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Reason why The Sun politics isn’t worth the paper it is written on #297 – Lib Dems to be reduced to just 7 MPs…

‘Sun poll: Lib Dem big guns face boot as MPs in meltdown at election’ booms out a headline in today’s edition of The Sun. A headline we have seen before but heck why not read it once more? Let’s have a look at the first few paragraphs:

THE Lib Dems will be almost wiped out at the next General Election — losing all but SEVEN of their current 57 MPs, a major poll predicts today.

The most high-profile casualty will be party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Other top guns getting the boot include Business Secretary Vince Cable, ex-Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

Ex-leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be axed too.

Wow. Bad times. However what I don’t like. Well when I say I don’t like what I really mean is what I can’t abide is the determination in the language. Ex-leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be axed too. Oh will they now? Is that gospel? The Sun can predict the future three years down the line with such determination and yet the writers are still working and not sunning themselves in the Seychelles following their 17th EuroMillions jackpot win on the spin.

We need to see who they surveyed though. So who did they survey?

The survey polled 1,524 voters in the 76 key seats being created when boundary changes come into effect — in areas where the Lib Dems have previously been strong.

So they have surveyed 20 people in each constituency. Now roughly 40,000 people or so on average vote in every General Election so they have surveyed – and let me ensure this statistic is right – they have surveyed 0.0005% of the electorate in these wards and are able to conclude definitively the future. Wow that is quite remarkable. Big ups to The Sun and YouGov for that. Imagine being able to predict the future. Dang I’m jealous.

Does it take into account local issues or just a uniform swing based across this survey? Yes it does – On a uniform swing, the Conservatives would take 21 of their seats and Labour will land 18. Surely one thing we noticed in 2010 was that uniform swings were not happening and local issues were all the more important but sod that – lets go for the baseless headline that suits our political bias.

We always talk about the media and political bias but it is true. Many many moons ago I was sitting in Wapping at The Sun HQ going for a job there and I didn’t get it due in large to the fact I wasn’t comfortable with their political bias. I made it clear I liked to go with the facts and not conjecture and boy that didn’t go down well at all. They are willing to stretch the truth as much as possible to fulfil their political remit.

They have their ‘political heroes and villains’ of the week and looking back no Lib Dem has ever been a hero of the week. They have been the villain on many an occasion though. Heck they’ve even gone after Paddy Ashdown saying the following, ‘While Lord Ashdown and his bishop friends sit in their ivory tower, hard-pressed families in the real world are desperately disappointed that fairness has been swept under the carpet.’ Does Paddy Ashdown really deserve such words? No he doesn’t. However The Sun will do anything they can to get at the Lib Dems because they believe that the death of the Lib Dems will lead tp a Tory government in 2015.

They also believe they if you say something enough times then people will eventually believe it. If they write the Lib Dems are finished enough then that’ll be it. The Lib Dems make no mistake are not in a great position up and down the country but they in nowhere near as bad a state as this hard-hitting 0.0005% of the electorate survey would make out. Will the Lib Dems lose seats in 2015? Quite probably. Will they go down to 7 MPs? Highly unlikely.

So there we have it. I find the report in The Sun desperately mis-leading but depressingly the more I get involved in politics the more I see people stretching the truth. On my desk I have several pieces of literature from across Southend-on-Sea and I can see several things that are at best stretches and at worst flat out lies. Sadly this is what a lot of politics is. It is hard to swim against the tide and be open and up front but that is all I can do. If I win on May 3 then fantastic but if I go down I know i’ll have gone down with integrity and honesty. Something that the staff on the politics desk at The Sun wouldn’t know if it came up to them and bit them in the bum.

Edit: Here in the YouGov blurb about this survey which proves I’m a moron apparently and shouldn’t question their right to speak of this survey as a fact based on a question no-one has to answer for three years.

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  1. Congrats on being No 1 on LibDemVoice.

  2. […] Reason why The Sun politics isn’t worth the paper it is written on #297 – Lib Dems to be reduced… by Neil Monnery on The Rambles of Neil Monnery. “Imagine being able to predict the future. […]

  3. andyj andyj

    “It’s a hard time to be in government..”

    ..Oh do spare me the hypocrisy.. and if you view the NHS Changes as a distraction, your living on another planet man.. people despise you for this and will not forgive you.. many of these people voted for you for heaven sake.. if you think the Student Fees are the White Elephant you should have gone to speck savers..

    ..I wonder what your excuse will be after you get hammered again in the locals and then the next big knock further down the line.. make no mistake, this is not mid-term unpopularity and despite your feelings to the contrary, in the age of the internet people will not forget. And no matter how much you relay relay want it to be true it just ain’t going to happen..

  4. andyj, you would be wrong to think that Lib Dems hate The Sun. We just understand what the editorial team are doing, in fighting an election campaign ardently for their political fancy, which is the Tory right and UKIP. We might despise them for not being honest about that but then how could they be?

    Most Lib Dems probably consider the NHS changes to be unnecessary and a distraction, but I have no doubt that their influence in moderating the bill and safeguarding the basic premise of the NHS in practice would have had just such a parallel if a coalition had been possible with Labour. Labour have been steadily privatising NHS services for a decade and they pointedly refused to sate that they would not cut NHS spending and in Wales, the only place they have power in the UK, they have cut NHS spending.

    It’s not just Labour’s discretionary wars that turn Lib Dem stomachs or even it’s lack of alternative policies on their ‘elephant in the room’ deficit, but the absence of progressive outcomes from their 13 years of total power.

    Lib Dems should be proud of progressive policies such as the Pupil Premium, the Pensions Triple lock, ending child detention, reducing tax on the low-to-middle earners, and working toward a Citizens pension, and much more.

    And I haven’t mention the Lib Dems elephant in the room – Tuition Fees. Quite probably too, Vince Cable in a LibLab coalition would have made the best out of the Labour instigated Browne Report on University Funding, which Labour are still yet to address!

    It’s a hard time to be in government, the polar opposite of what Labour inherited in 1997 and there is an unreality about the political debate. Labour narrowly missed the trouncing it deserved like Fianna Fail received a year later in Ireland, and the UK media are quite ardently anti-European and trying to manipulate a Tory/UKIP coalition for 2015.

    Wise up mate!

  5. andyj andyj

    ..I see you can carry on hating the Sun, seems they have a poll putting UKIP ahead of Lib Dem..

    ..Neil, I really can’t believe how far from the mark you are.. and no you can not rely on my vote. I will be voting Labour from here on in. I’m getting on a little in life and have not really been political but your actions on the Health Service had definitely politicised me.. your own grass roots was against this but you carried on regardless..

    ..I don’t claim to have jumped on the Anti-War Band Wagon, although I am certainly not pro war, I did have some sympathy for what happened in Iraq.. with hindsight I can see this was possibly misguided, although I do wonder if that would mean that I would be lending my support to a tyrant.. but that’s by the by here.. I can just see those anti-war folks looking at the “we have to make tough decisions” claptrap and realising that if the Lib Dems were in power they are very lightly to have voted for the war because of these “tough decisions”.. after all the damage you have inflicted is not on some distant foreign shore..

    ..the Lib Dems Can’t pull it back now..but I don’t agree with the other fella.. yes, in the short-term you are probably better off sticking the coalition out and then sticking with the Tories.. would suit the head but not the body, but would see an end to your party which you may not recover from..

    ..what I would like to see, is for the Lib Dems to stand up and be vocal against the policies the head has introduced, apologise for them and disown them.. lets face it, you did not have to do anything with the NHS, it was utter madness and people were bewildered that the grass roots did not support it but done nothing about it.. I was so confident you would not introduce the changes, bigger fool me..

    ..I relay think the best thing for the Lib Dems to do is to cut off the head.. it won’t help in the short-term but at least it will give you back some dignity and to be able to clam some morality without being laughed at.. and maybe you might start to pick up some votes after 5 or 10 years..

    ..don’t get me wrong, this would not win my vote. I will never vote for you again.. and I think it is foolish to assume that people will forget..

  6. The reporting of politics, and indeed the blogging and the ‘have your say’ commenting on politics is sadly way behind the realities of electoral outcomes and ultimately, coalition politics. Probably because most people consider this to be a 5 year aberration, unlikely to be repeated under the FPTP electoral system. Maybe Britain’s first majority government since WW2, will soon fade into the mists of memory like a bad dream and we will be gratefully returned to largest minority rule; even if that minority can only command mid-thirties percentage electoral support.

    One historical footnote to bear in mind when considering the Lib Dems position is that every survey of party members has given the same message – that the overwhelming majority of them believe that coalition will be bad for the party but was the right thing for the country under the electoral and economic circumstances. That reality is derived from a deep understanding of the sacrifice at stake; the long hard slog to get there that very few Labour or Tory politicians ever have to experience. But more than the sacrifice, is a simple belief in democracy and in acknowledging and addressing the electoral outcome of 2010 whilst the media that mock them as a transient phenomenon, and one which the likes of The Sun considers it can manipulate its readers against, whilst they themselves are in the dock for such, are way behind that loyalty to democracy that only the bravest ever truly fight for.

    Particularly for those who consider that more parties, not less, will benefit our democracy, and hope upon a better informed political debate beyond slogans and cartoons; these polls are a concern but not unexpectedly so.

  7. Peter Watson Peter Watson

    When push comes to shove and there is a real election, voters might return to the LDs as an alternative to either Labour or Conservative. However I fear that our behaviour in coalition makes this less likely than in the past: anti-conservative voters will see us as less of an alternative and even conservative voters have little respect for us (witness the AV referendum campaigning). I am now reluctant to vote LD (after a lifetime of doing so), even in a local election.
    We are a target for parties such as SNP and independents standing on issues such as the NHS. I suspect that in university towns the Greens will try to build on their success in Brighton.
    We do need a strategy if we are to rebuild trust and support and I am not optimistic. I think the best way to retain MPs in 2015 would be an electoral pact with the tories, and that would lose my support for the party permanently.

  8. andyj andyj

    ..I think Neil Monnery seriously underestimates the hatred there now is towards the Lib Dems but people who, like myself, once voted for them.. student fees & the NHS will be millstone around their neck and there is no way things are going to get the age of the internet people will not forget..

    ..let’s face it.. your in a bucket load of sh1t and you haven’t got the shoes for it..

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      So we can count on your vote then Andy…?

  9. Peter Watson Peter Watson

    I agree with you that polling is a current snapshot not a valid prediction 3 years away. However, we cannot be certain that there will be no general election before 2015 and we know there will be by-elections, local elections, mayoral elections, etc. Furthermore, regular polling helps guide what we have to do between now and the general election. The polling shows the magnitude of the support we have lost and to which other parties (the uniform swing assumption is pointless – the SNP is probably a threat in our scottish seats, Greens and others elsewhere).

    We have three years (maybe) to save the party from what today’s polling says might happen, and we should use it as a tool to help develop our strategies. Do we differentiate ourselves from the tories, do we embrace them, do we need an electoral pact, etc.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      Peter: I think my point with this poll (and all the others) is that people will say they would vote one way today if they don’t actually have to vote but if they did they might well vote differently. I don’t see polls as much more than a loose guide and never have done.

      People like andyj says that they will never forget what the Lib Dems did but how people Lib Dems are flocking back to Labour after fleeing Labour in the first place saying they would never forget the Iraq war?

      Things change.

      The biggest obstacle in my opinion is how many Lib Dems – people who are clearly liberal in their views – are struggling with coalition politics. If the activists up and down the country can’t take coalition politics then there is a real problem. To win first you have to convince yourself and there are many Lib Dems who now aren’t convinced by the party.

  10. Peter Watson Peter Watson

    Okay. so yougov polled 1524 people in 76 constituencies, and then probably weighted the raw data based upon gender, newspaper, likelihood to vote, voting history, etc. in pretty much the same way they do for their daily polls for the Sun and other papers, and which are probably a pretty accurate reflection of how those people would vote tomorrow.
    You are a sample size of one, maybe not in one of those constituencies, but can confidently dismiss the predictions based upon this analysis as “highly unlikely”.
    The Sun may well be over-egging the pudding (but not as badly as the Observer has done with odd polls showing tory leads), but as a LD the underlying information is a depressing confirmation of my own fears. Factor in the possibility of labour not standing against independent “Save the NHS” candidates and the results could be dire.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      There is no doubt that things aren’t exactly full of sweetness and light for the Lib Dems but no-one is voting in a General Election today. Nor are they tomorrow. Nor next week or next month or even next year. Polls are polls but they all mean nothing until you are actually in a general election campaign. I have said that before and will say it again.

      To extrapolate any poll today and project those poll results on a uniform swing when you aren’t in a GE campaign is pointless. To state that the Lib Dems will be down to 7 MPs and they can even name those that will go is just nuts.

      I’m not just some mad Lib Dem who thinks that the party will do amazing in 2015 but three years is a long time and things do change. Heck they might even be worse for the Lib Dems than this poll predicts but stating these results as fact is like asking me in 2015 what my favourite chocolate bar will be and when I say it’ll be a Mint Aero you stating that as fact even though my tastes may have changed between now and then.

  11. Angus McLellan Angus McLellan

    I don’t think you do “know basic stats”. The concept you’re ignoring is that of statistical sampling, the foundation of all opinion polling. Please read that UKPR link. You’ll just make a fool of yourself otherwise.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      I know of statistical sampling. You can extrapolate results from any number of respondents but the more responses you get the more accurate the poll will be. I’m not that stupid.

      However stating things as facts on a hypothetical question three years into the future. I’m not exactly down with that. That to me makes no sense. Things never happen on a uniform swing. We aren’t going to the polls for a Westminster election for three years but we now know that the Lib Dems will be down to 7 MPs…

      Give me a break.

  12. andyj andyj

    ..yes.. I think they are being kind to you.. your a very foolish bunch of folk if you still don’t know what people think of you.. I once voted Lib Dem but now despise you with a passion.. what utter fools I bet you are still in denial after you get hammered in May..

  13. Perhaps you need to learn something about statistics. YouGov usually survey around 1500 people across the whole UK or around 2.5 per constituency and their polling is by far the most accurate we have (usually to within a single per cent).

    They never claimed to predict the future and I’m sure the Sun have overstated it but it sounds to me like you’re in denial. Have you actually read YouGov’s findings on it?

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      I know basic stats.

      1524 (people surveyed)/76 (seats) = 20.05

      So that is 20 people per seat.

      20/40000 (40,000 being the average amount of people who vote give/take in a GE) = 0.0005%.

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