Tories Caught in Lib Dem Headlights 22

I have always been fascinated by psephology, and one of my favourite websites is, where Mike Smithson dispenses much wisdom.

Like most UK political websites, the bulk of his commenters have a right wing slant. The comments were dismissive of all the opinion polls saying that Nick Clegg had won the leaders’ debate. Wait until the first regular YouGov voting intentions poll, they opined, and we would see the Tories are romping it.

Well, the YouGov poll came out last night and is in itself now driving the news agenda. Tory 33, Lib Dem 30, New Labour 28 is a revolution in British politics so close to an election. The entire dynamics of this election have now changed.

The polling question “Would you vote Lib Dem if you thought they could win” has almost always, since 1973, given the Lib Dems a hypothetical largest share of the vote. Well, the proposition is about to be tested for real.

This is a huge blow to the Tories. The silver spooned Eton generation were expecting to breeze to a coronation by acclamation, and looking forward to redistributing wealth to the wealthy.

Now Cameron has been revealed as an empty vessel, they really don’t know what to do. Cameron’s immediate reaction perhaps goes down as the worst timed and most implausible political lie in British electoral history. The Daily Telegraph headline on his interview screamed in full banner across page 1 of the print editions “It Is Still A Two Horse Race Says Cameron”.

This was patently untrue and embarassingly crass. What does it amount to? “You’ve got to vote for me because…you’ve got to. You’ve just got to. There is no other choice” (blubs). Not exactly brilliant politics by Cameron. In fact the Daily Telegraph is so embarassed by it they have actually changed this main headline online this morning.

But the content of the interview is still as weak. The Tories appear to be coming round – spearheaded by the odious weaselly second home flipping neo-con Michael Gove – to an emergency ditching of the whole Cameron project to end the “Nasty party” tag. Gove is going for right wing populism.





Problem is they have tried that before, I seem to remember. The Tories are well and truly mesmerised by the Lib Dem headlights.

And about to be squished!

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22 thoughts on “Tories Caught in Lib Dem Headlights

  • Vronksy

    “It Is Still A Two Horse Race Says Cameron”

    That has been the La[i]b and Tory dictum in Scotland for years. Last several outings the third horse won.

  • Tom Coady

    I want to see more of George Osbourne! If anyone can put people off the Tories I think he’s slightly ahead of Cameron and Gove.

  • Duncan

    It may depend how the other two debates go, the first having raised the profile of the remainder. With one on warfare, climate change and counter terrorism, there’s every reason to be optimistic about the ‘foreign affairs’ one and in the economy one… we’ve already one one of those; we just need Nick to channel as much of Vince as possible. I suspect we might well lose the devolved debates especially if it will be Salmond against Alasdair Carmichael but going into an election with 4/6 of the debates under our belt and the remainder having been won by the SNP and Plaid would not be a bad position to be in.

  • Craig


    Alasdair Carmichael and I were Scottish Liberal Students together 30 years ago. You are not allowed to be disparaging about Alasdair on this blog!

  • Subrosa

    Oh dear Craig, calling the tories the silver-spooned generation in the same sentence as Nick Clegg is perhaps a little strange.

    Nick Clegg is also very silver-spooned coming from d Dutch/Russian background. His ancestors are every bit as ‘posh’ as David Cameron’s. Clegg admits to having had an ‘affluent’ upbringing.

    He went to Westminster school and Cambridge. Not much difference between there and Eton at all.

    Just thought I’d point this out – all in the fairness of equality of course. 🙂

  • MJ

    “Tory 33, Lib Dem 30, New Labour 28 is a revolution in British politics so close to an election”

    I think you’re getting a bit carried away Craig. It’s just a poll taken within 24 hours of a leadership debate that Clegg won by a short head.

    The question asked was a hypothetical and rather fanciful one. “Would you vote Lib Dem even if you thought they couldn’t win” would be a more telling and realistic one and would probably deliver a rather different result.

  • Terry

    Talking to Tories on the ground, they’re devastated. Cameron’s performance was totally woeful. He ought to have been cruising it, given how bad Labour are doing.

    Blair was 20pts ahead coming up to 1997.

    There’s just no flow to the Tories and Cameron’s nervousness showed that he knows it too.

    I’m afraid he’ll just be another Tory leader consigned to resignation and failure.

    This is a real moment for the Lib Dems.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I’m not a Lib Dem voter but i certainly prefer their leader and most of his policies to the other two main party leaders.

    Like you i wish they’d take a stand against the war in Afghanistan Craig – and it’s also disappointing that they’ve not said they’d end PFIs/PPPs, nor that they’d renationalise the railways.

  • Anonymous

    well im prepared to give em a chance….i mean lets be honest, no one can do worse

  • ishmael

    For all New Labour’s failings, i think it is just me but did anyone notice that however bad the ruling regime was the Conservatives said nothing. They simply have nothing but bus stop policies. That will cost you dear.And if anyone was unsure about the bloke who runs this site he has an excellent grasp of Gove. The Tories are a paper mouse.

  • Nasir Ali

    I think you are overly optimistic. By the time the polling day comes round, the brain-washed British public will vote for the two-horse system. And even if a substantial number voted for the third horse, the system will undo this and either Tories or New Labour will be in the majority. I do hope, though, that I am wrong.

  • Paul Amery

    Well said re. Gove. the guy is a nasty piece of work, one of the worst warmongers of the lot in the early part of last decade. I detest Brown and Blair but the thought of Cameron Osbourne and Gove coming to power turns my stomach.

  • Paul Johnston

    I think the point is well made. But a single poll or oe such as you quoted can be dismissed (just like Subrosa did). Then there is the poll tomorrow in the Mail on Sunday -no friend of Clegg, that has the Lib Dems in the lead. There is a BPIX poll has topline figures of CON 31%(-7), LAB 28%(-3), LDEM 32%(+12). That’s the biggest drop for Conservatives so far, and the biggest surge for the Lib Dems ?” and it puts the Liberal Democrats up in first place. There is also a OnePoll survey in the People, that shows CON 27%, LAB 23%, LDEM 33%.

    Seismic shift in some ways – of course may not be deliverable – but it is no ‘error’ in polling.

  • amk

    The BBC online news story contains these passages:

    “A ComRes poll of 1,006 people for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday puts the Conservatives on 31%, the Lib Dems on 29% and Labour on 27%.”

    “When the results of the ComRes poll were fed into the BBC’s seat calculator, it showed Labour would still have the most seats with 279, the Conservatives 239 seats and the Lib Dems 103 seats and others 29 seats.”

    Seat calculators in my experience tend to be accurate too.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I wonder whether there is an element of the viewing public – and I use that term, ‘viewing’ deliberately – which because of the dominance of passive, aspirational TV programming over the past decade, has become inured to voting-as-entertainment. I suspect a similar dynamic has come to apply in relation to presidential-style TV debates: “Who was the best actor with the snappiest repartee? Whom should be voted ‘out of the house’?”

    I’m aware that not all the polls were taken following the TV debate. Nonetheless, the dynamic applies more generally in politics. I’m not sure that this kind of voting/ polling will be reflected on polling-day. I think that a certain proportion of Conservatives don’t tend to take part in polls/ TV voting. We shall see what happens on polling-day.

    I suspect that a lot of Labour supporters will stay at home, the Lib Dems as usual will get an increased proportion of the vote but it will do them little good re. seats in the Westminster system, and the Conservative vote will be (relatively) high – though I think this time around we may see the lowest turnout ever or maybe somewhere just above that of 2005. I think the Conservatives will win. I am not a Conservative.

  • Parky

    @ Suhayl, I suspect you will be correct in the final analysis. The voting system has evolved and been maintained over time to produce the results that the establishment wants. i.e. a two horse race with nothing very much between them. The Tories are obviously empty and shallow maybe even bland, but can we expect much more of British politicians?

    Also regarding your point about aspirational television I think is true. Recently in Manchester there were the auditions for X-factor TV show which I understand were swamped over several days by members of the public eager to become well known and get elevated to fame and fortune (at least for a short time). It would appear that the majority of the applicants were young and from working class backgrounds. It seems that for many the idea of bettering yourself comes from involvement in reality television and not through higher education, self-discipline and study.


  • Suhayl Saadi

    Thanks, Parky.It’s all so depressing, isn’t it.

    Have you ever seen a film called, ‘Privilege’ – a political satire from over 40 years ago? I first watched this Pual Jones vehicle in the early 1980s and it seemed very prescient then wrt ‘Saatchi and Saatchi’ and Thatcher’s adoption of a sort of ‘Marriage of Maria Braun’ mask as normative performance technique – but even more so now.

    The Situationists saw it all coming. As did Aldous H.

    Where’s the anger? Where’s the real debate about the system? Where, indeed, is politics?

  • Parky

    …Suhayl, I will check it out, I have heard of it mentioned before. One other film to look out for is “Idiocracy” a more recent satire and although not biting was food for thought.

  • P Baker

    After the last TV debate, YouGov asked: “How would you vote on May 6 if you thought the Liberal Democrats had a significant chance of winning the election”. The responses: Lib Dem 49%, Conservative 25%, Labour 19%. If this actually happened there would be 548 Lib Dem MPs, 41 Labour MPs and just 25 Tories.

    The message here seems to be, vote for what you really want to happen, and it will.

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