Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 41%, LAB 41%, LDEM 8%. It’s the lowest Lib Dem score YouGov have ever shown, and as far as I can tell the lowest Liberal Democrat score any pollster has shown since September 1990, over 20 years ago.

I’ll add my normal caveats about not getting too excited about a single poll, new extreme highs and lows for parties do tend to be the outliers, but nevertheless, the fact that we’ve got our first 8% for the Lib Dems suggests that their support is still on a downwards trend. It is probably no co-incidence that this comes after several days of the Liberal Democrats internal ructions over tuition fees have been all over the political headlines.


72 Responses to “YouGov – Lib Dems hit 8%”

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  1. @IAN C
    Sheffield Hallam was a strong Tory seat for many many years before Nick Clegg came along. It is very middle class residential and in my view, (having once lived there) could easily stand a Con supporting Liberal party leader. It is about the only seat in South Yorkshire that would not vote for Miss Piggy if she stood for Labour.

  2. @Alec
    “and in this scenario why would Labour voters in the south (or even soft Tories supporters) be in the slightest bit inclined to help them win seats there?”
    ———————————–
    I can tell you where it could be an option, Buckingham.
    A Liberal vote for the coalition (were it fighting an election as such) would be a lot like voting Tory. In addition it could remove the over important bundle of joy we call Mr Speaker. ORDER, ORDER.

  3. @ Roland Haines
    Sheffield Hallam was a strong Tory seat for many many years before Nick Clegg came along. It is very middle class residential and in my view, (having once lived there) could easily stand a Con supporting Liberal party leader.
    Ashcroft’s poll showed an enormous swing to Labour, with Clegg holding on to his seat by the skin of his teeth.

    Also, the tuition fees is very much a middle-class concern.

  4. Ian C
    “This sounds OK for LDs until you start to imagine what it means in practice. It means merger of the Orange Book LDs into the Tory Party and NC would effectively be standing as a Tory.”

    LD MPs must be contemplating whether their party will survive in its current form. The fact that the idea of merger or permanent coalition of LD and Con is increasingly and openly discussed must make many left-leaning LD MPs very apprehensive and uncomfortable, IMO.

    The scale of the LD rebellion in the tuition fees vote will be a clue, and indicator IMO of how deep the dissatisfaction with NC goes.

  5. @Mike N – I’ve always felt that Tory MPs should be very concerned about the Lib Dems fall from grace. I posted a while back that for coalition governement to survive requires a shared dynamic between the different parties, but with Tories sitting pretty and Lib Dems taking an absolute hiding, this is very back for those who want the coalition to run the full 5 years.

    I’m now reading of severe discontent within the Lib Dem ranks regarding their perception that they have been left to take the flak for difficult government decisions – it’s true that there haven’t been many Tories visibly trooping through the TV studios to talk about student fees.

    Some observers now think the level of resentment between coalition members is becoming serious – there are certainly many unhappy backbench Lib Dems.

    For the coalition to survive for 5 years, both sides need to be seen to be taking some of the pain. If the divergance between the impact on party support continues, it won’t be long until the Lib Dems ditch Clegg and get a new leader. If that happens, you can be sure that the very first act will be to find an excuse to renegotiate the deal or withdraw from the coalition and force an election – which could only come at the worst possible time for the Tories in relation to the impact of the cuts and the progression of any recovery.

    Lib Dems on 8% should really cause the Tories a lot of worry, but it seems that so far many Tory MPs are simply taking delight in their Lib Dem colleagures discomfort.

  6. ALEC

    “Lib Dems on 8% should really cause the Tories a lot of worry, but it seems that so far many Tory MPs are simply taking delight in their Lib Dem colleagures discomfort.”

    What are you basing this statement on Tory M.P.s on? My impression, maybe quite wrong, is that they were quite supportive of them.

    Certainly in Norfolk/Suffolk, where there are only Con and LD M.P.s, they work together on a lot of issues and seem remarkably resilient and good at it. I know for a fact that there is sympathy from Tory M.P.s for LDs in particularly difficult seats such as Norwich S.

    Not that anybody should be saying that the Tories have got to start fervently loving LDs anyway (or vice versa!) as they are still separate ‘interest groups’ – but I would be very interested in your hard evidence of the opposite, as you claim.

  7. Alec

    I think you miss the point that the Lib Dems will do a deal with whichever party they can, to achieve being in government. Now the Lib Dems are wedded to the Tories, there is not much chance Labour would be willing to offer the Lib Dems a coalition. That is unless Clegg is no longer their leader. If at the next election Labour needs the support of another party to form a government, they would ask Clegg to stand aside. If Simon Hughes was the leader then a deal might be possible.

  8. @Alec
    I agree with your comments and analysis.

    I find it astonishing that senior Cons are openly discussing merger or permanent coalition with the LDs. It is almost as if they want the LDs to implode and for this gov to collapse.

    Of course, there may be elements within the Cons who are not happy with DC…and see collapse of the coalition as a way to (re)assert themselves.

  9. @BT
    “My impression, maybe quite wrong, is that they were quite supportive of them.”

    I note you said ‘were’ rather than ‘are’.

  10. @BT Says – it’s based on contnued reports coming out of Westminster from various commentators, but I accept it is all off the record stuff.

    @RHuckle – I can’t see why Labour would have any problems doing a deal with the Lib Dems – it’s all about numbers and policies. If the Lib Dems can tear up their 2010 manifesto for the sake of a deal, why not do the same in 2015?

    @Mike N – I forgot to mention the anger felt by some Lib Dem MPs today on hearing George Osborne’s comments that he expects Tory MPs threatening to rebel today to vote according to the manifesto they stood onin May. Apply this to the whole coalition and the bill would fail.

  11. @Alec
    “…he expects Tory MPs threatening to rebel today to vote according to the manifesto they stood onin May”

    Hmm. This is either very inept or deliberate.

    If the latter, it suggests to me that the Cons wish to see the LDs implode with the Orange Bookers staying with the Cons.

  12. It is hardly surprising that the LibDem vote is collapsing given that their coalition with the Tories alienates the moderate left-wing vote, much of which voted for them tactically, that they are tarred with the usual problems of being in government involved with unpopular decisions, and not least because they have driven off one of the core groups of voters they attracted, i.e. students and academics.

    One suspects that much of the surviving LibDem vote may be in the Celtic fringe – I have not yet had time to look at the regional breakdown of this poll but it would be interesting to do so.

    Perhaps we psephologists ought to ask what the LibDem rock bottom floor is (as, for instance, Labour appears to have a floor of just over 20% – The Tories have not tested theirs recently). Given what happened to the SDP in the early 90s, and Liberal results in the early 1950s, even 8% may not be the nadir for the LibDems. Any views on how low LibDem support can get (numerically, I mean)?

    With reference to Roland Haines mention of Sheffield Hallam, Clegg’s seat is one of the richest in the whole country – not just Northern England. But, as a Sheffield graduate myself, I am well aware that it has a large student vote, and academic vote. I don’t think what theycoalition has done to higher education will be forgotten in Hallam by the next election. But Clegg has a big majority and it would be a shock if he loses, and then there is AV…

  13. “Large Student Vote” sounds slightly oxymoronic to me.

  14. BT
    Cruelty is always very attractive to politicians and the lib Dems do ask for it. George Osborne’s comment about Tory MPs having to stick to their manifesto is either very stupid or deliciously cruel. Take your pick. The fun for Tories will only run out when there is absolutely no support left for the lib Dems. My MP, M Bruce voted for. Presumably not standing next time.

  15. @Roland Haines

    “Sheffield Hallam was a strong Tory seat for many many years before Nick Clegg came along. ”

    No, it was for a long time almost a 3-way marginal, splitting roughly 40:30:20:10 (the 10 were Greens). The seat covers some very well-off areas, some strongly “liberal middle class” areas with a large number of university staff in particular (I don’t know if it’s still true, but it used to be the seat with the highest proportion of the electorate with degrees, and with the highest proportion of PhDs), but it also has most of the students from Sheffield University and also some from Sheffield Hallam. So the electorate is a very strange mix.

    It was a combination, of a city-wide collapse in the Tory vote together with Labour supporters voting tactically, that put Clegg in. SInce then the seat has changed boundaries, losing a ward that is strongly LD and more gaining Labour voting areas. There’s every reason to suppose his seat is at risk. (BTW it was reported that he was selling his house in Sheffield – wonder why?)

  16. @ Roland Haines

    “I received 6 strokes of the kane from the headmaster of Bushey Grammar School in Hertfordshire. My crime was eating fish & chips in school uniform in Watford High St. To compound this outrage, I was also laughing loudly and talking to a group of girls from Watford Girls Grammar School. These dastardly acts were witnessed by a member of staff passing by on the top floor of a bus. There was a significant cover up to follow, no mention of these events were past to the Entry Board for The Royal Military Academy . The Headmaster said “you are a very active chap Haines, and its the best place for you”.”

    Lol.

    @ Barney Crockett

    Are the SNP for full independence? I thought that some of them simply pushed for more control over their affairs at Holyrod.

    The reason I make the comparison to the D.C. Statehood Party is that the party did not push for independence but instead pushed to have statehood in order to have more local control and say in matters directly affecting them. They were also a fairly progressive party even if they were not Democrats. So I make the comparison because I think the political thinking of D.C. Statehooders can be compared to thinking of Scottish Nationalists (particularly ones who aren’t neccessarily in favor of full independence).

    As forthe American media not understanding the Al-Megrahi decision, I think that’s because American media often don’t understand how our own system of laws work. Frankly, I wish he hadn’t been released and I don’t understand the decision. But blaming London officials for it is absolutely pointless. They were not the ones who made the decision. It’s akin to a felon sitting in a Massachussetts prison (guilty of killing a bunch of British citizens) getting released by the Massachussetts Supreme Judicial Court. The U.S. Supreme Court can’t reverse a decision like that, nor can Obama no matter how much it strains the relationship.

  17. @ Neil A

    To me, there is no difference between decriminalization and legalization. I think our difference is mostly word parsing.

    I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with legalizing all drugs. Some drugs are exceptionally dangerous to people and should not be used like heroine and cocaine.

    In any case, even with keeping drugs illegal, ending the drug war would be extraordinarily helpful.

  18. socal liberal
    The SNP is an independence party. There has been a debate between those willing to embrace gradualist tactics and more fundamentalists who reject gradualism but all are aiming for an independent Scotland. I think it is a matter of time before this changes.

  19. barney crockett
    BT
    Cruelty is always very attractive to politicians and the lib Dems do ask for it. George Osborne’s comment about Tory MPs having to stick to their manifesto is either very stupid or deliciously cruel. Take your pick. The fun for Tories will only run out when there is absolutely no support left for the lib Dems. My MP, M Bruce voted for. Presumably not standing next time.

    December 10th, 2010 at 12:24 am

    So is George Osborne the only evidence that can be found to back up Alec’s comment then?

    I still think it is incorrect, at least as a generalisation.

  20. @Neil A – ““Large Student Vote” sounds slightly oxymoronic to me.”

    I’m not so sure. I know a very large student who votes regularly.

  21. I think students will make an extra special effort to turn out this time, especially in this constituency!

    @Robin
    I think Roland’s right on this one, the Tories only stopped getting around 50% of the vote until 1997, when the Lib Dems took over.

    There’s a nifty graph, here
    ht tp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/HallamGraph.png/800px-HallamGraph.png

    The Greens haven’t made much of an impact in the general elections.

    But having said that, Ashcroft’s poll speaks volumes: we’ll have a three way marginal, with Labour breathing down Clegg’s neck (probably even took over them, now), with the Tories in third place.

  22. Experience in Sheffield Hallam, if people recollect, is that the number of students voting depends upon the efficiency and adequacy of polling stations near university residences.

    The people of Sheffield are sophisticated politically. I think that the Green vote around the university and near the Peak District could grow quickly if political circumstances were right. Ex-industrial areas, such as those in Eastern Sheffield, are another matter.

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