20 April 2010

Lib Dems up to 34% on YouGov... any of you Tories starting to get nervous out there?

Hopes among leading Tory strategists (leading Labour strategists have been somewhat quieter on this point, of which more later) that the Lib Dem surge would fade away are quashed by a poll for YouGov today which has the Lib Dems continuing to hoover up swing voters, up to 34% while the Tories fall to 31% and Labour slips further to 26% (although they won't be too worried as long as they're still within shouting distance of the Tories).

The dreadful Dave Cameron 'big pitch' party political broadcast from last night may have contributed to the Tories' decline, with Dave apparently ditching a broadcast attacking Labour at the last minute to deliver a vacuous speech to camera about how the Tories were the "real change." Great stuff Dave, except that Nick Clegg is selling your basic shtick a lot better than you are... Jesus Christ, the Tories must really be bricking themselves now. Their lead over Labour is almost certainly not enough to beat them in terms of number of seats, and meanwhile they are going to be handing a lot of seats over to the Lib Dems on this kind of swing.

If the Lib Dems maintain support at this level, the only thing that can really save Tory hopes of a majority is for the Labour vote to collapse to the low 20s - which I guess is just possible, but seems extremely unlikely. Certainly the Labour approach at the moment seems to be to have faith that their core vote will hold at the 25-30% mark, be nice to the Lib Dems (witness for example Peter Mandelson saying today that he can understand why people want to vote for them, pretty much an admission that New Labour is crap) and hit the Tories as hard as possible to help the Lib Dems as much as themselves. The Tory approach, by contrast - which involves hitting everybody else as much as possible - means they are spread thinly and looking negative.

The next leaders' debate is going to be fascinating. We know Cameron will try to hit the Lib Dems as hard as possible but what's Gordon Brown going to do? My guess is he'll offer some token skirmishes with Clegg but will turn the big guns on Dave.

YouGov also suggests that about 50% of the electorate would vote for the Lib Dems if they thought they could win a majority. Of course, if 50% really did vote for them, they'd probably win about 500 seats. Could it become a self-fulfilling bandwagon? We're not there yet. But there's still time.


Van Patten said...

Eeerily reminiscent of 1983 , and I think the honeymoon will be short-lived. It has been only a week, and once Europe is taken into account I think the Libdem vote will drop back down to its baseline level. I agree, however, that this tactic is similar to the disastrously unsuccessful campaign of Hague in '01, but nevertheless, Libdem policy on Europe, which is effectively: 'In Europe and run by Europe' would sign up to the complete destruction of the city of London and our effective reduction to Third World or colonial status. Whilst the focus groups might not like it, Cameron needs to make that point quite forcefully.

I do however, agree , that the relentless left-wing 'drift' of the UK in the last 13 years and the format of the current quasi-presidential nature of these debates means that impressionable voters with no real idea of what's going on may hold sway and in such a climate, the LDs thrive as they can effectively vary their policies to suit circumstances: moving from the fraudulent Eurosceptic line that plays so well in Cornwall, to the extreme, neo-Pyongyangite, pro Islamic extremist material on offer to appeal to Islamic Radicals in, say, Luton or Bow. It's a potent, and extremely dangerous cocktail. Nevertheless, I would advise against getting too optimistic. Recall how upset you were when Major prevailed in '92?

giroscoper said...

Good point but the difference between now and '92 is that there is very little evidence that there are swathes of Conservative voters hiding away somewhere, embarrassed to admit that they'll vote Tory. Also, all the pollsters changed their methodology after 1992 - and the polls taken just before the election have been considerably closer to the final result since then (although far from perfect, I'll admit). So it could just as easily be Labour voters that are being tight-lipped (because they're embarrassed about Gordon Brown).

I can understand you being upset that this looks like Game Over for the hard right in the UK but some measured reflection is in order. Surely Hague, for example, could make a comeback on a hard right platform if Cameron loses the general election and ends up stepping down?