Friday, April 16, 2010

Could a LibDem Resurgence Produce a Bigger Tory Majority?

Think about this as a scenrio. Nick Clegg does reasonably well in the next couple of debates, even if he doesn't win them. He stands up to the added scrutiny which will inevitably come now, but the LibDem poll position improves by a couple or three points. The question is, where would added LibDem support come from? Let's imagine for a moment that the bulk of it comes from Labour and the final result breaks down like this...

LibDem 24
Labour 28
Conservative 38
Others 10%

Now, this isn't too far fetched. But if it actually happened it might well produce a much bigger Conservative majority than many think. Think back to 1983 when the Tories scored a landslide and a majority of 144 seats. The voting then was LibDem/SDP 25, Labour 27, Conservative 42. The lesson from that election was that a split opposition increases the Tory majority.

So the Conservatives shouldn't necessarily fear a resurgent LibDem vote, but it must come primarily at the expense of Labour. Of course the different between now and 1983 is that in that election there were very few votes for "others". The "others" vote is likely to be in exess of 10% this time, so direct comparisons are very difficult.


WC-H said...

Yes and no, Iain.

Yes in principle, that the LibDem vote, in most areas (but not Lib/Con marginals) would come from Labour.

No, because it is exactly those 4 percent between the Conservative 38 and 42 that you mention which give the Tories the big majority.

Even Con42, Lab28, Lib24, Oth6 gives a majority of only 50 seats according to the BBC seat calculator, although I agree that all swingometers are fundamentally flawed this election because of the "other" factor.

James Maskell said...

You're thinking way too much in historical terms rather than in the current context here.

People STILL don't trust the Tories and equally hate Labour. If the Lib Dems do well its going to split both sides - not just Labour. The people who feel uncomfortable voting Tory will probably go Lib Dem.

Colin said...

I think the majority of "Other" parties will steal votes from Labour. Consider:

BNP - benefits mostly from disaffected Labour voters.

Green - left wing, likely to steal votes from Labour or Lib Dems.

SNP - definitely a threat to Labour and the Lib Dems in Scotland where the Tories stand next to no chance anyway.

Plaid Cymru - similar story to the SNP, most of Plaid's policies appeal to left-leaning voters.

Independents - slightly harder to classify, but only have a negligible effect unless they're "celebrities", ala Rantzen (who is attempting to win a Labour seat).

UKIP - arguably the only real threat to the blue vote. as most UKIP folk are ardent Eurosceptics who may have previously supported the Tories in their Eurosceptic heyday.

All in all, Labour and the Lib Dems have the most to fear from the "Other" vote.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Ph do keep up Iain. The Lib Dems polled 24% last time and it will be higher in this election.

By the way, the South and South West amrginals are now looking good for the Lib Dems. What odds in Lib Dems winning Eastbourne ?

Iain Dale said...

No, Nich, the polled 22.1%. Not sure where you got the 24% figure from - the wishful thinking part of your brain?,_2005

ChristalPalace said...

From my experience canvassing in the Labour-held, Lib Dem-targeted part of south-east London that I live, there are a fair few who have previously voted Conservative and are now choosing Lib Dem (not so much because they're not going to win, either), and a lot more defecting from Labour, but as Labour has a lot more support here, you'd perhaps expect that.

You might be right Iain, but all this may do instead is to entrench the likelihood of a hung parliament.

GM said...

Not sure you're right here Iain. The Lib Dem seats gained in 1997 - the ones they are pitching to hold - come from the Conservatives. the LD's are a safe haven for middle-class voters who don't want to vote Labour, and are still anti-Tory. If they maintain their current seats, it will be at the expense of needed Tory gains.

hatfield girl said...

The problem is Brown. Unless people who are inclined to vote for the Liberal Democrats can be sure that we won't end up with Brown remaining as prime minister with Liberal Democrat support, yet no more able to deal with his monstrous behaviour than have the Labour party, potential LibDem voters will pause, and vote elsewhere.

Brown's Labour is a minority faction in the Labour party, and certainly nothing to do with Liberal Democracy. He must go first, then coalitions could be considered.

Lib Dan 1975 said...

I think this election is fascinating because of all the possible outcomes and the fact that uniform swing is not at all reliable due to a larger third party and the significant voting for the 'others. On this point it is also interesting to note that as Clegg said in his 'Spring Conference speech', in 1951 only 2% of voters voted for any other party apart from Labour or Conservative. In 2005 that figure had risen to 32% - quite a major shift

It is an interesting analogy with 1983 Iain. One thing I would say is that since then the Lib Dems have become far more adept at targeting the vote in the seats where it matters regardless of their national percentage share of the vote.

I think that all things being equal between now and May 6th the Lib Dems will possibly lose a couple of seats to the Tories (and may gain one - Eastbourne) but by and large their vote will stay firm. However, if enough disaffected Labour voters switch to the Lib Dems it could hand victory to Cameron.

norman said...

I admired Thatcher as she rejected this gimmick of leaders appearance. DC should have never started this in the first place as he should have know it gives exposure to LibDems.

Having said the above, DC should use the fear of hung parliament and Brown and Clegg joining to keep Brown and Mandy for 5 more years. This the Tories should drive home after the last debate. Voters, except the die-hard Labour who woukld vote Brown even if he turned out to be a serial killer,hate Brown and Mandy. For Clegg and Cable ministerial posts meant that they will cooperate with Brown and Mandy to keep them in power. Scotland experience says how Libdems go with Labour just to stay in govt.

Guido reports that the viewers figure was 9.9 million and compare this to the X-Factor final figure of 14 million. Very easy to say 'plague on bith houses' and Clegg and Libdems policies of removing winter allowance and imaginary cuts
will not wash. Tories should tell the voters of Labour and Brown in power in perpetuity.

Richard Abbot said...

We should be praying for nothing less than a re-alignment of the left of British politics, the death of the Labour Party and a real choice for people.
Confusion and contradiction will result but at least the red flag can be buried once and for all.
Oh hang on, i've got Jo Grimond coming through from spirit saying he hoped he could replace the Tories as the main opposition to Labour and look where that landed up.

Garveigh said...

DC needs to come up with some game changing/head line grabing ideas, that are easy to understand and will wrong foot the others,
A) Drop Trident, we cannt use it in the modern world and need the Yanks to agree to its use, instead ring fence defence spending,
B) Reduce international Aid, why are we giving China money?
C) Get rid of the ID card

Big cost savers, easy to sell/explaine to the public in the next 3 weeks, makes us (Tories)closer to the Lib Dems (so stealing some votes, vital in the South East., and may help if we need them to form a govt., and will perhaps make a split between Lib Dem and Labour and reach out to our traditional base (strong defense, freedom from big brother state.)
If we do not come up with these ideas (or others) we will lose, there is currently no excitement/buzz arround the Tory Party, unlike in `79 (remember that?)
I am true blue and am very worried that we are managing to lose this election, when we should be going all out to win it.

Sean Haffey said...

There appears to be an interesting result from the BBC election calculator whereby as you reduce Labour's share of the vote in favour of the LibDems, the Libdems gain virtually no seats for a swing of 10% or so. Indeed the LibDems can have a few % more of the national vote than Labour and yet still have barely 100 seats.

Most odd.

neil craig said...

And if turnout is about 50% the Tory massive majority would represent about 18% of the population.

Amybody with any taste for democracy must find the alternatve we have shameful.

norman said...

Labour and LibDem will fight it out in the North where Tory presnence shall we sy is scarce. The silly thought of Nick Clegg the PM, Sarah Teather the Foreign Secretary, Lembit Opik Minister for fun , sorry culture and Cable the chancellor of exchequer brings smile! If anything last night showed Clegg and Brown together and this should be the Tories message of millions of immigrants to Britain to settle in areas ( just how can they be prevented from flooding London? That is Libdem for you!).

Janramzon said...

From Brussels with love,
Though you rarely mention your stint as an MEP.
I suppose that's how it must be:
A springboard and a curate's egg.
From Brussels, Nick Clegg.

manicbeancounter said...

That the Lib-dems may eat into the Labour vote is especially true if you are sad enough (Like me) to read their Manifesto. It is, in many respects to the Left of Labour. For instance
- Taxing the rich more (Capital Gains, pension tax relief, mansion tax) to pay for a tax cut for the masses.
- Bashing big business through higher corporation tax and a big bank levy.
- State Banks - a PostBank and a Green Infrastructure Bank.
- In the army, getting rid of some of the top brass to fund a pay rise for the lower ranks.
- Scrapping the nuclear deterrent.

Add to this the fact that the Structural Deficit created by Gordon Brown will undermine public services for a generation and you have a new home for the Liberal Left.

See my blog for further discussion

ukipwebmaster said...

Speaking as one of the mysterious 'others' I find this all quite baffling!
One thing I would say is that with the vast increase in the numbers of candidates that UKIP are fielding this is bound to have a major effect in this election.

Victor, NW Kent said...

The answer to the question is No.

AndrewJK said...

Just seen Jeremy Vine with his swing-o-meter saying that a resurgent Lib Dem party will make work harder for Tories to win over seats.

Cynic said...

Labourlist are now censoring some posts so I will try it here where it may be more appreciated.

The Labour campaign is already badly focused and lacklustre. This latest poll with probably tip it over the edge.

People like Balls will be desperate to get re-elected and position themselves for the succession battle to come. The problem is that supporting Gordon and that are incompatible. As the Great Leader and Saviour of the World (TM) clearly becomes more and more of a loser so his authority within the party evaporates. He has ruled by fear and now that power has ebbed away. If he throws a tantrum, so what. His power to intimidate has gone. They now KNOW that he's political road kill.

So expect the positioning to start in earnest next week and Labour to slump further as the infighting takes hold, the blame game begins and the campaign and party slowly implode.

I also expect Blair to edge quietly on-stage to support some of his acolytes in the succession race and twist the knife in his great friend Gordon (in a caring and supportive way of course).

Should be hugely entertaining,

Roger Thornhill said...

I think that the meme "he agrees with Nick" and the implication then of what pile of horse manure do they have in common is something I think will work to the Tories advantage. Vote yellow, and it will tarnish to Brown.

I have no love of Cameron, for I think he is without basis, but I would be very surprised if he does not absorb this setback and use it as a launchpad.

Nick Clegg better beware.

norman said...

@Roger Thornhill. This is what Alan Johnson, the postie, said as the Times reports: "The Lib Dems will get more scrutiny now, and when it comes to home affairs Mr Johnson said: “They are soft on crime, inept on asylum and bloody dangerous on national security.” . The postie has already sent an exocet in the direction of Clegg. I was reading to horse-trading when Labour and Libdems sat together in Holyrood in Scotland. Libdems were given ultimatum dangled with 2/3 ministerial posts, and to our horror the Libdem leader caved in. Having tasted ministerial perks, Libdems nodded to everything Labour proposed. Brown , Mandy and the postie will eat Clegg and cable alive. But then who cares, Clegg, Cable and Huhne will dig into the perks. Hague should warn voters about Libdems.

Jimmy said...

"Let's imagine for a moment that the bulk of it comes from Labour"


Lightweight has spent the entire run up smearing Labour and now it's occurred to him that he's not the only Not Gordon candidate.

Who do you think will be the next tory leader?

norman said...

@Jimmy the clunking fist has failed, and he has to sit and see whether Clegg will demand his removal as a price for a new coalition government. Mandy may stab him in the back. Who do you think the Labour Leader will be then?

norman said...

@Jimmy. Strange some one called Andre Deutsch in the Times used similar kind of language. template post from the Labour Central Office?