Friday, December 29, 2006

Polls, Two Party Politics & Why the LibDems Have a Problem

Several readers have asked me why I haven't mentioned a couple of opinion polls. One being the poll in today's Independent which shows the LibDems down at 14% and a Labour lead of 1%. Last month the reported lead was 2%. To be honest I tend to look for trends in polls, while I also obviously take delight in polls which show large Tory leads.

YouGov and ICM have consistently shown the Tories at 36-41%, while Populus show smaller leads and MORI have been inconsistent. The trend in all polls show the LibDems declining in support, although I don't believe the 14% figure for a moment. As we look forward to 2007 it seems to be that the true level of Tory support is around 37-38%, Labour are on 32-33% and the LibDems are on 18-19%.

It seems to me that by the middle of the year the Tories should be polling 38-42% to be confident that they are on course. If that is to happen I expect LibDem support to decline a per centage point or two. I do not expect Labour to go down much more than 31-32%.

Of course the big question is this: what will happen when Gordon Brown takes over? My instinct is that he may well get a honeymoon bounce of a few per centage points, but this may well come at the expense of the LibDems. At the moment the LibDems have managed to end a difficult year in better fettle than they could reasonably have expected. But this is largely because they have replaced their exiting Tory supporters with disaffected Labour voters. Picture a turnstile with Labour voters entering the LibDem turnstile and Tories exiting. That steady flow of disaffected Labour supporters may well dry up once Brown becomes Labour leader.

If I'm right we could expect to see a gradual return to two party politics. Or not. The fact is that it can never quite happen like that as long as the fringe parties continue to grow in support. In the 1970s and 1980s voters mainly had a choice of two parties, or possibly the Liberals. Now there are UKIP, the Greens, the BNP, the nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland to whom devolution has given an unexpected boost.

And that explains why it will be difficult for any Party to ever poll more than the low forties. This means that one of the key Tory strategies over the two years before the election must be to convince people of this self evident fact:

The only way to get rid of Gordon Brown is to vote for David Cameron

Expect to hear a lot of that in the run-up to the election.

20 comments:

Rog said...

But who do we vote for if we don't want Dave Cameron either?

At least if Brown runs things for a bit, he'll be adding to future wilderness years for Labour.

If Cameron gets in, that'll hasten a Labour return.

Will probably be voting on principles, i.e. UKIP.

peter hitchens said...

The only way to get rid of Gordon Brown is to vote for David Cameron
Or we could all show our contempt for the lot of them by writing "none of the above" on our balot papers?
Camerons a tosser (imho)and Gordons a certifiable celtic loon (ieho)booth parties need to self destruct ,we can then form some new ones. The libdems should just go to rupert Murdoch for funding , they give him so many headlines it would have to be worth his while.

SOUTHWEST TOPSY TORY said...

Ming is the problem for the Liberal Democrats.
As a blogger on "oxfordliberalBlogspot" states -
He looks as though he is just off the set for "RETURN OF THE DADDY"
The Blogspot goes on to give a good exponification of the state of the Liberals in the Southwest.

bt said...

I can't stand GB either, but I'll never vote for Cameron.

A bandwaggonista, playing to the green gallery, much easier to sound firm and statesman-like when one avoids minefields like the NHS, pensions, defence and taxation, even though the environnment is way down the priority list of concerns for most voters.

I don't like him and I don't trust him.
A bladder of wind hoisted as a standard to rally us.
Some hopes.

TORY COMMENTATOR said...

Bad news of the night,that the Americans have handed over Saddam Hussein to the Iraqis to have his neck stretched.
It produces a bad omen for the weekends New Year Papers and puts our troops in a dangerous position,as well as making the world a no go area for the British until circumstances settle.
This two way party scenario is not important in these circumstances,especially as the Liberal Democrats have made IRAQ their central policy piece.Can any of us imagine the support the Libs will get if things get very black in the aftermath of Saddams execution

buster said...

I'm beginning to think that unless the Tories offer something startling they may only get in if enough are sick and tired of Labour.
Otherwise it is the devil we know.

HF said...

Iain, has Susanne Lamido been kicked out of the Lib Dems?

I tried posting the question on her website about 10 days ago but the post never appeared.

f.r. said...

The three logos at the top of the posting make a very pretty picture. Who would have thought they represent a vicious, squalid struggle for power ?

verity said...

Iain, I think you underestimate the dislike a lot of people have for David Cameron. I loathe Tony Blair from the bottom of my heart, but I don't trust Cameron and don't like anything about him - from the way he peddled that kid around newspaper and magazine feature editors and had a manufactured photo op when it got into an NHS ambulance, to his chocolate orange faux outrage in the bookstore and his screamingly obvious manipulative trip to Norway and the huskies, his ridiculous 'green' credentials, leaving Winston Churchill off the list of greatest Englishmen and putting Nye Bevan on for the manipulative reason of looking 'inclusive'. He is repulsive, and he is not prime ministerial material. Like Blair, he is too self-regarding and self-congratulatory.

I think both major parties are going to be shocked by the way the votes go at the next election. I would not be surprised to see the BNP and UKIP get a seat or two - the voters driven away from the main parties by these two overweening, over-primping personalities and the nightmareish qualities of Gordon Brown.

This election ought to be a walk-through for the Tories, but with Cameron in charge, it won't be.

Anonymous said...

Brown would be more likely to stand up for Britain in the EU - but that won't make much difference.

Nothing to lose in voting UKIP - at least I will have shown how I really feel.

David Lindsay said...

It's all a con. The consistent 34% that says, not that it doesn't know, but that it is positively determined to vote, is invariably factored out and the poll recalculated accordingly for publication.

The fact that, as reported elsewhere on this blog, Cameron can attract prominent Lib Dems proves that he is so Eurofanatical, anti-family, pro-crime and pro-drugs that, while such views were no bar to working to Major (as they would have been no bar to working for Thatcher), he would actually be refused office by Blair. And that is quite a feat.

verity said...

David Lindsay - I didn't understand your entire post, but I think Cameron is anti-family and pro-drugs and we know that Blair is anti-British and anti-family.

So,who is the average British person who loves their country and wants to reverse the decline going to vote for? What's left? The BNP and UKIP.

And they did it to themselves.

I am so glad that they are destroying themselves, because they are not only worthless, but dangerous to our Britain.

Rog said...

Verity said: "This election ought to be a walk-through for the Tories, but with Cameron in charge, it won't be."

As usual, Verity is spot-on.

Is she marrying material?

You cannot escape the the glaring fact that Cam &the Tories should be slaughtering NuLab to an embarrassing extent. They aren't. Why? Because they're shite.

When natural Tories think this, there are serious problems afoot.

Anonymous said...

So Iain, what's the position on how to get rid of Brown and Cameron?

parburypolitica said...

Put another way you have to vote for Gordon Brown to rid the country of David Cameron

Neil Craig said...

So the 2 parties will go into the next election on the slogan;

"Vote Brown or Cameron - you have no other choice"

One can see why politicians are held in such high regard. Would that we had a system as democratic as Russia.

Laurence Boyce said...

I'm afraid the Tories have a slight problem too, and Cameron is certainly one of them with his Polly Toynbee tendencies.

Apart from the leader, the only other problem is the rest of the party. It would be unfair to pick on anyone in particular, but "the Wintertons" sums it up nicely.

Only Iain Dale can save them!

Anonymous said...

I posted the following to John Redwood's blog (and much to my surprise it appeared and remains there, which says something for him.)..."There is an open goal for any opposition, for God’s sake oppose… or roll over, get out of the way, and let a party with some balls get on with getting this country back to being an independent nation. Be realistic, the UK will have no real influence in Europe until France leaves it or pigs fly. I will vote UKIP, they could not be worse in opposition than the Conservative Party even if they have but one MP."

David Lindsay said...

"I think Cameron is anti-family and pro-drugs and we know that Blair is anti-British and anti-family," says Verity. Who needs to think, where Cameron is concerned? It is manifestly the case, as evidenced by his attractiveness to Lib Dem activists. No one who was not liek that could be attractive thereto.

As for Blair, quite apart from the fact that he mercifully only has months to go anyway, he's actually not as bad as the people who ran things under Thatcher and Major, including Thatcher and Major themselves, especially the former. Just look, objectively, at the political (and the related economic, social and cultural) record between 1979 and 1997.

Forget the personalities, and ask yourself what actually happened in and to Britain during those years where Europe, Northern Ireland, family policy, drugs policy, exchange rates, and so many other things were concerned? Then re-remember the personalities and apportion blame accordingly.

By 1997, there was a limited amount of damage left to do. Almost all of it had been done at least under, and very often actually by, Thatcher (especially) or Major.

Pogo said...

The only way to get rid of Gordon Brown is to vote for David Cameron
But will we be able to tell the difference?