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. Another big event that happens around Conference season is the manifestos being released. This may seem pretty boring but it’ll also see the release of UKIP’s GE manifesto, which has apparently been costed up by independent experts. It could be either a vital UKIP weapon in combating the dialogue that they are a one issue party (and to move on from the 2010 manifesto debacle). On the other hand if the manifesto is too radical (or not radical enough!) it could see a drop in UKIP’s polls, especially if former tories see it pandering to former labour voters and vice-versa.

  2. I notice you did not include the UKIP conference. Was that because you think it will have little effect, or were you not prompted?

  3. The Polling Observatory prediction seems a bit odd if they are basing it on historic polling data.

    The current Lab/Con VI gap is 1-3% and they are predicting a gap of 0.5% in over a year?

    That seems a tiny swing based on previous electoral polling history.

  4. DJ – PollObs estimate of current lead is 3.7 points, so they are predicting it closing by 3.3 points.

    I think the reason they predict a smaller narrowing than Steve Fisher is the reversion towards the long term average rather than the last election. Both of the forecasts predict a similar uplift in Tory support, but PollObs predict a marginal increase in Labour’s vote as the election approaches, Steve Fisher predicts a decrease in Labour support.

  5. I love ‘o’ posts.

  6. So you should. They are the best ones.

  7. Very useful Anthony.

    Thanks.

  8. @Anthony W

    “The question then becomes one of how much of that (UKIP)support is retained over the next eleven months.

    The British Election Study has attempted to answer that question in it’s recently released report. They have been exploring Britain’s electoral behaviour for over fifty years and have a pretty good track record on these matters. The data that they have analysed in their report is based on an online sample of more than 20,000 people surveyed during February and March. We’re not talking voodoo stuff here.

    If they’re right in what they’re predicting about the current UKIP vote, and it’s sensational stuff, then a lot of pet theories and assumptions will be blown out of the water. It’s really saying what I’ve been thinking for some time; this electorate is behaving very unpredictably and in unprecedented ways.

    Has Steve Fisher, and Ford et al for that matter, factored in this analysis into their prediction models, I wonder?

  9. AW

    Many thanks for laying out a rough guide to the next twelve months. We are entering a period which will be almost entirely unparalleled in recent UK political history. Of course, by the time we reach May next year things may have settled into a ‘normal’ GE campaign, but at the moment there seems to be more likelihood of our entering into totally unknown territory.

    Some will rightly say that this is also what happened in 2010. However, the apparently unstoppable rise of UKIP; the outcome, whatever it may be, of September 18; and the continuing/increasing inability of the two main UK parties to establish themselves in the voters’ minds as authoritative enough to stand a good chance of forming a government with a comfortable majority all adds up to a confirmation for our leading politicians of the Chinese curse: ‘may you live in interesting times’.

  10. Crossbat,

    It’s here.

    http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-findings/ukip-support-in-the-european-parliament-election-set-to-translate-to-the-2015-general-election/#.U2pDNSihHah

    It is somewhat less exciting than the BBC report of it. The crux is a comparison between the BES figures on European VI and Westminster VI for UKIP, and how the difference between them is smaller than the difference between their actual vote share in 2009 and the rolling BES data on VI in 2009.

    There isn’t a prediction of UKIP vote share at the next election, that’s just the BBC not reporting polls very well, that’s the level of current UKIP support in the Westminster VI question in the BES fieldwork in February… so not dissimilar from other polling done at the same time (the fieldwork for the BES is done by YouGov, but the samples are much larger and they have a slightly different weighting scheme)

  11. Naturally, for the rest of us ‘interesting times’ are good fun.

  12. Not sure you have answered CB11’s query Anthony-well not so I can understand anyway.

    He points to the BES study you linked to, highlighting the dramatic change in Westminster voting intention of UKIP voters at the EP election.
    And he asks if Fisher and/or PollingOb have taken this finding into account in their forecasts of Con/Lab support next May.

    Since you describe the regression trends utilised by both those forecasters as being based on past trends, I assume the answer to CB11’s question is-No-neither of them have factored in a change in behaviour of UKIP voters between an EP election and a Westminster GE.

  13. @Anthony

    Thanks. I didn’t realise that the vote share prediction was based on current polling, but these were the really striking findings for me: –

    – Almost 60% of people planning to vote for UKIP in this month’s elections also intend to do so at the 2015 general election. The equivalent figure in 2009 was 25%.

    – Those intending to vote for UKIP this month are also more certain about how they will vote in the general election than they were a year before the last general election.

    – Only 10% of people who said they intended to vote UKIP in the European Parliament elections and again in the general election said they were anything but certain about their plans.

    If any of one of those findings turn out to be true, let alone all of them, then predicting the 2015 election result based on what happened in the final year of previous Parliaments is a nonsense, isn’t it?

    I thought their breakdown of where the UKIP vote is coming from was interesting too. Of those people intending to vote UKIP in 2015, 44% voted Conservative in 2010, 17% voted Liberal Democrat, 11% voted Labour and 11% didn’t vote for anyone.

    As many 2010 abstainers as Labour voters!

  14. @Colin,

    You framed my question better than me! Thanks

  15. Off-topic:

    Labour’s new party political broadcast:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IIH-2lZF2yw

  16. I know I’m not Anthony’s prefect but can we stick strictly to polling impact of that PPB? I know we all have our views but no minds will be changed and very few will be enlightened by fighting about it.

    In my view, it hits the right people in the right place. The funny bone is a difficult target for PPBs (John Cleese did it well for the Alliance) but they’ve made something which should be relatively amusing for ex-Lib Dem switchers.

  17. Colin – of course they haven’t. While they use some complicated maths to do it, both PollObs and Steve Fisher are actually doing a very simple model of average changes in the polls in the run up to past elections. There are things that are special and different about this election, but then, there are also special and different things about all past elections too if you want to go looking. Consequently, there are big margins of error on this things, because not all elections are alike.

    The reason the PollObs and Fisher predictions are worthwhile is straightforward. Polls do move in the run up to the election, however in the past not all directions of movement have been equally likely. It has been more likely that polls will regress towards the result of the last election (Fisher), or will regress towards the long term averages of party support (PollObs).

    It’s a model based just on that, and you really shouldn’t read any more into it than that. It’s not something complex, it’s not a magic oracle, things may not behave that way this time (indeed, given the large confidence intervals things could not behave that way and would still be inside the scope of the models predictions!). I think it’s best just to treat them as illustrations of what would happen if observed past trends happen this time round. They might, they might not.

  18. I chuckled this morning on the Daily Politics at the ironic humour that anyone might be excited by an election in 2015.

    Reading this blog was as adrenaline inducing as the premiere of new 24!

    Sadly as a staunch Lib Dem, it might feel more like Lost….

  19. AW-thanks-as I thought.

    CB11 can now ( presumably) carry on believing those two forecasts are flawed because of the BES finding.

    ….and I can just go on hoping. that they aren’t :-)

  20. Note that almost 60% of people planning to vote for UKIP in this month’s elections also intend to do so at the 2015 general election does not mean that 60% of people planning to vote for UKIP in this month’s elections will also do so at the 2015 general election. People are just not very good in predicting what they are going to do.

    In 2009 UKIP had 2.5m votes, and in 2010 920,000 votes (standing in just under 90% of British constituencies). But this does not mean UKIP had a retention rate of 37% as there surely were many people who voted UKIP in 2010 but not in 2009. (Mainly people who just don’t vote at the Euros).

    Nethertheless the much increased declared retention rate is certainly significant. And also the fact that the increase is mainly based on voters declaring not to switch back to the coalition parties – the declared switch back to Labour is unchanged at 7%.

  21. @Colin

    “CB11 can now ( presumably) carry on believing those two forecasts are flawed because of the BES finding.
    ….and I can just go on hoping. that they aren’t :-)”

    You sum up our two standpoints very well.

    Good luck to both of us and may the best man win!

    :-)

  22. Another “event” is the release of Ashcroft’s latest marginals polling in a coupla weeks?….

  23. @ Mr. Nameless,

    can we stick strictly to polling impact of that PPB

    I think it’s at best a waste of a PPB slot, and at worst actively damaging.

    Labour need to do three things in the run-up to the general election (and probably the European election as well, since people tend to use it as an opinion poll on their general feelings about the EU and the parties):

    1. Establish Miliband as a credible PM-in-waiting, or at least nuetralise the personal attacks.

    2. Establish a credible plan for the economy, or at least nuetralise the attacks on their credibility.

    3. Get the people who are already planning to vote for them to turn out.

    This PPB clearly doesn’t do 1 or 2. Presumably it’s designed to do 3 for the LD -> Lab switchers, but a not-terribly-funny “funny” attack ad isn’t the most effective way to get these people angry with Clegg again so they’ll turn out to punish him. The effective way to do that is to show a bunch of sob stories from “ordinary people” about how harmful his policies have been to their families so the ex-Lib Dems remember why they hate them, and him, so much. (Or just rebroadcast that old Lib Dem broken promises ad with all the papers blowing around. It’s better to skewer him with his own words.)

    But it’s worse than just ineffective, it’s potentially dangerous. The reason people felt so betrayed by Clegg is that he promised them a new kind of politics free from infantile partisan attacks and broken promises, and then he gleefully ripped off his halo and stamped on it the second he formed the coalition. Labour are trying to paint Miliband as better than that- all that “Leadership isn’t standing up to the weak, it’s standing up to the strong”, “I want to under-promise and over-deliver” stuff from Conference. Running something like this just undermines that message, and possibly reminds the Lib Dem defectors why they’d joined the Lib Dems in the first place.

  24. CB11

    @”Good luck to both of us and may the best man win!”

    Indeed.

    I must admit, you have me worried. Trying to put numbers on it:-

    This morning’s YouGov UKIP VI is 14%. If the BES finding is correct, that translates to an EP UKIP vote of 24%.

    The last European OP showed them getting 29%.

    So you can read that as-the current GE UKIP VI will not fall below 14%-and it may go higher.

    Still-as Christian says-people don’t know what they are going to do in the future-and as AW says , other stuff happens too ( I think that’s what he said anyway)………….so nil desperandum , :-)

  25. SPEARMINT

    @”The reason people felt so betrayed by Clegg is that he promised them a new kind of politics free from infantile partisan attacks and broken promises, and then he gleefully ripped off his halo and stamped on it the second he formed the coalition”

    That reads like joining the Conservatives was the “betrayal”-and nothing to do with policy at all.
    Otherwise you would presumably have listed all the things in their 2010 Manifesto which you agreed with, which didn’t get through to the Coalition Agreement.

  26. So, we have the current polls closing: Kellner and Fisher predicting Tories as at least the largest party: and the Polling Observatory (the most optimistic from a Labour perspective) suggesting a dead heat. Is there anyone out there who still thinks Labour has got next year’s election in the bag!!!???? Or who is prepared to put their house on Labour being the biggest party?

  27. Iain Martin in the DT is well & truly on your page CB11.

  28. It’s inconceivable that Labour won’t be the largest party, barring some unimaginable event ( Ed M implicated in the Jimmy Saville Inquiry? )

    Even Scotland voting “Yes” won’t technically make a difference at the next GE ( although if they do it will be a very short-lived Parliament that we’ll be electing in 2015 )

    But there is a very large range of possibilities that will produce that and also a big difference between Labour being one seat ahead of the Tories and having a small but workable OM.

    So no, I wouldn’t bet the house on it – maybe a small flutter on PaddyPower!

  29. NFR

    So will you be putting your house on the Conservatives being the biggest party?

  30. Christian Schmidt

    Note that almost 60% of people planning to vote for UKIP in this month’s elections also intend to do so at the 2015 general election does not mean that 60% of people planning to vote for UKIP in this month’s elections will also do so at the 2015 general election. People are just not very good in predicting what they are going to do.

    That’s true in general, but it’s worth saying that in 2009 only 25.5% of UKIP voters said they would vote for them in 2010. See Jane Green’s article:

    http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-findings/ukip-support-in-the-european-parliament-election-set-to-translate-to-the-2015-general-election/#.U2pa6GdOWUm

    Now 25.5% of UKIP’s result (16.5%) is 4.2%. UKIP actually achieved 3.1%. Allowing a bit for Northern Ireland and them not fighting every seat, it’s not massively out.

    There’s actually another point to be make which is that the BES data was collected “between 20th February and 9th March 2014” and that they haven’t actually advertised what their headline VIs were for the EP or Westminster[1]. This is partly because it is so out of date, but also because that’s not what the BES is about – they’re more interested in exploring political behaviour than issuing predictions.

    However the dates lead to a warning that the 57.6% of those who said they will vote UKIP in 2014 and then 2015, should be applied to the UKIP EP VI back then which was probably around 25% – perhaps 14.5%. YouGov had UKIP on around 12% at that period, so again not wildly out.

    [1] I assume that if you’re a whizz at one of the social science analysis packages you can dig it out fairly easily.

  31. Labours party political broadcast today ? Comedy trying to provide information to the public. Not sure it works, as while it was reasonably funny, it was a bit silly,

  32. @STATGEEK I got one of those LibDem chartyfarty things through the letter box today. The ‘can’t win here’ arrow pointed to a bigger figure than the one they expanded!

    Sadly some of the people will fall for it, though hopefully even more will be put off by this cheap little con trick. That the LibDems attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes in this way speaks volumes about the party. This isn’t some maverick tweet taken out of context from a decade ago, but a deliberate attempt to mislead on a national scale.

    Oh and they also were using the constituency figures, not the council ones. J.S. Mill would turn in his grave at this shoddy shower and their weapons of mass deception.

    In unrelated matters, when can we be expecting YouGov to start prompting for the third party or at least expound a coherent rationale for not doing so?

    I suppose as a Ukip supporter I ought to be grateful for the support lent to the UKIP!!! view that the MSM, LibLabCon and the pollsters are all engaged in a conspiracy to hide our true support. Thing is I’ve got this sentimental old-fashioned 1950’s attachment to the truth.

  33. “Note that almost 60% of people planning to vote for UKIP in this month’s elections…”

    That’s 60% of 17% (i.e. 11%), not 60% of the 29% they recorded most recently. So that’s even fewer than the current Westminster polls give them. So possibly not that remarkable at all.

  34. @ R HUCKLE

    Oh dear. I have just watched self same broadcast. Wonderful for the core vote if you don’t mind having a very small core. Very off putting for everyone else. I can see a few switchers un-switching.

  35. @Norbold

    I wouldn’t put my house on anything! It’s the certainty of others I was commenting on, a ‘certainty’ which I still think is based on very questionable foundations. See, there’s Paul A at it again – it is ‘inconceivable .. barring some unimaginable event’ that Labour will not be the biggest party. Really? I don’t think so, and I think the evidence is moving in my direction. But certain I am definitely not!

  36. Going to hunker down for few hours now and try and avoid the terrible drubbing I think the Villa are going to get at Man City tonight. I’ll just be glad when it’s over.

    Apologies in advance to all Liverpool supporters!

  37. AW – Good piece but do you not think the council elections on the same day as the Euro-Poll as ay least as significant as some of the other events?

    Personally, I do not least in its impact on party morale, the reduction in councillor foot soldiers for the LDs perhaps.

    How will the LDs hold up where they are strong, have the MP, esp v the cons?

    Also, whilst there will be some protest switching to the UKIP there will be less borrowed votes for them.

    Also – may give us some insight in to key marginal, I always like the BBC bit of looking at council votes in a number of key marginals where all voters have an opportunity to vote.

  38. The Lib Dem situation is very interesting. It would appear that many of its supporters had never considered the implications of coalition. In the areas I know many of their most active activists have completely disappeared. Ironically they were the ones prepared to pull any trick in the book to get votes but don’t seem able to stomach compromise in government. I can remember a local election when they told anyone who said they were voting Conservative, that they would just let Labour in. Labour did not have a candidate. In any area where they have retained their activists they will still be difficult to beat because their campaigning is pretty relentless.

    If UKIP are to take over their mantle as the third party, especially in a GE, they will need to match their rhetoric with boots on the ground. I wonder if they can given the age profile of their supporters at present.

  39. @RMJ1

    It’s not coalition that was the problem so much as coalition with the Tories. Many LibDem votes have been more anti-Tory than pro-LibDem and such people are less than happy to find they’ve put the Tories in government rather than kept them out.

  40. I part-watched (emphasis on watched as we mute all PPBs) what turned out at the end to be a Labour one, so Spearmint my be amused to note that we thought it was going to be an LD one, as the ‘visuals’ (use of American) were indicating that it was the poor little LD bloke trying to stand up to the ghastly pin-striped sleazy ‘you know whats’.

    It proves that this sort of thing can produce perhaps unintended emotive responses. If I were in charge of such campaigning, I would avoid such silly stuff. However, doubtless they were shewn to focus groups first, so what do I know?

  41. RogerH
    Looking at the 2010 results, it does not seem to me that LD voters ‘let the Tories in’. If you look at the marginals that changed, in the main, it went straight from Lab to Con (my favourite example is Wolves SW). The LDs had very little to do with it in such seats.

    LD lost seats overall in the 2010 election.

  42. @RMJ1: “If UKIP are to take over their mantle as the third party, especially in a GE…”

    They won’t. The LibDems are (were?) seen as a more moderate option and they capitalised on this by being all things to all men – anti-Labour or anti-Tory as circumstances required. UKIP can never fill that role. It has the highest negative rating of all the main parties.

  43. @HOWARD: “Looking at the 2010 results, it does not seem to me that LD voters ‘let the Tories in’.”

    I think you misunderstand me. They ‘let them in’ by agreeing to a coalition government.

  44. RogerH
    Yes I agree that is what the 7% odd think they did, but had they listened to what was said prior to the election, this was one promise that was not reneged on (willing to coalesce with the largest party) – it’s just that few of them believed it.

    What is open to conjecture, but I firmly believe, is that most of these voters would probably be in favour of PR whereby such outcomes are inevitable. They are supposed to be the intelligent left of centre types.

  45. PR would not have produced any such outcome. The seats would have split roughly 234:188:143, not 306:258:57. While there might have been a coalition it wouldn’t have been a Tory government propped up with LibDem votes.

  46. If anyone let the Tories in in 2010 it was the Labour Party with their lowest share of the vote (outside of the 1980’s) since 1931.

  47. If anyone let the Tories in in 2010 it was over 10 million people around the country who voted Conservative.

  48. That not why LibDems have abandoned their party, though.

  49. I’d actually add another date to Anthony’s timetable, which is 23 May when the local election results come out. The media will take a bigger interest in them than normal because they include London. If, as I suspect, UKIP don’t do particularly well compared to current hype (especially in London), I think the media will be keen to concentrate on that. Then the Euros will be sold as ‘bad news’ for Labour if they come second, even if the Conservatives are a sub-20 third place.

    Locals are also important because they will complete and update our set of information about Party strengths. In particular we will be able to see if the Lib Dems are holding up in the seats then have and possibly a few where they challenge the Tories. A good performance in such places won’t guarantee a win in 2015, but a collapse in local election support will indicate somewhere where things are lost.

  50. RogerH

    I agree with Wes. Labour lost the FPTP 2010 election all on their own.

    We arguing about nothing here. The LDs who are now Labour are not LD, they are left of centre voters who supported LD tactically and now don’t.

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