Tuesday round up

There are a few interesting bits of polling news today. First there is a new chunk of Lord Ashcroft polling, this time on the Conservative’s position in Scotland. Full results are here. I won’t summarise the whole report here, but essentially he segments up the Scottish electorate and as well as that poor sorry rump of Tory support left in Scotland, he also finds a group he calls “reluctant Cameroons” – primary Scots who approve of Cameron, trust the Conservatives on the economy… but don’t vote for them because they don’t see the Conservatives as caring about Scotland and view the party as irrelevant to Scottish politics, or a wasted vote. Therein lies the Conservative problem not just in Scotland, but in much of the urban North too. There are people with some sympathy towards Conservative policies, but they live in places or communities where voting Conservative is simply not done, no one else does it, there’s no point doing it, there’s no longer a recent history of it, what would be the point of it? It’s something people in the South do.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read Lord Ashcroft’s report for yourselves, but for the record it also contained Westminster voting intention figures for Scotland, concucted earlier this month. CON 18%(+1), LAB 40%(-2), LDEM 6%(-13), SNP 31%(+11), UKIP 2%(+1). Changes are from the 2010 election and reflect a big swing from the Lib Dems to the SNP. If it was repeated as a uniform swing across Scotland the Lib Dems would be reduced to three seats in Scotland, the Tories would gain two seats, Labour would gain two and lose one, the SNP would go up to 11 seats.

Secondly there is the regular YouGov poll for the Sun. Topline figures today are CON 31%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. While it’s within the normal margin of error of YouGov’s recent polling, the nine point lead is the largest YouGov have show since the start of October. My hunch is that this particular poll is probably a bit of an outlier, but that the issue of energy prices coming back into the news agenda following the energy price rises has boosted Labour’s lead a bit. Full tabs are here.

Finally the Electoral Commission have issued advice on the referendum question contained in the referendum bill currently before the Commons. The Bill currently contains the wording “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union”. The Electoral Commission have recommended that the “do you think” bit is dropped, so the question is shorter and more formal, and that the wording reflects that the UK is already a member of the EU, as some people thought the question read as if it was whether Britain should join the EU. As such the question would become “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” They’ve also floated the idea that it might be better to move away from a Yes/No question, and instead have a Remain/Leave question, along the lines of “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? Remain a member of the European Union/ Leave the European Union”.

As a pollster you tend to get asked questions about referendum wording. It makes some sense, as writing fair questions is the bread and butter of being a pollster, but in many ways the considerations really aren’t the same. As a pollster I hardly every write questions with just a straight Yes/No as options because there is a fear of affirmation bias, so as a polling question the Electoral Commission’s Remain/Leave is definitely better, giving both sides of the campaign equal prominance. However, it’s NOT a polling question, it’s a referendum question. With a polling question, people are rung up out of the blue (or get an email out of the blue) and get a few seconds to answer the question – those small differences in wording undoubtedly make a difference. In a referendum people have weeks to decide, and will be influenced by the whole campaigns, personalities, arguments, advertisements and so on. What the Yes and No votes mean for the country is something that voters will form their own perceptions of long before they enter a polling station. In that sense, as long as the question is clear and unambiguious, I doubt whether it says yes/no or remain/leave matters much.

423 Responses to “Tuesday round up”

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  1. I see there was a new HS2 poll yesterday


    It has a nice graph showing how public support has collapsed as the cost increased from 32Bn to 42Bn and now £50Bn.

    I see there are reports saying all parties are likely to support the next vote. Why?

    Time to go back to the drawing board on this one. Benchmark the cost per mile with European comparisons. (The FT was reporting that the original cost was 4x the EU average for high speed lines, why on earth is it so expensive?).

    Why are we building it? It seems to now all be about adding capacity. So can we add capacity with better value for money? The bbc are saying we can make trains and platforms longer and add capacity that way for a mere 3.5Bn.

    The costs of this have clearly run out of control with adding expensive tunnels and the whole thing is clearly no longer financially viable. We can all see that as the polls reflect that, but the government seems to be blind to it.

    Just think how many houses, schools, hospitals, wind turbines we could build with this amount of money instead.

  2. Oops, linked to the tables above, here is the link to the graph showing the collapse in support for HS2 as the costs have soared.


  3. I am a big train fan but still skeptical about HS2

    I assume the ‘must have’ is capacity – this focus on speed I think is a red herring as the issues with speed lie as much with connectivity as with speed on the main line.

    The northern towns and cities are badly connected with poor services and so getting to a main line is usually the time consuming bit. Getting to London from York, Manchester and Birmingham has never seemed that difficult – apart of course trying to avoid the crippling fairs covering most of the morning and late afternoon!

    I don’t see HS2 helping with this – can capacity be dealt with differently?

    Secondly, if this is about regeneration of the North we should also look at international links. HS2 doesn’t help with this as there is no direct link to Europe, and so access to the European HS network is not easy – meaning again all tracks end in London. The only option left to those from the North is flying but even then it isn’t easy. Unless Easyjet, Ryanair etc fly from your city to where you want to go there are not many options. Our ‘National’ airline only seems to go via LHR.


    I am a lifelong LD voter (no orange background though) and have a right to comment on how the party has acted in Government. People like me explain why the polling numbers have dropped and why there probably won’t be a bounce cos we ain’t going back under a leadership of Laws, Alexander and Clegg – sorry!

  4. There are reports of a countryside alliance poll


    “According to the poll, 66 per cent of Countryside Alliance members would vote Conservative if there were an election tomorrow, an almost 20 per cent drop in just a couple of years, while 13 per cent would vote Ukip and 2 per cent Labour”

    “To understand why rural Tories are so angry, you need to consider the rest of the CA’s poll findings. Asked what motivates them, they reel out a long list including HS2, fuel prices and planning laws that give developers greater power to override local communities”

  5. Con 33%, Lab 40%, LD 8%, UKIP 11%; APP -26

    same range but the last 5 suggest lead now between 6 and 7 rather than 5-6.

    Approval rating still generally better than has been but lower than 2-3 weeks ago a little


    Your wish to learn more about pedagogies and historiography is admirable.

    However, a political polling site seems the wrong place to pursue these interests.”


    You might be better learning about geography [this is the study of where places are, capitals and so on] as I can help you there.

  7. Since the GE Labour have added about 30% to their total, LDs have lost an incredible 60/70% whilst the Cons remain within spitting distance of their own.

    There is surely something very ominous in those figures for supporters of Clegg. The coalition have moved from twice the Labour total to near level-pegging and it virtually all at the expense of the LDs.

    I will be very surprised if they can get beyond 12% in 2015 and what they do after that is anyone’s guess.

    I think Labour will be desperate to avoid a coalition with them and Clegg’s suggestion that it is essential that they are a moderating part of any government seems doomed to failure – and probably some bitter laughter from the left.

  8. Chatterclass and others
    Regarding QTS in private schools.
    Around 70% of Teachers in Private Schools are QTS

    Maybe that wasn’t the case at Charterhouse School where Paxman received his education (S Level Sneering Passed A*) But then most people can’t afford to pay £27,000 a year to sent their kids to school anyway.

    As Tristram Hunt pointed out He would be responsible for standards in the State education system


    “Back to education.. there is a world of difference between teaching in a private school, probably selective and with small classes, than teaching 25-30 in a class comprehensive. If free schools are not just about selection via the back door, teachers really could do with some teacher training.”


    Well quite. Something that should be glaringly apparent from my list of advantages that private schools enjoy, is that much of the point of what these schools do is to leverage financial advantage to ensure success in spite of the teaching. To as far as possible remove teaching quality from the equation.

    Thus, practice aggressive selection, securing the more highly capable and highly motivated pupils. Now teachers don’t have to be good at discipline, and if their teaching is poor, the pupils can fill the gaps themselves. Assist further with discipline, by expelling as you see fit.

    If that isn’t enough to compensate for any poor teaching, shower them with resources. Remove the need to be able to teach children with a multiplicity of special needs, by selecting them out in the first place. Designing lessons to cope with a wide range of ability and meet all needs equally is a real challenge, so let’s remove that teaching issue too by employing many more teachers and aggressively streaming pupils into small claases very close in ability.

    Still worried that poor teaching may hamper? Not to worry, remove the distractions and load the pupils up with work. Lessons on a Saturday too. Enforce homework, and police it. Even on Sundays. If some still don’t do that well academically, then give them a massive range of sports or arts to try and find a niche that way. Maybe they’ll have a gift for shooting, or fencing, or fives, or sailing, or diving etc.

    In the end, much of the teaching was done by the textbooks. Many teachers followed the texts in class, and set work from the texts. If you select able and motivated enough pupils, then even if teaching is poor, they can still teach themselves from the texts. Oh, and if home life is disruptive, boarding rather takes you away from all that, so teachers don’t have to know how to accommodate that either.

    This is all a world apart from teaching infants in classes of thirty on an estate**. Where your children cannot use textbooks, even the language may be an issue, the discipline challenges are very real, you have to cater for a wide range of abilities and have children with special needs to cater for, you are resource-strapped, you can’t enforce homework, there are loads of distractions, pupils may be worried what awaits at home etc. etc.

    (** except in Scotland, obviously).

  10. @Carfrew,

    I basically agree, although private schools vary enormously in their design and operation (and in their level of funding). But I can see the attraction of Free Schools to parents.

    What you’re basically saying is that parents of children going to government-run schools have to resign themselves to a regime of crowd-control, low expectations and to their children having peers that are more interested in assaulting them or stealing from them than they are in learning.

    The Free School movement gives them a chance, if they’re motivated, to break away from that and aim for a school that emulates what happens in the fee-paying schools. Of course the fly in that ointment is that Free Schools will arrange their admissions through the same system as other local schools and may eventually lose their “specialness”.

    In the end it comes down to whether you believe the poor situation in many state schools is completely inevitable, or has come about partly through a management culture. The hope is that Free Schools, by having distinct philosophies and identities, can capture some of the “magic” of the private sector. That, for me, explains the reluctance to insist on them following rules set for other state schools.

  11. I think the charges against the LibDems are two related but separate ones.
    1) That the LDs are really a sister party of Labour and so should not join a coalition with Conservatives against Labour.

    2) That the LDs have not been assertive enough in coalition with the Conservatives.

    This has led to a large amount of switching LD to Cons, as has been well aired on this site.

    1 & 2 are mirrored on the more conservative parts of the Conservative party by a view that the Conservatives are not right wing enough – hence the rise of UKIP.

    These trends are well documented here. Clearly the government is too right-wing for some, and too left-wing for others.

    What I am interested in is whether these effects are long-term, and what efffect they will have on the euroelections of 2014 and the GE of 2015.Hopefully the opinion polls can shed some light on this as time goes on.

    As for the effects of coalition on third parties longer-term, I think most of us know that the German FDP had a historically low vote this year. On the other hand the Irish Labour Party seems to recover from its periodic coalitions, usually with Fine Gael. Is anyone with real knowledge able to shed light on this?

  12. Turk
    I wish you and your family health and happiness for the future.

  13. @John Pilgrim

    “I am pretty sure that a correlation could be proven between Tory to UKIP swing voters and golf club membership.”

    The Golf Club members bar, sometimes referred to as the 19th hole, would seem to be natural habitat for the Farages of this world. However, I bet some of them went in to orbit when the Great Britain Ryder Cup team, weary of being regularly thrashed by the US, decided to invite the European players on board; since which time, of course, we’ve tended to best the Americans.

    Those bloody, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, French and Swedes are OK when they swing a decent golf club!

  14. Just to reply to earlier posters one of whom said my posts clearly showed I was ‘of the Clegg persuasion’ clearly proves to me that I have succeeded in following Anthony’s rules!

    It does seem that a slighter larger gap is opening between Con and Lab but a week more of such a gap would be needed to convince me.

  15. What you’re basically saying is that parents of children going to government-run schools have to resign themselves to a regime of crowd-control, low expectations and to their children having peers that are more interested in assaulting them or stealing from them than they are in learning.


    Most State Schools are Good or better.

    My own State Comprehensive as early as the 1970’s saw 60% of Students attend University a figure not matched in most Private Schools at the time and now sees 90% + Going on to University.

    My Own daughter has just left another Local Comprehensive whose A level results( 98% 3 A levels or better) exceeded those of the £25,000 a Year Private School situated next door!

    In terms of value added Her School and indeed mine far exceeded the performance of most Private Sector schools who routinely have three times the resources both in number of teaching and support staff and facilities.

    Some of the very best academic performing schools in the UK are Inner London Comprehensives.

    The international example of Finland, widely regarded as the best education system in the World , which consists primarily of non selective state comprehensives, so good that very few people bother to educate their children anywhere else and where all teachers are qualified to Post Graduate level and hold the equivalent to QTS.

    Both serve to illustrate that state education need not be second rate and can exceed that of the private sector in terms of outcome.

    Of course as outcome has less to do with career success than where you went to school in the UK this will not address the unfair advantage of the Old School tie network but improved academic performance in the state sector would expose it for what it really is.

  16. @ALISTER1948

    One of the problems is that we may be migrating from a three party politics in England to a four ( or more) party politics. We may then end as Scotland, NI or Wales with a forms of proper PR being the only reasonable solution.

    The LibDems have gradually since the 1974 election replaced Labour in the South with the exception of say larger towns like Bristol, Reading, Slough and London! in 1972 for example in Maidenhead Labour polled over 42% of the vote in local elections. These days it might regard 20% as a good performance.

    Here Labour’s experience is similar though not yet quite as catastrophic as the Conservative Party’s in Scotland.

    Again however, that is oftentimes much oversimplified since in Scotland and Wales after the 1880’s the local Unionist parties allied and then joined the Conservative party coalition in the same way as the Nationalists in Ireland joined the Liberal brand. Well into the late 1960’s it was the Conservative and Unionist Party.

    Thus much of the political dominance of the Conservative Party in 20th century was built around the question of the Union and Unionist parties in the periphery which succeeded in reaching parts of the local political culture the Conservative brand with its overwhelmingly English connotations often did not.

    That said, the LibDems after 1997 started to do the same against Labour in the northern and inner city heartlands that they had achieved in the southern conservative heartlands. That breakout was consolidated in 2005 and to an extend confirmed in 2010. These voter perhaps more ‘left’ than the /lib/dem voters in the south were repelled by the coalition with the Conservatives.

    Thus any Labour revival in those areas will hit the LibDems hardest. This is what seems to have happened north of the Trent. In the south with on longer the Libdems as a party of disaffection a more populist, libertarian and perhaps we might call it English nationalist party has become the repository for votes of protest. UKIP despite its name appeals only strongly in the English part of the UK.

    The danger for the conservative party is that if it roots successfully in those areas like say inner cities and the North where the Conservative brand is already tarnished it will take Tory votes and tend to reinforce Labour dominance. potentially this might play badly for then in the East midlands in particular.

    Against that, UKIP might take both former Labour and LibDem voters in the south east and south west and that actually could well bring a short term advantage to the conservatives in that region.

    The EU and london elections next year will tell us a lot more about the UKIP phenomenon.

    In ireland Labour has only once prospered in a coalition with Fine Gael when Dick Spring was leader. Again the FDP is less a player these days and rally has been since the emergence of the Greens who are now the natural majority ally with the SDP.


  17. @John Murphy

    Thank you for your comments. I had forgotten about the 2014 local elections in London, and also I see there are elections in the Metropolitan Boroughs etc, and to the new councils in Northern Ireland.

    Yes, we should all know a lot more then after then.

  18. @BCombie
    “HS2 doesn’t help with this as there is no direct link to Europe, and so access to the European HS network is not easy – meaning again all tracks end in London. ”

    There is a link to HS1 in the plans. Its maybe not ideal, but there is a counter-proposal which would involve more tunnelling, yet avoid the demolition in Camden so would be broadly cost-neutral. This would give a much better link to HS1.

  19. @NEIL A

    “What you’re basically saying is that parents of children going to government-run schools have to resign themselves to a regime of crowd-control, low expectations and to their children having peers that are more interested in assaulting them or stealing from them than they are in learning.”


    No Neil, that’s not what I am saying, What I am saying, is that many of the things one might learn in teacher training, are to a significant extent obviated in Private Schools, because of the advantages they have.

    Thus, the stuff teacher trainees might learn about behaviour management, about designing lessons for mixed ability classes, about how to motivate the poorly motivated, how to cater for special needs, how to teach children who are still learning the language, or are not able to teach themselves from books, or are distressed by home affairs etc. etc. is a lot less necessary in private schools (and to some extent in grammars etc. too).

    Of course, such are the challenges, even with training it’s still going to be hard to compete with schools that can select and stream so aggressively, have a massive resource advantage, can remove distractions, and on top of that may have relationships with Higher Education institutions going back a long time.

    Frankly, a fair amount of the time at Public School, the teaching held us back in my view. That was my bone of contention at the time (well, that and it being a bit of a prison)…

    I am with you to a significant extent on Free Schools (my main concern is that it doesn’t become a vehicle to sell our schools off to the US charter schools thing).

    I think our Public Schools etc. do have some special things, but a fair chunk of that arises from the big financial advantage. Need a million (in the Seventies!!), for a new science block or arts centre, no problem, tap the parents in an appeal. Need some more playing fields? No probs, they own land stretching for miles. Music practice rooms? How about more than 30? Want to stream aggressively? Easy if you can afford the extra teachers.

    Oh, and there weren’t any pupils with Special Needs at my school. Free Schools say they will be inclusive, well that will require more teaching expertise than someone fresh out of Cambridge with no training. How many untrained would know how to cater for the educational needs of someone with Severe learning difficulties while still catering for the needs of the rest of the class?

    They could barely handle me at boarding school, Christ help them if they had to teach at some other schools.

    I agree management culture plays a part, but then I would say that since my partner’s been a head teacher for a few years now, in an inner city school, raising results year-on-year. But it’s a lot harder to do without the advantages public schools enjoy, and she still uses stuff she learnt in her training.

  20. @Alister – surely you mean large amount of Lib Dems moving to Labour, not to Cons? The LD to Con ratio is relatively small compared to LD to Lab.

  21. Alister

    Oh boy, you really looking for a fight laddie! The libdems are really a sister party of labour!??? Don’t say that anywhere near a group of libdems or you will be beaten to death with sandals

  22. @neilA no: we are not consigning our kids to anything. My children attended an excellent primary school with above average free school dinners and 43 languages spoken. And my younger son was so well taught that when he went up to the above average Secondary (on a music place) he had been taught far better than at the very middle class local school. And my children’s school is the least favourite in the neighbourhood, because of the catchment. Free schools just further segment education.

  23. The polling looks pretty steady at the moment, with Labour having gone up to around 39%, following a dip to nearer 36%. The Tories are stuck at around 33%, when it looked as if they were heading to a steady 35%. Ed Milibands energy freeze and debate on cost of living, seems to have achieved the current gap of 6 to 7%.

    The Lib Dems appear to be in a dilemma at the moment. Some of their positions which are different to the Tories are not necessarily popular with the public. They support the green tax elements on energy bills, which the Tories now want to remove in part. But I am not sure green taxes are popular with the public. Lib Dems want some basic requirements to be imposed on free schools, which the Tories are against, but such requirements as having qualified Teachers are probably supported by the public. So how can the Lib Dems improve their polling, while being a good coalition partner ? Is being a good coalition partner more important to polling success than having open arguments, with occasional votes against Tory policies ?

    UKIP polling appears to be pretty solid, when you consider that they have been very quite of late, after the problems with Godfrey Bloom a month or so ago. If UKIP stay at around 11%, I cannot see that the Tories would have any change of winning a majority in 2015.

    “Oh boy, you really looking for a fight laddie! The libdems are really a sister party of labour!??? Don’t say that anywhere near a group of libdems or you will be beaten to death with sandals”


    I’m just guessing, but it’s just possible that it may not be a good idea to say it near Labour supporters either, lest one is assaulted with a copy of Blair’s book.

    I’m not taking any chances, anyway…

  25. I think your guess is absolutely correct, Carfrew. If anyone had said that at Labour Party Conference they would have been severely criticised with a constitutional amendment.

  26. Labour and libdems unite to beat up Alister!

  27. @NORBOLD

    “I think your guess is absolutely correct, Carfrew. If anyone had said that at Labour Party Conference they would have been severely criticised with a constitutional amendment.”


    Just attending a Party Conference sounds like punishment enough to me…

  28. @ John,

    A very astute analysis. But I might take issue with this bit:

    The LibDems have gradually since the 1974 election replaced Labour in the South with the exception of say larger towns like Bristol, Reading, Slough and London! in 1972 for example in Maidenhead Labour polled over 42% of the vote in local elections. These days it might regard 20% as a good performance.

    While that’s all true, I think it misses the broader picture. I don’t have the data for Maidenhead to hand, but looking at neighboring Windsor, the Tories have held the seat continuously since 1868, when the Liberals won it. So Labour have gone from being the second party in a bunch of southern seats they cannot possibly win, to being the third party.

    Potentially their southern decline may even be helpful to them, if it can consolidate the non-Tory vote in the hands of the Liberal Democrats and turn some formerly safe Tory seats into marginals. It will reduce Labour’s national vote share, but it might increase their chances of forming a government. (Likewise, the collapse of the Tory vote to Ukip in the North may be helpful to the Tories, if it brings safe Labour seats into contention.)

    Obviously 2010 was not a good year for Labour and they’ll want to regain some of the southern seats they’ve lost. And there are some areas (East Anglia) where they were once competitive and now aren’t. But on the whole in the South they’ve become less competitive in seats that were unwinnable for them even in 1945. There’s a high cost in terms of overall vote share, and thus in some sense mandate and legitimacy, but in terms of parliamentary arithmetic the cost is fairly minimal.

    Compare this to the Tory predicament in Scotland, where they were regularly winning a third of the seats as late as 1983. That’s a real sacrifice in terms of their ability to win a majority in Parliament.

  29. The current LD attitude is anything Labour is wrong… end of

    You only have to read LDV to see this, the LD always profess grown up politics… unless it is anything Labour or can be attributed to Labour in the last hundred years…

    I still pop on LDV in the hope someone has seen sense… as long as they get one MP at any GE the LDs will see that as vindication for being.

  30. @WES
    Yes of course, my mistake.

    RiN, Carfrew
    Labour and LibDems are definitely not friends at the moment ! So much is obvious.

    If we are talking polling this might have an effect on tactical voting in marginals.

  31. On the subject of education I am very smug – three children all state educated, two with university degrees, one just completing his final year – no tuition fees. Scottish free education – probably the best in the world.

    There is one fee paying school covering a large area. I have no idea why parents use it because two comprehensive secondary schools within a mile of so of where I live get better results. I do not personally know anyone in Scotland who sent their kids to a fee paying school.

  32. @ALISTER1948

    “If we are talking polling this might have an effect on tactical voting in marginals.”


    Indeed, it’s a matter of some import. E.g. to what extent are Labourites prepared to hold their noses and vote LD in Con/Lib marginals. Ashcroft’s polling suggested maybe quite a few?…

  33. @BCombie

    The alternative that has been proposed to building a new line is to upgrade the capacity of the current ones.

    The problem is that this would cost about as much as HS2, because it would still mean compulsory purchases, widening or replacing existing tunnels and bridges, and it would also mean weekend closures of the main lines for 14 years as well as inevitable disruption to peak time services.

    The only solution to the capacity problem that doesn’t mean heavy disruption to the current system, is to build a new line. If you’re going to build a new line, the cost differences to make it high speed are negligible considering that the major costs are in tunnelling under places people don’t want to see railways either fast or slow. So you may as well make any new lines high speed lines.

  34. My Tory flatmate has been invited to the Sheffield Conservatives Christmas Dinner.

    This got us talking about Hallam, and he was saying that from the talks he’s had with the local party, he fully expects to be handed a yellow rosette and marched to the front come 2015.

    My response was to say “You know, there are some things you shouldn’t tell a journalist.”

    Seriously, is there a record of that? Activists from one party being mobilised to support another? Except Martin Bell?

  35. Oh, and the Lib Dems trying to prop up Rosie Barnes in 1992.

  36. As far as tactical voting for LD in a Con/LD marginal goes, I think there are two types of Labour voters who have voted LD in the past. There are those who will continue to do so as they think anything is better than the Tories, but there is another group, perhaps more in sympathy with the Labour Party but who have held their collective noses and voted tactically in the post. These I think are now lost to the LDs as this group will see the LDs as bad as the Tories so what’s the point in voting for them?

    Given this split, I suppose it depends how big the majority is and how big each of these grouping are, but I am sure it will damage the LD chances and, ironically from Labour’s point of view, may even give more seats to the Tories.

  37. past not post! (unless of course they are postal voters!)

  38. @Alister1948

    If you’re of 1948 vintage you’ve seen what happens when the centre party gets cosy with one of the “flank” parties twice before. The wartime National Government lead to a split in the Liberals which continued throughout the 50s to the perception that the Liberals were at heart a right wing party – the Tories even stood down their candidates in places to let Liberals try to beat Labour. The Liberals started to recover in the 60s, by distancing themselves from the Tories, but it took a long time, and they had to dusappoint Heath and play footsie with Wilson in1974 to do it. The alliance with the SDP in the 80s then tarred them as leftists for a generation, until Clegg changed all that!

    You’ll notice that its easy to change sides, but slow and difficult to change back. The lesson seems rather clear.

  39. PostageIncluded,

    Re: The Alliance – I think the accusations of being leftists might have more to do with the fact that they were to the left of the SDP on a great many issues (particularly defence, which eventually caused the split).

  40. According to the Telegraph, Nick Clegg has said that he would not be prepared to form a coalition government with Labour if Ed Miliband’s party does not back the HS2 project.

    Cor, I bet Ed Miliband is quaking in his boots at the thought…..
    I would be very surprised if the LD party is anywhere near any coalition discussions in 2015.

    On unqualified teachers & all these ‘experts’ that are being used in schools.

    If they are so good, why are they reluctant to get an official qualification that would then allow them to teach in any school in the UK ? Doesn’t make sense that they don’t.
    Somebody so good at their subject but won’t take the official qualification that would recognise their abilities ? Why not ?

  41. Chordata

    Thought experiment. Dateline May 2015. Labour is the largest party with 310 seats. The LDs have just polled 13% and won 28 seats.

    Clearly there will be a coalition between Lab & LD. But the LD leader has just seen his party’s vote share and number of seats pretty much halved. This is an unprecedented collapse for a party of Government. In this scenario, Labour would be mad to enter into a coalition with a Clegg-led party. They would be justifiably pilloried for keeping a failed politician at the upper reaches of power. The very first requirement that Labour would have in coalition discussions is Clegg’s head on a silver platter.

  42. @Norbold
    I’d say Labour-to-LD tactical voters are the easy ones for Clegg. The difficult ones are the anti-New-Labour voters, who switched because Labour was too Tory. I don’t see them buying the tactical voting idea, as they voted LD on principle. These are also more important voterss for Labour as they’re not just in seats that Labour can’t win, which the tactical voters are. The return of these voters to Labour loses Cameron seats.

    If you look at the % gain the LDs made between 1997 and 2010 you’ll see that its about the same as the loss to Labour since 2010, about 7% of the electorate. Coincidence? Maybe, but I would be inclined to believe that the tactical voters are more likely to be saying “don’t know” while the principled anti-New-Labour voters are putting their polling hands up to be counted.


    13% seems a bit high :-)

    Seriously my feeling is that things can only get worse for the LibDs from here on in. The Cons are going to repeatedly throw them under the bus in order to re-gain UKIP votes or get one up on Labour. Meanwhile not sharing any credit for anything that goes well. The last thing on the Cons priority list is the well being of their coalition partner.

    The LibDs on the other hand are firmly tied to the Coalition – they can’t withdraw are that would ruin any chance of reflected glory of an economic recovery. The have to just stick to it and hope for Lab tactical votes and the incumbency effect to prevent a near wipeout.

  44. @Lefty
    “The very first requirement that Labour would have in coalition discussions is Clegg’s head on a silver platter.”

    I believe Mr Clegg demanded the same of Gordon Brown in 2010.

    I can’t envisage any coalition between the two with Clegg, Browne or Laws having any senior posts. All three have been spiteful in their anti-Labour rhetoric & the ease with which they trot out the phraseology used by Cameron is, to be polite about it, noticeable.

    Clearly this is all guesswork & subject to change as 2015 nears.

  45. this far out it seems un likely that NC would be in a position to negotiate with lab after a 2015 GE.

    LDs getting 30-40 seats with Lab short of an OM due to Norbold’s first group of Lab leaners in LD/Con seats plus generally a strong personal vote coupled with focused campaigning is possible on perhaps as little as 13-15% of the vote.

    Clegg’s authority would be shot though and imo it would be VC temporary leader Farron imo taking over at sometime.

    Would the righty LDs leave??? maybe one or 2..

  46. Of course there is the outside chance of a complete wipe out, which paradoxically might be good for the dems

  47. @Mr Nameless

    Collusion between the Tories and liberals were extensive in the 50s. If the Tories had no chance, they didn’t stand, and the Liberals mostly won seats as the only opposing candidate to Labour. This applied to “official” Liberals as well as split-away Liberal Nationals, who were more formaly allied with the Tories.

    Obviously it could happen again, but I think that it’s harder for the LDs to do it now without scrutiny. I think your flatmate’s exaggerating a bit. The Tories will stand, but soft-pedal, in some seats: the LDs will return the favour elsewhere.

  48. That 40% is the Holy Grail for both main parties.

    the big difference is that Labour have polled 40% of and on sevearl times and in any case even 36% might well give them a majority, whereas Con has not got above their 2010 total of 36% hardly at all…and even if they do, they need to soundly beat Lab’s score.

    Still looks like a shoo in for Red Ed to me, as I have been boringly repeating since Oldham & Saddleworth confirmed the LD shift to Lab.

  49. @ PI

    Yes, I think you’re right about the anti New Labour voters especially those who deserted Labour because of the Iraq War. I can’t see any of them staying with the LDs. Back to Labour or abstention I would guess.

    From my experience at Conference I can’t see any way that Labour will do a deal with the LibDems, even if it means forming a minority government (personally, I hope it doesn’t come to that of course!). There was a visceral hatred of the LibDems in the air. Much more than of the Tories I would say. The Tories have always been the enemy and to some extent that is accepted and let’s have a good clean fight!

    But the LDs got elected to their present position by trying to outleft Labour and finished up willing participants in a very right wing government. And, as Chordata says, some of the anti-Labour rhetoric trotted out by senior LibDems has left both the Labour leadership and the rank and file seething and determined to have nothing more to do with them.

  50. @Nameless

    I should also have said that despite the exaggeration that’s a useful confirmation that informal electoral collusion is alive and well between yellow and blue.

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