Here’s something interesting. Normally the best prediction (or at least, the least flawed prediction) of how votes translate into seats is a uniform swing projection – that is, if a party has increased it’s national share of the vote by 5 percentage points, you add five percentage points to the share it gets in each seat, and vice-versa if it loses support.

Broadly speaking, uniform national swing has been a pretty good predictor of elections – or at least, a good starting point to analyse elections and where parties have done better or worse than average. However, it is mathematically inelegant, particularly when it comes to the extremes. Say a party loses 5 percentage points in its national support – what happens in a seat where they only had 4% at the last election? On a UNS model they’d get minus 1% support, which is clearly impossible. Generally speaking though UNS doing odd things to parties with minimal support doesn’t matter, as it is all about the marginal seats and predicting overall seat numbers, how well it models changes in support in safe seats is irrelevant.

However, it has been playing on my mind how it will work with the Liberal Democrats at the next election if they maintain their present low levels of support. How would it cope with a drastic collapse in support for a party? It varies from pollster to pollster, but roughly speaking the Lib Dems have lost about half their 2010 vote, about 12 points or so. To start with there were 57 seats where the Lib Dems got less than 12% support in 2010, they can’t lose 12% in those. Equally, if their vote did collapse to what extent would their sitting MPs be insulated from the fall?

The Scottish Parliamentary election gives us a chance to see. Below is a scatter chart of the Lib Dem performance in 2011 – plotting the change in the Lib Dem share of the vote in each seat against the share of the vote they recieved in 2007. Gold dots are those seats that were notionally or actually held by the Lib Dems in 2007, blue dots are non-LD seats.

The green line is what we would expect to see if there was a uniform swing – the Lib Dem vote falling by 8% in each seat. The red line is what we’d get if the Lib Dem vote fell proportionally to their support in 2007 – basically if they lost half their support in each seat. The actual distribution of dots is clearly closer to the proportional line than the uniform swing. If this was repeated at a GB general election then the Liberal Democrats would do even worse than a uniform swing would predict.

On the other hand, look at the distribution of the blue and gold dots – in seats where the Lib Dems had incumbency the Lib Dems did better than a proportional loss would have suggested (and they do worse than than this in seats without incumbency) – while the Lib Dems did end up losing all their mainland seats in Scotland, they did actually perform somewhat better in the seats they held… just not by enough to save them.

I wouldn’t presume to make models or predictions about what would happen to the Lib Dems at a general election on this basis… just that UNS national swing may not be a very good predictor if the Lib Dem vote does remain in dire straights at the next general election.


183 Responses to “The Lib Dem collapse in Scotland”

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  1. Anthony, what is “a GB general election”? Are you predicting that NI will leave the Union before 2015?

    Surely a Scottish exit is more likely, although with the referendum in 2014-16, de facto Independence Day is likeliest to occur at some date in 2015-17, so we may hang around for a farewell UK GE.

    Best bookies’ prices – Year of Scottish independence

    2014 or earlier 7/1 (SJ)
    2015 6/1 (SJ)
    2016 5/1 (SJ, VC)
    2017 4/1 (SJ, VC)
    2018 9/2 (SJ, VC)
    2019 11/2 (SJ)
    2020 or later 3/1 (VC)

  2. My suggestion for the LibDems in Scotland at the next Westminster election is that (apart from Orkney & Shetland where their vote will fall with the SNP in a comfortable second place) is that any victor will have to be both an incumbent AND a former UK Party leader.

    Therefore I expect Kennedy and Ming (if he stands) to win on the mainland and no other LibDem.

  3. Tom,

    – “Therefore I expect Kennedy and Ming (if he stands) to win on the mainland and no other LibDem.”

    Theoretically, I’d agree with you. However, these sets of data must be weighing very heavily on Kennedy’s and Campbell’s minds:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/election2011/constituency/html/36134.stm

    ht tp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/election2011/constituency/html/36125.stm

    Bearing in mind that Campbell will be 74 in May 2015, it is highly unlikely that he will want to stand again.

    Kennedy is an enigma. I have a gut-feeling that we will be hearing a lot more from him in the coming years. He is the only “trump card” the SLDs have left.

  4. ‘ALEC,

    I think you are half-right. This austerity madness to hold the Euro is clearly coming unstuck – the Euro seems doomed or else they will have to starve the populations of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland to save it. The main losers will be German banks – and so German populace will bear the brunt this time I suspect.

    As to the electorate rebelling and refusing to bear the brunt – I fear that you are wrong. We are all tied into this system – and the financiers have ensured that if ever they go down we all go down – therefore short of soime Leninist revolt we will have to continue bearing the brunt.

    Alternatively we could just erect a plank on the ninetieth floor of Canary Wharf and line them up to walk it!!!

    Perhaps not!

  5. Peter Cairns,

    – “… the 72 Scottish LibDem candidates (I think they didn’t stand in one)…”

    Correct. In Clydesdale the SLD candidate forgot to submit his nomination papers:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/election2011/constituency/html/36081.stm

  6. @stuart Dickson

    Given their performance elsewhere the forgetfuness of the Lib-Dem candidate to submit papers in Clydesdale now seems like a shrewd bit of financial husbandry!! bet their treasurer is wishing more of their candidates had done the same!

  7. @iceman – “As to the electorate rebelling and refusing to bear the brunt – I fear that you are wrong”

    Well it’s happening already in Spain and Greece. The answer from the Germans and French has been more austerity and forced asset sales, just as Paul mason says, at the trough of the market in a distressed firesale – about as poor a chance of securing taxpayer value as it is possible to imagine, but great value for the international buyers. As good an example of how the response to the crisis is being formed for the benefit of finance, rather than people you could possibly get.

    I really liked Mason’s parrallels with 1914 and the build up to WW1 where the European elites were uncomprehendingly stupid in thinking a war couldn’t happen just because they didn’t think it would. Your response to the current crisis is typical of our leaders – the people will do what we tell them because we tell them.

    Now and then the dominoes fall over and the entire system falls. I’m not sure if this is the point we are at now, but to be honest, discussing which seats the Lib Dems might lose or whether the UNS is a valid way to predict their performance is merely keeping ourselves preoccupied while the big stuff happens elsewhere.

  8. Iceman,

    Indeed!

    – “The Lib Dems lost 25 deposits after failing to win 5% of the vote in some areas on election night.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-13411906

    25 times 500 GBP = Ouch!

    … especially when their membership numbers (already low) are tumbling. They must be below 2,000 members by now. SLAB are on approx 13,000. The Scottish Tories about 10,000? SNP were on 16,000-17,000 last time I looked.

  9. A number of people have commented entirely accurately on the overwhelming evidence that the Scots electorate are entirely willing to vote Labour for Westminster and SNP for Holyrood.

    My cautionary point for Labour supporters to mull over is that the Labour vote for Westminster is boosted by a powerful anti-Tory element while the Holyrood vote is more substantially pro-SNP.

    Therefore the SNP are likely to remain the largest party at Holyrood with a great deal more certainty than the Labour Party have of winning the largest number of Scottish seats for Westminster.

  10. Colin Green

    “I believe he said Nick Clegg is more popular than Ed Miliband (40% to 36% according to MORI).”

    Can you provide a link to the Mori figs please?

  11. Two things I think worth mentioning. The anti-tory feeling is still very strong in scotland. Labour’s best results were Eastwood and Dumfriesshire where they benefitted from anti-tory tactical voting. Given this could the desire to punish LDs be greater in Scotland than elsewhere?

    Also what of Alex Salmond personally. A lot of those who backed him (including The Sun, and quite a few former LD voters I would imagine) backed him as a vehicle for getting him elected as FM while not backing his party or independence.

    I wonder what the results would have been had labour had a stronger leader and the SNP a weaker one.

  12. Paul Mason’s two-penny-worth on the June 30th appointment:

    “… engaged in trying to mitigate austerity demands that would drive Greece, Portugal and Ireland into a deflationary spiral, [the IMF] is rendered suddenly leaderless… frontrunners Christine Lagarde and German central banker Axel Weber have been key figures in the actions that failed so far

  13. OldNat,

    – “YouGov have the data to show whether the simplistic “LD votes went to SNP” is true, or whether the more complex scewnario, that canvass returns here suggested, is more accurate – ie Westminster ID LD votes wnt to a number of parties, but that there was a corresponding shift of voters from those parties to voting SNP. That would be a really interesting analysis.”

    Spot on!

    But it is not just canvassing figures. We can see in many seats that the post-election SLAB spin that “it was just the Lib Dem collapse” that propelled the SNP landslide is complete tosh.

    The SLD vote splintered in all directions, but concurrently, there was a huge swing from LAB to SNP and from CON to SNP. The summary totals hide this massive “churn”, but Anthony and his colleagues know the true churn figures.

    I look forward to that article.

  14. AmbivalentSupporter,

    – “Ed is still only building up steam. I think the next 12 months could be where he really demonstrates his leadership qualities.”

    Hmmm… here is some sobering reading for you:

    http://www.leftfutures.org/2011/05/ed-miliband-needs-to-sort-out-his-myopia/

    ht tp://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2011/05/24/if-ken-loses-will-it-be-eds-neck-on-the-chopping-block/

  15. @Billy Bob – indeed. I gues the reasons why these individuals are favoured by their respective countries is that they can be trusted to protect the banks of France and Germany.

  16. Good research Anthony.

    Estranged LDs had a ready made escape strategy in Scotland, since the SNP have good rural & leafy appeal. There is less of a ready made escape plan for them in other parts of the UK.

  17. BBZ
    Heart-felt apologies on my mis-identification!
    On the looming by-election,the Tories have no chance, partly because they do not attract transfers, partly because the existing vote is largely personal for a long-standing incumbant who is more than close to the Lib Dems and partly because the Conservatives on the council are divided 2 against 2 in a factional war. They go under the labels Scottish Conservatives and Aberdeen Conservatives. The Lib Dems will have to contend with the fact the election is caused by the current imprisonment of the sitting councillor for taking money from a community organisation.
    Like so much else in Scotland, it will probably come down to Labour vs SNP.

  18. Things really normally have to go seriously wrong for a first term incumbent government for them to lose the subsequent election….Heath in ’74 still polled more votes than Labour….

    That is the mountain that Ed Milliband has to climb. Ted Heath had to climb it in 1966 and failed miserably but then in 1970 succeeded against the odds….I remember that election night! Kinnock in the 80s….no better….

    This makes the position the the coalition partner…all the more important….

    The last proper peacetime coalition had National Liberals….as opposed to Liberals….they were wiped out in 1945. I guess the new two party duopoly lasted until maybe ’74…..after that the steady rise of Libs then of Libs/SDLP and finally LibDems tended to work in favour on the Conservatives until ’92….and in ’97 it worked in favour of Labour as it tended to magnify the anti- conservative vote.

    If theLibDem vote travels backwards I suspect with the realignment of the consituencies and FPTP the Conservatives will be the principal beneficiaries. However, I guesss it also depends upon the number of new consituencies that aren’t marginal….and that may decide whether or not its possible for the Conservatives or Labour to achieve an overall majority.

    The problem may be for the Conservatives that without the LibDems they’ll not have a coalition partner UNLESS they once again ally themselves with the NI Unionists…..Of course that was a price that the Conservatives happily paid as the Conservative and Unionist Party until the 1960s with appaling political consequences in NI….

  19. @Murphy

    There’s a huge flaw in the “First Term Governments Rarely Lose” argument… How does it apply to Coalitions?

    There isn’t going to be an electoral pact, so there’s not going to be ‘Coalition Candidates’ at the next election. The current government *didn’t win* the last election, no party did and the coalition came about through negotiation.

    For the current government to survive the next election, then we not only need another hung parliament, but one where the Lib Dems can’t go into coalition with Labour.

    So even if we assume “First Term Governments Rarely Lose” is valid in the first place, it can’t apply here at all!

  20. BARNEY CROCKETT

    Heart-felt apologies on my mis-identification!

    Thanks. With only 2,393 votes on the list, the Liberal Party’s comeback will be a little slow. In fact, I think it misguided of the party to stand nationally until the L-Ds split up and de-toxify the Liberal brand. With the L-D leadership still demonstrating contempt for the Steel Commission, they’re displaying SDP centralism hardly different from the Blairites and bringing that day nearer.

    On the looming by-election,the Tories have no chance, partly because they do not attract transfers

    The reason for the vacancy would probably be enough to collapse the L-D vote even in better times for them, and the only issue in doubt would seem to be Cui Bono?

    You may well be right if either the SNP or Lab can gain the lion’s share of L-D defections, but the Con’s 27.4% from 2007 is likely to hold up pretty well, especially with the “law & order” undertones of the contest. Their opportunity would be if the SNP & Lab do equally well in syphoning off ex-L-D votes, putting both in near-equality for second place.

    What evidence we have seen suggests that the SNP are rather better than Lab in that respect, but a positive Lab campaign coupled with some media successes by your leadership could change that.

  21. Christine Lagarde has announced her candidacy (3 of the last 5 IMF cheifs have been French) though she may still face a legal probe over “abuse of authority” accusations (to be decided mid-June).

  22. Barbazenzero,

    – “… the Steel Commission…”

    Speaking of the wee devil:

    http://news.scotsman.com/politics/David-Steel-First-big-test.6773851.jp

    Why did the SLD’s give up on the Steel Commission? It is one of the biggest U-turns in modern Scottish political history.

  23. And talking of by-elections, I wonder how this Westminster one will pan out?

    Current best bookies’ prices – Inverclyde by-election

    Lab 2/7 (SJ, WH)
    SNP 3/1 (PP)
    Con 100/1 (WH)
    LD 150/1 (WH)

  24. STUART DICKSON

    Why did the SLD’s give up on the Steel Commission? It is one of the biggest U-turns in modern Scottish political history.

    Because the SDP faction beat their Liberal faction – in their 2008 or 2009 conference, if I recall rightly – over the federalism which caused first Scott and now Rennie to behave subsequently as they have.

    It has now been expunged from the L-D’s Constitutional Affairs pages, which now skip glibly from Westminster to “localism” with nothing in between.

    But thanks for the link to Steel’s article, where he demonstrates his own declined position within his party with: “The Calman Commission became the equivalent of that second convention and its recommendations, which borrow heavily from our proposals, were endorsed by the Conservatives and Labour as well as our own party.

    Little could be further from the truth.

    As one of the less rabid comments on the thread suggests: “I would have hoped David Steel would have been more positive about improvements to Calman which offers Scotland only few crumbs and also looks to return certain powers FROM Holyrood to Westminster, a fact seemlngly missed by our plethora of unionist journalists.” and “Lord steel was leader of a Party that claimed to be federalist….what happened?

    Today’s Fraser judgement in the UK Supreme Court may just be the tip of the iceberg in respect of either bringing down the separation of Scottish Law entire or, more likely, putting the Scottish legal establishment 100% “onside” with the Scottish Government.

  25. STUART DICKSON
    And talking of by-elections, I wonder how this Westminster one will pan out?

    Is anyone running a book on when Labour will call the Inverclyde by-election?

    One might think a confident, resurgent party with a new leader would be keen to hold it before the summer recess, as they did for Glasgow East, but my own expectation is that they’ll handle it more like Glasgow East and wait for the winter to set in.

  26. Ooops! 2nd Glasgow East should of course have been Glasgow North East!

  27. Barb,

    – “It has now been expunged from the L-D’s Constitutional Affairs pages, which now skip glibly from Westminster to “localism” with nothing in between.”

    Thanks for that. This is one of the reasons I love the internet: it gives you lots of fascinating detail that mainstream media would never even dream of providing to the general public.

    One day I will write an essay, provisionally titled: ‘How the internet led to the decline and fall of the British state’.

  28. Mike N

    “Can you provide a link to the Mori figs please?”

    Sadly no, but I can refer you to Farron’s piece where he quotes them:

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/tim-farron-writes-enough-doom-and-gloom-we-have-the-greatest-opportunity-in-the-history-of-our-party-24229.html

  29. Colin Green

    Thanks – I had read some of Farron’s comments on the Guardian site.

    Gosh he’s poor with figures…

    “…16% of those who voted put a cross in our box this month. That is 8% fewer than at the General Election. Or put another way, only 8% fewer than after the most high profile and positive campaign in the history of our party.”

    Er no, actually it’s 33% !! fewer. But hey ho, don’t let facts get in the way.

    Farron refers to an Ipsos Mori poll from two months ago, but on visiting the IM site I could not trace the figs. It would
    be good to substantiate/verify his claim.

    But I have to say, the comments were not unequivocal support for NC. I felt he was damning with faint praise.

  30. ROB SHEFFIELD @ John B Dick

    “Its been a fact of Scottish polling that a large body of voters split their VI differentially between Westminster and Holyrood.”

    The fact that you are yourself a partisan supporter of one party has led you to suppose that I am an SNP partisan and therefore you have missed my point entirely.

    I acknowledged on these pages the irrelevance of Westminster 2010 for the 2011 election and there is no inconsistency in pointing out what would happen if the SP result were reflected in the next UK election.

    My point was that these voters are not the tribal voters of the 1950’s. They do not belong to the Labour party and they have no loyalty to any party. They are promiscuous.

    That is something that should concern Labour, but is also an opportunity for the SNP. They need to find a way to attract these voters. SNP strategists need to do some thinking about that.

    Pollsters have a problem too. Just as looking back to 2010 gave misleading results at the beginning of the campaign for VI 2011, then the converse is currently true for VI 2015, though this should decay over time.

    You are absolutely right to say “It has been a fact …”

    It has been, but the past is no certain guide to the future.

    Change happens. A majority in the Scottish parliament had never happened until it did. Nobody expected it. One region which I discounted any possibility of change was Glasgow. “It has been a fact …” that Glasgow has been solidly Labour for decades. Far more significant than the loss of a few Labour seats is the fact that those that remain are now marginal.

    The certainty of the past is no more. Individual constituencies in the central belt can now go one way or the other. Maybe more people will see the point in voting in a closer contest.

    If Labour at Westminster continue in denial about the causes, focusing on the fact that their vote was much the same and attibuting the result to the transfer of LibDem votes, they will fail to respond as they need to do. They first need to acknowlege the scale and cause of the problem, and then stop digging.

    Conservative strategists need to do some thinking too. Their Scottish party needs to Bavarianise, as does Labour and the SLD’s, but that’s the easy bit.

    What if the sole Scottish Conservative MP is lost; that LibDems are no longer available to look after Scotland on behalf of the coalition, and that instead of 49 Scots Labour MP’s voting to support a Labour government on English legislation there are 44 or thereabouts SNP MP’s who could be in a position to choose the party in government – and what would be the price that would have to be paid for their support?

    For the avoidance of doubt, I used to be a Labour voting anti-Con. The later Blair governments turned me into a LibDem voting anti-Con and then anti-Con+Lab. Now, the marginalisation and humiliation of the Conservatives in Scotland together with the disgraceful performance of Labour in the Scottish parliament have turned me into an SNP voting anti-Lab and I think there are about as many Con MSP’s as Lab ones that I could vote for for the constituency, though never on the list.

    In the last election I did what Donald Dewar advised me to do. I voted for the best person to represent the constituency (SNP) and the party I wanted to see in government on the list (Grn).

    Nobody expected the scale of the SNP list vote, and as things turned out, the Green candidate was not elected, but another SNP candidate who happens to be a personal friend was elected in her place.

    I’m pleased for his sake and he has done some thinking about his special interest, so will be an asset to the parliament and a benefit to the region, but it is good to have an effective opposition in the parliament, and the Greens in the last parliament were impressively busy in this respect as was Ms Goldie.

    They could have done with a bit of help.

  31. @Anthony Wells

    I know it’s unusual to comment on the actual *article* instead of Whatever We’re Banging On About Today, but thank you for the above. I know pollsters cleave to UNS but I always thought it was just silly, for the reasons you point out (if vote drops by 10 percentage points nationwide, what happens in seats where the vote is <10%?). The Uniform National Proportional Swing (UNPS*1) you suggest makes more sense, and if you fiddle it with an incumbency factor of (say) 5%, it fits pretty good.

    So:

    * UNS, where "vote now" = ("vote then" plus ("national poll rating now" minus "national poll rating then")) just doesn't work
    * UNPS, where "vote now" = ("Vote then" times ("national poll rating now"/"national poll rating then")) works OK,
    * UNPS+, where "vote now" = ("Vote then" times ("national poll rating now"/"national poll rating then")) plus (5% if incumbent) works pretty good.

    Whee! I just *love* fitting data… :-)

    Regards, Martyn

    *1: I was going to call it Proportional National Swing (PNS) before I realised how it sounded out loud… :-)

  32. Ashley

    “My guess is most of the Lib Dem deserters to the SNP will return to the LDs in a GE and thus save many of the Lib Dem MPs in Scotland.”

    It’s anybody but the Tories. There are Real Tories, Tory-lite, Tories-little-helpers and Tartan Tories.

    The SNP’s problem is to show that it isn’t the case thart just because Cons have disappeared and Labour are still there, that the SNP are the New Tories.

    People really do believe that they are Tartan Tories. A Con government and a SNP majority should give the SNP a chance to counter that one without too much effort.

    LibDems can return, but that depends on the UK party, not what happens in Scotland. Just as the SNP have been held back by “Tartan Tories” for years, the UK coalition has damaged the LibDems in Scotland, possibly fatally. Tavish Scott is not very pleased with Clegg & co.

  33. This is OT but heer goes anyway…just browsing the whaite paper on Giving and found this little gem:

    “New tax incentives • Reducing inheritance tax to 36% for those leaving 10% or more of their estate to charity;
    consultation on tax reductions for gifts of preeminent
    works of art to the nation.”

    But isn’t inheritance tax paid by the beneficiary?

  34. An interesting exercise.

    But as several other posters have pointed out it is kind of obvious that:

    a. UNS is pretty irrelevant as a prediction tool
    b. The situation will differ where there is an incumbent

    I did some work based on fairly crude analysis of the past election results which highlighted where LD vote was softest. I then realloctaed the lost LD vote based on the opinion poll average between LAB and SNP.

    I applied a lower proportion of lost votes where an incumbent LD MSP was standing again.

    My prediction was pretty good and correctly identified every LD loss – the only susprise was the instances where LAB should have been the benefactor but where the SNP came from 3rd to win.

    It also helped me to predict several wins for the SNP against LAB where the LD collapse was a factor. I recall being scoffed at for prediciting Gray’s seat was going to be a close call!

    Net result was a rather bad night for V Chandler ESQ and a bottle of prosecco from my winnings to be shared with a few rather bitter labour-supporting chums.

  35. statgeek @ Ashley

    “Certainly, the past Labour domination of Scotland is something I don’t want. I could tolerate a broad mix, but not 2/3 of the seats to one party, election after election.”

    If Labour don’t sort themselves out then you may get what you say you don’t want, but it will be the SNP.

    That’s an argument for PR of course, and the election of minor parties of course. Two terms is OK, but the SNP will need to be careful for they look set for three.

  36. denzil

    “My prediction was pretty good and correctly identified every LD loss – the only susprise was the instances where LAB should have been the benefactor but where the SNP came from 3rd to win.”

    You shold be congratulated on that. There was no data to base any estimate any Lab-SNP churn on. Though most of us suspected there would be some we had no idea of the scale of it.

    Neither of course had Alex Salmond, Patrick Harvie and the polling organisations or the new SNP in the NE who turned up to the count in casual clothes not expecting to have to make a speech from the platform.

  37. John B Dick

    “It has been, but the past is no certain guide to the future.”

    Have a look at the Scottish sub samples of all the polls by whichever company taken since the May elections.

    You’ll find- for Westminster voting- Labour are (i.e. *continue to be*) in front of the NATS. No change in the fact of a Labour lead over NATS- only its extent.

    I am willing to predict that these modest sub samples will be borne out by the next full-and-proper poll of Scottish Westminster voting intention.

    PS I tend not to trust the opinions of someone who – in the same breath- claims others are partisan whilst announcing that they are not ;-)

    Particularly when their posts continuously reveal a deep antipathy to Labour above all others :D

  38. “Is anyone running a book on when Labour will call the Inverclyde by-election?”

    I should imagine the decision rule will be as it is for all parties i.e. when you think you can make the biggest splash with a win. :D

    IMHO they ought to wait and give the NATS a full long summer of governing (and a succession of those soft but sharp rejections from Osborne and cameron) ;-)

  39. @Jayblanc

    I don’t disagree with your anlysis but I think if I were advsing Ed I’d say plan for the worst and be surprised if in the event things turn out better….

    It may be, and here I’ve only anecdotal evidence that the voters shifting from LibDem to Labour are actually more hostile to the LibDems than Labour voters….

    If that’s the case then it could be for example that Labour’s current ratings in the high thirties to low forties may be more solid than is usual….or indeeed was the case through the 80s.

    History cannot predict the future I readily concede but it can guide us to avoiding wishful thinking and properly understood help us to avoid unnecessary mistakes. The keyword here of course is properly….

    I accept we’re in uncharted waters but the practical effects of changes in constituencies and the reduction in the number of MPs tilts the board towards to conservatives….

    Also, despite what’s said at the moment, I don’t think one can necessarily assume that there will not be some formal or informal pact between the remaining partners in the coalition government….particularly if the LibDems look like they’re in meltdown nearer to the election…..

  40. It’s the economy, stupid…

    Just read this on the Telegraph site:

    “The latest figures from the ONS confirmed the initial estimate, that Britain’s economy grew just 0.5pc in the first quarter, after contracting by the same amount in the last three months of 2010.
    “This means the economy has effectively stagnated over the past six months – a far worse performance than Britain’s major trading partners.
    “A breakdown of the figures showed growth would have been even weaker had government spending not grown by a robust 1pc over the quarter. Public spending cuts mean this category will be unable to contribute to growth going forward.
    “Neither is the consumer in any position to drive the economy. Household spending contracted by 0.6pc on the quarter, the biggest drop since the recession, and looks set to remain weak as wages fail to keep pace with inflation.”

    Oooh err

  41. @Mike N
    h ttp://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/Budget2011briefing.PDF

    (pg 37)

  42. Craig

    Thanks.

    Interesting – I do recall seeing this, now.

    Hmm, only reinforces concerns that EM needs to address.

  43. Craig

    I should have added that actually bot NC and EM accoding to the IM poll are disliked by 51%.

  44. @ John

    Thanks

    I factored in some LAB to SNP movement – mainly where the LD vote collapse was insufficient to give the SNP the share increase they were due. (as you say though no-one could have predicted the actual scale of that movement in places like Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and peripheral Glasgow).

    I also factored in a wee bit of local knowledge – based on canvas returns in Glasgow and the insights kindly provided on these pages and Twitter.

    It was clear that in Cathcart (where I am) there was no serious effort by Labour and that they had moved all their resources (presumably they had some although I did not see them) to fight Nicola Sturgeon in neighbouring Southside. They could not even muster someone to stand outside the biggest polling station in the constituency at peak times.

    I think the labour negative campaigning/ authoritarian knife policy approach may have kept their core vote. But they failed to capitalise (or even make a decent fist of trying to) on the much-heralded LD collapse. I would recommend that the next Labour election startegist watches a few West Wing episodes to get to grips with the basics.

  45. I obviously defer to Scottish residents on the micro-psephology of Scottish voting patterns and, therefore, I concede that my occasional observations may lack some accuracy and credibility. However, taking a deep breath, I’m going to dip my toe into the raging waters of Scottish politics again!

    Firstly, and keeping on the subject of this thread, Anthony’s analysis merely confirms to me a basic truth of electoral politics and that is that there is often a personal, uniform swing-defying, vote for the sitting MP. There are countless examples of this south of the border and I suspect that this is what went on in Scotland on May 5th when incumbent Lib Dem MPs bucked the overall swing. Concentrated local seat campaigning can produce this effect too and, for a prime example, I give you Gisela Stuart in Birmingham Edgbaston in May 2010. I suspect that this factor mitigated the vote loss in some seats for the Lib Dems in Scotland.

    Secondly, surely the virulent anti-Toryism in Scotland must have been a factor in the Lib Dem collapse too. They supped with the devil at Westminster, became contaminated and paid the electoral price. Ditto effect in Northern England but less of a factor the further south one headed. Arrive at Watford and all rural lands south of that saw Tories benefitting from the Lib Dem collapse. A case of black widow politics. They post-coitally devoured their partner!!

    Thirdly and lastly, the Westminster v Holyrood voting pattern differences are likely to persist, aren’t they? A Scottish Labour vote in Westminster elections is far more likely to prevent a Tory UK Government whereas an SNP vote is almost certain to guarantee one. This dilemma will pose itself in 2015 and I’m inclined to think Scotland will laregely vote Labour once again.

    Besides, isn’t this outcome the best of both worlds? A majority SNP administration in Holyrood and a Labour Government in Westminster. This outcome, I suspect, suits the left leaning, non-independence minded majority of Scottish voters.

    I now fully expect to be monstered by both OldNat and Stuart Dickson!! Bring it on my fellow Brits!

  46. @Mike N

    “But isn’t inheritance tax paid by the beneficiary?”

    No. It is a tax on the estate of the deceased.

  47. Rob Sheffield,

    – “… a full long summer of governing, and a succession of those soft but sharp rejections from Osborne and cameron.”

    This is a classic example of Unionist misunderstanding of Scottish voting behaviour (and psychology).

    You seem to be under the misapprehension that “sharp rejections from Osborne and Cameron” will HELP the Unionist vote! Prepare to be disabused.

  48. Robin

    Thanks. Still a little unsure of the tax position re the 10% or above donation.

    If we assume say a £1m estate, with £100k donated to charity, the cost to the exchequer (ie the public purse) could be £76,000 in lost IHT if my maths is ok..

    £1m x 40% = £400,000 IHT
    £900k x 36% = £324,000 IHT.

    .

  49. As far as I’m concerned it will only be a matter of time until we see Lib dems fall even further now we’ve had the Danish bombshell.

    For such a pro European party now in government to have to explain away this one, when they will get no support from the Tories and facing a Labour party increasingly questioning some of the central beliefs regarding EU integration, I can see Clegg’s demise coming very shortly.

    It’s almost certainly against EU laws, but that doesn’t seem to stop the Danes. As with all things European, it seems to be one rule for them and another for us. Lib Dems will face probably greater hostility over this than the NHS I would imagine, at least in certain parts of the electorate.

    Personally, I think it’s despicable and the fact the the Commission hasn’t acted immediately to stop this is a further sign that the EU is broken. If Ed M plays this one well he could silience a lot of the Labour doubters.

    Clearly, the Danish governments decision to ban Marmite will have deep repercussions for UK politics. Nations have gone to war for less. If Sapper were still with us, just one whiff of those B vitamins and yeast extract would be enough to send him over the top. How bloody dare they!

  50. SLAB leader race -> Macintosh goes solo FAV.

    Stan James have just shortened their Ken Macintosh price, thus moving him from Joint-favourite to Favourite. Hard to believe that he started out at 8/1 a couple of weeks ago!

    There is now no doubt whatsoever: Ed Miliband and their London HQ want Macintosh in the hot seat, leading the ‘No’ campaign, come the referendum. Baillie and the “Scottish wing” are not going to be happy bunnies.

    And I wonder if Cathy Jamieson now regrets taking the rat run to London?

    New best bookies’ prices – Next leader of Labour parliamentary group

    Ken Macintosh 6/4 (SJ, WH)
    Jackie Baillie 2/1 (Lad)
    Johann Lamont 8/1 (PP, SJ)
    John Park 8/1 (PP)
    Sarah Boyack 10/1 (SJ)
    Malcolm Chisholm 12/1 (PP)
    Lewis Macdonald 12/1 (SJ)
    Elaine Murray 14/1 (SJ)
    Jim Murphy 19/1 (Betfair)
    Hugh Henry 20/1 (PP)
    Michael McMahon 20/1 (SJ)
    Richard Baker 25/1 (SJ)
    Kezia Dugdale 33/1 (SJ)
    Jenny Marra 50/1 (SJ)
    Graeme Pearson 50/1 (SJ)
    Gordon Brown 200/1 (PP)

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