How much will the Harrogate fiasco cost the Lib Dems?

How much will the Harrogate fiasco cost the Lib Dems?

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    Why equidistance between the main parties should be Ming’s only policy

Recriminations are continuing within the Lib Dems over the cock-up in Harrogate at the weekend that caused almost all of the media to report that Ming would do a deal with Gord but not Dave.

Whether or not the leader was saying he favoured Labour really does not matter. What is key is how it was reported and the ammunition it will provide for both the Tories and Labour at election time.

What is critical is that the apparent Lib Dem backing for Labour runs counter to the views of large sections of those who vote for the party. Ming and his press officer were entering shark-infested waters on Sunday afternoon.

Party strategists should study the above carefully. This is from YouGov’s detailed data from its last poll and shows how supporters of the main parties split when asked several key questions. The conclusion is clear: party supporters are much less inclined to Labour then perhaps many activists think.

Although, as the table shows, Lib Dems are more inclined to back Labour on the economy they are split almost down the middle when asked the forced choice question – would you prefer a Cameron-led Tory government or a Brown-led Labour one?

The final two findings are even more problematical. While Lib Dems split 43%-37% on whether Cameron is doing a good job only 28% thing Gordon will prove to be a good Prime Minister against 39% who don’t think so.

In looking forward to the next election I have long taken the view that the Lib Dems will hold on to many more seats than the national swing suggests. After Sunday I am a lot less certain.

Mike Smithson

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