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Can the LibDems get more votes than Labour at the next election?

By Mark Littlewood
July 30th, 2009 at 10:43 pm | 11 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

The Labour Party’s continuing atrocious polling numbers and Nick Clegg’s increasingly impressive performance as LibDem leader raises the enticing possibility of us pushing Labour into third place in vote share at the next General Election.

Now, a few notes of caution are needed. Most polls still put Labour about 5% or 6% ahead of the Liberal Democrats. An awful lot could change – in Labour’s favour – between now and polling day. But, surely, the shot is on the board.

If the governing party staggers into the General Election with Brown still at the helm, their campaign could be a Michael Foot -style PR disaster. There’s also good reason to believe that Labour always ends up performing at the low end of its polling numbers.  All things being equal, I’d expect Nick Clegg to have a strong showing in the campaign itself. He is a  capable TV performer (by far the most important communications medium in modern politics) and the Brtish public will like him more as they get to know him more. There’s something of a myth that the third party always gains votes as an election campaign progresses – but there is some evidence that this is true when the third party has a leader fighting his first General Election. This is because, in the course of the campaign, the new Liberal leader moves from “vaguely heard of him” to “household name” in the national pysche. An optimist might conclude that if we enter the campaign just 5% behind Labour in the polls, this is a gap that could be bridged before polling stations open.

I still think it’s a bit of a longshot, but the prize is an enormous one. The SDP-Liberal Alliance nearly secured more popular support than Labour in 1983 and – despite only securing a couple of dozen seats – may have “broken the mould” if it had come second in vote share. Since then, under Chris Rennard’s strategic leadership, the Liberal Democrats have targetted aggressively, yielding a mammothly greater haul of seats than the Alliance, despite  lower overall percentage support. But this incrementalism may be reaching its limits. Liberal Democrats should ask themselves which of these two (very rough and ready) hypothetical General Election outcomes  they would prefer:

Conservatives 40% (360 seats) Labour 28% (205 seats) LibDems 20% (70 seats)

Conservatives 42% (380 seats) Labour 24% (195 seats) LibDems 25% (60 seats)

I’d prefer the second result, as I think it does much more to transform the political landscape. That is to say, at some ill-defined point, I care more about vote share than seats and would rather see us polling very impressively (but losing) in “moving forward” and “devlopment” seats than making a handful of tactical gains.

The implications for LibDem strategy could be huge – perhaps suggesting a shift of resources to nationwide communications rather than funnelling as much money as previously into marginals. It would be controversial too – and probably particularly unpalatable to incumbent MPs. But if we could beat Labour in vote share, that would be a quantum leap forward, even if it left us with fewer Parliamentarians than we might otherwise secure.

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Could Milburn become even more anti-Brown?

By Mark Littlewood
June 27th, 2009 at 8:13 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

alan-milburnAlan Milburn won’t be seeking re-election at the next election.

He wants to pursue other stuff, spend more time with his family etc etc.

But might there be a last parting shot?

Now wholly unshackled from any obligations to back Brown’s dying government, might he even go as far as endorsing another party in 2010?

If Brown clings on until the electorate finally deliver their damning verdict, don’t bet against it.

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+++Breaking news: Labour to propose electoral reform+++

By Mark Littlewood
June 9th, 2009 at 7:09 pm | 11 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

I know Gordon Brown and the Labour Party have the Midas touch at the moment :-) but I have a horrible feeling they might screw this up.

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Johnson would cut Cameron’s lead by 6%

By Mark Littlewood
June 8th, 2009 at 10:16 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in UK Politics

A ComRes poll for tomorrow’s Indy shows Johnson might drag Labour back towards hung Parliament territory.

In their wisdom, Labour have chosen electoral oblivion instead.

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Gordon Brown’s last week as Prime Minister

By Mark Littlewood
June 2nd, 2009 at 11:43 pm | 5 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

gordon-brownSurely, this really is the end for the hapless Brown. The betting must be he will no longer be Prime Minister by this time next week. Today’s shambolic string of resignations shows no one is steering the ship of state anymore.

Labour’s perfomance at the polls on Thursday will be somewhere between derisory and catastrophic.

If senior Labour figures have not prised his fingers from the Downing Street door frame by Monday, then they may have sentenced their party to death.  Tomorrow’s Guardian leader calls for Brown to be forced from office. Is there anyone who now thinks he should stay?

The smart money must now be on Labour winning between 100 and 149 seats at 17/2, in an election this September or October (10/1). And you can still get better than 2/1 on Alan Johnson as next Labour leader.

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