Final lap

A year to go until the general election, meaning there are awful lot of “year to go till the election” posts out there (though two new things certainly worth looking at are the new British Election Study site here and the Polling Observatory’s new election prediction here. The election prediction by Rob Ford, Will Jennings, Mark Pickup and Christopher Wlezien takes a similar approach to Stephen Fisher’s, which I’ve discussed here before, in averaging current polls and then assuming that they move in the same way over the next 12 months as they have done in the final year of previous Parliaments. Unlike Steve’s projection, which has a Tory lead, Ford et al predict a miniscule (0.4%) Labour lead. The difference between the two projections are small, and technical – Ford et al assume a regression towards the long term average, I think Steve assumes a regression towards the previous election result, the inputs are slightly different (the Polling Observatory ones corrects for errors at the last election, my average which Steve uses doesn’t – largest effect of that will be that Steve predicts a higher Lib Dem score) and there are different smoothing effects in there. Expect more predictions along these lines to pop out of the woodwork in the year ahead.

Anyway, I’ve previously written about what I think are the big five concepts that will decide the election – how the improving economy impacts on voting intentions (especially if or as wages start to rise above inflation)? Whether Ed Miliband’s mediocre opinion poll ratings will increase in salience closer to the election, given they aren’t currently prevening a Labour lead? If and how quickly UKIP support subsides following the European elections? To what degree, if at all, Lib Dem incumbents can resist the tide against them? And, of course, what happens in the Scottish independence referendum? So for today, I’m instead looking at the timetable for the year ahead. These are essentially the “known unknowns” – the things that will happen before the next election but which we don’t yet know the impact of, as opposed to all those unpredictable events that will also happen.

25 MAY 2014. European election results. The last set of mid-term elections and the beginning of the final lap. Barring any big suprises UKIP will come top or almost top, the media will go into another Farage frenzy for a couple of weeks and UKIP will enjoy a big spike in the Westminster opinion polls. Do not be surprised to see them at 20% or more in some polls. The question then becomes one of how much of that support is retained over the next eleven months. Also watch how the other parties react, will the Conservative backbenches panic, will the leadership be tempted to ape UKIP? I expected them to go all ferrets-in-a-sack after UKIP did well in the local elections last year, but they held it together surprisingly well. If the Lib Dems do incredibly badly keep an eye on them too – they have been incredibly disciplined as they march towards the guns so far.

5 JUNE 2014. Newark – coming shortly after the European elections we have the Newark by-election. The Conservatives have a fairly chunky majority, it’s not ideal territory for UKIP and they’ve picked a candidate who plays to UKIP stereotypes rather than challenging them like Diane James did in Eastleigh, but the timing means UKIP will likely still be enjoying a big boost.

JUNE 2014. The Queens Speech and the Private Members Ballot – the final session of a Parliament won’t have many exciting bills left, watch who wins the private members ballot though. If a compliant enough Conservative comes top of the ballot then they’ll re-introduce the EU Referendum Bill that got lost in the Lords last time, and if it passes the Commons unamended again the Parliament Act would come into play. Labour and the Liberal Democrats may have to act to kill it in the Commons this time round. The Conservatives will hope a second try at the referendum bill will help win back UKIP supporters, a less charitable interpretation would be that it will offer the Conservatives an exciting opportunity to bang on about a subject normal voters don’t much care about every Friday for six months.

JULY 2014? Summer reshuffle – David Cameron has at least one big reshuffle before the general election (two if the coalition is brought to a formal end at some point), which will be his opportunity to put in place the team he wants for the general election. Cameron’s nature so far has been to avoid lots of changes and it’s rare for a reshuffle to be drastic enough to entrude upon public opinion, but it will determine who some of the big players are.

18 SEPT 2014 Scottish referendum – this is by far the biggest known unknown still facing us. If there is a NO vote (and while the trend has been towards YES, all the polls in the campaign have shown NO ahead) then it will at least have a substantial political impact in Scotland. In the event there is a YES vote absolutely everything would change. There would be a question mark over whether David Cameron should resign, certainly the political agenda would instantly be dominated by questions about the Scottish independence negotiations and the 2015 election would be fought in the knowledge that 40 odd Labour MPs would be elected for a period of only a year.

21 SEPT 2014 – Conference season. This is one of the few fixed, big events of the year that has the potential to impact on public opinion. The dates are a bit mixed up this year – normally the order goes Lib Dems, Labour, Conservatives. Because of the normal dates would have clashed with the Scottish refernedum the Liberal Democrats have moved their conference to last, so it will go Lab, Con, LD. All three will be a showcase for the general election, people will be paying more attention as the election approaches and expect an up-and-down in the polls as each party gets its chance in the spotlight.

OCTOBER 2014? New EU Commissioner – not something that will be noticed by the general public, but does have the opportunity to precipitate a by-election if a sitting MP is sent off to Europe as the new British EU Commissioner. It might even precipitate….

DATE TBC. Boris makes his mind up – we don’t know when it will happen, but at some point or other Boris Johnson will either stand for Parliament, or rule out the possibility of standing at the next election (even if that’s at close of nominations… though I expect the Conservative party will want to shut it down one way or the other long before that). Given it’s Boris it will attract public attention, how the Conservative party manage any return to Parliament will determine if they can use Boris in a role that helps them or if it’s seem only as a first shot in a leadership campaign.

DEC 2014. Autumn statement – presumably any big changes will be in the budget, but if the economic news is positive by the Autumn it’s a chance for George Osborne to highlight it.

DATE TBC. The end of the coalition – at some point the coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives has to end or, at least, it needs to be become clear how it will end. The three obvious possiblities are a disordered breakdown over some issue, resulting in a minority Tory government, disengaging to supply and demand for the final few months, or remaining in coalition right to polling day. I suspect the first one won’t happen now, that leaves us an ordered break up with the Lib Dem ministers resigning but continuing to support the government in matters of confidence, or remaining in office right till the end. Even in the latter case, in order to effectively fight an election at some point the Lib Dems will need to appoint spokespeople in areas where they don’t have cabinet ministers and announce policies different to those of the coalition government. How will that impact on Lib Dem support?

JAN 2015. The long campaign begins – it many ways its begun already, or will begin after the Euros or after conference season. It’s a matter of perception, but Christmas is the last real break before the election and at their return in the New Year we will likely see a slew of announcements and policies, the start of the real campaign, and in my view the time when the polls start to come into focus and start to resemble the final result. Don’t get me wrong – there will still be time for things to change, there will still be a budget, manifestos, announcements and possibly debates, but the clock is ticking.

MAR 2015?. The Budget. Budgets are often seen as an opportunity for governments to win support by handing out election bribes. As I write here every year, in recent budgets that really doesn’t seem to have been the result – it’s more common for bad budgets to damage support than good ones to win support. Still, it will be an opportunity for Osborne to give away something to try and win votes, or at least try and portray himself as a reliable safe pair of hands that the country will want to re-elect.

30 MAR 2015. Parliament dissolved.

APR 2015?. The Leaders debates. How much impact they had last time is still debated (did they genuinely increase Lib Dem support, or was it all froth? Did the opportunity cost of the debates dominating the campaign prevent other changes in public support?), but they certainly have the potential to make a difference. We obviously don’t know what the format will be, when they will happen, who they will involve or even if they’ll happen (the genie can go back in the bottle – after the famous JFK v Nixon debate in 1960 there wasn’t another one till 1976) – much of the briefing now by Labour and the Conservatives is probably largely grandstanding and negotiating stances, partly aimed at showing willing so they can paint it as the “other side’s fault” if they don’t go ahead. I wouldn’t expect any debates to have as big an impact as in 2010 because they aren’t “new” anymore – the exception would be if somehow they other parties did agree to Nigel Farage taking part. For a smaller party what happens at the debate is not as important as the credibility brought by being part of the debate to begin with.

7 MAY 2015 – Election Day

344 Responses to “Final lap”

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  1. @Neil A

    “It confirmed what I’ve always thought about the way Labour sees the world. No consideration given to the possibility that right-of-centre politicians may actually be trying to make the country a better place (albeit with wrong-headed policies that will have the opposite effect – as the left would see it). Just a very narrow, contemptuous view of them as Hollywood Black Hats.”

    While I don’t think the Labour PPB was a great piece of satire, I think it’s important not to get too precious about these things. Stereotyping your opponents isn’t the preserve of one political party, neither is malice, and you only have to listen to Cameron and Schapps continually talking about Labour being “the party of welfare in the pocket of its trade union paymasters” to see how it works both ways. I’d be amazed if we don’t see Tory PPBs plugging this theme very soon. We’ll also see the Labour leadership being portrayed as effete middle class Islington intellectuals too. Knockabout nonsense, unedifying I grant you, but it’s important not to get too thin skinned and self-pitying about it all.

    On a more serious political point, I thought Owen Jones picked up on something interesting in relation to the Labour PPB. Like me, he was generally underwhelmed by it and felt now was the time for emphasising positivity and hope rather than negativity, but he suggested part of Labour’s tactical thinking was to prevent former Lib Dem voters being tempted back home by an eleventh hour, election skin-saving, reversion to the left by the Lib Dem leadership. A cosmetic re-discovery of old principles if you like.


    “It must be a cyclical thing. I was at college in 1966 during that year’s General Election and practically everyone had a poster of one colour or another in their window.”


    You may be right. And maybe Oxford was a bit different… lazing around punting in the sun seemed preferable to campaigning, and anyway you only had three eight week terms a year, so a lot to cram in. Reflecting further, in some respects like boarding school… you lived together in Colleges, just as in boarding school you lived together in the House system, and politics tended to be off-limits for the purpose of keeping some kind of harmony…

  3. “If Labour can replicate the type of result that they had in that region in E/W in 2015… Then the SNP had better think up a manifesto for English and Welsh issues.”


    I thought they already had dreamt up a manifesto for us. E.g. we give them the oil, share the currency, continue subsidies, etc. etc…

  4. Carfrew,

    That’s not fair! We get all of that from you, and you get to have final responsibility for the national debt, to reapply for membership of the EU, and get to send each of us a box of chocolates every year to mark the Battle of Bannockburn. It’s a two way street that the SNP are planning.

  5. @CrossBat11

    Some people might have thought a PPB about local and European elections might have had something to do with
    local councils and the EU.

  6. @Wolf

    “Some people might have thought a PPB about local and European elections might have had something to do with
    local councils and the EU.”

    I don’t disagree with you, but I suppose Labour would argue that anything that dissuaded people from voting for their political rivals was, tenuously, related to the forthcoming Euro and local elections.

    Note my use of the word “tenuously”. lol

  7. Yeah, I didn’t think the PEB was that funny either, and the points were somewhat contrived and “laboured”.

    I suppose it pressed the buttons they wanted to press, and it’s trickier to take on both Tories and Lib Dems at the same time. Also it kept Miliband et al out of the picture.

    More generally, it seems like the Lib Dems are very much in the firing line, and maybe not just to shore up the LD defectors. A while back I suggested that strategically, it might be a good opportunity to try and really hammer the LDs so that they can’t so easily return to split the leftish vote in the future…

    Howard had difficulties with this idea, but according to the New Statesman, there’s been a battle in the party over whether to try and crush the LDs or not and it seems like the “crushers” have won out…

    “In Labour circles they distinguish between those who want to “crush” the Lib Dems and those who want to “accommodate” them. Heavily influenced by Andrew Adonis’s 5 Days in May, in which the Labour peer and former transport secretary warns his party that it must be better prepared for another hung parliament, some MPs are wary of of an unambiguously hostile approach to Clegg’s party. But with a year to go until the general election, it is now clear that the “crushers” have won…

    Rather than love-bombing the Lib Dems, Labour has today simply been bombing them. It was Harman who led the charge, declaring that “The Lib Dems are a party of broken promises. Nick Clegg says they’re different from the Tories, but the truth is they’ve backed David Cameron all the way.”


    ” If Labour is to triumph, the most important task will be retaining the large group of voters it has won from Clegg’s party (think of it as Miliband’s firewall). With around 25 per cent of 2010 Lib Dems currently supporting Labour, the party can’t risk going soft on Clegg and handing them “permission” to return. In addition to those seats that Labour can hope to win directly from the Lib Dems, strategists point out that in 86 of the party’s 87 Tory targets, the Lib Dem vote share in 2010 was larger than the Conservatives majority. In 37, it is more than twice as large. Even if Clegg’s party partially recovers before 2015, Labour stands to make sweeping gains.”


    “That’s not fair! We get all of that from you, and you get to have final responsibility for the national debt, to reapply for membership of the EU, and get to send each of us a box of chocolates every year to mark the Battle of Bannockburn. It’s a two way street that the SNP are planning.”


    lol, yes, well, when you put it that way…

  9. Gordon Brown seems to get a large amount of criticism whenever he appears.

    Whilst he was obviously flawed as a PM I think it is worth pointing out that he was and is, essentially, a good man who demonstrates a great deal of concern for struggling populations in other parts of the world and backs it up with practical ideas plus his charitable foundation.

  10. I don’t suppose Labour see the Euros as any more important than anyone else while there’s little benefit in using a national PPB for local elections that won’t concern a lot of voters. Far better to use it for something really important – next year’s GE.

  11. I also would be very wary about underrating Brown’s appeal in Scotland. I like him, and if forced to sum up my politics in UK terms and in one word, it would be “anti-Labour”. Polling suggests that this is one issue in which I’m with the Scottish mainstream.

    Of course, what you see depends on where you sit, e.g. I prefer politicians with little to no charisma, because it’s harder for them to persuade us except by reasonable argument.

  12. TOH

    Sorry for the late reply-been out all day.

    I think we can anticipate more stuff like that if Axelrod is calling the tune.
    “Negative” campaigning was apparently successful under him -we will see how it translates over here.

    I am rather amused by a leader who writes in a newspaper that he has “superior intellectual self confidence” , just before he releases a PPB with a negative narrowly focussed message aimed at hanging on to deserters from another party.

    Yes, the prospects of a Con majority are distant when you contemplate the votes to seats problem. I think largest party would be an achievement , unless there is a dramatic volte face by UKIP supporters after the Euros……….and you know what the received wisdom on that is !

  13. I get Labour trying to retain all the LD>Lab voters in any way possible but they do seem to be going above and beyond on their personal attacks against Clegg.

    I think I read somewhere that most LD seats are against the Tory. You ‘crush’ the LD and I can’t imagine why would they think that the Tory regaining those seats would actually be good for Labour and ‘crushing’ Clegg and risking a new left-wing LD leader doesn’t sound like the best idea for them either.

  14. TOH

    Meant to say-hope your “results” were satisfactory.

  15. I’ve always been one of Gordon’s fans and regularly give thanks that he was in charge in 2008.
    Okay he claims expenses but as an ex-PM at lease he is trying to do some good in Africa. I believe he is very popular with his constituents which is not a bad thing for an MP.

  16. “Some people might have thought a PPB about local and European elections might have had something to do with
    local councils and the EU.”

    Well, as far as I can see very little of the campaigning by any party has had much to do with the local or EU elections. It has mainly been about EU in-out, which is actually a topic for the GE.

    A landslide for UKIP in the EE would have zero direct (and very limited indirect) influence on whether we stay in or leave the EU: it would merely mean that our representation in the EP would be in the hands of people who don’t think it should exist, and who treat it (other than its salaries, expenses/allowances, and pensions) with contempt.

    If you want either reform of the EU or to leave it you should vote for anybody but UKIP. If you want to say Yah boo, vote kipper.

  17. @Howard “The LDs who are now Labour are not LD, they are left of centre voters who supported LD tactically and now don’t.”

    Howard, whilst we often agree I cannot accept that!

    I was loyal to the party for 37 years in the belief that it believed in the realignment of the Radical Left of politics on the basis laid out by Jo Grimond when he reformed the party from an ex-Free Trade moribund rump in the late 1950s/early 1960s and turned it into a campaiging force on the Left.

    Thereafter many Left Radicals joined and fought hard for the party over decades inside a party which contained centrists who seemed content to ally themselves with Radical Leftists in the interests of breaking open the old two-party stranglehold on politics by implementing constitutional reform and libertarian community involvement in politics at the local level.

    Sensibly the last time coalition with the Tories was mooted in February 1974 the Federal Executive counselled Thorpe and the PLP against it on the basis that it was diamentrically opposed to our political purpose of realigning the Left.

    The ex-SDP element in the party, with its addiction to centrist politics, undermined that long term strategy without those of us on the Radical Realignment Left realising that they had got such a grip on the party at national level that equidistance was not only considered, but tilted towards a Tory economic outlook of small government.

    The extent to which the party had shifted to the right on economics is borne out by the way they were prepared to stay in coalition with the Tories, despite the Tories having first undermined the Yes campaign in the electoral reform referendum (wrong footing Clegg with Tuition fees just before, and then portraying him as untrustworthy during the referendum campaign!) and then welshing on the Lords scheme.

    The Tories have delivered on not one jot of constitutional reform which was the primary raison d’etre for the union of the Left and Centrists within the LDs for generations.

    As a consequence the Left has departed.

    Admittedly, some were many ABT voters attracted since the Kennedy “Left of Labour” era, for whom your comment would be accurate. But many more, like me – and this is where many former professional agents and experienced community politics campaigners have left the party with gaping holes on the ground, have gone after decades in the party. Not because we didn’t have the discipline to stomach coalition – but because the coalition was with a party that was

    a) On the wrong side of nationa politics for our long term political position to be seen and active on the Left – you don’t coalesce with the Right inorder to realign the Left! Unless of course you don’t want to be part of that Left!!!

    b) With a political party that has never over the past 100 years kept its word in coalitions with Liberals on actually delivering constitutional reforms – in fact it historically divides Liberals and then swallows up half the party – viz Lib Unionists/Coalition Libs//Lib Nats/Nat Libs etc.

    That is why so many Libertarian Radicals, previously loyal and active to the Lib Dems, are now either with Labour or at a lose end on the Left.

  18. “I am rather amused by a leader who writes in a newspaper that he has “superior intellectual self confidence” , just before he releases a PPB with a negative narrowly focussed message aimed at hanging on to deserters from another party.”


    Well, don’t feel too left out now, it did have a few pops at Tories as well!!…

  19. @Tony Dean

    Once again, many thanks for sharing the reasons and motivations behind your decision to no longer support the Lib Dems. I value personal testimonies much more than received wisdom on these matters.

    By the way, do you see yourself as a “deserter”? I don’t at all because you’re as entitled as the next person to choose to change your vote, but I’ve seen voters like you described in these tabloid-esqueterms, even on UKPR.

  20. @Tony Dean

    Very well said, . You made me remember why I voted LD in 2005 and 2010.

    Too late now.

  21. @TONY DEAN

    “Howard, whilst we often agree I cannot accept that!”


    It’s quite hard to persuade some LDs that peeps may have voted for them on the basis of manifesto and pledges and stuff, stuff they said they were gonna do, and might be a bit miffed that rather than getting a compromise, they got “coalesence”, whereby in some cases, they actually went further than even what had been promised in the Coalition agreement, which in itself was a capitulation.

    E.g. the NHS changes, not even in the agreement.
    E.g. Tuition fees, not only did they go back on cancelling them, they allowed them to be trebled!! What kind of compromise outcome is that?
    E.g. VAT. They didn’t manage a compromise of returning to the previous level, they allowed it to be increased further.
    E.g. Austerity. No compromise there either, in fact it has been extended.

    To some activists perhaps, the goal is to get elected whatever it takes. To the rest, the point of being elected might be what you actually do once elected…

  22. coalescence

  23. And yet another Labour video against Clegg is out,

    Did Axelrod told them keeping former LD voters with Labour is the only way for them to win? I’m genuine curious if the next one will also be against Clegg.

  24. @SPEARMINT I don’t think the unweighted figures are the ‘real’ figures, just highlighting that Populus are a bit all over the place.

    Given that there seemed to be a fairly broad consensus on this site after the May locals that Ukip had reached their high water mark and would pretty much fade away I still stand by ‘The times they are a changin’. Does anyone now doubt that we are in an era of four party politics or three party politics with a different third party? – oh yes UKPR.

  25. I’m rather amused by the large number of people who are rather amused by stuff politicians and supporters say.

    It is an excellent way of spreading pleasure throughout the UK.

    LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    What an interesting & honest post. I have seen similar stories before, perhaps from your good self.

    I am left with same question in my mind, every time I read them:-

    Why did “Realignment of the Radical Left” not involve joining the Labour Party?

    I find this comment particularly interesting :-
    “inside a party which contained centrists who seemed content to ally themselves with Radical Leftists in the interests of breaking open the old two-party stranglehold ”

    This reads to me like-we were happy with the Centrists in our party whilst we were in the ascendancy.

    But when your parties Centrists took an opportunity to pursue their agenda, you were not as accomodating to them as they had been to you.

    So , I repeat, why didn’t you just join Labour rather than stay in an arrangement of the sort you have now walked away from-ie a Coalition. ?

  27. Is attacking Clegg and the Orange Brigade inconsistent with the Adonis advice re being prepared to deal with the LDs should a Lab/LD coalition be on the cards after the GE.

    It seems to me that Clegg himself would rather let someone else lead the LDs if that was what the maths dictated and that Lab would feel much better with a different LD leader. VC for a while then TF perhaps.

  28. @Colin

    Because being in a “broad centrist party” with 20% support feels more worthwhile than being in a “Labour’s Little Helper” party with 15% or less support. The LibDems played a coy little dance of the veils for a very long time, which clearly identifying as a “proper-left” party, that would under no circumstances talk to the Tories, would have precluded.

    In fairness, the LDs are caught in a catch-22. They can’t really find their soul without the protection that PR would bring, but they can’t achieve PR without doing deals with the other parties. If I was a LD, I’d probably quite, join the Labour Party, fight for PR to be brought in under a Labour government, then quit and go back to the LDs once it had been achieved.

  29. @Jimjam

    Aren’t you slightly ignoring the fact that virtually the entire LD party supported the coalition agreement, and that the vast majority of their elected representatives have followed Clegg loyally ever since?

    Demonising one man whilst preparing to kiss up to all of the rest rather feels like political tactics rather than principle of any kind.

  30. Perhaps I might join the discussion on LD – Lab commitments.

    The two parties are quite different in many ways. Labour comes with a history which is dominated by involvement in heavy industry, trades unions and massive ‘block votes’ – at least, that was the case until Kinnock, Smith and Blair set about changing things. The Liberal party is, was, seems to me to have been, more about individual choices, and looking for an alternative to the Capitalist/Socialist blocks. And the Libs were/are closer to the Greens in looking for a way out of the ruination of the environment. They share with Labour a visceral dislike of the Tories, but propose different approaches as to how to defeat them and what the alternatives might be.

    The points made about Tory betrayal are quite right, of course. That’s what we expect. It was just sad that Gordon Brown didn’t go to the polls in 2008 (?), when he had the chance. At least we might then have seen a Lab/LD coalition.

    But Labour was never going to accept PR. Neither were the Tories, for that matter. At least the LDs got their revenge by sabotaging the redistribution of seats in the Commons. But if Labour want to be in Government again, crushing the LDs is not the way forward. The left needs debate – it is its life blood – and that can only come about through a variety of parties.

    Personally I am happy to vote for any of the left parties: Labour, Liberals, Greens, SNP; but if I had the choice, I would always vote Liberal – and once we can get Scotland free I look forward to voting Liberal again at some point in the future…..

  31. @Jimjam

    Well that’s what the debate has been in the Labour party according to the article.

    Adonis appears to have made the case that LDs didn’t exactly negotiate in the best of faiths anyway… if Labour are just going to get strung along again by a group keener on joining Tories in the end what’s the point?

    Alternatively, given the propensity to coalesce, in the event LDs have no choice but to accept Labour’s offer or else be out of government, why worry?

    The calculation seems to be this: pull your punches on Lib Dems, allowing them to recover and making a negotiation in a hung parliament more likely… or go for the jugular and render the matter moot, ideally doing so for some time to come. (So long as they don’t do it in a way that backfires. But then accommodating LibDems could backfire…)

  32. “But when your parties Centrists took an opportunity to pursue their agenda, you were not as accommodating to them as they had been to you.”


    They may have “accommodated” the leftists because they were useful. Indeed, appearing to move to the left, was useful, because Blair had squeezed LDs, shifting to the centre ground. So LDs had to outflank, shifting further left. Regardless of whether that was what the hierarchy actually believed, there were votes in it, where there weren’t so many in the centre, especially with Cameron doing the green thing, socially more liberal thing etc… LDs were getting squeezed from both sides…

  33. “But Labour was never going to accept PR. Neither were the Tories, for that matter. At least the LDs got their revenge by sabotaging the redistribution of seats in the Commons. But if Labour want to be in Government again, crushing the LDs is not the way forward. The left needs debate – it is its life blood – and that can only come about through a variety of parties.”


    The left can do a lot of debating while in opposition if their vote keeps getting split. Cameron is probably looking forward to lots of debate if Ukip keep him out of power next time…

  34. I mean, what would Cameron rather see? A resurgent LibDems, or not? From the point of view of Labour, it’s a case of “LibDemo delenda est…”

  35. Neil – I think I would say many LDs reluctantly acquiesed to, rather than supported, entering the coalition.

    The loyal LDs who stayed would expect the same acquiesense should a Lab/LD deal be the only realistic option in 2015 but we would see in the eventuality if any ‘Orange Bookers’ went Tory.

    Also, I don’t see it as demonising one man but rather the strand of the LDs which he represents.

    Retaining 2010 LD – Lab votes has to be the priority in this GE for me, does this help I don’t know but that is the aim.

    I do think the LDs coalescing with Lab with Clegg as leader is improbable but the maths after the GE will determine things I guess.

  36. Since so many of LD seats are against Tories with little Labour presence, I think Cameron would love a even weaker LD party. I suppose he should thank Labour’s latest obsession with Clegg/LD.

    Labour can also put so much pressure on Clegg that they may change leaders, very unlikely but can you imagine if Labour lose just a little bit of his former LD voters to a more left-wing LD. That would be interesting to see.

  37. NEILA


    Good points.

    For me, Howard has summed it all up.

    They LD “Left” who have walked away since the 2010GE in high dudgeon , have forgotten that their leader told us all that he would coalesce with the largest party.

    If they didn’t agree with that policy, they shouldn’t have voted LD .

  38. “Labour can also put so much pressure on Clegg that they may change leaders, very unlikely but can you imagine if Labour lose just a little bit of his former LD voters to a more left-wing LD. That would be interesting to see.”


    At the moment, because of “coalescence” (any sources for them saying they’d coalesce?) it might not make much difference, since cred. is pretty shot… hence a good time for Lab to attack…

  39. @Mr Beeswax: “Does anyone now doubt that we are in an era of four party politics or three party politics with a different third party?”

    The only people who seem to think this are, coincidentally, UKIP supporters. Those of us who’ve seen the Alliance sweep all before it but then fail miserably at the general election have little expectation of UKIP breaking any moulds.

  40. @ Crossbat 11,

    I’ve seen voters like you described in these tabloid-esqueterms, even on UKPR.

    I always say “defector”- it has more of a “Fleeing the Soviet Union to enjoy the glorious freedom of the Labour Party West” vibe to it. ;)

    @ Mr. Beeswax,

    I don’t think anyone here ever predicted Ukip would fade away before the European elections?

    Except possibly the people designing Labour’s PPBs, who seem not to have noticed their straying LD -> Lab defectors have gone to Ukip rather than home to Mr. Clegg. Their current campaigning strategy seems a bit… its genius is not yet proven, shall we say.

    Although it does give us the joy of watching Tory pearl-clutching over parties saying unkind things about other parties’ leaders while Boris Johnson is penning articles calling Miliband a goblin, so I suppose it’s not entirely without its pleasures.

  41. I really shouldn’t criticise the new Labour PPB, since I see they took my advice and re-ran Clegg’s blowing promise papers. This one at least has the virtue of being a good ad.

    It’s just a shame it’s an ad for a campaign against the party that hasn’t won back any of its stray voters since 2010, instead of the other party of government or the party that’s going to win the European elections. *sigh*

  42. @Colin ”

    “The LD “Left” who have walked away since the 2010GE in high dudgeon , have forgotten that their leader told us all that he would coalesce with the largest party.

    If they didn’t agree with that policy, they shouldn’t have voted LD.”

    Hang on a mo Colin. There is such a thing as party loyalty – I can imagine Conservatives still voting Conservative if Cameron said something that a staunch Conservative voter didn’t agree with, and the same goes for Labour voters – so why not a Liberal of 37 years standing?

    If my loyalty has finally been stretched to breaking point it is because the coalition agreement was too weak from the Lib Dem negotiating side. The Tory negotiating committee should have been given an ultimatum “Full PR with no referendum – or Brown stays in Dowing Street” – if the Tories walked away from that, so be it – at least the Lib Dem party wouldn’t be in coalition with the party which represents the wrong side of British politics as far as Lib Dem long term aims are/were “realigning the Left of British politics” – even if Labour subsequently didn’t aquiesce to the same demand, we could have given them Confidence & Supply and kept our credentials as a party of the Left.

    You asked earlier Colin why I didn’t join Labour all those years ago? Well, Labour in the 70s and 80s was essentially a stodgy old establishment party of “cloth cap conservatism” with a growing revolutionary Trotsyist opposition growing within its branches. This doesn’t appeal at all to a libertarian radical – plus getting anything done in community politics was impossible in a party that was so bureaucratic you had to get the draft of any local leaflet through dozens of committees until it was composited umteen times and became a stodgy out-of-date “politically correct” and “politically stylized” leaflet that didn’t really address the local issue, and certainly not in a tiemly way – being a Liberal activist allowed one to respond to campaign issues instantly and in your own style – it was a fresh and an unbureacratic style of campaigning.

    I had friends who joined Labour at the same time as I joined the Liberals in 1975, and they found the party suffocatingly labyrinthine in its proceedures. That got even worse after the “control freakery” of “New Labour” took over and ousted Militant style campaigning.

    Simply Labour at no time until now has been at all attractive for radicals. However, under Miliband radical thinking is beginning to be encouraged, although the party is still very slow and full of trepidation at responding quickly to local issues.

    It is Labour’s timidity and caution which made it not the first choice of a radical, until the Lib Dems betrayed their historic Left realignment mission under Clegg, which leaves Labour as the only major party in this part of the political field.

  43. TONY


    Most of it is “insider” stuff from the Left, so I guess my eyes glaze over somewhat at the various articles of faith.

    I get the impression that the 7% -of which I assume you are a part -are to the left of Labour-at least Labour since Foot.

    But hey-it’s not my bag, or my problem.

    I just see LibDems as a confused & confusing bunch.

    The voters & activists have schismed it would seem. Presumably the result come the GE will be a smaller “proper” Liberal Party in Parliament.

    I find that an attractive idea & am happy that the Labour Party will be the recipient of all the “isms”which come with its lost tribe.

    Good luck anyway :-)

  44. I am in a LibDem held labour marginal. We switch people on the national issues first. the ppeb was appreciated by my husband and children, none of whom are politically involved and who were saying we all look and speak the same. at least it was different.

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