Is this the backcloth to Clegg’s tax cutting approach?

Is this the backcloth to Clegg’s tax cutting approach?


    What should the Lib Dems do when the Tories are advancing?

The latest Lib Dem approach to taxation and public spending is very different from what we are used to from the party – remember the penny extra in the pound for education and them being the only party at previous elections prepared to increase rates for the well off?

This is going to cause fierce debates within Clegg’s party but I wonder whether the new young leader is sensing that the nature of his party support is changing. Just look at the polling finding reproduced above and in particular the responses of Lib Dem supporters in the final column.

One trend that I track closely is the response to the monthly forced choice question in the Telegraph’s YouGov poll over whether voters would prefer a Tory government led by Cameron to a Labour one led by Brown. In particular I look at how Lib Dem voters split which is available from the detailed data.

For long periods the Lib Dems were mostly in favour of Labour. For several months, until June, LD backers have split fairly evenly on the question. In May it was 40-40-20 while in March and April Brown had a small lead.

The latest figures point to the biggest pro-Tory split on the question amongst declared Lib Dem voters that we have ever seen and undermines the conventional assumption that Lib Dem voters are as left-wing as many of the party’s activists.

This is perhaps the backcloth for Nick Clegg and his colleagues as they try to steer the right course between the big parties. How can they argue a distinctive approach that keeps both Labour and Conservative waverers on board? Maybe this explains what seems to be a major U-turn on taxation and public spending policy?

Seepage to the Tories particularly in the seats they hold is their biggest challenge at the next election and Clegg’s message on spending cuts seems designed to impede that. At the same time the other part of the package for the least well off could help in their Labour targets.

  • New innovation on Electoral Calculus: Martin Baxter has produced a variation on his commons seat calculator that allows you to have non-uniform swing across the regions, especially to handle Scotland, Wales and other regions that might not be as Conservative-friendly as the country as a whole. It’s available in beta form here.
  • UPDATE 1045

    Rest of the Day – For the rest of the day I am in London helping my son and his family move house so won’t be monitoring the site.

    Scheduled to be published at 4pm is “PB Election Countdown: What makes marginals different?”. This is a re-run of a great guest slot from last year by Blair Freebairn which made me looking at the coming battle in a completely different way.

    Automatic moderation of comments from posters the server does not recognise is still on. It might mean that there are delays in freeing them.

    Mike Smithson

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