The media is going overboard on this whole “Lib Dem meltdown” thing. I would refer to you about my earlier comment about us not owning our narrative. But that is not the same thing as saying the narrative owns us.
So, I thought I’d start an irregular series on why things ain’t really all that bad.
Firstly, those opinion polls. It is laughable to claim this is the worst crisis we’ve experienced in 25 years when the worst polls we are getting are comparable to 2001 and the best comparable to November last year. There is simply no evidence of our voters abandoning us, and plenty of evidence that Cameron is starting to flag.
In terms of an overall sense of panic, you could claim that it is the worst since 1989, but that was when we went behind the Green Party in the European Elections and were pretty near bankrupt.
Secondly, our local base is still strong. One of the reasons I strongly doubt that Cameron will be able to make the inroads that the Tories are spinning he’ll make is that to the north and west of Ludlow (look it up on a map), the Tories are virtually nonexistent. They have no membership base upon which to build, and while they demonstrated in 2005 that they could buy in workers, it comes at a cost. With a national spending limit of Â£20 million (they spent Â£18 million in 2005) and a standing Electoral Commission recommendation to cut this in half, they will really struggle.
Our core supporter base will ensure that a national fall in voter share will have a reduced impact on number of seats. And if Cameron is trying to get the 130 seats he needs to form a majority, he won’t be able to dedicate too much time on targeting us.
To the point:
His claim that MPs plan to defect to the Tory party were dismissed by the Lib Dem camp as “bollocks” and without substance, according to a source from the shadow front bench.
Journalists who put great stock in the views of former Lib Dem PPCs should have a look here.
Talking of defectors, here is Cameron’s first bona fide scalp: Adrian Graves.
Who? Well, this “prominent” member is apparently the 2005 candidate for Suffolk West. He works in PR, yet isn’t so much of an expert that he could be bothered to sort out a decent photo for the party’s website.
Ho hum. I’ve always found defections a rather torrid thing – I’ve criticised the party’s decision to accept Paul Marsden and Brian Sedgemore in the past. They always seem to have more to do with some personal affront and an individuals over-inflated ego than anything else (“Look! At me! Stabbing my ex-colleagues in the back! Now, can I have a job please?”).
Still, the good news is that’s one less white middle class male we have to worry about standing next time.
Ian Dale is speculating that David Laws is about to defect to the blue rinses.
He may be right for all I know, although I suspect that if he were he’d be keeping his gob shut. But there is one point I would take issue with:
I’m told he only joined the LibDems in the first place because he felt the Conservatives were too illiberal on sexual issues … [This] is transparently untrue nowadays…
Huh? Is this another Conservative Party of which I was not previously acquainted? It is certainly true that there are a number of openly gay prominent Tories these days (Iain is of course one of them), but anyone who thinks the Tories are now the party of tolerance are in for a big surprise.
My challenge to Iain Dale is to visit Guido Fawkes’ blog and then come back and tell me that rampant homophobia isn’t still endemic in the modern Conservative Party.
Blood and Treasure (via Tim Worstall) has a couple of pertinent points to make to Guido and his Monkey pal as well.
The Times and The Guardian both have some interesting – but not very convincing – polls today.
The Times has a poll conducted by Populus in which people were asked if they recognised the candidates. Not surprisingly, Ming came top at 41%, Simon scored 34% and Huhne scored 4%. In and of itself, this is hardly surprising. Indeed, the good news for all three candidates is that if they get elected they are likely to end up very recognisable: Kennedy scores 83% and beats Waynec Rooney.
The Guardian meanwhile go all mystical on us:
The survey, which was carried out after Mark Oaten dropped out of the race but before he stood down as home affairs spokesman, draws on polling techniques used in the United States, which try to discover how people respond to the look and feel of candidates, rather than a specific political message. Research suggests many voters base lasting decisions on their initial response. Voters are shown a brief silent video clip of candidates at work before being asked for their response. For the first time, ICM used an internet panel.
On this basis, I’m not at all surprised that Hughes did well. He’s a good performer, no doubt about it. But is the Guardian seriously saying that it the sole criteria for electing a leader?
Even with that caveat, the small polling size makes the statistics so open to error as to be meaningless. And then there is the question of what bit of footage they chose for the three candidates.
All in all, this is pretty meaningless. I’m sure – quite reasonably – that Simon Hughes’ team will leap on it, but to what degree it will influence the outcome remains to be seen. Notwithstanding his interviews on Monday, Hughes remains remarkably the most low profile of the three candidates.