalitions economic and social policies); at which point the orange book Tories propose a formal alliance to save the seats of worried social liberals.

    This position will be reached- in my **estimation NOT assertion- sometime between summer- autumn 2013 at the latest.

    d) Many possibilities pertain at this point but include:

    1. all lib dems resign from government including Nicholas and Co;

    2. orange MP ministers refuse to resign and the party splits either formally and cleanly, or into splinters (not for the first time)- Cameron is kept in power by the 20-25 orange book liberals who continue on in government;

    3. social liberals lose their nerve and grumble from the sidelines with between five and ten leaving government benches to sit with opposition as ‘non-coalition’ liberal democrats- Cameron continues.

    None of these three scenarios means automatically that Labour steps into the breach but- effectively- ALL of them means ‘the coalition’ is dead even if it continues in name. In reality it is very unlikely- in (1) and (2) specifically- that labour would not benefit, at least to a degree.

    Even in (3) with refusniks crossing –the-floor you would expect an uptick in Labour poll numbers.

    2)

    We know how long previous coalitions lasted. We can say that “Of the previous coalitions, most lasted for years. Of the previous coalitions that were formed at the beginning of a term with a working majority, most (all?) lasted on/near the full term”.

    Oh Martyn, dear oh dear. I could simply say quod gratis asseritur and leave it there. But that would be letting you off the hook.

    You are not using either grounded theory or a ‘constant comparison’ method in your pontificating.

    Or, to put it in a way you might understand ;-)

    **You are comparing past apples with a current orange**.

    We’ve – of course- never had a coalition like this one: you have no comparable data with which to assert your hypothesis that the coalition will survive under all conditions and no matter how environmental variables change against it.

    This assertion is what it is: simply your personal subjective opinion. :-)

  28. Yawn ;-)

  29. I am just looking at the details of the SkyNews poll..
    Anthony suggested it was a bit “ropey”
    Well I have had a thorough look at this poll, it’s far from ropey in fact… It’s more near what I’ve been saying for ages… The torys would get near 48% if a GE tomorrow and Labour probably a bit low on 24% (maybe 25-26, but not 24)
    Anyway at least we have another poll from someone different.. Exciting timed

  30. ICM Poll

    As I said last night, don’t take too much notice of this one.. They weren’t exactly accurate at the GE anyway.

    Labour getting 37% .. I would eat my hat.. And I ain’t got pne’

  31. I think Jay and others misunderstand the Lib Dem attitude to the coalition.

    The Lib Dems believe in PR which means a need for a coalition after almost every election. This is a central tenet of Lib Demery – many of them are far more fanatical about this than they are about any other policy.

    The UK has no real experience of that type of politics and what experience it does have eg in Scotland is not hugely encouraging.

    To persuade UK voters to move to PR in due course (and AV is of course just a stepping stone) the Lib Dems have to show that it won’t result in Italian style chaos with coalition partners walking out in a huff every 5 minutes and having 4 governments a year. This may be a parody of PR when compared with places like Germany but the fear of it is real enough.

    This coalition is the Lib Dem chance to prove that coalitions can work. And that won’t be achieved by them pulling it down – particularly when they have committed to make it work for 5 years.

    Clegg, Huhne etc are playing a long game here

  32. @Rob,

    Note placed on desktop re: Bristol Rovers.

    @Jay,

    “Saving throw” of the dice? I detect another roleplayer??!!

    The other factor that no one is building in to their flow charts of Coalition disaster is that bad things can happen to Oppositions and good things can happen to Governments too. The natural assumption, if you oppose a political platform, is that it will go down in flames because it is “wrong” and that everyone will then see it for what it is and come flocking to your way of thinking. But we can’t be certain, even if a particular event occurs, that it will translate in a specific way politically. If the economy were to slip back into recession, it is assumed that Labour would benefit from this and that the public could be persuaded that “unnecessary cuts” are to blame. That might well happen. But the government might also successfully pass it off as further evidence of how bad the mess left by Labour was.

  33. yawn.

    I see that cool LD guy Simon Hughes is proposing some kind of straitjacket restraint for crazy Con ideas, so that the support and blessing of the LD party/MPs will be required before the LD MPs give their parliamentary support.

    Now, this could all be pre conference posturing or an attempt to portray the LDs as independent of the Cons…but it seems to me that pressures are growing within the LD party. The conference season will be very really interesting.

  34. “I forsee no circumstances under which yellow would pull the plug.”

    Has been a theme since the coalition formed. Most seem to agree.

    I have no idea, though I have a hunch it won’t last, but really I definitely wouldn’t be putting my mortgage on it at all.

    What surprises me is that is is always followed up with the explanation that the Libs are in such a bad way they wouldn’t risk it.

    You all know I’m a Pollyanna, perhaps way too idealistic and naive, but does no-oner see a POLICY that the Libs just couldn’t support? A cut too far? A military action? A European who-ha?

    It seems to me that we are saying there is NOTHING the Tories could propose the Libs would oppose and I find that very depressing. Of all the parties, I felt the Libs were LESS likely to put ministerial boxes and chauffeur driven limos before principle.

    I suppose we could equally be saying that the Tories will be careful enough NOT to do anything the Libs couldn’t support, which IMO is perhaps nearer the mark, but if a normal government faces its own demons within most parliaments from its own backbenchers, then I’d say that’s an even more Pollyanna stance than mine! With at least 50 “b*stards” waiting in the Tory wings (JM ref not mine!!) it seems beyond my imagination that all will sail along nicely until 2015

  35. NEILA

    “come flocking to your way of thinking. ”

    Until that has been defined, it is uncertain who the “flock” will be -or in which direction they will be flocking.

    If Ed “‘within touching distance”Milliband wins-for example, and carries through on his platform, who will come flocking ?:-

    “The manifesto could well include a pledge to provide free school meals for all children, Miliband says. ‘I think a lot of people would like free school meals.”

    ” are you for a residual welfare state that is just for the poor, which is the Tory position, or are you for a more inclusive welfare state?”

    “It wasn’t, in the main, the most affluent, professional voters that deserted Labour . … Between 1997 and 2010, for every one voter that Labour lost from the professional classes (so called ‘ABs’), we lost three voters among the poorest, those on benefits and the low paid (DEs). You really don’t need to be a Bennite to believe that this represents a crisis of working-class representation for Labour”

    “we should build on the active industrial policy that we came to late in our term in office,”

    ” I am for a living wage over £7 an hour, not just a minimum wage, ”

    “But we must recognise as New Labour sometimes didn’t that aspiration is not simply about earning and owning, but also enjoying time with your family. So our economic strategy should change the culture of working time”

    “The crisis of support among our working-class base shows the ground we have to make up. The relationship with the trade union movement needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.”

    So….an EB lead Labour Party is for :-Welfare Benefits for All, the Working Class, but not the aspirational Middle Class, a Picking Winners Industrial Policy, More State intervention in working hours, Closer ties with Trades Unions…….

    And all of this will be placed before the electorate & British Industry smack in the middle of a debate about UK Public Finances, with Public Sector Unions out on strike.

    ..Yes I can foresee quite a lot of flocking in those circumstances, but the direction will not be that which Miliband junior had in mind.

  36. Amusing to see Martyn and Rob arguing oh-so-intellectually over their certainty about what will occur in the next 5 years.

    Neither of you know, so there!!

  37. “”David Cameron’s first 100 days in Downing Street have seen the coalition win the key argument over the economy, with a Guardian/ICM poll today showing that voters back austerity measures to reduce Britain’s record peacetime budget deficit.”

    The Guardian.

  38. The problem with that poll is that the sample size is relatively small. Also, the ICM polls are done on a monthly basis and are therefore less accurate.

  39. RJN – great first post.

    Colin – Everything EM says is true. If he chooses to address his campaign to those voters, few in the Labour Party would disagree with him. If, however you’re waiting with baited breath for Michael Foot you’ll be disappointed.

  40. @Sue Marsh

    I am sure that there are policies that both coalition parties would baulk at and that is why there is so much kite flying going on. A majority govt will have one manifesto, one leader, one conference etc (sounds like some dreadful slogan). The rules of engagement must be different for the coalition and they are evolving by trial and error. The Tories cannot rule by diktat but some degree of consent which may not always work but at least you get two sides of the argument. I see it more as a gross error check. Would the poll tax have happened in that environment?

    Before you bet your mortgage I thought that you might like to see the best odds currently available for the timing of the next election.

    2010 14/1 2011 5/1 2012 7/1
    2013 6.5/1 2014 5/1 2015 1.9/1

  41. @COLIN
    I think you’ve forgotten that the Guardian supports the LDs now. Not surprising they concentrate on the parts of the poll that are positive for the coalition.

  42. Aleksander – I said I certainly WOULDN’T bet my mortgage, lol.

    I have no idea what will happen, and nor does anyone else.

  43. 1. Ideoligcally speaking a yellow blue coalition is not a leap across some gulf. There is little that separates these two parties. On the issues that would appear to matter, eg Nukes and Europe, those most poassionate about those policies emanate from the populist wings of the party. In terms of real politic those on clegg and Cemron’s wing are very close.

    2. A failure of the coalition will leave the public very disgruntled. All polling thus far indicates they enjoy their politicians working together. Thus, they would not be happy if some minro policy disagreement ended it. Whoever causes that fissure would almost certainly see their career go into decline. If someone ended the coalition for party gain, the charges of opportunism and lack of statesmanship would be loud indeed.

    3. That leaves people outside the coalition. Charlei Kennedy, simon hughes, David Davis. It is not entirely possible that, having decided something or other is a bridge too far, they attempt to enact a split/ challenge. (It is much more likely to be the latter).

    4. The VAT rise did not do that. The cuts did not do that. The AV bill did not do that. Europe and Nukes do not seem likely to do that. Iraq/Afghan is certainly not going to do that. With Obama in the White House, international diplomacy will suit yellow a little more than if a hawk had been in the oval office. For that reason I do not see some Neocon triggering the UK’s special relationship obligation. Thus, one must logically conclude that it would need to be either a) a party specific gripe of minor importance b) a cataclysmic unforseen event.

    5. Regarding the latter DC has shown himself to be consistently decisive (if a little naive). Unforseen events require decisiveness. Thus, he stands a good chance of navigating one, should it come along. 45% of MORI’s poll saw him as the most decisive in the coalition negotiations.

    6. If it is something of minro party importance such as that promulgated by simon Hughes, then it would surely play into reds hands. (I think that is why reds crave it so). Hughes would have to forego the best interests of the party, if he was to choose that route. He is an ambitous man, so that is not altogether impossible. Davis has a streak of principle in him. If something got his goat sufficiently, he would be like a Kamakaze in a marina. I think this route would give DC a chance to silence quell that wing of the party for the remainder of his tenureship. Thus, Davis must act carefully or risk retirement.

  44. @Sue Marsh
    “It seems to me that we are saying there is NOTHING the Tories could propose the Libs would oppose and I find that very depressing. Of all the parties, I felt the Libs were LESS likely to put ministerial boxes and chauffeur driven limos before principle”

    I really can’t see the LibDems trying to force an election with the polling numbers the way they are. What might be food for thought is the prospect of a firm Tory majority over a period of months leading to pressure from within that party for a dissolution in the expectation of their coming back with a proper majority.

  45. Re what Eoin just said.

    ‘Aye to that.

  46. @Sue

    Virtually the same odds for years 2011-14 and 15/8 for a fixed term Parliament of 5 years to run its course shows the uncertainty. I think that I’ll stay at home and watch it on TV.
    I noticed that DM is the red hot fav with the bookies with EM at 2/1. Is that a fair assessment as some on this board see the contest as much closer? BTW the others are over 66/1.

  47. The largest weakness in red analysis thus far is the notion that their is long term gain in yellow pulling the plug. Au contraire, the only thing that can guarantee the demise of yellows is applying a very strong adhesive to Clegg and pinning him to Cameron. The objective of any right thinking red is that yellow and blue should become synonomous. so close in policy, personality, and condcut that the voters view them as one. This congealment process could never happen in supply and confidence. It could never happen without yellows taking seats at cabinet. it could never happen if yellows pulled the plug. It can only happen as long as these two bedfellows remain so. Granted, that this will be to blue gain but in the long term it will also be to reds. the very notion that was allowed to build up for half a generation that somehow yellow were a progresive alternative to red was a fallacy. That a voter thought by putting x on a yellow candidate’s box he was still a ‘socialist’ must have cost reds many millions of votes. In May 2015 voters will not make that mistake.

    That is provided this coalition lasts. Thus far, I have worn out two sets of rosary beads praying for it to be so. populist fencesitters of the Clegg ilk well they get my goat :)

  48. “The largest weakness in red analysis thus far is the notion that their is long term gain in yellow pulling the plug.”

    Thanks for the critique.

    I see no long term gain in yellow pulling the plug, my whole hunch is the marriage is too awkward to last. If not in parliamentary terms, then at grassroots level. I WONDER if gain might become secondary to principle, but I have no idea.

  49. @RJN

    Not sure I agree with you about the Scottish elections. I think you’re right that there will be a decline in Lib-Dem votes in the constituency vote, and Labour are the likeliest gainers – but in many of the seats that you are talking about the Lib-Dem vote was actually quite small anyway.

    I also think that a decline in Liberal votes might put the SNP in with a shout in some North East seats, which might balance this out a bit. It also remains to be seen what impact the new boundaries will have here – I know there are notionals about somewhere but I haven’t been able to find them.

    As far as the regional list goes, the Libs only polled 11% last time and the latest Scottish polls had them a bit up on that for the regional vote, so unlikely they will lose seats there – might even pick up one or two to counter-balance constituency losses. Overall, at the moment I would guess they might lose 1 or 2 seats in total across Scotland. However, they might still move ahead of the Tories in terms of seats, as the latest polls show their regional vote dropping and that is where they pick up most of their seats.

  50. @ Colin

    I think you are spot on with your assessment of Ed Miliband.

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