Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%. While the boost that the Conservatives received from David Cameron’s veto appears to have declined somewhat from the Conservative leads we briefly saw last week, it doesn’t look like it’s vanished completely.

Tomorrow night’s YouGov poll is the last daily poll before the Xmas break, and while we may or may not also get an ICM/Guardian poll this month, we really won’t know for certain what the position is until next year (and even if the Tories are still enjoying a veto bounce now, it may well have vanished by January!)


183 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 40, LAB 40, LD 10”

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  1. @FrankG

    Nice one! I can’t do the smiley face things, but your post made me chuckle.

  2. There’s a couple of things that exercise my mind these days.

    1. The narrative. It is becoming received wisdom that Lab and EM are not pulling ahead enough. However, there are some counter-arguments to this. All the Westminster byelections bar OE&S were in safe-ish Lab seats. OE&S was the only one contested in a marginal, and Lab did very well at LD expense. All the other byelections saw swings to Lab bigger than national polls suggested. It is extraordinary that, 18 months after a GE where Lab achieved 29%, it is considered a failure if they poll under 40%. If Lab have recovered to consistent 39-42%, as they have over the last year, this is remarkable, and suggests that polling that indicates that EM is not attracting voters is, at best, open to considerable question.
    2. If Labour polling 39% (10 up on the GE result) is considered a failure, how is Con polling 39% (3 up on the GE) for barely 2 weeks a success?
    3. One of the things that has not been shown to be soft the last 12 months or so is the size and stability of the LD defection to Lab. After achieving 24% in the GE, LD will be happy with 12% (half!) next time round.
    4. I am pretty confident that, after a partial truce in 2010, anti-Con tactical voting will be a significant factor in 2015, and there will be a surprising number of people voting LD with pegs on their noses on the assumption that another Con-LD coalition will be much less likely.

    I think the coalition will last the full five years if only because both Con and LD are in very weak positions, and Con especially are not attracting significantly more support than they did in 2010.

    There was a poll in summer 2010 that indicated that, for all the electoral drubbing and 13 years of govt, Lab were not perceived as the nasty party (does someone know which poll that was?).

    If the current polling continues through to 2015, my personal guess is a Lab maj of about 25. A Lab-SNP coalition is the stuff of nightmares …

    Happy holidays everyone

  3. Labour, at the moment, have no strategy for attracting older voters. Ed’s appeal is defined by his concern for younger people e.g. The Promise of Britain; that each generation does better than the previous ones.

    I’m not sure how much this sentiment appeals to the over-60’s; many seem to think that they themselves had particulary hard lives (post-war austerity) & believe that young people ‘don’t know how lucky they are’. Even if they dearly love their own families, many believe in general, that younger people could do with a dose of austerity & hard work!

    This is exacerbated by talking down older people. They are rarely mentioned by any Party, except to say what a burden on the economy their pensions, health & future care needs are going to be!

    Whether it is true or not, it certainly gives the impression to older people that their future is grim; & that they are part of the problem, not part of a potential solution.

    Labour must find a way of ‘speaking with’ older people that makes them feel needed, valued & aspirational regarding their own FUTURE contribution to society. And it needs to be a strong, genuine message not PR fluff.
    8-)

  4. @Tark,

    “There was a poll in summer 2010 that indicated that, for all the electoral drubbing and 13 years of govt, Lab were not perceived as the nasty party (does someone know which poll that was?).”

    It was more recent than that. YouGov conducted a poll on behalf of the left wing think tank IPPR which found that Labour had the biggest pool of potential voters. In a telephone poll of 2,474 adults, 70% said they might be prepared to vote Labour, as opposed to 64% for the Liberal Democrats and 58% for the Tories. Just 30% say they would “never” choose Labour compared with 36% for the Lib Dems and 42% for the Tories. This suggests that the Tories, not Labour, are the most “toxic” party.

    It was an interesting poll and one that I thought shed some light on why the Tories seem to struggle to get much beyond a 36% vote share in national elections.

    Outside of left wing circles, this comprehensive poll received little if any publicity.

  5. Christine Odone(?) on Women’s Hour today made at least three references to the Conservatives being 13% ahead of Labour among women… does she qualify for an award? The terms of the debate (with Seema Malhotra and John Rentoul): the Conservative party now has a 6% lead over Labour (ICM/Telegraph 17 Dec).

    Rentoul made the valid point that simplistic economic arguments (Thatcher’s grocer shop/Cameron’s maxed-out credit card/fixing the roof when the sun shines etc) always chime with the voter… whereas Labour seem to frame the argument in such a way that it is understandable only to those with a degree from Harvard business school.

  6. Richard in Norway

    @”I should imagine that he quite happy at the moment”

    He shows that he isn’t every time he is interviewed.

    @”Sour and bile were quite uncalled for as is “chronic condition” that just being plain nasty.”

    What I think qualifies as “plain nasty” is VC’s constant sour references to his Government colleagues-a “nightmare” -no Christmas cards to “Tories”.

    It is pathetic. If he is so disgusted with his work colleagues he should resign-not keep telling the press how unhappy he is.

    You mention “Danny” as an “imposter”.

    That’s the difference between us-I view the Coalition as a joint operation at making this government work, based on collective responsibility.

    You seem to view it as the awful Tories being kept at bay by quasi members of the Labour Party.

    “Danny” , by the way , has just finished grinding through the minefield of public sector pension reform , keeping at it, & being successful it might seem.
    He didn’t spend his time on this telling the Press what a s**t Maude has been to work with-or announcing to the world that he doesn’t send Christmas cards to “Tories”.

  7. ALEC

    @”I think it’s much more the fact that the austerity measures have studiously avoided applying any real penalty on the over 65?s so far.”

    Pensioners have been disproportionately hit by inflation , which the Government has studiously avoided tackling,-indeed has stoked with QE.

    Pensioner savers have also paid the price of the central plank in the Government’s economic policy-ultra low interest rates for borrowers.BoE have acknowledged this.

  8. Meanwhile, it is interesting to see that a Wolfson economics prize £250k is being offered for papers about the following:

    “If member states leave the euro, what is the best way for the economic process to be managed?”

    So I’m taking this as confimation of my comment a few days ago – the euro will survive because there is no process for withdrawal from it; not even clearly defined possibilities. The challenges of withdrawal could be overwhelming in times of growth… to withdraw during times of economic difficulty would be the utter folly.

    Their prize money would be better spent on having people think on how the EZ can prosper in the future.
    8-)

  9. @ Alec
    ‘I don’t think a Tory government has ever been evicted after a single parliament before’
    That is not right – Heath’s Government was defeated after a single term in Feb 1974 as was Baldwin in 1929 despite having won a 200 majority in Oct 1924.

  10. CROSSBAT11
    @”Back to Cable, though. I’m convinced old Vince will be the first man overboard on the old tub HMS Coalition, and I have a funny feeling that the former Twickenham Labour Club man will eventually come home”

    I agree-his every utterance; his tortured expression, tells you this will happen.

    If LibLab ever looks like a runner-it will be VC who is in the vanguard-assuming he retains his seat :-)

  11. AMBER

    What a sensitive post-it could be addressed to the Government as well.

  12. The 1924-29 Conservative Government under Stanley Baldwin was also a one term government, although they had been out of power for less than a year having lost a confidence motion and were back in power in the National Government in 1931.

  13. @Amber Star

    Fwiw here is one of Gary Gibbon’s predictions for 2012:

    “Chancellor Merkel will press the button and the ECB will metamorphose into a full-blown, flying, lender of last resort, central bank, thereby saving the entire eurozone project. But a crisis of Europe’s banks could throw everything into a dark pit before that happens.”

  14. There had been a few short Conservative administrations in the 19th century, ones that didn’t even last a term – Lord Derby and Benjamin Disraeli for example both had some short spells in power.

  15. @Tark

    Thanks for those thoughts. Just a few points however:

    1. The current YouGov VI %s do not factor in DKs. There is a hell of a lot of them DKs, that have voted before, have not said they would not be voting and are currently unsure whether to vote for their former party or not. My own personal opinion is that the majority of these will vote and also will return to their former party. We shall see, but to assume they will not vote, which is what the current YouGov poll do, is probably foolish.

    2. You claim LDs would be happy to get 12%, that is perhaps wishful thinking by a Labour supporter. LD are currently on 9/10/11% but that is only about 4/5% below what LDs are usually at between elections. Even in Mar 2010 they were still only on 17% for example. LDs have historically polled better towards an actual election and their eventual GE2010 figure of 24% was a very high one for them. Whilst I too would not expect them to achieve 24% again in 2015, I would not bet against them not being18%+. The key question of course is whether that is achieved at the expense of Con or Lab or both.

    3. You claim that anti-tory tactical voting will still occur in 2015, with Lab voters still voting for LD. That may be the case. However actual polling such as OE&S has shown an increased willingness for Con to vote tactically for LD. In addition virtually all the Lab tactical voters have probably already gone back to Lab and make probably a substantial part of the LD ‘defections’ to Lab. Of the LDs that have stayed with LD, there is a greater propensity for them to favour Con more than previously they have done. So you are possibly wrong to assume that LDs will tactically vote in the same numbers and for the same party as last GE.

    4. GE2015 will probably be fought on the revised boundaries. Whatever their final version, they will largely correct the current advantage to Lab of about 20 seats caused by the vastly differing sizes of constituencies.

  16. @Billy Bob
    “Rentoul made the valid point that simplistic economic arguments (Thatcher’s grocer shop/Cameron’s maxed-out credit card/fixing the roof when the sun shines etc) always chime with the voter… whereas Labour seem to frame the argument in such a way that it is understandable only to those with a degree from Harvard business school.”

    Amen to that.

    Anyone care to suggest some pithy catch phrases for Messrs Balls and Miliband, then?

    My attempt:
    “You can’t expect to pay off your credit card if you cut back on buying a train ticket to work”

  17. @FrankG (11.18)

    I suspect your presumption is wrong. I don’t wear rose tinted specs, mine are yellow albeit with a slight tendancy towards a reddish tint rather than blue. That is why I wrote that “ex” LDs appearing to increasingly favour Lib/Lab coalition rather than pure Lab majority was good news for me. IMO it increases the likelihood of ex LDs in LD/Lab marginals staying with LD.

  18. I’m not holding my breath waiting for the LibDems to leave the coalition.

    It looks like the big story for 2012 is going to be the continuing euro crisis. They haven’t fixed it, and the proposed solution of permanent austerity will make matters worse. Crisis points will be either a large bank collapse, or a government defaulting and/or leaving the euro.

    Presumably at some point it will become common knowledge that austerity is the wrong policy option – then how will that impact the coalition’s poll ratings?

  19. “GE2015 will probably be fought on the revised boundaries. Whatever their final version, they will largely correct the current advantage to Lab of about 20 seats caused by the vastly differing sizes of constituencies.”

    I would be very interested to see the effect of equalising constituency voting populations based upon 650 seats. It was the reduction to 600 that was most designed to favour the Con party.

    But Conservative voters are nearly all over 60 now so we can look forward to no more Tory governments in the years to come.

  20. @Phil/Hal

    Penny soul never came to twopence. (‘Tis a well spent penny that saves a groat.)

  21. @NickP,

    People regularly make the same observation about the Tory vote in Scotland (ie its just a few oldies left over from the good old days, slowly dying off till their eventual extinction).

    That analysis ignores the fact that the Tory vote in Scotland has actually grown, slowly but steadily, since 1997.

    The issue of right-leaning oldies won’t be “solved” by them dying off, because it is not a particular group moving through the demographic chain (like baby-boomers etc).

    What happens is a combination of people’s politics moving to the right as they get older, and people with right-wing politics living longer than people with left-wing politics (due to greater life expectancy for the rich etc).

    So, the oldies that currently vote Tory may well die off, but they will simply be replaced with a new generation of oldies voting Tory.

    Sorry…

  22. Neil

    Are there fewer Tory voters now than say 50 years ago?

  23. ‘That analysis ignores the fact that the Tory vote in Scotland has actually grown, slowly but steadily, since 1997.’

    The tories 2010 vote in Scotland was 0.8% lower than 97.

    Murdo Fraser was right about the tories potential further stagnation (at least at a Holyrood level) although he might get another chance in 2015-16 as I can’t see Davidson lasting.

  24. Was just about to effectively say what Neil has, in reply to Nick P.

    As people get older, they’ll tend to vote Conservative – so the oldies dying off now will just be replaced by another set.
    Although I disagree with the idea that you get more right-wing as you get older, I’d argue that people vote Con as they get older because they’re more opposed to change – i.e they are more conservative (rather than based on economic ideology).

    I suspect that if the Tory party did try to go with values from times gone by (i.e pre-1960s values) they would be absolutely slaughtered at the polls but their defence against change is probably what gets them the older voter.

    “That analysis ignores the fact that the Tory vote in Scotland has actually grown, slowly but steadily, since 1997.”
    Just want to correct this – In 1997 the Tories got 17.5% of the vote.
    In 2001 it was 15.6%, 2005 it was 15.8%, 2010 it was 16.7% (going from my spreadsheet of figures – hopefully there aren’t any simple errors that cause the figure to be wrong).

    So while it did improve in 2010 (after holding steady 2001-2005), it’s still not as high as in 1997.

    Of course, this is only % of people who actually voted.
    As a % of the electorate it was 12.5% in 1997, 9.06% in 2001, 9.6% in 2005, 10.7% in 2010.
    Same pattern holds – fell between 1997-2001, held steady and then improved in 2010.

  25. Date lab % con % lib/sdp/ld %

    1964 44 43 11
    1966 48 42 8.5
    1970 43 46 7.5
    1974 37 38 19
    1974 39 36 18
    1979 44 37 14
    1983 42 28 25
    1987 42 31 23
    1992 42 34 18
    1997 31 43 17
    2001 32 41 18
    2005 32 35 22
    2010 36 29 23

  26. As people retire, their interests change. The politics of work and family get left behind (employment, education, child care), what matters more is pensions, investments, interest rates.

    So I would expect some people who were Labour-leaning during their working life would become Tory-leaning in retirement. Just why would someone retired worry about unemployment?

  27. @NickP
    “But Conservative voters are nearly all over 60 now so we can look forward to no more Tory governments in the years to come.”

    Not quite true in practice. In 5 years time all the current 60-65 aged voters will have become 65-70 aged voters. 10 years ago the current 65-70 were in the range 55-60. The problem seems to be that the older a voter gets, then in general they seem to drift slightly rightward in their voting patterns. So the fact that voters in the 65+ group are certainly dying off, seems to be being offset by new 65+ arriving at that age. As a population we are living longer and the proportion of 65+ to the whole population is likely to increase not decrease. It could therefore be argued that the rightward trend of 65+ will continue and their numbers increase. Even you will get there one day, but whether your views will drift rightwards we can but anticipate with interest from your future postings.

  28. My mistake, thought the “recovery” began after 1997 but it appears it was 2001.

    Either way, my argument still stands.

    If the Tories were simply relying on a steadily-declining stock of senile oldies who don’t know any better, their vote should be gradually shrivelling towards zero. And it isn’t.

    @NickP,

    50 years is not a good time frame, as it charts the Tory decline in Scotland from its relative peak. I would argue that the decline, whilst clearly very much in evidence, was completely unrelated to the dying off of old Tories and simply reflects a growing breakdown in support for the Tories amongst their traditional groups of voters, across all ages.

    In the country as a whole, I’d say that the same principle applies. There are less Tory voters (and less Labour voters, incidentally) but not because of the Grim Reaper.

    I know your original comment about Tories being over 60 was tongue-in-cheek, but I don’t have the self-control to resist…

  29. Corrected:

    Date lab % con % lib/sdp/ld %

    1964 44 43 11
    1966 48 42 8.5
    1970 43 46 7.5
    1974 37 38 19
    1974 39 36 18
    1979 37 44 14
    1983 28 42 25
    1987 31 42 23
    1992 34 42 18
    1997 43 31 17
    2001 41 32 18
    2005 35 32 22
    2010 29 36 23

  30. @NickP

    I think some of your party%s for the last few GEs may be the wrong way round Lab & Con – certainly GE2010 is wrong.

  31. @FrankG

    Correction ack! Cancel my last.

  32. tark

    “If Lab have recovered to consistent 39-42%, as they have over the last year, this is remarkable, and suggests that polling that indicates that EM is not attracting voters is, at best, open to considerable question.”

    I agree that Labour are not doing too badly at this point in the electoral cycle, but there is no reason to give EM or Labou generally for that. Labour will notwin the election nor do they need to. The coalition parties will lose it.

    “A Lab-SNP coalition is the stuff of nightmares …”

    I’ve been saying as much for some time. Somebody in Labour needs to be thinking about the strategy if they do not have a majority in England of both seats and votes but could be in government with SNP/PC S&C.

    It is well within the range of likely outcomes.

    The SNP can count on co-operation from PC because if Scotland inches nearer to the door, it is eassier for Wales to get out too.

    SLAB needs to know rght now what the response would be. They will be in therapy if they don’t prepare.

  33. hmmm

    Could it actually split 40/40/10 next time?

    I still bellieve it will end up something like Lab 40, Con 36 and LD 10 but all the risks are with Con. I don’t believe they can put on 4% on their 2010 vote.

  34. I have to agree with Amber in that where Labour are struggling is older voters. My grandparents and parents who are both middle class would never consider voting Labour, as they simply don’t believe they are a party of aspiration / low tax that they fundamentally believe in.

    Conversely, Labour are attracting far more younger people, as its far trendier to be left wing when your younger (I found this out rather quickly when I was pro tory at Uni!)

  35. I think anything can happen. The popular vote is pretty volatile at the best of times.

    If the Tories can’t get to 40%, then that suggests that they can’t do increase their vote by more than 9% of their absolute worst showing in history.

    That I think is too optimistic an assessment, from the point of view of the left.

    The Tories are just recovering from a period of electoral hell-on-earth. If Labour can drop from 48% to 28% in 17 years, then climb back to 43% in a further 14 years, it doesn’t make sense to me that Tory support is restricted to such a tiny range of outcomes.

    I do accept that the seismic reduction in Tory support in Scotland since the 1960s has probably reduced the maximum Tory UK support level by a couple of percent.

  36. I think Thatcherdid for the Tories in Scotland. They are dwindling also in Wales, the North East and great swathes of the NW. If the Midlands decide they are toxic then they really will be a party of the South and South West.

    I’ve never understood why the Tories appear so unconcerned about the shrinking of their support into 60+ voters, wealthy voters and Southern voters.

    It might be as the wealth all gets hoovered up, the number of people benefitting continues to shrink.

  37. @ FrankG and Tark,

    Whilst I would love it to be true that the LD defection will remain low, I must agree with Frank. There is a strong likelihood of some drift back to LDs when they finally split from the Con-alition.

    We have to accept that part of Lab VI is protest at the LDs being in govt with Cons. Some of those (like a friend of mine) were basically tactical Lab voters, but some were genuine left leaning LDs who will possibly return home.

    On the other hand, contra Frank, it is pretty well proved that minor parties in coalitions get hammered for their trouble, so I would be very surprised if they get up even to 18% (but 16% is very possible).

    The danger for EM is that he is positioning himself to be anti-both halves of the co-alition, than then when the advancing enemy splits (one to the hard-right, the other back left), he will get hit from both sides (“Lab left the mess we tried to clean up”, “at least we did the responsible thing in the national interest, Lab just opposed everything).

    Lab and EM seem to be making the Kinnock/Smith-mistake of thinking that simply anti-Thatcher, anti-Tory sentiment will be enough to swing an election.

    @ NickP’s excellent survey of previous elections shows that even when the Tories are toxic (e.g. 87, 92) they pull of victories against a Lab party with an unpopular leader with an incoherent agenda.

    Completely pointless GE prediction:
    Con = 40, Lab 37, LD = 16.

    (unless Lab change their leader….)

  38. “I’ve never understood why the Tories appear so unconcerned about the shrinking of their support into 60+ voters, wealthy voters and Southern voters.”
    Because those are the groups who are most likely to vote, so they’re the groups who’re most likely to win them elections?
    Labour do exactly the same – only focusing largely on middle-class voters.

    If Labour could mobilise 18-25 year olds to vote, they would absolutely destroy their opposition.
    But for whatever reason (apathy, lack of sense of responsibility, etc) young people just don’t vote like older voters.

  39. crossbat11 @ R in N

    “Didn’t Gove also once famously say, “what is there not to like about Tony Blair?”.

    Not another “Heir to Blair”!

    Still, it’s better than “Son of Thatcher” which in Scotland would be provocation.

  40. The last breakdown of a poll I saw showed Tories ahead in virtually all age demographics.

  41. @NickP

    “I would be very interested to see the effect of equalising constituency voting populations based upon 650 seats. It was the reduction to 600 that was most designed to favour the Con party.”

    The current proposed boundary reviews have been done on a regional basis. It is striking that the average number of electors per seat for each region in the proposal is surprisingly even when comparing regions: The figures in brackets are for GE2010 electors average per region.

    NE 75817 (67376)
    NW 77250 (67981)
    York 74178 (70573)
    EM 76388 (72708)
    WM 76216 (69278)
    East 76441 (73759)
    SE 74228 (75179)
    SW 76273 (72976)
    Lond 77454 (72126)
    Scot 75557 (57947)
    Wal 76053 (65505)

    The other major change is that the boundary commissions have in the past often allowed a large variation between constituency sizes within a region. This time there is a maximum/minimum of 5% of the UK average for every constituency.

    Latitude on both factors have tended to favour Lab in the past. Now that advantage is being curtailed. It is NOT that the proposed boundary changes particularly favour Con, but that they now NO LONGER favour Lab. Boundary changes are based solely upon electorate and therefore party turnout should be totally irrelevant to the considerations/validity for the proposed changes, as also should be voter distribution/spread etc..

  42. But you fail to address my point that the reduction in the total number of seats was designed to favour the Tories.

  43. Amber

    “Labour must find a way of ‘speaking with’ older people that makes them feel needed, valued & aspirational regarding their own FUTURE contribution to society. And it needs to be a strong, genuine message not PR fluff.”

    Why only older people?

    The only consistent bottle-half-full message comes from the Rural Affairs minister, and you can see what difference that makes if you look at Moray on the electoral map and election results.

  44. Labour & SNP coalition is not a ‘nightmare scenario’; it is an utterly pointless one, if the SNP would refuse to vote on so-called ‘devolved matters’ in Westminster.

    A UK coalition which could not address issues in the NHS or education would be as much use as a chocolate teapot so there would need to be a change in approach to that by the SNP if they are to be considered as Coalition partners by Labour.
    8-)

  45. I think Thatcherdid for the Tories in Scotland. They are dwindling also in Wales, the North East and great swathes of the NW. If the Midlands decide they are toxic then they really will be a party of the South and South West.

    Nick P:

    In Wales we have gone up from 15% to 23% from 1999 to 2010, ok its not a strong region, but its not dwindling either.

    In the NE likewise, we only have one real tory seat (a few are winnable in execptional years eg 1983), Hexham and saw above average swings in many seats (all County Durham seats saw an above 10% swing save Durham city) and gained 2nd place in the NE region. Tynemouth was a terrible result, and doesnt look winnable anymore though very isolated in that respect and is almost certainly going to be replaced by Berwick as the 2nd tory seat in the region.

    As for the NW, in suburban Merseyside we are doing badly but in other areas we are making progress (Carlisle, Rossendale, Morecambe etc.)

  46. @NickP

    “I think Thatcher did for the Tories in Scotland. They are dwindling also in Wales”

    Haven’t looked at Scotland yet, but the following facts for Wales suggest your statement may be unfounded:

    GE 2001 Lab 666956, Con 288665, LD 189434
    GE 2005 Lab 594821, Con 297830, LD 256249
    GE 2010 Lab 531601, Con 382730, LD 295164

    So in the last 2 GEs:

    Lab has lost 135,355 votes
    Con has gained 94,065 votes
    LD has gained 105,730 votes

  47. Furthermore Nick P why would reduction to 600 favour the tories given they cant design the boundaries. It doesnt even make sense

  48. joe

    ask yourself this…do you think the Tories would have reduced the number if they hadn’t checked VERY carefully whether such a seat reduction would favour them a lot more than Lab under FPTP?

  49. nickp

    “I think Thatcherdid for the Tories in Scotland.”

    Yes, but the decline was well under way before her time.

    “I’ve never understood why the Tories appear so unconcerned about the shrinking of their support into 60+ voters, wealthy voters and Southern voters.”

    In Scotland, over the 50 year period that Neil thinks less relevant, the change is so great that the reason must be very obvious. Anyone managing a busness which lost most of its market share in this way would know why.

    Murdo Fraser has the answers.

    One of the unsuccessful aspirants for Scottish Labour leader had much the same analysis, and if the 2011 result didn’t make it clear to the LibDems where they went wrong then they are so innumerate that they need help with daily living. Tavish Scott certainly “gets it”.

  50. “NickP’s excellent survey of previous elections shows that even when the Tories are toxic (e.g. 87, 92) they pull of victories against a Lab party with an unpopular leader with an incoherent agenda.”
    But only before 1992, before the 11% drop in support (of total electorate) that the Tories faced in 1997 (vs 4% gains for Lab).

    They’ve struggled since (see the 2010 election against an exceptionally unpopular Brown).

    2010 proved that both parties are toxic (Lab 18% vs Con 23% of electorate) enough so will struggle to get anywhere near the votes that they used to get (1992 was Lab 28% vs Con 33% of the electorate).

    The problem with judging future elections against ‘old rules’ is that you have to consider those periods in context.
    So if you take 1979-1983, you get a fall of 7.98% for Lab and a fall of 2.54 for Con (with a 7.98% increase in Liberal vote – you could argue that had Lab modernised before Foot, they would have won 1983 because Con vote would fall while Lab would hold steady without an SDP split).
    If you take 1983-1992, Lab increased it’s share of the electorate by 6.66% vs a Tory party that held steady.
    So it was actually a relatively successful period of opposition, post-Foot, for Kinnock.
    Or 1983-1997, Lab increase of 10.77% vs a Con decrease of 8.9% over the same period.

    Compare the recent Tory opposition.
    1997-2001, Lab decrease of 6.67%, Con decrease of 3.09%. This was due essentially to a fall in turnout.
    2001-2005 Lab decrease of 2.56%, Con increase of 1.06%.
    2005-2010 Lab decrease of 2.73% vs Con increase of 3.61%.
    So 2001-2010, Lab decrease of 5.03% vs increase of 4.71% for Con.

    So if we’re making fair comparisons – Kinnock, in opposition, an unpopular leader, made substantial gains against fairly popular leaders leading a party that held steady during it’s time in office.
    Cameron, in opposition, made Kinnock-level gains against one of the least popular leaders (Brown) in history and against a party that declined through it’s time in office.

    So if Miliband were to be a Kinnock in opposition and Cameron a Thatcher in government, we’d see a Labour party only slightly behind the Tories in 2015.
    Something that I think will probably be the case (as opposed to a Labour party that is 10% of voters behind as in 1987).

    Now, if Miliband turns out to be a Michael Foot…

    But my general point is that you have to put historical positions in context – Kinnock and Cameron improved their share of the electorate by about equal amounts but in differing circumstances (more favourable to Cameron, less to Kinnock).
    So to judge the toxicity of the Tory party during the 80s vs the 90s/2000s, you have to do so in context.

    But we could also have a Cameron in 2015 who bests Thatcher and obliterates the toxicity of the Tory party and goes on to vastly improve the Tory party’s vote.
    He would then go down in history as having one of the most successful terms in government, electorally.
    Much like Miliband could see 2015 as one of the most successful terms in opposition (if LD to Lab switchers stay loyal to Lab, it will be – I doubt this as I think we’ll see a LD recovery).

    You also have to go in to regional analysis, as post-1992 the Tories have remained fairly toxic in certain areas (Wales, Scotland, the North) which hurt their recovery in 2010.

    Etc, etc

    So to reiterate – simple narratives, whether pro-Lab, pro-Con or pro-Lib just don’t do when you’re dealing with a more complex phenomena.

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