The collapse in Liberal Democrat support since the election is startling. At the general election they recorded 24% (having hit 30%+ in some campaign polls, though we will never know for sure how much of that was down to polling error). By the end of the year, most polls showed them losing at least half their election support and in the case of some YouGov polls up to two-thirds.

The reasons why Liberal Democrat support has collapsed are fairly obvious. A Populus poll of people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 in Lib Dem seats asked people in their own words why they voted Lib Dem and how they think they will end up voting at the next general election. In Populus’s poll the main reasons people gave for voting Lib Dem were believing in their values or principles, because they rated their local Liberal Democrat MP, because they thought it time for a change or didn’t like the main two parties, or as a tactical vote against Labour or Conservative.

As one can imagine, at least three of those reasons are now somewhat problematic – People who voted for the Liberal Democrats seeing them as a centre-left party pursuing liberal or social democratic policies may be unhappy seeing them working with a right of centre government (42% don’t think they will end up voting Lib Dem), people who voted for them as an idealistic alternative to the main two parties may not be happy seeing them working hand-in-glove with one of them (49%-50% don’t think they’ll vote Lib Dem next time), people who voted for them as an anti-Conservative tactical vote will obviously be less than chuffed (68% don’t think they’ll vote for them next time). The most loyal voters are obviously those who voted on the basis of their high opinion of the Lib Dem MP – but even there only 64% think they’ll remain loyal.

Unsurprisingly the main divide seems to be whether voters approve or disapprove of the coalition – most (but not all) of those Lib Dems voters who think the coalition was the right thing to do think they’ll back the party again, most (but not all) of those who disagree with the decision think they’ll end up voting for someone else.

If you look at where the lost Liberal Democrat support has gone (and I’m looking now at standard polls asking how people would vote tomorrow), the biggest chunks have gone straight over to Labour, or are saying they don’t know what they’d do at the next election. In YouGov’s final poll of the year only 24% of people who said they’d voted Lib Dem in 2010 said they’d support the party tomorrow, with 25% saying they’d vote Labour and 25% saying don’t know (the remainder split between voting Tory, Green, other parties or not voting at all).

The large chunk of former Lib Dems saying they don’t know what they’d do in an election tomorrow is, incidentally, a major reason behind the wide variance in the level of Lib Dem support different pollsters are showing. YouGov have tended to show the lowest levels of support with around 8 or 9 percent in their latest polls. ICM have tended to show the highest levels of support for the Lib Dems, with their last poll of the year showing them on 13 percent. Part of the reason for this is don’t knows – even ICM only actually find 11% of people saying they’ll vote Lib Dem – the 13% comes about because, based on past performance, ICM assume half of those former Lib Dems now saying don’t know will end up voting for the party in the long run.

Whether that turns out to be the case or not, it’s worth remembering that a fair chunk of those lost Liberal Democrats haven’t gone to Labour, or to minor parties or anywhere – they just don’t know what to do. Those people may yet defect to other parties or sit on their hands, or they may be won back for the Lib Dems in the fullness of time.

So what can the Lib Dems do to try and win those voters back? There are no easy answers. Some voters are probably out of reach for the time being – the Lib Dems used to win both anti-Labour and anti-Conservative votes, they are unlikely to be able to play both sides in the future. The second problem is that the Liberal Democrats could previously be a purist party that said all the right things, unburdened by the unpleasant compromises of government. A colleague characterised it to me as the Lib Dems fighting the last general election as if they were a virtuous maiden standing against two grizzled old whores, yet having got into government people have suddenly realised they were just like the other two. In a similar vein, the Lib Dems have often been able to trade on the popularity of their leaders – in 2001, 2005 and especially 2010 the Lib Dem party leader had the highest approval rating, Clegg now has the lowest approval rating.

The view of the Liberal Democrats seems to be that they need to highlight where they have made changes to government policy and to champion the more Liberal policies being introduced. This is probably right in principle, as polls increasingly show people are no longer sure what the Liberal Democrats stand for. As early as August 61% of people were saying it was “not very clear” or “not clear at all” what the Liberal Democrats stood for and YouGov’s regular trackers of party image have shown the proportion of people who think the description “It seems to chop and change all the time: you can never be quite sure what it stands for” applies best to the Liberal Democrats has gradually grown from 24% just after the coalition was formed to 36% now.

That doesn’t mean it is easy to do though, going back to the Populus poll of Lib Dem voters in Lib Dem seats, Populus asked whether people thought the Lib Dems had made a positive impact in various areas of government policy. In no case did more than a third of respondents think that the Lib Dems had made a positive difference to government policy – the highest was on welfare reform, where 32% said that the Lib Dems had made a positive difference, 26% thought they had made a positive difference on the spending cuts, in most other areas less than 20% thought the Lib Dems had made a positive impact. Remember this was a poll of Liberal Democrat voters in seats with Lib Dem MPs – these are the people most likely to think positively of the Liberal Democrats and be receptive to their messages, if even a chunky majority of them think the Lib Dems are not making a difference, then the party are clearly struggling to get the message across.

Looking at the threats and opportunities for the Lib Dems next year we have the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election. Labour are now the very strong favourite, but until we see some polling (and a company called Survation is apparently currently conducting one) I’m wary about writing the Liberal Democrats off. Recall the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, fought at a time when the Liberal Democrats were polling almost as badly as they are today (they had just jettisonned Ming Campbell and stood at 11% in the polls), they still managed to win the by-election from Labour on a hefty swing. It would be a big boost to the party if they pulled it off. (as someone has pointed out in the comments, I’ve mixed up my Lib Dem interregnums – Dunfermline was after Charles Kennedy’s ousting, not Ming’s, and the Lib Dems weren’t in such a bad way.)

Secondly there are some policy areas that are due to be dealt with that they may be able to point to as Lib Dem achievements – such as House of Lords reform, control orders, or taxes on bankers (some of these things risk being the cause of arguments within the coalition too!)

Thirdly there are the local elections and the AV referendum in May. The local elections are likely to see the same sort of hefty losses for the Lib Dems that I predicted for the Conservatives yesterday. That brings us to the AV referendum – if it is won, then the Liberal Democrats will have something utterly solid they can tell their activists and supporters the coalition has delivered, if it is lost, then it will be a further blow to Lib Dem morale.

Is there a point when the Liberal Democrat position in the polls gets so bad they withdraw from the coalition (or the party splits?) – I don’t know, I don’t pretend to have any great insight into the views of Liberal Democrat MPs or activists. My guess is that the chances are greatly overestimated by people who would like it to collapse (the truth is I think we all overestimate the chances of exciting and interesting things happening!). Being outside the coalition wouldn’t necessarily help the Liberal Democrats much in the polls (it would give them the independence to promote their own policies, but the damage to their image has already been done) and the last thing the Liberal Democrats would want to risk in their present situation is an early election. I expect, like the Conservatives, Nick Clegg’s strategy is dependent upon seeing the job through until the economy has recovered and then pointing to what the Lib Dems have achieved and contributed to that.

When writing these round ups I try to present the good and the bad news. By necessity, this has ended up as a very pessimistic piece for the Liberal Democrats, though what can you do for a party that has lost half its support within a year? The harsh truth is that it’s not easy to see a light at the end of the tunnel for the party. So for a more optimistic point of view, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mark Pack (personally I think a by-election victory would be more likely to change things than scrapping control orders, but there goes – Mark’s pieces on the 2011 challenges for the Lib Dems are also highly recommended):

“Imagine if at the end of next month control orders had been scrapped and there was Lib Dem MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth. The political landscape would look very different.”

150 Responses to “End of year round up – the Lib Dems”

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  1. RiN


    go stick your head in a bucket”

    Now THAT’S a Scottish New Year!!! :-) :-)

  2. Old Nat
    As I explained, my fantasy was that DC would behave childishly over VC et al (the et al was not a big deal) but luckily I am wrong. The fantasist extraordinary is David who writes wish lists as though they were facts. I do hope he could supply us some specific polling evidence for his predictions apart from what we know already.

    Er, actually I prefer a bit more meat on the bone, but this is getting OT.

  3. Howard

    Teasing people is seldom ON topic – but often fun, and I trust in Anthony’s sense of humour.

  4. I have had problems with posting today again
    Lib-Lab? As others have said, the Lib Dems sacrificed absolutely nothing in coalition in Scotland. However it might be different another time. It will be unpopular with Labour supporters.
    In councils in Scotland there are no Lib Lab pacts. Mostly it is Labour minority administrations or Lib-SNP tie-ups. At Scottish parliamentary level, the Lib Dem leadership (and Tavish Scott is about the only definite survivor) will have nothing to do with A Salmond. As posts here have shown there will be much appetite in England for Con Dem support for the SNP in Scotland but that will be difficult to impose on the Scottish Con Dem survivors ( although the Tories will make probably a sslight recovery)

  5. @ RIN

    :-) LOL :-)

  6. Sorry chaps. “I agree with David”.

  7. To me the predicament of the Lib Dems is like that old James Bond film where with stiff upper lip Bond asks the baddie if when threatened with horrible death “Do you really expect me to talk?”, the baddie says “No I expect you to die”

  8. @Robert C
    ” they would have been in direct contravention of their promise to try to form a government with the party winning the most support in the election.”

    Never said that. Clegg said he would talk to that party. What does that promise? Nothing meaningful. It’s just political speech for not giving a proper answer.

    Whether the LDs and Lab could form a Scottish coalition is probably dependent upon how much control the Scottish leaders have. I suspect the UK inner circles of both parties will shy away from this. For L, they would struggle to attack their coalition Holyrood partners in the HoC without this being thrown straight back. For LD, it’s a confirmation of having no policies, just flip-flopping for a taste of power. Not a great image.

    These polls seem to still feel voting LD was all about whether they were Tory/Labour-lite or neither Tory/Lab. Could it be, like me, they actually believed in the LD manifesto without any reference to the two parties (and have subsequently rejected voting for them next time as central manifesto policies have been ditched/altered beyond all recognition)?

  9. Point of information: if memory serves, the Dunfermline byelection happened just after Charles Kennedy got dumped – not Ming Campbell, who had just taken up the reins as caretaker leader. Neither of those two, incidentally, would have got the Liberal Democrats into their current predicament.

    Many people seem to assume that the only choice the Lib Dems had was full coalition, with either Lab or Con. Looser arrangements have tended to happen in UK hung parliaments in the past, and they’d have been better off it they’d stuck with tradition. Failing that, they should have taken five weeks to close the deal, not five days.

    Speaking as an ex-Lib Dem I’d say that to haul themselves back they need to develop a backbone, grow some balls and dump Clegg. They should then elect a leader who understands the difference between compromise and capitulation.

  10. Actually the movie character that the LibDems remind me of most is the goalkeeper in “Escape to Victory” who lets his team mates break his arm so they can have Sly Stallone in his place.

  11. The Tories will be unlikely to benefit in local elections from anger with the government and neither thus would the LDs. however where Lab LD coalitions exist, (as opposed to NOC) I should be interested to see what line is taken in those cases, ergo my question. i have googled but not produced anything yet. A set of tables gives the seats but not the deals struck.

    I suspect that there are few given the seat situation, certainly not Counties (not for election this year) and unitaries, which are the main ones to bare the brunt of cuts.

  12. socal liberal
    Labour/snp coalition?
    I have posted previously that this is almost ruled out until the snp drop the independence line which at some point they will. It is also the case that the SNP are held together, being from left and right, by a dislike often expressed as contempt for Labour. An additional small point this time round is that between them Labour and SNP are likely to hold a huge majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament

  13. Amber star
    Paddy Power have moved Labour’s odds from 1 to 4 to 1 to 6. Even at that it is a good bet. To quote from my favourite film (theme of the night), the cat’s in the bag… and the bag’s in the river

  14. @Old Nat – “… the expression of an unfathomable sadness.”

    If you don’t mind I’d like to copy and send your quote to a friend.

    A healthy reverence for travails past, present and to come, is no presumption upon any deep joy that life may bring?

  15. @Robert C

    “Had they done that, they would have been in direct contravention of their promise to try to form a government with the party winning the most support in the election. Or have you conveniently forgotten that? I think the very idea that the Lib Dems would have propped up a government with a rickety majority, after Labour had won 29% of the vote, is quite preposterous.”

    The vote share of each constituent part of a parliamentary coalition is irrelevant. What is crucial is the assimilation of like minds, shared political aims, the compatibility of interests and the arithmetic. The rainbow coalition would have had much the first three elements and just about the fourth, although admittedly far from robust. Crucially, if you believed what they said during the election campaign, Cable and Darling had very similar approaches to both deficit reduction and growth generation and the coalition would have had a shared social democratic approach to both social and macro economic policy. Who knows how it would have fared and how the electorate would have responded, but it would have had a legitimacy, credibility and internal cohesion that the current hybrid coalition lacks. And the Lib Dems would have been a far happier and healthier party as a result.

    In rather poetic terms, I think they’re supping with the devil at the moment and are helping a party who are deeply and historically antagonistic to them. They could well have made an understandable but ultimately historic mistake.

  16. Remember that over recent years the Lib Dems have taken over the running of many councils, either solely or in partnerships with other parties.

    When these councils have to take tough decisions over the next few months, which could well be very unpopular with local consituents, the Lib Dems will take another hit. They can’t keep on blaming Labour for the deficit when they are cutting back on frontline services, including those for children and the elderly.

    I would not be at all surprised if the Lib Dems hit 5% in the polls by mid 2011 and as they are closely associated with the AV referendum, this could wreck their chances of a yes vote. People could actually vote no as a protest vote, rather than on the merits of any change.

    Don’t be at all surprised if there is talk of a leadership election by the autumn conference, with people looking to get rid of Clegg. Would Cameron be prepared to have Simon Hughes as deputy PM ? If so, you could be looking at a change in coalition policies, which many Tories will find difficult to swallow, but could rescue the Lib Dems. Clegg is a closet Tory and is viewed by many Lib Dems as such, whereas Hughes is seen as yellow to the core.

  17. Barney

    “this is almost ruled out until the snp drop the independence line which at some point they will”


    this is almost ruled out until Labour drop the dependency line which at some point they will

    Interesting to see who blinks first. While you are rather unusual in Labour in Scotland (as a UK expansionist), most Scots Labour supporters want to see far greater powers returned to the Scottish Parliament than you tremulous Calmanites wish to see.

  18. One of my fave films is The Lost Boys. An apt description of Clegg, Cable & Alexander?

  19. Amber

    Please return to posting your own own clever comments which we all like to read.

    Your replacement just delivers partisan cr*p.

  20. Amberstar
    Lost boys?
    You are too indulgent of them. My family were as I blogged watching the boxed set of Downton Park denied to we Scots by the nationalistic introverted posture of STV. But I couldn’t help seeing the housekeeper as Alexander as portrayed in Private Eye
    Cable no longer convinces (sic) as the reliable butler

  21. R Huckle
    I believe two councils have already buckled under that pressure and Con Dem coalitions collapsed. Wolverhampton and Rochdale?

  22. nick H

    “I think they’re supping with the devil at the moment and are helping a party who are deeply and historically antagonistic to them.”

    sorry i thought we were in coalition with the tories, but judging by this quote, you seem to think we have joined up with labour. or maybe you mean that by being in coalition with the tories we are helping labour

  23. Barney

    “Downton Park denied to we Scots by the nationalistic introverted posture of STV.”

    Medical help is available. Don’t worry. Your condition is treatable. A homeopathic dose of reality should be enough.

  24. It would almost have been worth having the “Rainbow Coalition” just to watch the government whips trying to get Jeremy Corbyn into the “Yes” lobby for sweeping cuts to cherished shibboleths…

  25. Howard

    You said “…Socal’s point does make me wonder how many councils are Lab / LD coalitions. Anyone have it at their finger tips?…”

    According to ALDC (h ttp://, Yellow/Red or Yellow/Red/Grey coalition councils include the following:


    For comparison purposes, Yellow/Blue or Yellow/Blue/Grey coalition councils include the following:

    Dumfries & Galloway
    Scottish Borders

    This kind of backs up a suspicion I have in my head. I read the party manifestos (well, the BBC/Guardian precis) before voting, and I was struck then by how similar the Yellow & Blue manifestos were on certain issues (although not all). Now I find that Yellow/Blue cohabitation is more popular than Yellow/Red at council level. Was a Yellow/Blue coalition more likely than we let ourselves believe before May?

    Regards, Martyn

  26. Martyn

    Even apart from the fact that Scottish councils are elected by STV (and aren’t really comparable to other GB councils), your peculiar appellation of “Grey” is even less meaningful within a political system where “blue” are fairly meaningless also-rans.

    As far as Highland Council is concerned, you might want to note the Wiki description

    “The Independent Group, led by Nairn ward councillor Sandy Park, is effectively a party, complete with a party whip.

    The Independent Group and SNP administration had been formed as a result of the fourth general election of the council, 3 May 2007, and collapsed when the SNP withdrew from the coalition. Also as a result of the collapse, a second independent group was formed, called the Independent Members Group.

    In February 2010, a third independent group was formed, when four councillors left the Independent Group and created the Independent Alliance Group. Since then groups and parties have been represented as follows

    You are Horatio. There are more things in heaven and earth (since some of them exist outwith the English political system) ……..

  27. @Amber

    You said “…One of my fave films is The Lost Boys. An apt description of Clegg, Cable & Alexander?…”

    Sleep all day. Party all night. It’s fun to be a LibDem… :-)

    Regards, Martyn

  28. @OldNat,

    I’d be tempted to bow to your superior knowledge of the Scottish political scene, but isn’t describing the Tories as “fairly meaningless also-rans” when they won 15.6% of the vote (in 2007) just a little partisan? After all, the entire discussion was about the significance of the positions taken by the LibDems, who scored only 12.7%. If a party that needs to get 20% plus of the vote to have “meaning” then why comment on the discussion at all?

    It seems to me you’re trying to do to the Tories what Labour are trying to do to the LibDems, obliterate them with disdain and disrespect.

  29. Sorry, “If a party needs to get” not “If a party that needs to get”.

  30. Neil A

    I don’t “obliterate them [Tories] with disdain and disrespect.” on my own. The vast majority of Scots treat them similarly.

    My point (which I thought was fairly obvious) was that the Tories are the party of Government in England, but simply one of the minority groups in Scotland. They really aren’t important here (except to the Brits who have a strange relationship with parliaments and voters).

  31. @Oldnat

    Er, OK. Was there actually a point in there, or did you just feel the need for spontaneous unwarranted abuse? You’re condemming me for a sin I did not commit.

    If we were dealing with Scotland qua Scotland, rather than “the bit of the UK north of Berwick”, then I would have gone down to the SNP level, but since the question dealt with the UK-as-a-whole, I stuck to the Yellow/Red/Blue/Grey convention.

    Using the word “Grey” enabled me to lump in SNP/PC/the NI parties/UKIP/Green/Others which in turn enabled me to answer Howard’s question in a reasonable time.

    Regards, Martyn

  32. So only Labour and the SNP are important in Scotland? I agree that only those parties are capable of heading a government there, but under PR both would find it hard to command a majority either.

    In a PR system every party with seats is important isn’t it? After all there are no SNP majorities on councils anywhere in the whole of Scotland. Surely Scottish politics is actually fairly fragmented.

  33. Martyn

    “Using the word “Grey” enabled me to lump in SNP/PC/the NI parties/UKIP/Green/Others ”

    Which is actually pretty stupid in terms of any political description of the UK. So, yes, that was my point.

    If you want to create fanciful and meaningless descriptions by compositing different political systems, feel free – just don’t expect praise for doing so.

  34. I think Martyn was specifically addressing the relative tendency of the Yellows to work with Reds or Blues. Other parties weren’t really part of his argument.

    I appreciate you wish your country were divorced from the rest of us OldNat, but sometimes you do remind me of “Sister Loretta” from the Life of Brian, insisting that in every sentence her “right” to have children is recognised even if it’s never going to happen.

    Perhaps the comments system should be redesigned so there is seperate “Scotland Only” sub-comment included.

  35. Neil A

    Of course Scottish politics is fragmented. Unlike England, however, it is multiply fragmented on different spectra of the various political divides.

    At the same time, it is hugely united on a range of policies –

    Scots oppose Trident and the UK’s continued possession of WMD.

    Scots oppose nuclear power stations etc etc etc

    (ie the Brit Labour/Tory/LD consensus is actually opposed by most Scots on many issues.)

    As to the importance of the various minority parties – the Greens are arguably even more important than the Tories.

    The critical aspect is clear, however. In England, the discussion is about whether Labour or Tory might form the largest component of your government (perhaps needing some allies).

    In Scotland, the discussion is about whether Labour or SNP might form the largest component of our government (perhaps needing some allies).

    We exist in very different political systems – that Barney and Amber choose to prioritise the discussion on English, rather than Scottish domestic affairs is entirely a matter for them.

  36. @Colin Green

    Your premise that the Liberal Democrats will maintain the coalition to avoid an election is based on an assumption… That the Liberal Democrat *party* savours being in coalition government without their principle policies more than being in opposition with them.

    This is perhaps a faulty assumption. It’s *very* rare to have a Party Leader who has enough pull with the membership to take his party where they are reluctant to go. As cynical as we are about Politics, we have to recognise that political parties are made up mostly of people who have particular convictions about a set of political views and ideologies.

    I’ve always predicted that a Conservative and Liberal coalition can’t last, because there is too much ideological division between the bulk of each party.

    And remember this…

    One way for a political party to fail is to go bankrupt. Should the Parliamentary Liberal Democrats continue to alienate their party members, and without Opposition Short Money to prop them up, they might find funds hard to come by.

  37. Neil A

    I fully understand that this isn’t a UK politics website – since NI is normally excluded from all polling.

    I also understand that the English really want to discuss their own politics here – without these damn Scots and Welsh intervening.

    But, tough luck! As long as you vote for parties that advocate the continuation of the UK Union, you get us as part of the deal.

    When England is an independent nation, and this is “England Polling Report”, you won’t need to bother about these strange commentaries which challenge your assumptions about the natural order of things.

    Happy New Year!

  38. @Oldnat

    I disagree. There is such a thing as excess granularity. We could break down the parties ad-nauseam (Eurosceptic Tories in metropolitan councils, Old Labour councillors in South Wales Valley constituencies), but we would lose the big picture. Adopting the Yellow/Red/Blue/Grey convention at the UK level enables us to see the big picture quickly.

    However, I must confess to some confusion. What exactly are you criticising me for? You disagree with my use of the word “Grey” to describe parties other than Yellow/Blue/Red at the UK level. OK, disagreement noted. But what exactly is the problem? You characterise this as stupid and fanciful: it is in fact just a way of saying “other”. You criticise me for expecting praise for it: I’ve been on this board long enough not to expect praise, or even a thank you, for spending twenty minutes looking up something that somebody else could have looked up themselves.

    In short, you seem to be attacking a fictional version of me for doing something that I did not do and which would not be a crime even if I had done it.

    Did somebody clone me when I wasn’t looking, and is there an evil version of me roaming the Enterprise corridors with a goatee and evil intent? (Presumably, the same person who did it to Amber…).

    Are you offended that I lumped the SNP in as “other”? If so, this is a misapprehension. The SNP are not significant at the UK level (in what universe would they want to be?), so lumping them in as “other” at the UK level is entirely appropriate. If we were dealing with Scotland per se, or the Scottish Government or Parliament, then lumping them in as “other” would have been inappropriate (obviously, because they’re very significant in Scotland). But as we weren’t, it wasn’t.

    Regards, Martyn

  39. How are the Greens more important than the Tories?? That’s an argument I’d like to hear articulated!

    And the last Scottish poll on Nuclear weapons I can find shows 54% against, but 42% in favour of replacing Trident. That’s a clear majority against, but a country united against?

    I don’t mind hearing about the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, but it does sometimes get a bit silly.

    And Northern Ireland is not excluded from this site. Northern Ireland polls, although rare, are discussed here too. We can only discuss the polls that are commissioned, and sadly the polling companies only poll the mainland for their “UK Polls”.

    Anyway, for completeness (and to return to the original discussion), what are the SNP’s views on whether LibDem councillors should support Labour or Tory efforts to build coalitions after the 2011 locals? Do the SNP have an influence over what the LibDems decide to do? And do you think that the special circumstances and unique mindsets of the Scots Labour, LibDem and Tory parties make them likely to act differently to their English and Welsh counterparts, and if so how?

  40. Martyn

    What a wonderful idea! – You as “an evil version of me roaming the Enterprise corridors with a goatee and evil intent?” :-)

    Alas, no such such conspiracy theory – just that concatenating local election results in different political cultures with different electoral systems (just because they are in the same political union) is as useful as comparing the local election results in France and Estonia for the same reason.

    I don’t suggest that you have any evil intent – though concatenating dissimilar data (even unintentionally) is a major crime to any data analyst!

  41. Hmm seems that the Trident poll I found was a UK poll being quoted on a Scottish anti-nuclear website.

  42. @ Martyn

    Sleep all day. Party all night. It’s fun to be a LibDem…
    Well, when you put it like that, I’m almost tempted to sign up. ;-)

    The comparison was actually intended as a fairly well considered metaphor – but I guess people would have to be very familiar with the Lost Boys movie to ‘get’ it. Maybe I should’ve elaborated but that would require a fairly lengthy post.

  43. Neil A

    “How are the Greens more important than the Tories?? That’s an argument I’d like to hear articulated!”

    OK Let’s presume that you know how the Scottish Parliament is elected, and how the First Minister and his/her Cabinet is selected. (if that is a step too far for you, go do some reading).

    Unlike many Tories, I support an electoral system which allows their minority voice to be represented in Parliament. However, the Tories will never be accepted as coalition partners by either of the two main Scottish parties. The Greens, however, are pro-independence so have a potential role well beyond their numerical representation.

    If you would like to articulate any proposition in which the Tories have any importance in Scotland, I’d be interested to hear it.

  44. @ Martyn

    Did somebody clone me when I wasn’t looking, and is there an evil version of me roaming the Enterprise corridors with a goatee and evil intent? (Presumably, the same person who did it to Amber…).
    :-) LOL :-)

    I’m desperately hoping my alter-ego doesn’t have a goatee!

  45. Amber

    Can we assume that if it is a grossly partisan goatee, then it is the evil alter ego, and not the loveable Amber that we are used to/

  46. @Barney C:

    It is my understanding that the LibCon council coalition in Rochdale fell due to personal disagreements within the local LD party and had nothing to do with the Conservatives, or national politics whatsoever – after all, the LibCon coalition in Rochdale had been around for a while. As a side note, the councillors who resigned from the LD party have now formed a new Independent Alliance group, and it is Labour who now lead the council in minority.

  47. @ Old Nat

    ‘Tis the season to be merry but I haven’t felt quite up to it so I tried being frivolous instead.

    I’m guessing that frivolous suits me just about as well as a goatee would.

  48. @Oldnat,

    Firstly, I’m English, not stupid. There’s a difference. Yes I do know how the Scottish parliament is elected.

    I don’t claim to know very much about the workings of the parliament once elected but on your advice I did do some Googling and this is an excerpt from the blog of Paul Cairney, a politics lecturer at the University of Aberdeen.

    Some of the stability of minority government can also be traced to the informal coalition between the SNP and the Scottish Conservative party. The Conservatives have voted with the SNP on a staggering 72% of parliamentary motions since 2007 (compared to 94% agreement between Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrat from 2003-7). The effect of Conservative support has varied because it is not sufficient to command a parliamentary majority (the the Conservatives have 16 MSPs plus the Presiding Officer), but it represents an important source of support in exchange for policy concessions. The best indicator of its effect can be found in the annual budget bill process. In the first budget, the Conservatives secured a greater commitment to funding new police officers and revisit drugs policy. In the second, they secured a reduction in business rates. In the third, they secured an independent review panel on future budgets and an agreement to publish online items of government expenditure of £25,000 or above. In two of three years, Conservative support proved to be sufficient because Labour (46 seats) abstained in 2008 and the Liberal Democrats (16) abstained in 2010.

    Stating that the Tories will never be invited to join a coalition with the SNP or Labour is almost certainly true. But possibly beside the point as the SNP have not formed a coalition. A party with 15% of the vote in a PR elected parliament with a minority government is not meaningless.

  49. Amber

    We all loved you just the way you are – hey could I make a song out of that? :-)

  50. Neil A

    I would be amazed if you were stupid, given the quality of your posts.

    However, it is unwise of any Scot to assume that even our brighter southern brethren actually understand the electoral system that you imposed on us.

    I agree that the voting power of any party is significant in a PR elected Parliament. However, your statistics on voting records omit the numerous occasions on which the Unionist alliance (OK, that’s a strange concept for you, but quite normal here) have voted together for the disastrous Edinburgh tram scheme, or to oppose the minimum alcohol pricing proposal.

    While I am sure that the Brit parties all want what they see as best for Britain, I am equally sure that they don’t support what is best for scotland.

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