More Sunday polling

A final chunk of polling from the weekend – the YouGov tables should be up on the website shortly, but looking at what is available on the Sunday Times website the latest YouGov AV polling has YES on 45%, NO on 55%. This is tighter than the recently polling we’ve seen, which has tended to show the NO lead in the high teens, but I’ll repeat the caveat I added to my Scottish post a few minutes ago that we should always be cautious about drawing conclusions from a single poll (besides, there are four days to go, and the polls are showing NO leads between 10 points and 20+ points – the game appears to be over).

Secondly, the Leicester South by-election seems to have been rather forgotten about due to all the other elections on the same day, but we do have a poll on it in the Independent on Sunday from Survation. Topline figures there, with changes from the 2010 result in Leicester South, are CON 20%(-1), LAB 61%(+15), LDEM 14%(-13), UKIP 5%(+3) – not much change for the Conservatives but the Lib Dem vote fracturing towards Labour, much in line with the national picture.

Thirdly, it’s not really a poll but it’s the best guide we have to the locals – Rallings and Thrasher’s latest local government projections based on their model using local by-election data has the Conservatives on 35%(down 5 from 2007), Labour on 38% (up 12 from 2007) and the Lib Dems on 17% (down 7 from 2007). This would equate to a Labour gain of around 1300 council seats, with the Conservatives losing just shy of 1000 and the Lib Dems losing around 400.


288 Responses to “More Sunday polling”

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  1. As Bob Worcester says, concentrate on the gap between the two parties and less on their specific poling numbers.

    The gap between blue and red has been narrowing for some time now.

    Maybe Anthony can confirm but I suspect all of the YG poll’s fieldwork was completed pre-wedding..

  2. It’s like London buses. You wait for days for a poll posting and then …

    Anyway YouGov’s Sunday Times poll is now up on the archive here:

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/st20110501.pdf

    Eoin, the fieldwork dates are 28th-29th. As YouGov normally close at about 4pm on the second day, I suspect quite a lot was done during the Royal Wedding (or ignoring the RW or sitting in another room trying to escape the RW). You’ll be pleased to know there are lots of questions about …

    Headline voting intentions are Con 36%, Lab 41%, LD 10%, UKIP 5%, Green 2%.

  3. @Eoin – “The gap between blue and red has been narrowing for some time now.”

    Has it been? Using only YouGov for a straightforward comparison, the current lead of +5/+6% has been pretty stable and is towards the top of the range we have seen over the last six months or so.

    There have been brief periods in mid Feb and mid March when the lead was greater than this, along with some periods with tighter leads and other individual polls in either direction that are probably outliers. If you then go back to December and early January the lead was much smaller in general. A lot of this depends on which periods you choose to analyse, a point I made on an earlier thread. Carefully selected use of data is something you have an undoubted talent for.

    I think the evidence you use to support your general view that the Tories are doing well and Labour are in line to lose the next GE is sparse, and your general interpretation of the polling and economic statistics is at odds with the overall weight of evidence.

    You seem determined to push your view that the Tories chances at the next GE are steadily improving. You may be entirely correct, and in due course the evidence may emerge to support your belief, but in my view the current data doesn’t back up your assertions.

  4. @Eoin – I’ve got a response to your initial post held in moderation for some reason I can’t track down, unless I have upset the gods elsewhere.

    Essentially I’m disagreeing with your asssertion that the lead has been shrinking ‘for some time now’. I see some evidence of fluctuation, but none for a general and long term shrinkage. If anything, if you go back more than around 10 weeks or so, you can argue that there has been a general increase in the lead.

  5. Eoin – I believe Bob says exactly the opposite to that. He always advises people to ignore the gap and look at the figures.

  6. @Alec

    From a previous thread, but I think very pertinent to the polls at the top of this current thread.

    “For any Tory supporter or analyst to think that flatlining on 36% for the Tories is a decent level just a year into a parliament shows how much the electoral make up has changed over the decades since they were last in power.”

    I think you go to the heart of the matter and it’s a point I’ve been making on these pages, rather forlornly and alone, for some time now. It could of course be true, as Neil A points out, that this consistent 36% is a baseline and bridgehead on which to build in kinder political times, but I’m not so sure, I have to say. The Conservatives, including at times when there have been extraordinarily advantageous circumstances for them, have found it desperately difficult to poll above the mid to late 30s in any nationally convened ballot for nigh on 20 years. This points to demographic and geographical difficulties for them that can’t and won’t be assuaged by transitory economic up-turns that may or may not transpire.

    Now, to prevent this being a one-sided treatise of woe, Labour has real problems too and are confronted with very real electoral challenges of their own, but I think their ability to perform on a wider national,geographical and demographic base than the Tories, may hold them in better stead to benefit from the Lib Dem meltdown and any gathering disillusionment with the Government.

    I think inherent in the current and typical Labour defeatism resides an exaggeration of Tory strength.

  7. Ah – that rather backs up my point on a previous thread that the Tories stagnant current score of 36% or so isn’t in fact a sign that things are going well for them, as Eoin apparently believes.

  8. While it may be dangerous to make comparisons it seems interesting that the ‘no’ camp has lost support in all three parties compared with the last YouGov poll (only two days earlier). Maybe reports of the death of the ‘yes’ cause could yet prove to have been exaggerated.

    Perhaps the cats are turning it around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiHuiDD_oTk

    :-)

  9. “only two days earlier”

    Or maybe three days. Fieldwork was 25-26 April and 28-29 April.

  10. Conservatives seem stuck at 36%, to win they need the LD refugees to come back from Labour and split the centre-left vote just as in 1983. It would help if they could get the UKIP drifters back on board, but that does not seem likely without offering a referendum on Europe.

    Who knows, maybe there is a boom of sorts just around the corner which will start things moving again.

  11. Some interesting tid bits from polling –
    Labour back to largest party for 2010 LibDem vote (just about), not a huge surprise there.

    Support for Libya intervention gone down hill – not a huge surprise. Not much progress has been made, it seems to cost a lot more than originally promised (tens of millions!) and the narrative doesn’t match the reality.

    Honesty/Dishonesty from No/Yes campaigns is largely across partisan lines – although Labour voters tend to see the No campaign as more dishonest (could affect the outcome?).

    Unsurprisingly Tories would prefer neither a AV or PR referendum, but both Lab and Lib voters would prefer a PR to AV referendum (let’s hope Mr Miliband is informed..).

    Given the choice between PR and FPTP, unsurprisingly, again is largely decided along partisan lines – with the Labour vote split 50/50 down the middle, same as with AV.
    Suggesting that the fate of a PR referendum would be in exactly the same place as the AV referendum – largely decided by Labour voters.

    Only Labour voters sure that the referendum will destabilise the coalition – Tory and LibDem voters pretty secure in the stability of the coalition.
    So relief for the leadership of both coalition parties?

    On Royal polling –
    Labour and Liberal voters think Kate should keep her current job, Tory voters think she should stick to Royal duties.
    Labour and Liberal voters more for royal reform than Tory voters. I’m a little surprised that more Tory voters don’t think we should allow a Catholic monarch.
    Labour and Liberal voters have similar views on succession (with Liberals supporting Charles over William) and unsurprisingly Tory voters almost completely against a republic.
    Suggests that for issues that aren’t tainted by partisanship, perhaps Liberal and Labour voters are still closer than Tory voters to either?

  12. Also – on regional polling –
    The North/South divide for Labour voters should be more of a tactical indication that Labour need to switch to proportional representation.

    If Labour gets the next election with dominance in the North (38% lead) but fails to win the Midlands/Wales (5% lead – perhaps distorted by Labour support in Wales) and the South (13% behind) or London (15% behind), they may be, by far, the largest party but still fail to win a majority of seats in the next election due to geographical split.

    Which may still mean a Lib/Con coalition even if Labour dominate nationally – if coalition support drops (which Labour then picks up) due to cuts, it will most likely be in the North, which would only compound the problem.
    This also suggests more hung parliaments under FPTP – with Tories picking up a minority of seats from the South/Midlands and Labour picking up a minority of seats from the North.
    A problem made worse if the SNP continue to do well in Scotland – less Labour seats in Scotland may mean

    As I’ve said before – Labour need to reach out to other parties (even if they reject the LibDems) in order to secure their place in future parliaments – it’s dominance in the North would only help under a proportional system but could harm them under single-member systems.

    If Labour were to partner with the Greens (for example), who are to the left of Labour, then they could support Green victories in the South – securing ‘progressive coalition’ victories where Labour cannot win alone.

  13. Sunday Times reporting the Tories have recieved £750,000 from the family of a Syrian arms dealer with close links to Assad. I can’t read the article (paywall) but I predicted a long time ago that Cameron’s failure to act on his parties fundraising bad habits would at some stage blow up in his face.

    Not sure if this will be the big one, but somewhere there is certainly a big Tory donor story brewing.

  14. Interesting posts above. I agree that Conservative support seems to have a ceiling of 36%. If they couldnt poll more strongly than that even against Gordon Brown after 13 years of Labour, it’s difficult to see where any big recovery will come from. They cannot gain a majority on 36%. Labour can, but only until the boundaries are changed and the number of constituencies reduced. Looking at post-2001 elections overall, it’s tempting to draw the conclusion that the combined total of Tory/Labour voters is capped at about three quarters the electorate. Depending on the immediate fate of the LibDems maybe we will see another small majority government. But to my mind, taking account also generational shifts, we’re on course for many more hung parliaments even with first-past-the-post.

  15. Also – with coalition dominance in the South and the Midlands, they may decide at the end of the parliament to run under an electoral pact – even if it’s not an official pact but only encouraged tactical voting.

    If Labour continue to disregard the LibDems as a possible future partner, it could push the LibDems in to permanent tactical alliance with the Tory party.

    Thus under FPTP/AV, LibDems and Tories could hold secure majorities in parliament, even if their combined national vote is far below that of Labour.

    Interesting times for political support for electoral reform – with the Labour party suddenly having greater tactical advantage under PR (as opposed to greater advantage now under FPTP) and the LibDems perhaps gaining tactical advantage under FPTP/AV – perhaps we will see political allegiances switch.
    Much like the support over the EU – where Labour campaigned against, Tories for with the partisan views now reversed.

  16. I can’t see the LibDem party at large being happy to stay in coalition with the Tories at successive elections.

  17. The truth is that the Tories will be delighted and relieved that they are polling as high at 36% at this stage, given the scale of the unpopularity of the cuts and the spanking the general population are getting from them. I say this as someone who is totally politically neutral – I have neither left nor right wing leanings. I don’t like either that much.

    They will be confident that they can claw back a single digit Labour in the lead up to a general election for a number of reasons:-

    1) They will offer sweeteners to the electorate, especially in 2014-15. Most voters respond to these. The tough fiscal situation will not dissuade them from doing this; to suggest so, suggests a naivety in politics IMO. Besides, insiders suggest that this is already being planned.
    2) The economy, in all probablilty, will be well on the road to recovery by 2014-15.
    3) The vast majority of governing parties, however unpopular mid-office, tend to benefit from a pre-election boost in the polls.

    As a neutral, I’d honestly say that a Tory majority is still the most likely scenario, but it wil still very much be an open general election.

  18. Yes, if the indications in 2015 are for a comfortable labour majority, or even a labour majority at all, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of either a formal or informal coalition pact. Some insiders have hinted that this has already been discussed behind closed doors. Whilst this would not be the ideal scenario for either the tories or the libs, if they feel that they are going to be wiped out by labour and forced out of power, they may well consider that they have little option.

  19. @rogerh,

    i don’t think it would necessarily involve staying in coalition; just forming a pact that helps both parties to defend seats. The libs may well prefer this than having so many seats wiped out that it becomes a tiny irrelevant party that is unable to have little say in national politics, as many labour supporters are suggesting will happen to the libs at the next general election.

  20. “I can’t see the LibDem party at large being happy to stay in coalition with the Tories at successive elections.”

    They don’t appear to be particularly happy at the prospect of staying in this coalition till the next election going by the fury they are now venting over the AV vote.

    After the elections the fate of the NHS reforms will be the most crucial indicator.

  21. By my estimation there is zero possibility of a future electoral pact between the Tories and LibDems. The LibDem USP at the next election will be pointing out all of the areas where they prevented the excesses of a minority Conservative administration. For their part, right-wing Tories can barely forgive David Cameron for the coalition deal and will want to distance themselves from it at the earliest opportunity.

  22. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of either a formal or informal coalition pact.”

    Cameron and Clegg have.
    Though I strongly doubt Clegg will be in a position to have much of a say in anything by then.

  23. I really think Labour supporters on here are being a tad optimistic if they think the Libs want out of this coalition. The Libs are undoubtedly infuriated by the Tories over the AV, but that doesn’t mean that they want to turn their back on power. If they did, over half of all Lib Mps would be in serious danger of losing their seats, and the party as a whole would be wiped out of British politics for a long time. Then, of course, they have to show that consensus politics can, and does, work. How can they show that proportional representation is a good system if coalition governments are, more often than not divided, fragile and broken?

    To suggest that the Libs, or any other party for that matter, are totally driven by ideological considerations is to ignore British politics over the past 40 years.

  24. @RogerH

    “Maybe reports of the death of the ‘yes’ cause could yet prove to have been exaggerated.”

    I think it’s all uphill for the “Yes” camp, but not entirely impossible for them to turn it around. I’ve gone public on these pages about my intention to vote “No”, albeit with a heavy heart. I’m a PR advocate and, whilst my initial thoughts were that AV was a barely superior version of FPTP, and a possible cul-de-sac for real PR, I’ve been persuaded by the argument that it at least offers an improvement on the status quo. I haven’t liked the stridently Tory and mendacious “No” campaign either.

    So, my fellow politicos, I’ve become a swinging voter! No more of this “No” nonsense for me, I shall be putting my x firmly in a box that says Yes on Thursday and I hope I’m in the majority. I think, very marginally, I’d prefer to wake up to a smiling Nick Clegg on Friday morning rather than a smirking David Cameron, wouldn’t you?

  25. “By my estimation there is zero possibility of a future electoral pact between the Tories and LibDems.” etc

    But will Labour arrogance force the situation?
    If Labour’s national numbers remain good, there’s a good chance that they will not tactically work with the LibDems in the South/Midlands to ‘keep the Tories out’.

    But if the LibDems and Tories work together in the Midlands/North to ‘keep Labour out’, then rather than a full on pact where they share policies, they may opt for a tactical alliance (“Labour ruined the country, do you want them back?”).

    The LibDems would be foolish not to accept that sort of tactical alliance if that were the best way under FPTP/AV (easier under AV, because they can be far more distinct) to win seats.

  26. I wish the pollsters didn’t have one category covering the whole of the south. It would be interesting to know the state of the parties in the SW where the LDs have – until now – got a substantial anti-Tory vote.

  27. ‘Cameron and Clegg have’.

    But they are bound to say that to the watching media. To suggest otherwise would be to admit that they are not confident in their own party’s performance at the next GE. It would be a HUGE mistake to do that. IF they get desperate due to heavy losses, I think they would strongly consider the possibility.

    As it happens, I am not sure that the Tories will necessarily need it to get a majority – but that’s just my opinion.

  28. If they get desperate due to *expected* heavy losses.

  29. @Ambivalentvoter

    ” I say this as someone who is totally politically neutral – I have neither left nor right wing leanings. I don’t like either that much.!

    Hmmm…….can I be the first poster on here to suggest, on the basis of the general and consistent thrust of your posts, that you might not be as ambivalent as you claim??lol.

  30. I agree with TingedFringe in the sort of pact that would be likely to take place.

  31. CrossBath,

    I am a floating voter,

    I wouldn’t vote Tory or Labour though. I voted for the greens at the last general election. I expect I may do the same at the next.

  32. There are elements of both Labour and Tory policy that I agree with. I used to be a left-leaning Labourite a long time ago, but I wouldn’t say that is true any more. Nor would I ever vote Conservative.

    I love politics for the drama more than anything. But to me, Cameron is a clone of Blair.

  33. I meant CrossBat11,

    Excuse my typos!

  34. @Tinged Fringe

    You make the common mistake of assuming that Politics is *entirely* about Party Electoral Success. It’s a large part, but it’s not. MPs do actually have to answer to their constituents, and their party fund raisers.

    In particular, the Lib Dems have to answer to their grass roots membership in a way that most other parties do not.

    There is NO CHANCE of an electoral pact between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats surviving a party conference vote. It’s simply not going to happen.

    And at this point, I would suggest that the Liberal Democrats wouldn’t be able to get a coalition with the Conservatives through a post-election party conference. In the next election the Conservatives will either get an unlikely majority, a slim chance of holding exclusive plurality and minority governent, or they will be shouldered aside.

  35. “I wish the pollsters didn’t have one category covering the whole of the south. It would be interesting to know the state of the parties in the SW where the LDs have – until now – got a substantial anti-Tory vote.”
    The aggregate March figures have a further regional breakdown (hopefully yougov will continue aggregate figures with full regional breakdowns in the future) –
    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-yougov-aggregatedatamarch2011-210411.pdf

    South East figures are (GE result)-
    Con 48 (49.9) -1.9
    Lab 31 (16.2) +14.8
    Lib 11 (26.2) -15.2

    South West –
    Con 40 (42.8) -2.8
    Lab 34 (15.4) +18.6
    Lib 15 (34.7) -19.7

    But even with these sorts of swings, the only beneficiary is the Tory party.
    Most Southern LibDem seats are (IIRC) Lib/Tory seats with Labour far, far behind.
    So even with huge Labour swings, it just splits the anti-Tory vote rather than unifying it.

  36. Thanks for the information TINGEDFRINGE.

    ‘Splitting the anti Tory vote’ is no longer an issue for some people since they now consider the LDs as basically the same as Tories. I’m not exaggerating – I have been canvassing in North Devon and a lot of people are angry and bitter about what the LDs have done.

  37. “You make the common mistake of assuming that Politics is *entirely* about Party Electoral Success… In particular, the Lib Dems have to answer to their grass roots membership in a way that most other parties do not.”

    And if Labour continue to push aside the LibDems and do not treat them as tactical allies, why would the LibDem membership see the tactical advantage of securing what would be left of their seats (losing the Lib/Con seats to the Tories) by playing an anti-Labour game?

    Even if it wasn’t an official policy, if Labour were to try to win the south on their own (seeing that they now have replaced the Libs as ‘second party’), I don’t think the membership would seek complete electoral obliteration for the sake of ideology.

    The acceptance of the coalition at all shows that the membership are willing to work with the Tories and put their own ‘progressive allegiances’ aside for national/party interest.

  38. I’d also comment on this… Clegg and Cameron may very well want a permanent coalition and an electoral pact between Lib Dems and Conservatives.

    And Gordon Brown wanted Labour to win in 2010.

    Wanting something that is in your best interest, and having the means to achieve it are very different things. Even if a merger between the two parties would be the only hope of them remaining political powers, they just can’t drag both of their parties into it.

  39. @Tinged Fringe

    If Lib Dem grass roots cared about supporting a party that got into power no matter what, they wouldn’t be Lib Dem party supporters.

  40. @crossbat11 – welcome to the Yes camp.

    I too think that the referendum vote might be closer than expected. It is a yes/no boolean choice, unlike any other election. While a lead of 10 or 16% look huge, under the most recent poll only 1 in 10 No voters need to have second thoughts and we are in a nail biter.

    @Ambivalent Voter – your (and others) analysis of the prospects for the Tories in 2015 seems to be based on the assumption that a succesful economy will only benefit one party in the coalition. This is very commonly held view, but I don’t see the situation as being that simple.

    The Lib Dems are now tirelessly working for their own advantage from the coalition (as are the Tories, but with the Lib Dems until recently not being so good at it). Clegg is wising up and has realised that Cameron and Osborne are perfectly happy to smile to his face and them stab him in the back if it suits them. Clegg has now learned that lesson and will consistently project the nasty Tory message for the next 4 years.

    This Lib Dem waking up to reality has, in my opinion, been the biggest and most long lasting impact of the AV referendum campaign. I suspect the Tories in due course will rue their campaign and will come to regret the fact that they traded a No result for the creation of a very dangerous enemy within.

    Unlikely as it might sound now, but we could even see better economic conditions elevate the Lib Dems more than the Tories – once the damage is repaired we can dispense with the unpleasantly harsh repair men and get back to protecting public services.

  41. In February, [all YG data, last 61 polls]

    Tories averaged 36.4

    In March that dropped 0.8% to 35.6

    In April that climbed to 36.1

    On rounding the Tories have averaged 36% in the last 61 YouGov polls. Reds used ot lead blue

    That satisfies all reasonable criteria of ‘stable’.

    In February,

    Labour averaged 43.3% in the polls [YG]

    In March that Dropped to 42.7%
    In April that dropped to 42.2%

    By all reasonable criteria that is a little less stable…

    Yellows have stayed a solid 9.7% in the last 61 YG polls

    Thus these four statements are factually accurate.

    1. The Tories are stable in the polling
    2. Labour are on a modest downward trend
    3. The LDs are very stable on just under 10%.
    4. The lead between Red & blue has narrowed.

    Apologies for misquoting Bob Worcester… I know he reads UKPR lets hope her overlooks that one [blush].

    My analysis for what it is worth is that I hope reds score re-stabilises when Scottish voters switch away from Holyrood mindset back to Westminster.. This ‘might’ lead to a slight recovery in reds position among Scottish voters.. [split ticket voting and all that].

  42. @Ambivalent

    “The truth is that the Tories will be delighted and relieved that they are polling as high at 36% at this stage, given the scale of the unpopularity of the cuts and the spanking the general population are getting from them.”

    I think that it might be a little premature.

    So far, I don’t think that there has been a major shake out of jobs from the public sector.

    Also, it should be noted that people losing their jobs by agreement in the public sector (voluntary redundancy/early retirement) are given a pay off which means they can survive for a year or so if they are careful.

    So, my view remains that we need to wait another 12 -18 months to understand the real effects, economic and political, of the cuts. Boring but true.

  43. Any chance of another Welsh poll before the election?

  44. I don’t think a coalition pact is likely. However, an election pact is a strong possibility, depending on polling figure by 2015 IMO.

    Jayblanc,

    You have too much faith in the Libs, political parties and politics in general. It’s a much more cynical business Imo, as the past few years have shown.

  45. Public opinion is slowly moving against the NATO action in Libya. More people say it was wrong to take this action than say it was right.

    And only 27% think the action is going well; 47% think it is going badly. Most of this poll would have been done before the reports that Colonel Gaddafi’s youngest son & three of grandsons – all 12 years of age or younger – were killed during a NATO bombing of a residential property in Tripoli.

    NATO are saying that the house was a legitimate command & control center; Saif al-Arab & the three children were ‘collateral damage’.

    I hope people will ask themselves, “Would I have my student son & three of my grandchildren in a command & control center that I know NATO could be targeting, having seen my adopted daughter killed as ‘collateral damage’ last time around?”

    NATO continue to deny that they are targeting specific individuals (i.e. Colonel Gaddafi). Several nations, Russia being the foremost, are not convinced. Obviously, from the tone of this & previous comments, I am also not convinced.

    Why should we care? Does Gaddafi – & his family – not deserve everything bad that happens to them?

    To behave in this way makes us – under international law – little better than terrorists. And, I believe that nations who are against interventions (e.g. Russia & China), will veto all future humanitarian UNSRs on the grounds that they are used as a cover for regime change.

  46. Yes,I agree. I expect Labour to pull a lot further ahead in the next year.

  47. “But they are bound to say that to the watching media. To suggest otherwise would be to admit that they are not confident in their own party’s performance at the next GE.”

    Not quite. They are bound to say that because if they didn’t their backbenchers would go ballistic and throw this parliament into utter chaos. There was polling on this and it was amusingly one sided with an overwhelming majority of Lib Dem members utterly against it. Only 3% supported it. It’s a non-starter.

    A strange time to raise it when Chris Huhne’s intervention about Labour Pacts is causing turmoil.

    “Tensions inside the coalition government are at new heights after a Liberal Democrat cabinet minister called on voters to form an anti-Tory alliance in Thursday’s referendum on electoral reform in order to deprive the Conservatives of power.

    In an extraordinary intervention, Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, has shattered any remaining semblance of cabinet unity by insisting that the referendum is an opportunity for the country’s “progressive majority” to back change and avoid a repeat of the “worst excesses of the Thatcher government”.

  48. @ Alec

    I agree with all your points. I’d even go further and say that being “proved right” on the economy I’d more important for LibDem supporters of the coalition than for Conservative supporters. Conservatives are inherently supportive of the programme; whereas LibDems need to prove that it’s possible to reduce the deficit and maintain fairness. Thats why I’m convinced (as a LibDem supporter) that our only sensible option is to stick with the coalition for it’s full term and – as you say – get better at pointing out the advantages of a coalition approach over a minority Conservative administration, which would have been beholden to it’s own right-wing fringe.

    The gamble is which progressively minded voters will value more: The LibDems approach of participating in trying to resolve the extreme economic problems the country is facing; or Labour’s approach of (i.m.o.) denying we have a problem. Which way the voters go in four year’s time depends very much on the economy and the LibDems skills at getting their message across.

    I’m optimistic about the LibDems long-term prospects. The Conservative’s achilles heel is that they have still not shaken off the “nasty party” label – and the longer the coalition goes on the more their disontented right-wing will undermine Cameron’s efforts to rebrand. Labour hasn’t shaken off the “economically incompetent” tag and, whilst it may be not wholly deserved, Milliband is failing to present a credible economic alternative.

  49. @Mick,

    True, but desperation is a strange thing, especially in politics. Yet again, you are assuming that politics is mainly about ideology and integrity. It isn’t, as the current coalition has shown IMO.

    If the Libs knew that they were going to be wiped out of existence at an impending general election, with many of their MPs losing their seat, I can guarantee that, under those circumstances, an informal election pact or agreement (not necessarily a coalition agreement) would seem a lot more tempting to said Lib members than at present.

  50. Even the very anti-Gaddafi BBC are saying that the killing of his student son & three grandchildren is a diplomatic disaster for the coalition. They also concede that NATO is walking an increasingly thin line (the ” around accidental were not added by me):

    “There is no doubt that, along with the military aim of disrupting command-and-control hubs, Nato sought a psychological effect, conscious of the possibility of ‘accidental assassination’.”

    I would add that NATO must also be concious of the possibility of civilians, especially civilian members of Gaddafi’s family, being collateral damage in such a plan – taking us uncomfortably close to the terrorists’ tactics that we claim to abhor.

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