The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘lib dems’ tag

On the Lib Dem leadership race…

without comments

We have two horses in the starting stalls in the race to rebuild the Liberal Democrat party and they have two very different jockeys saddling up on them. First to clamber on to his horse was Norman Lamb, an MP I didn’t really know. He’s seen as the more ‘Cleggite’ candidate and has the support of Dappy from N-Dubz. Then Tim Farron jumped aboard a horse and was quickly dubbed the favourite. Farron is seen as more receptive to the grass roots but he has questions to answer about his faith in relation his LGBT issues.

He has already come out and said that he regrets abstaining on the final reading of the Same Sex Marriage bill and that the reason was because of minor amendments in the bill and not because he was actually against the principle. In 2012 he wrote about how he believed that God could heal, which also got the membership up in arms as believing in faith and not science doesn’t sit too well with many. I defended him on that to some degree believing that people should be free to believe what they want to believe and Tim clarified his position a couple of days later after everyone attacked him.

Tim is the prohibitive favourite and rightly so. His campaign has been years in the making and he has clearly positioned himself on the centre-left of the party which is where many of the party want the Lib Dems to shift over into. The party whilst not split in two is clearly in two factions, one that believes in being socially left leaning but economically right leaning and those who are left with regards to both. This has led to some people just not dealing with the coalition well at all because any deal with a right-wing party just not sitting well with them no matter the reality of the situation. So the two potential leaders will need to be able to temper both factions if they are going to completely unite the party.

Not knowing Norman too well I was glad that when I turned on the idiot box yesterday morning and he was on the Sunday Politics and boy was I disappointed. He interviewed very poorly and the main thing I got from him was that Tim has questions to answer with regards to his stance on SSM and then he went on about one example of being a good constituency MP, which I don’t think stands him apart from any other Lib Dem MPs. To be a leader I think you have to be able to be comfortable in front of the camera as well as impressive and he just didn’t tick either of those two boxes. I’ll obviously give him another chance but I was turned off rather quickly.

Knowing that most people I know were already backing Tim, I suppose it is just my typical wanting to be different self that meant I hadn’t made up my mind as yet. I think pretty clearly that Tim is the right leader for the current state of play. The party needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up and get the activist base enthused again and that means in general speaking to the liberal base. He will get them engaged and as much as I hate the fact that its true, you need a good speaker and this is something Labour have been hurt by with Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, neither are impressive nor comfortable on TV and whilst David Cameron isn’t great, he’s passable and of course even those that detest Nick Clegg would admit he’s comfortable and impressive in front of the TV cameras and I think Tim has a clear edge over Norman at this point.

I don’t think it would shock anyone to hear that my ideal leader is Nick Clegg but I think that he had to resign because the country had made it clear what they thought. The party has taken a five-year kicking and whilst I do genuinely think with every passing bill, the country will start missing the Liberal Democrat influence in government, Nick has been very unfairly tarred by his tuition fees stance and leading the party into a coalition. He had to step down not because he wasn’t the best leader we had but because he wasn’t what the party needed nor the country wanted.

Norman has a lot to prove in my opinion if he is to show that he is the right man for the job. Tim is a more than able communicator, will speak to the base more effectively than Norman and seems like the person who is best positioned to not just re-engage the activist base but also engage with the new members and attract back liberal members and voters who deserted the party over the past five years.

This leadership election is about who is best placed to get the activist base up, the councillor base up and in turn get more Lib Dem MPs in five years time and all the while get more people to vote Lib Dem not because they are the least-worst option in a seat but because they believe in the Lib Dems and their values. We found out this year that too much of the Lib Dem vote was borrowed from other parties because they wanted the Lib Dems to beat someone else. This isn’t a good long-term business model. The more people that vote Lib Dem because they want Lib Dem the better and I think Tim is probably the best man for the gig.

I’m not ruling out voting and backing Norman but he is a long-way behind in my mind and the finishing post is fast approaching.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 18th, 2015 at 9:43 am

Posted in Politics

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On Nick Clegg…

with 2 comments

From more popular than Winston Churchill to being less popular than me in Speedo’s. It has been quite the ride for the former leader of the Lib Dems and whilst the country turned against him due to him being an easy target, he should go to bed at night knowing that lives are better because of what he did than what would have happened had he not acted how he did in 2010.

You see I’m a long-term liberal but a short-term member having joined in 2011 during the coalition. I liked Paddy Ashdown (he visited my school in the 1997 General Election campaign but I wasn’t allowed to meet him because I wasn’t deemed important enough), I liked Charles Kennedy, I was indifferent to Sir Menzies Campbell but I loved Nick Clegg. Why was this?

The reason is simple, Nick was a economic realist but a passionate liberal. He did offer something different to what we had seen before. He was a breath of fresh air. You felt that he could take his vision of liberalism and imprint it on to the masses. Most of all you felt that his burning desire to make the world that little bit better was coupled with him just being a bloody good bloke. I am a Nick Clegg guy but I also know that his time had passed thanks to what the electorate did last week.

I know many Lib Dems do not like Nick Clegg and believe going into a coalition government with the Tories was against everything we as a party stood for. I understand their PoV but I vehemently disagree. You can have ideals and a vision but unless enough people back them then you can’t enact them. Instead you have to be pragmatic. I have always said that it is better to do some good when you can than not do any good if you can’t get everything that you want.

The tuition fees issue was disgracefully reported by the media and indeed leapt upon by other political parties. The Lib Dems kinda shot themselves in the foot over it but in reality the Lib Dems would never have realistically been able to stick to that pledge. Both Labour and the Tories knew of the financial situation regarding further education and both would have put up fees so the Lib Dems in another coalition would have had to bring down a government because of it or voted for a rise. Damned either way. Would the country have praised Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems for bringing down a government over this issue at a time of economic instability? I suspect not.

Personally I think Nick grew into the role of being Deputy Prime Minister and his role within the coalition. He did seem ‘too comfortable’ within the first couple of years but his facade was covering lots of work behind the scenes. I’ve heard from multiple sources about the fire fights in Whitehall as the Lib Dems led by Nick threw water on Tory proposals left, right and centre. The party couldn’t win every fight but boy they were putting up quite the fight considering the influence their representation deserved.

The party wasn’t the radical party that Lib Dems believe they are but the party was curbing Tory excesses and getting progress on several real liberal values. The job Nick Clegg and the parliamentary party did was nothing short of miraculous and in time their role in the government of the United Kingdom 2010-2015 will be truly appreciated.

I have no idea what Nick will do next but I personally will always adore his brand of liberalism and near enough everything he did whilst leading the Lib Dems. Could he have done things better? Sure, none of us do everything right, for example I have drunk from 1000s of cans and yet still every so often I miss my mouth and pour coke down my t-shirt. He fought the good fight and was learning from his mistakes but his biggest mistake was believing that the electorate would appreciate the nuance of coalition government. Alas they didn’t. In the next five years we’ll truly find out whether the 2010-2015 government was a centre-right coalition or just a right-wing one propped up by the Lib Dems. The early signs seems to dictate that it was the former.

So whoever takes over as leader, Norman Lamb or prohibitive favourite Tim Farron, they have giant shoes to fill. Nick Clegg led us into government but whilst in two elections he saw a reduction of Lib Dem MPs, he made a difference. He wasn’t just an idealist but also a realist. I want a leader who has a view of liberalism but also has a view of liberalism within the context of the United Kingdom in the early 21st Century. I want someone who’ll fight for what good he can get and not just fight for good for the cameras knowing they he can’t actually deliver.

Nick Clegg was a divisive leader because he wasn’t radical enough. People thought that he should have been more radical and more progressive but he fought for what he could get and not for what he wanted. Do we want to be true to ourselves but get nowhere or do we want to be willing to compromise but actually achieve something? That is a question many of us have to look at ourselves in the mirror and answer.

We can be radical and progressive but also we need to know when to say when. Nick did and without a shadow of a doubt, young pupils have a better start in life thanks to his role in government, people are free to marry who they want, people earn more money before they start paying tax, more people are in work, shared parental leave, two million apprenticeships, the triple lock on pensions and plenty more. We did well. Could we have done better? Sure but everyone could always do better with a mulligan.

So be proud Nick Clegg. You are a great man and were a great leader. You got pilloried by the public and by many other politicians but in time people will realise just how good you were. I can only hope Norman or Tim can carry on the flame and even if they do it in a different way, they can learn a lot from you as a politician but just as much from you as a person.

Finally Nick, thank you for making me believe that the country can become a more liberal and tolerant society. We all have a Utopian vision but you were the first leader to actually make a step towards that and for that, I’m grateful and so should we all.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 14th, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Posted in Politics

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On the Liberal Democrats difficult teenage years and trying to get dates and positive attention…

with 3 comments

So you are essentially the early 20-something who has just finished university and moved home and isn’t exactly sure what the future holds. You’ve been the spotty kid that no-one really liked but importantly no-one really disliked either. Then briefly in 2010 everyone noticed you as you had found some excellent spot cream and were looking all fresh and exciting. The watching world had become bored with the usual options and they wanted to try something new.

One problem though, people agreed to go on a date with you and suddenly you weren’t all fresh faced and new and instead you turned out to be a bit of a douche who went back on his word the first time you met and reminded you of those you had dated before and had decided to move on from. So you got ditched quicker than most people ditch the pointless salad that comes with a Burger in a cafe and everyone was bad mouthing you and no-one would hang out with you except your own kind, the thing is your own kind seemed to disappear into the ether as well.

You then went through university dateless with no-one wanting to even listen to you let alone be seen in public with you. People drifted to other potential beaus and remembered the douchebags they had been with before might not have been that much of a douchebag after all. The people that got so paranoid that they went to war suddenly didn’t seem so bad and the people that hated the poor might not really have hated the poor and might be better than you remembered.

Then suddenly new kids arrived and they were really fresh faced and they were saying things that you really wanted to hear, more half priced drinks at the student bar that someone else would pay for, no need for homework and the promise that the library porn filters would be taken down between certain hours during the day. It sounded amazing and everyone wanted to hang around with them instead of you.

Towards the end of the course people started noticing you more. You weren’t a spotty kid that didn’t know what you were doing any more. You could unfasten a girls bra with one hand and you’d been having around with the bad kids but you had been rubbing off on them and they were still eating copious amounts of pheasant but they were doing it in private instead of eating it right in front of those who couldn’t afford it and their plan to put keyloggers on all the library computers was stopped by you and one stern look.

You had made them better people and wanted to keep hanging out with them because you could curb their arseholeness but people didn’t think you were the reason they stopped acting like douches and decided that instead of hanging around with you, they would shun you to teach you a lesson about growing up and for not acting exactly how they thought you would on that first date several years before.

As university ended and you went home you were surprised how many people missed you. People started to get in contact who had thought you were awful throughout university but realised that they hadn’t given you a proper chance after that one bad date. You got in touch with a lot of your friends from around the country and they were reporting back something similar. Lots of people seemed to be giving similar people more of a chance and wanted to hang out with you more. You hoped that this would continue and people would listen to you and not just dismiss you out of hand for something you did years ago.

People understood that you weren’t the spotty kid to ignore any more but also you weren’t the lying toe-tag that everyone actually thought you were. You were just like them, growing up and were now someone to speak to and listen to and to generally hang out with. No-one is in love with you but those you thought hated you seemingly started to realise that you weren’t as bad as what everyone had said. You had taken your knocks and had grown up. You were still trying to find your place in the world but instead of being down and out and fearing for the future, you were enthused that the future could still be positive and things would get better.

Long story short folks. The Lib Dems are not just the party of protest any more. The Lib Dems have been a party of government and have made difficult decisions. The time is now for people to talk about the liberal philosophy as an ideal to aspire to. It isn’t solely about being ‘Labour-lite’ or ‘Socially Labour but Economically Tory’ – it is about giving people actual options. People shouldn’t vote for the Lib Dems because ‘they are the best placed to stop a party we really don’t like’ – we need to inform people about what a liberal future could be. I think many people understand this now and if the party are ever going to play a role in national government again then it’ll have to be because people want a liberal way and aren’t just voting against somebody else.

The Lib Dems have gone through their very difficult teenage years and many people didn’t like us but as adults people look less at how we were as children or as teenagers but how we act as adults. It is time to be proud of growing up. Over 8,000 people have joined the Lib Dems in the past few days because they actually believe in a liberal way to make their area a better place, do you want to join them? If so then click on the link and join the 50,000+ people who want to make this country a better place for all and not just for those in society who we think vote for us.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 12th, 2015 at 10:53 am

Posted in Politics

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On the Lib Dem (and other parties) record on gay rights and equal marriage…

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Equal marriage. Something that has recently come about and an issue that is still causing some ramifications across various western democracies. Some people are concerned that by allowing people of the same sex to marry that it is an affront to God.

The bible states that a marriage is between a man and a women is two places. Genesis 2:24, ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh’ and Matthew 19:4-5 where Jesus said, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one?’

Yeah. A book of stories from 2,000 plus years ago really has any resemblance to modern day life. As if. At best the bible should be an indicator of living a good life but anyone who takes it literally word for word is someone I worry about.

You see I have a very simple outlook on life. Some may say too simple. I simply think that people should be allowed to live their lives in a way that would make them the most happy as long as your actions don’t effect anyone else’s happiness. If what someone does doesn’t effect another then who are we to say that they shouldn’t act like that? A man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman effects no-one negatively. It doesn’t anger the big man (should he exist, which in all likelihood he doesn’t) because should he exist, then he wants to see his children happy.

This brings me to this video. Two Lib Dems, who I may or may not have met at Conference (I think I have but I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it – I can’t remember) put together the following embedded video about equal marriage. They got married and seem excessively happy for having done so.

Equal marriage was something the Lib Dems have been positive about for a long time and something the party should be very proud of. They brought in legislation (that wouldn’t have happened had the party not been in coalition) that hasn’t harmed anyone and instead has just brought happiness to some. It is essentially legislation with no feasible drawbacks. Yes some people will say its immoral but in all honesty, does it effect them and their lives in any tangible way if two people of the same sex get married? Of course it doesn’t. That’s absolute tripe.

So watch the below video about the recent history of gay people and how their lives have intertwined with the political parties. It is something that I think it is very fair to say is a real tick for the Lib Dems. I know they aren’t flavour of the month for many because of tuition fees and because they couldn’t stop everything the Tories wanted to do but instead of concentrating on what the party didn’t do in government, concentrate on the positive things and this is one of them. Two people are happier than they would have been without equal marriage legislation.

Isn’t that what life is all about? It is hard enough to find happiness in this world without some people’s ill-conceived prejudices. So good on the Lib Dems for pushing forward with legislation to help make people happy. Marriage is not about God but is about two people wanting to show their loved ones that they are in love. More people now have that freedom than they did before and that can’t be a bad thing…

You can read all the text from the video here.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 28th, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Politics

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On Lord Ashcroft Polling, Iain Dale’s Predictions & Odds – Sheffield Hallam Special Edition

with 4 comments

STOP THE PRESSES. The Big Cheese is going down. After a dramatic new poll Nick Clegg’s defeat in Sheffield Hallam is all but certain. Yes in the biggest shock since me going through a whole Marks & Spencer food shop without anyone looking down on me, Clegg is going down in one of the most affluent constituencies in the country to a Labour Party who aren’t even campaigning, are generally hated in that part of the country and aren’t trusted to run the economy. You’d have thought well-off people would care about this kind of thing but apparently not. Go unknown guy whose standing for Labour, your dreams are coming true.

This though relies on a poll of 1001 people and takes into account some ‘interesting’ findings the closer you look into it. I have looked deep into the Lord Ashcroft polling several times in recent weeks and I find that the deeper you look, the more information you get that doesn’t back-up the headline numbers.

For example, they are using the understanding that 23% of the electorate will be over 65 compared to 17% in the 18-24 age-range. We all know that the retired age range vote far more than younger people and of course they have a much large expanse of ages to come from. The likelihood that the 18-24 age range provides 75% of the votes compared to over 65 is low. It is much more likely that the retired generation will at least double the amount of votes that the 18-24 age range provides. Why is this important?

Well the 65+ age range is the best for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, 47% of 65+ year-olds in this poll say that will vote for the Lib Dems compared to 23% who say this will vote for Labour. This isn’t a surprise as the older generation will remember the days when Labour were really disliked in these parts. The 18-24 age range has Labour up big (49-17) and if you look at that data list, you’ll see that the older you are, the more likely it is you’ll vote LD and the less likely it is you’ll vote Labour. This is very good news for the big cheese.

Another surprise in the polling is that men are more likely to vote Labour than women. This goes against the popular theory that women are more likely to lean Labour than men but actually backs up Lib Dem internal polling that says that women are coming back into the fold at a faster rate than men. This is thought to be because women look more logically at where to place their vote and less emotionally. Men feel betrayed by Clegg and the Lib Dems and refuse to consider them more than women, who whilst feeling betrayed are more willing to give them a second chance.

One last thing to note from this poll – the vast majority of respondents believe that the economy is on the right track at the moment. 75% of people believe the economy will do very well or quite well over the course of the next year for them and their families. This again looks good for Clegg as he’s part of the reason the economy is going the way it is.

So whilst the politicos and the twitterati and of course journalists are all looking at the headline number and getting a little bit too excited, not all the facts support the headline results.

Lets look at what Iain Dale has to say on Sheffield Hallam…

Sitting MP: Nick Clegg (LibDem)
Prediction: LibDem hold

This used to be a Tory seat, but it would take a political earthquake for them to take it off Nick Clegg. Interestingly the Labour vote has started to rise, but not enough to cause the LibDems to panic. Yet. If the LibDems are obliterated, then Clegg will probably be obliterated too, but if they retain around half their seats, this ought to be one of them. Or will there be a Clegg effect, which means the LibDems will fare worse here than elsewhere.

So Iain is sticking with the Lib Dem hold line and that seems to be a constant throughout most people who are actually predicting the seat. I did read a post earlier that was dated just a couple of weeks back that said this was a genuine three-way marginal and the Tories were in play. Boy and some people think I have tinted specs…

Betfair still have the Lib Dems as the favourite at a 60% chance to win the seat with Labour on 37%. This is a high number for Labour and takes into account very much the headline numbers from the latest LA poll. However when it comes to the actual odds, the Lib Dems and Clegg are still sitting at shorter than 1/2 at most places with Labour edging in towards 6/4. I have to say there are far better 6/4 shots around in this election than putting your money down on a Labour win here. I remember Julian Huppert at 9/2 to hold in Cambridge and you can’t even get him at evens any more…

All the talk on the front line is that Nick is looking good. Labour are putting up a skeleton campaign and the Tories aren’t going hard after Clegg believing that their time and money are best used in genuine marginals. Nick is having to work harder than many expected and his margin of victory will drop considerably. Yet still the polling and those who get excited about Nick’s potential defeat in Hallam keeps this story in the news. I genuinely wonder why. If you are looking for a big wig to go down then look at Danny Alexander, Caroline Lucas, Alex Salmond, Nigel Farage, they are all a far better chance at losing than Nick Clegg.

Still I could be wrong and the affluent people of Sheffield Hallam are going to vote for a party that wants to crush well-off people just to spite Nick Clegg. It could happen but I could also open a packet of M&S Triple Chocolate Cookies and not eat the whole packet in one sitting. Both are as likely as each other.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 1st, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Politics

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On Lord Ashcroft Polling, Iain Dale’s Predictions and Odds – Portsmouth South edition

with one comment

Ah Pompey South. My old stomping grounds. Yes I know I never lived in the constituency but anyone who was brought up a liberal in the area would always gaze wistfully at the seat. Being brought up in the Havant constituency, you knew David Willetts was waltzing in without too much drama.

Mike Hancock, old scuffball himself, has held on by his fingernails in this seat for a generation. Still his time is up and whilst he is standing as an independent, his odds of being sensationally returned to the seat as the MP are long, real long. They are longer than me scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final for Pompey next season and if anyone has seen Pompey (or me) play football recently then you know that you shouldn’t be taking the 50/1 on offer from the bookies for Mike Hancock to win here (seriously, 50/1? How tight are bookies being?)

Lets look at Iain Dale’s prediction first for this seat:

Sitting MP: Mike Hancock (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

This seat is now a genuine three way marginal. The LibDems are confident of retaining it despite the Hancock scandal. His successor is the former LibDem leader of the local council. That is a double edged sword as council leaders generally have a lot of enemies.This seat has never had a huge LibDem majority since it was won by Mike Hancock in 1997. It’s always ranged between three and six thousand. It’s difficult to assess the impact of the groping scandal, but on top of their national woes, it could be that the Tories win back what was once for them a safe seat.

Hancock has failed to squeeze the Labour vote as much as some of his colleagues, and not so long ago they managed a healthy 25%. If they return to those levels the Tories will win, unless Labour do incredibly well nationally. In that case a Labour gain isn’t out of the question.

I’d very much contest the notion of this being a three-way marginal. This is a two-way seat. It is blue or it is orange. Labour have never won this seat and in all honesty they’ve never been close. In the Blair landslide of 1997, they were still 15% shy and third behind the Lib Dems and the Tories. Portsmouth South just isn’t Labour territory, the anti-Tory vote has been encircled by the Lib Dems and whilst some of these votes will drift away because of both the Hancock saga and the national issue, that vote will go to UKIP. So lets scratch Labour off the potential winners here despite Lord Ashcroft’s constituency poll of November 2014.

In said poll, Labour were third on 20% behind the Tories (30%), Lib Dems (25%) and just ahead of UKIP (17%). On the surface that looks encouraging for three of the four parties and not so for the Lib Dems. Yet when it comes to casting a ballot at the ballot box, the people of Portsmouth South know they have three real options. Firstly the Tories, secondly the Lib Dems and thirdly the protest vote and that would go to UKIP.

The headline number of the Lib Dems being 5% behind in the Ashcroft Poll was actually not half as bad as it could have been. I do hear things from the ground in the constituency because I still know a lot of people in the area. The support for UKIP is significant but not enough to really contemplate a win. They are looking to act as a spoiler and build for the future. So this election will come down to whether the Lib Dems can keep most of the anti-Tory vote or whether that drifts to the Greens, UKIP or even Labour. The Lib Dems need to retain 80% of the vote that was purely Anti-Tory to win. A tough ask.

Flick Drummond is the Conservative candidate who has good local credentials. The Tories are really attacking this seat and you can see why they are the favourites across the board. However I am surprised that aren’t shorter than they are. On the exchanges they are available at 8/11 and are rated as a 42% chance of winning by Betfair. The Lib Dems have a 27% chance of winning with UKIP and Labour sub 10% (with again the ‘others’ at 17% – others in this instance being the Greens – I am thinking Betfair are overcompensating for the Greens in Lib Dem held seats).

I think Mike Hancock standing is a much bigger blow than Gerald Vernon-Jackson was saying on South Today this evening. He is saying internal polling says it makes little difference and whilst it might not, there will be people who go into the ballot box on May 7 and put their x next to Mike Hancock without thinking.

The Tories are available at Evens if you look around and that is a cracking price. I’d like to see GVJ pull through but I think it’s a real tough one. The Lib Dems are available at 6/4 and that is too short. I think Ashcroft’s polling is wrong in that the Labour vote will drop significantly as Labour voters in Pompey South will lend their vote but I really do expect the Tories to squeak this one out by 2,000 or so. For GVJ to pull through then the UKIP vote has to come from over 50% ex Tory voters and I think it’ll be smaller than that, with a smattering of LDs, Lab and former non-voters making up the majority of UKIP’s vote.

I do hope I’m wrong on this one but I think the Tories finally wrestle back Portsmouth South but it is a seat that will go down to the final days of campaigning and if Nick Clegg performs well in that final Question Time seven days out from voting day then that alone could sway it but the smart money is on the blues (which is very rare to say in Pompey these days – I’m still backing you Andy – you can turn things around!)

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Written by neilmonnery

March 30th, 2015 at 6:31 pm

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On comparing Lord Ashcroft, Iain Dale, Lib Dem Polling & Odds – Hornsey & Wood Green Edition

without comments

Lynne Featherstone. Known to most as a fantastic grass roots campaigner and a passionate women’s rights activist. Known to me as someone who stopped following me on twitter (boo…). Yet still I’m not bitter, a load of Lib Dems have stopped following me on twitter including the DPM and the @LibDems account themselves. What have I done to you guys…?

Still lets not talk about the distinct dislike that other Lib Dems have for me on social media, lets look at Lynne Featherstone and whether she’s going to be representing the people of Hornsey & Wood Green for another term.

First things first, look at the way she has improved her vote since she first fought the seat in 1997. 5,794 people put an x next to her name that year, just 25,998 behind the victorious Labour candidate. Four years later and she had doubled her vote total to 11,353 and elbowed the Tories into a distant second and had ate into Labour’s lead, which now sat at just over 10,000.

After the Iraq war the Lib Dems took the seat with a 5% majority and another 10,000 votes before extending that lead in 2010 to 6,600 odd. The thing to note here is the Labour vote didn’t drift in 2010, the extra votes for the Lib Dems came from the 8,000 more votes cast.

So Lynne’s grass roots campaigning has been first rate to turn what was a pretty safe Labour seat into what was a relatively safe Lib Dem seat. Yet the coalition issue is glaring and in Labour facing seats, certainly those in London, that is a big issue. Outside of London the UKIP factor is far more significant but in London less so. So we know Lynne’s qualities.

Lord Ashcroft polled the seat in September 2014 and had Labour ahead by 13%, which pretty much went with the conventional wisdom in this seat. Still the Lib Dems grasped on to the notion that Lord Ashcroft’s polling didn’t name names and in certain seats, this would keep the seat in play as it were.

Iain Dale wasn’t confident about Lynne’s chances:

Sitting MP: Lynne Featherstone (LibDem)
Prediction: Labour gain

Labour has a massive majority to overcome here, but they are pouring huge resources into this seat to win it back. Lynne Featherstone is a doughty campaigner and won’t be easy to shift, but if she is beaten it will be because of the collapse in LibDem support nationally.

So things are looking grim for a well-liked and well-respected MP. Yet news came out earlier of this month that the Lib Dems had done some internal polling in the seat and things weren’t so bad, in fact they looked rather promising. The headline numbers put the Lib Dems 1% behind Labour (despite the headline calling it a dead heat – that was cheeky).

Some of the other key things to note from this piece of polling is that Lynne has been heard of by 84% of those asked with a +34 favourability rating. The Labour candidate has only been of by 34% of voters with even 49% of those who say they are going to vote Labour admitting that they are voting for the party without even knowing who the candidate was.

The last key piece of information is that amongst those key undecided voters (and if this polling is to be believed then the undecided’s are very much in play) then Lynne’s favourability is +33% whilst Labour’s Catherine West is at -8%.

The excellent new Betfair Predicts website says that Labour are going to win Hornsey & Wood Green. They give Labour a 56% chance to win the seat with the Lib Dems at 25%. The weird thing is they give the Green Party an 18% chance in this seat and that quite simply isn’t going to happen. So the statistics in this seat seem a bit skewed. It isn’t even on their target list and they may only win one of their target list so to give them an 18% chance to win this seat, nah…

Hornsey & Wood Green is a two-horse race (and I hate that term but it is). The Lib Dems are just shy of 2/1 on the exchanges whilst Labour are 1/4. If you like to roll the dice then that is a great price. Headline polls and conventional wisdom say that Labour will win this seat back after losing it ten years ago but the peripherals hint that it is a much tighter seat to call.

I’d have the odds much tighter and Lab at 4/6 and LD at 5/4 which be a far better representation so the value bet is on a Lib Dem hold. Lynne needs to squeeze that 9,000 Tory vote to win and that will be the key to this particular constituency. If she squeezes 3,000 of those voters then she will hold on, if she doesn’t then she’ll be fighting a very tough battle.

A Lynne loss wouldn’t be a shock but a Lynne win most certainly wouldn’t be either. This is a classic seat of a popular incumbent being an MP of an unpopular party nationally. We’ll see if party or person wins out. I know I expect to see more of Lynne on the green benches, even if her (or her social media team) aren’t big fans of me any more…

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March 26th, 2015 at 4:48 pm

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On comparing Lord Ashcroft Polling, Iain Dale predictions & odds for Lib Dem seats – Part I

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Lets look at a few of the seats where Lord Ashcroft has done some constituency polling and compare them to how Iain Dale thinks that the seat will go before throwing in the latest odds for the seats. Politicos seem to think that Iain Dale is pretty darn good and believe his predictions are pretty accurate. We know the pitfalls of Ashcroft polling (it doesn’t name the candidates and for sitting MPs of all parties – this is often to the detriment of the sitting MPs) and well you never see a poor bookie, do you? I’ll be using the odds from Betfair for these odds.

Note: Iain Dale has got in touch to point out that he made some revisions last week, which are on a different link to the full list that I was working from. I have added to this article to reflect this and it effects Carshalton & Wallington

We’ll start with the biggest difference between Iain Dale and Lord Ashcroft – Carshalton & Wallington

What does Iain Dale say about Carshalton & Wallington?

Sitting MP: Tom Brake (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

Somewhat charismatically challenged Brake is nevertheless a very good constituency MP and this could seem him through, but the Labour vote here is bound to recover. However, I’d say this was a 50/50 prediction and could easily go the other way. This would be the sixth time Brake has fought the seat and that counts for a lot.

Wow. Bit of a blow there for Tom Brake. He won by 11% in 2010 so that would be a big defeat for the Lib Dems. Lord Ashcroft polled the seat in November 2014 and his polling resulted in a Lib Dem hold but not only a Lib Dem hold – he had the Lib Dems stretching their lead and taking the seat by 20%. Lib Dems on 43%, Conservatives on 23% with UKIP up to 17% and Labour on 12% with a few others.

Odds: Lib Dem 2/7, Cons 5/2

Iain has pointed out that in his updated version it is rather different – which pretty much kills this part of the piece but…

Sitting MP: Tom Brake (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain
Revised Prediction: LibDem gain (I assume he means hold)

Somewhat charismatically challenged Brake is nevertheless a very good constituency MP and this could seem him through, but the Labour vote here is bound to recover. However, I’d say this was a 50/50 prediction and could easily go the other way. This would be the sixth time Brake has fought the seat and that counts for a lot. UPDATE: The Ashcroft poll is even more conclusive than the one above 43-23.

So Tom seems like he’s in a much better position now according to both Iain and the LA polling…

Next up we’ll stay in London where things look tight for Simon Hughes in Bermondsey & Old Southwark if you believe Lord Ashcroft but Iain Dale thinks he’ll hold on.

Sitting MP: Simon Hughes (LibDem)
Prediction: LibDem hold

I had thought this would be a dead cert hold for Simon Hughes but increasingly I am wondering if I am right. Labour seem very confident they can take this. However, if you look at the electoral hurdles Labour would have to overcome to win this, I think they’re going to have a tough task. They might also be hindered by a number of coalition-friendly Tories lending Simon Hughes their votes. Or they might not :)

I was out doing some campaigning in Guildford at the weekend and one of the chaps I was with was going to Bermondsey on the Sunday. The campaign seems active and Simon Hughes has been a local MP since 1983 in the guises of several different boundaries. Yet Lord Ashcroft in September had Labour within a point of Simon Hughes in a seat where he’s held on with relative ease for quite a while. I’m a big demographics guy and I can see why Labour think they can do well here. Simon has a huge personal vote and I suspect when he stands down it’ll be a very tough hold for the Lib Dems but this time around, Simon could well hang on but I can see why Labour are shorter than 2/1.

Odds: Lib Dems 4/9, Lab 7/4

Next up we’ll go to a seat where the public perception is clear, the Lib Dems are toast in Cardiff Central.

Sitting MP: Jenny Willott (LibDem)
Prediction: Labour gain

Most pundits seem convinced this is a surefire Labour gain. I’m going with the flow here, but I am not 100% sure. Willott could benefit from some Tory tactical voting to keep Labour out. In addition, although UKIP aren’t strong in Cardiff, they could take votes away from Labour as well as the Tories, just as they are sure to do in North Wales. Jenny Willott shouldn’t give up the day job quite yet, but she’s in for the fight of her life.

Lord Ashcroft agrees with the Lib Dems winning by 12% in 2010 but losing by 12% next year. The polling was done in September 2014. Yet there has also been some polling done by the Lib Dems which has her within 1%. As a punter the value is with the Lib Dems but I certainly wouldn’t put it in any accumulator, that is for sure. This is the type of seat where the Lib Dems should lose according to conventional wisdom so a win here and it’ll be a huge win. It will probably need tactical voting to help bring back an excellent MP but it should be noted that more bets have been placed on an LD hold than a Labour win here.

Odds: Lab 1/3, Lib Dem 9/4

Lastly in the first post of this sort (I say first – obviously depending on time etc.) is the one I’m looking at closer than any other seat, Cambridge.

Sitting MP: Julian Huppert (LibDem)
Prediction: Narrow LibDem hold

A genuine three way marginal, this seat has been held by all three parties in recent memory. It went LibDem in 2005. If you look at the size of the LibDem majority here, Julian Huppert ought to be considered very safe, but this is a seat which swings with the wind, and if the wind is blowing towards Labour you can see it returning to them. It obviously has a high student vote and this may determine the outcome. However Huppert has been a strong performer both locally in Parliament and if anyone can hold this seat for the LibDems, he can. But bearing in mind the LibDems’ calamitous results in May I’ve now changed my mind and think Labour will win here.

UPDATE: 16/1/14 And I’ve now changed it back due to more information received about the Labour campaign and candidate, as well as the efforts the LibDems are making here. I now think the odds may be marginally in favour of Julian Huppert.

So Iain Dale has flip-flopped and Lord Ashcroft polled this seat in September 2014 and had Julian Huppert losing by 1% to Labour. The reason I think this seat is one to watch is because Julian is fucking fantastic. He is everything you could want from a Lib Dem MP.

He has a passion for his constituency, he has very green credentials, interacts well and also is constantly being seen and heard in parliament. The Tories seem to not like him and that is probably a good thing. I’m a big Julian fan and if he can’t win in Cambridge then I just wonder what the electorate are on. Regardless of your political allegiance, you have to say he’s an excellent MP and can do great things both for the Lib Dems but more importantly for the people of Cambridge.

The bookies have no idea what to make of Cambridge. Labour were the favourites for a long time but the sheer weight of bets on Julian have seen him become the favourite. This seat has seen representation of all three parties of recent government in the past three decades. It was a Tory seat that went red in 1992 and became super safe Labour in the Tony Blair landslide, however they lost big in 2005 and Julian rolled in 2010.

Obviously the university is a huge issue here and that is not great for the Lib Dems but Julian has always been a strong voice against tuition fees and voted against any increase. It will eat into his vote but he has very quickly become one of the most recognisable faces the Lib Dems have and he has a very high personal rating. I think (and hope) he holds on and if he does – he can hold on to that seat for decades should he want to.

Odds: Lib Dems 8/11, Labour 11/10

More to come…probably.

Iain Dale predictions come from here, Lord Ashcroft polling from here and the odds are from Betfair.

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March 23rd, 2015 at 6:56 pm

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On why Stephen Lloyd should win a second term in Eastbourne…

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I’ll preface this by saying that I have never spoken to nor met Mr Lloyd and until a few hours ago I wouldn’t have been able to name him as the Eastbourne MP. So it seems a bit daft that I should be writing a blog with such a title but this piece is actually based on the words of another.

In a piece by Cole Moreton in The Independent entitled, Stephen Lloyd: The Lib Dems ‘saved the country, but we destroyed ourselves,’ the journalist speaks about how when the Lib Dems pulled off what was a bit of an upset by taking Eastbourne in 2010, it was the Anti-Tory vote that won him the seat and the fact that the party then went into coalition with the Tories then he felt (like many others) that it was an act of betrayal.

This sums up one of the core issues with the political system that we have. When no party wins outright and a coalition or indeed supply/confidence is in place then many voters will not be happy with what happens. The most likely example going into 2015 is if the SNP go into coalition with the Labour Party that they are fighting a bitter and nasty battle with. If the SNP do get together with Labour then will SNP voters be betrayed because they actively voted against the Labour Party and not for the SNP? It is one to ponder and one that we may well come across in the coming months.

Back to the matter in hand. The journalist feels betrayed as he voted for Mr Lloyd primarily as he was the Anti-Tory ticket that could actually beat the Tories. This is a scenario up and down the country, there are many seats where because of demographics, historical voting patterns and the like that it will only be a two-horse race in the running to actually win the seat. So the electorate have to decide whether they are going to vote with the party they feel the most comfortable with or whether they are going to vote for the party they prefer out of the two that can actually win.

He was initially happy that the Tory was beaten but then he wasn’t so sure. ‘I put his big yellow board up in my garden last time because I wanted anyone but Nigel Waterson, the veteran Conservative MP who, I felt, was taking the mickey by living far away and popping down for visits like a minor royal,’ says Mr Moreton. He goes on to say a couple of paragraphs later, ‘He’s (Stephen Lloyd) not slick and says he has never been trendy. People like him, though, because he works like a devil for the town and obviously really cares.’

This my friends (and I suppose foes who are reading this for some unknown reason) is in large part why I think the Presidential style of politics that we are moving towards in a fallacy. People aren’t voting for Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett et al unless they live in a constituency where they are a candidate to become an MP. People are voting for a person who they feel will best represent their values and make the best decisions on their behalf in parliament.

I maybe a card carrying (well actually I’m not, my membership card is probably in a drawer or something) but I am a member of the Lib Dems but if I lived in a constituency where the Lib Dems weren’t a realistic player and I truly believed a candidate from another party who could realistically win would be much better than the alternative then I would tactically vote. The fact is I don’t, I live in a safe Conservative seat with an MP who apparently had the idea that I was going to his the Lib Dem candidate here (this actually happened). So my vote here will be relatively pointless and I know that.

In the council election last year I voted Lib Dem but only because I knew the Independent was winning waltzing away. Had it actually been a tight Tory/Indy battle I may well have lent my vote to the Indy as I believe Martin Terry is actually a decent hard-working councillor. You see that is the thing, you aren’t just voting for a party but you are also voting for the person on the ballot. This is why MPs such as Mr Lloyd should get another term. The general consensus is that he is a good hard-working local MP who has constantly fought the battle for Eastbourne both in the House of Commons and in the media. Isn’t that exactly what an MP is supposed to do?

Iain Dale has him losing his seat with it being a Probable Conservative Gain. On his predictions blog he writes, ‘Won in 2010 from Nigel Waterson, Stephen Lloyd may hang on, but I’d expect the Labour vote to at least double at the expense of the LibDems, so yet again, a lot depends on how many votes the Tories lose to UKIP. Lloyd has been a hardworking MP but rather preposterously resigned as a government PPS as his constituency didn’t get enough ‘pork’ in the autumn statement.’

The bookies though, they disagree, with the Lib Dems odds on everywhere to retain the seat, mostly around the 2/1 on mark with the Tories floating between 11/8 and 13/8. This is the type of seat where we’ll see whether national disenfranchisement with the Lib Dems will lead to the Tories winning. Some people won’t vote Lib Dem because they didn’t like the fact they joined the Tories in coalition but by doing so will only heighten the chances of getting a Tory MP. It is very much like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

My point though is thus (and it isn’t just to do with Lib Dem incumbents), if your MP is doing a good job in your eyes both representing your views and representing the area which they represent then vote for them to continue doing their job. so many seats are ‘safe seats’ but if you live in a seat which is live then look both as the party and the person. It is better to have a good MP from a party that you may not fully agree with than to have a poor MP who represents the party that you identify with.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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March 16th, 2015 at 8:00 am

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On Danny Alexander’s chances in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey…

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The media and activists are obsessed with Nick Clegg potentially going down in Sheffield Hallam despite all the signs pointing towards a Lib Dem win. If they really wanted to get excited about a potential cabinet big-wig going down though then they should go into the Scottish highlands where a real interesting battle will play out between the SNP and the Lib Dems.

Whilst the public polling has Nick Clegg in a nip/tuck battle in his seat, the public polling has Danny Alexander getting a right mullering in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey. As we all know, the public polls don’t generally name a candidate and the power of incumbency is diluted. Still though this wouldn’t account for the seemingly big hole than Danny Alexander finds himself in.

Still the so called, ‘ginger rodent’ seems cheerful enough and doesn’t think it is such a foregone conclusion. In what I have to say is one of the rare pretty fair long political pieces I’ve read in a while, BuzzFeed followed Danny Alexander around for a day in a piece published today entitled, Danny Alexander Fights To Save His Political Career: “The Tories Piss Me Off”.

The key for Danny is clearly to paint himself (as is the case with many Liberal Democrats MPs across the country) as not being Tories and that being in government has helped stop the Tories from pursuing their own agenda. This is not an easy sell and many will just not buy into it but the key will be to get a proportion to do so. Also of course trying to squeeze the Labour and Tory votes as he’ll try and make it an SNP v the world argument.

Speaking about the Tories taking full credit for the turnaround in the economy, Alexander said, ‘It sticks in the craw. It really pisses me off that the Tories try to claim credit for everything we’ve done in government. Tax cuts – none of that would be happening if it wasn’t for the Liberal Democrats in government. If we allow the Tories to govern by themselves, it frightens me actually, because I think it’s a wrecking approach. Beyond a certain point it becomes ideology.

This is going to be a key issue across the country. The coalition has turned the economy around, unemployment is down and continues to drop with every set of results, employment is unsurprisingly up as well along the same lines. The economy will always be the biggest issue in any election. Other factors will come and go but the economy is key and if the public believe that a party can improve the economy then that will often the key issue – especially for swing voters.

So the fact the public as a whole do not give the Lib Dems credit for things like the rise in the Income Tax threshold, something which David Cameron said we couldn’t afford to do in the first leaders debate in 2010, is something which sticks in the throats of many. This policy effects more people directly than any other policy in the coalition government because it effects everyone who earns more than £6,475, which was the personal income threshold under the last government.

If Danny can persuade enough voters that he (and his party) should take just as much credit for the economic recovery as the Tories, then the party will do ok on May 7. Danny’s issues in Scotland are not helped by the collapse of the Labour vote, which is drifting to the SNP in droves. Having two strong opponents is something you can feel comfortable with in our FPTP system but when one of those strong opponents loses a significant proportion of their vote to the other strong opponent then you have issues.

Looking at the betting trends and the SNP are very strong favourites ranging from 1/12 to 1/3 depending on your bookies of choice. Danny and the Lib Dems are between 9/4 and 11/2. The other parties are all beyond 10/1. Most of these betting movements have been predicated on the seeming strength of the SNP in Scotland coupled with Labour’s fall.

I was looking at some ICM fieldwork from the constituency taken in May last year and one table I found more interesting than others. According to the fieldwork, more of the responders voted SNP than Lib Dem in 2010, despite their being an 22% difference in the actual result (19% SNP, 41% Lib Dem) but according to this poll, of those who responded, 19% voted LD whereas 22% voted SNP. The fieldwork also didn’t take into account the likelihood of voting.

It all makes is rather interesting. The SNP are favourites and rightly so but Danny isn’t out of it just yet. If Danny Alexander holds on in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey then the Lib Dems will probably be in for a good night. If he loses then it means that Scotland will be voting very strongly for the SNP, leaving maybe only 10-15 non SNP seats across the country.

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey is more of a bellwether seat for the SNP than it is for the Lib Dems but it is certainly one more media folk should be paying attention to, it will be a very good indicator for how the SNP and the Lib Dems are doing and how they’ll do on May 7.

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February 24th, 2015 at 4:51 pm

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