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A masterclass in how not to conduct a political assasination

May 28th, 2014

 

Lord Oakeshott resigned today from the Lib Dems following the publication of those polls. He said “I am sure the party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change”

It also emerged there were other polls, that unsurprisingly showed Danny Alexander losing his seat, but very surprisingly Vince Cable losing Twickenham.

The always perceptive Damian Lyons Lowe of Survation and his colleagues have analysed the first batch of Oakeshott polls, and their analysis is (which should lessen the impact of the polls)

We believe that a candidate named, regular methodology poll from ICM would show Cambridge and Sheffield Hallam as clear Lib Dem holds. Tessa Munt is not 20 points adrift in Wells and that Redcar is a likely Labour gain on paper should be a surprise to no-one.

As a Conservative, I can tell Lord Oakeshott, the best way to replace a Leader, is not to stab them in the back, but to stab them in the front, usually publicly, as the late Lady Thatcher and Iain Duncan Smith can attest to.

I suspect the following will be the outcome from Lord Oakeshott’s manoeuvres, and not in the way he intended.

i) Nick Clegg is now in place until the election, the Oakeshott polling and the YouGov polling for The Times, shows those Lib Dems holding out for a hero to save them at the election will be disappointed, the Lib Dems won’t be doing better with another leader. It maybe the best or least worst option for Nick Clegg to take the hit in 2015 and allow the Lib Dems to regroup after the election.

On Saturday and Sunday I placed bets on Nick Clegg not to be leader at the General Election, on reflection, I’m not expecting those bets to be winners, as I’m not sure anyone else wants to lead the Liberal Democrats to an  epochal defeat in 2015, the likes of Tim Farron won’t want that on their CV.

ii) Given the single digit polling and anticipated seat losses, I wonder if the Lib Dem differentiation strategy may get increased further as a way of trying to boost themselves in the poll. A near wipe out at the European Elections maybe viewed as a harbinger for next year. Could the coalition end sooner than anticipated?

iii) Will Vince Cable have to resign? Without wanting to go all Howard Baker, What did Vince Cable know and when did he know it? There appears to be some confusion on what he did know.  According to the Guardian 

Cable has admitted that he was aware of the anti-Clegg polling being conducted by Oakeshott. He did not know that Oakeshott was polling in Clegg’s constituency, and in Danny Alexander’s, he said. But – contrary to the impression he gave yesterday – he was aware of the other polling being carried out. That other polling included questions designed to show whether the Lib Dems would do better with Cable as leader. Earlier Sir Menzies Campbell said he would be surprised if Cable had know about this.

It takes a very special kind of talent to miss your target, and potentially fatally damage the career of the man you’d like to be the new Leader  though I think Vince is safe judging by this tweet.

 

TSE