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After the dust has settled.

May 15, 2010 Comments off

It is interesting to look back now at the last six weeks.

A hard-fought campaign during which I felt that the Liberal Democrats by and large put our best foot forward.  The innovation of the TV debates certainly turned things on their head for a while and Nick Cleggs great performances meant that the Liberal Democrats were suddenly polling above 30% and in many polls were actually running second ahead of Labour.  Even though this seemed to drift away gradually towards the end of election it looked like we were headed for a great result.  Even on polling day the atmosphere and vibe was really good.  The exit poll at 10pm was shockingly negative (and at the time it seemed it could not be right) but within a few hours as the ballots came pouring out of the boxes (certainly in Liverpool where I was ) it became all too clear that the Liberal Democrat surge had largely been squeezed.

So we were left with a hung parliament that has led to a Liberal Democrat / Conservative coalition government

How do I feel about this?

On the one hand it is hard to stomach being in bed with the Conservatives

On the other hand it is probably the only logical conclusion given the precise verdict of the electorate. 

The proposed coalition with the Labour Party was clearly not a runner given

  •  The attitude of those sent to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats
  •  The attitude of many senior Labour figures commenting in public whilst those discussions were taking place
  • The likelihood of such a  coalition falling with only 315 votes in the House of Commons.
  • The likelihood of a subsequent General Election leading to a further squeeze on Labour and the Liberal Democrats so leading to a majority Conservative Government

 The other main option would have been a Conservative Minority Government.  This too would probably not have lasted very long and again would have led to a subsequent General Election and a majority Conservative Government.

So coalition it is and an opportunity to put some of our policies into practice and at the same time hopefully demonstrate that a hung parliament is not necessarily a bad thing in that it forces politicians to work together and hopefully eliminates some of the worst excesses that occur when one party with maybe as little as 25% of the population supporting them takes all the power.

What do people want, what will they vote for and what will they get?

April 24, 2010 Comments off

So roughly a third of the British electorate would like to see a Liberal Democrat Government or so at least the opinion polls seem to indicate at present.  Roughly the same amount want a Tory Government and slightly less would like to see a Labour Government. 

 According to the UK Polling report calculator a result along the lines of 33% Tory, 32% Liberal Democrat and 27% Labour with 8% others would lead to the following result (assuming a uniform swing).

  • Labour – 255 seats (for the party in third place)
  • Conservative  – 246 seats (for the party in first place)
  • Liberal Democrat – 118 seats (for the party in second place)
  • Others – 31 seats

Aside from the obvious inequities of the first past the post system on such a result there is interesting news from YouGov.

According to Peter Kellner YouGov asked “How would you vote on May 6 if you thought the Liberal Democrats had a significant chance of winning the election”.

The response they got was staggering as follows :

  •  Liberal Democrat 49%
  • Conservative 25%
  • Labour 19%
  • Others 7%

Let us assume for a minute that half of the people who need to be persuaded that the Liberal Democrats can win the election can actually be persuaded that this is so.  Not all of them just half of them.

This might leave us with the following percentage votes assuming slightly more gain from Labour than the Tories

  •  Liberal Democrat 40.5%
  • Conservative 29.5%
  • Labour 23%
  • Others 7%

On the same basis of a uniform swing this would achieve the following result

  • Labour – 155 seats (for the party in third place)
  • Conservative  – 178 seats (for the party in second place)
  • Liberal Democrat – 288 seats (for the party in first place)
  • Others – 29 seats

At least a result which is more representative of the actual votes……and on a non uniform swing who know what might happen.

If people voted as per the YouGov poll then the figures (again on a uniform swing) would be as follows.

  • Labour – 19 seats (for the party in third place)
  • Conservative  – 25 seats (for the party in second place)
  • Liberal Democrat – 548 seats (for the party in first place)
  • Others – 15 seats

Again this would show up the madness of first past the post – still at least it would put the Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament into the position where they would be the turkeys voting for an early Christmas as we moved to a proportional system!

What a 24 hours

April 16, 2010 Comments off

First last night debate and Nicks fantastic performance against Cameron and Brown, then an opinion poll showing the Liberal Democrats on 35% (later adjusted properly to 24%) and now the latest YouGov poll shows us on 30% and in second place and only 3 points behind the Conservatives.  Labour meanwhile have slipped to third place with 28%.   What a great boost to all our candidates fighting so hard on the ground to grow the size of our parliamentary party.  That swing in itself will mean that the Tories will suddenly find themselves threatened in seats where they previously though they were safe such as Newbury and Guildford – both seats where we have experienced former Members of Parliament standing.

Labour to target Osborne – Cameron should be the target for Liberal Democrats

March 28, 2010 3 comments

According to the Observer Labour is targeting George Osborne as the weakest link in the Conservative team

Party sources told the Observer that a decision had been taken to focus on Osborne as the prime target throughout the campaign, because the future stewardship of the economy is the issue that most concerns voters.

They said there was “strong evidence” from their own focus groups that people regard Osborne as “shrill, immature and lightweight”, and that the Tories are already being harmed in the polls because of doubts about their economic policies.

This seems fine to me as far as it goes and I will be happy to see Vince take him on tomorrow night on Channel 4 and throughout the campaign.

However, I think the Liberal Democrats should be concentrating their fire power (at least as far as the Conservatives are concerned) on Cameron.  This is the man who claims to have made the Conservative Party electable again.  Supposedly they are no longer the nasty party of british politics but that statement hides a multitude of sins that Cameron needs to be brought to account for.

Two that come to mind are as follows:

1) The decision to withdraw the Conservative MEPs from the European Peoples Party and the even worse decision to join the new European Conservatives and Reformists grouping consisting of some far right characters who would not elicit much sympathy from the british public and headed by a Michal Kaminski who has made some seriously offensive remarks in the past.  Does Mr Cameron wonder why the former Tory leader in Brussels, Edward McMillan-Scott, has decided to join the Liberal Democrats?

2) David Cameron’s recent performance in an interview with Gay Times.  If you click here you can see the interview itself and Cameron’s bumbling, stumbling performance.

Hush Puppy Man Puts His Foot In It!

I am sure that David Cameron must be wondering just what it was that encouraged him to bring Ken Clarke back into the shadow cabinet.  According to The Guardian Ken has publicly highlighted the inexperience of the Tory leadership.

“Appearing before a City audience with 43-year-old Cameron, and 38-year-old Osborne, Clarke, 69, and now the shadow business secretary, said: “I am delighted to appear as part of this young, inexperienced team, which is a quite extraordinarily united team.”

To be fair he went on to contrast the Tory teams inexperience with the Prime Minister’s experience in wrecking the economy.  All the same I expect that Gordon Brown will be only too happy to point out, in the televised debates that have just been agreed, that even Cameron’s own supporters think he is inexperienced.

Categories: Tories, UK Politics

No wonder voters are unsure

According to yesterdays Guardian voters are still unsure about the Tories.   Well I guess given the opinion polls that is not surprising.  The Tories seem a little light on policy and detail for instance precisely how they propose to cut the budget deficit.  Where they do have policies they struggle to communicate them (witness Cameron’s slip up earlier this year) and sometimes it appears that they are making decisions on the hoof (witness the announcement re tax breaks on marriage in his speech at the weekend)

The policy announcement this year that has really taken my breath away and which seems entirely indicative of the contempt with which the Tories hold the electorate has been their plan to sell off the UK government stake in the banks.  They propose to give taxpayers a discount on the shares as they try to off load them.  What they seem to ignore is the fact that the banks are actually owned by the UK government …in other words they are owned by us the taxpayer. What they appear to be suggesting is that taxpayers should pay to buy something into which they have already pumped billions and which they already own.  Far better to float the shares on the open market at an appropriate time and pay down some of the debt

Categories: Tories, UK Politics

How should we react?

February 21, 2007 1 comment

The opinion poll in yesterdays Guardian puts the Tories on 40%, Labour on 31% and the Lib Dems on 19%. Even more interestingly they then go on to examine the state of the polls if the name specific leaders and give figures of 42% for the Tories under Cameron, 29% for Labour under Brown and 17% for the Lib Dems under Campbell. So does this mean anything and should we be worried?

42% is heading towards the sort of figure that the Tories were getting in General elections during the eighties and early nineties when they were polling around 45 – 46%. 29% is (according to the Guardian) the sort of poll rating that Labour were achieving under Michael Foot in the early eighties. 17% is historically not a bad figure for the Liberal Democrats although recently we have done better. Our figures tend to rise during election periods as we get more coverage and between elections we struggle to be heard.

The political landscape at present is extremely unusual. Blair is damaged goods and is limping on until some as yet unknown date – probably after the local elections on May 3rd but who knows. Brown has his agreement and is biding his time and whilst he may be making plans for his post Blair regime he is unable to go public with anything as yet.

Most worrying for the Liberal Democrats is that we have been unable to exploit this situation. Part of this is undoubtedly down to the normal difficulty we have as the third party in gaining media attention for what we are saying but the opinion poll hints at the fact that for us Ming Campbell is not a positive. This is important because whereas Brown cannot act publicly as Leader Campbell already is Leader.

The Tories are not surprisingly exploiting this vacuum on the British political stage. At present Cameron is in effect getting a free run and not surprisingly his opinion poll ratings have risen accordingly.

The political landscape in the UK will look very different in about six months time if and when Brown walks through the door of number 10. The stage will be his and pretty much his alone for some time and we can fully expect him to hit the ground running having had so much time to prepare for the transition.

A number of high profile announcements will attempt to reposition Brown and the Labour government. Expect a quick exit from Iraq (at least quicker than todays likely announcement) and a complete repositioning of our foreign policy possibly along the lines of “an ethical foreign policy” but with a different strap line. He may also attempt to do something about the lingering problems in the NHS. Whether or not this re-branding will succeed only time will tell but the opinion polls will look significantly different for a while.

The key question is how the Liberal Democrats in general and Ming Campbell in particular can best attempt to exploit the current vacuum – that is the bit we should be worrying about.

My suggestion for what it is worth is as follows.

Set up a group to identify and review likely Brown initiatives which he may wish to launch in the early days of his administration.

Focus in on those that he will need to push if he is to succeed in re-branding the Labour government and disassociating itself from Blair.

Find those that match with our own policies and principles and focus all our fire power on pushing for these things to be done.

In other words show leadership and steal Browns thunder before he gets to Number 10!