People have asked me again and again this election campaign to make a prediction on the number of seats the Lib Dems will end up with on May 8th. I have resisted, because I just have no idea. I made a prediction a long time ago, but it no longer seems relevant. A lot of water has flown under the proverbial bridge since.
Any sane prediction, so one from outside the Clegg haters or alternatively those Lib Dems completely divorced from reality, says the party will end up with anywhere between 20 and 40 seats. Anything less than this range would be unforeseen catastrophe (even some of the safest seats would go under this scenario then) and anything over it would be a victory for the ages. So which end of the spectrum do I think it will end up at? Again, I’ll dodge the question. Honestly, I’m not objective enough to make a fair assessment. I set out once to predict the Tory-Lib marginals in the South West and gave up quickly. Lib Dems will hold them all; no, it’ll be a complete wipeout – like a child who thinks one minute they’ll be president of the universe then the next figuring they’ll end up spending the rest of eternity in their bedroom.
I can say that I think the following scenario is probably the last hope for the Lib Dems: that in the crazy, bizarre world of this election, the Lib Dems are seen as a safe pair of hands by the necessary set of voters. In other words, the Lib Dems being back in government is probably the least bad option for a lot of people in seats where voting Lib Dem can make a difference. Given either a Tory or Labour majority seems frightening (either everything is cut or we go broke), and the other options are some sort of Labour-SNP mess or even worse, a Tory-UKIP horror show, perhaps a lot of people who voted for the party the last time round will stay where they are. Weirdly, this just might actually turn out to be the case.
A lot of the haters on both left and right will no doubt respond in typically vitriolic fashion: the Lib Dems are finished, everyone’s been waiting five years to finish you off, etc. Well, maybe. But like I said, perhaps in a very uncertain electoral world, people will realise that they could end up with a lot worse than a gang of centrists in the middle of government genuinely trying to make a fist of it.
Or perhaps the haters are correct and these really are the final days. My biggest concern regarding this outcome isn’t a partisan one: it’s that liberalism itself becomes endangered, in Britain, and possibly even Europe-wide if a resulting Brexit triggers a continental crisis, even a minor one. Whatever anyone out there thinks of the Liberal Democrats, I hope at least some of you recognise what a tragedy that could be.
This is as close as I’m going to come to making a magazine/newspaper style endorsement: if you live in a seat where there’s either a sitting Lib Dem MP or a Lib Dem PPC that has a real shot at winning, at least consider the country you want to live in. After five years of immigrant bashing from both the left and right, something which saw UKIP win the Euro elections, we’ve seen that liberalism isn’t something that can be taken for granted anymore. In a lot of seats, not voting Lib Dem means you almost certainly end up with a Tory MP, or even possibly a UKIP one. Whatever you think of the last five years, please give that some thought between now and Thursday.
David bowler says
People thought that UKIP would get lots of seats, but I have said for a long while it will be no more than 2-3. I feel it difficult to predict the Lib Dem seats, they deserve far more credit than they have received I partly blame the press for this. I do feel that the Lib Dems will finish with between 30-50 seats.
But if people are voting Lib Dem to ‘get a coallition’ and don’t, will they still bother next time (whenever and however soon next time is or isn’t)?
Edward Wynn says
I think Clegg has been unreasonably tarnished with the University fee issue out of all balance for keeping the government stable and probably getting the Tories to soften their stances. I am totally irritated about the Labour attacks on him for two reasons 1) they are only proposing to reduce the fees to £6K which is twice what they had whilst in office. That sort of condones the increase in my eyes. 2) Gordon Brown, son of the Manse, who got a free education at Edinburgh University, put the higher fee levels in in the first place. I think LD performance is important because I cannot trust Labour to be slippery in claiming achievement of their Goals. Look at their changes to the measurement system for School performance last time. NHS with a time to care – what exactly does that mean??
David Dalley says
By supporting a foul Tory government the Lib Dems have lost their left leaning supporters. I’m sorry to say this… but they deserve to be punished for using my anti-Tory Lib Dem vote to give us IDS and George Osborne. There are many people like me who won’t vote Lib Dem again until we can be sure there will be no repeat performance. At the moment I feel like a political orphan with no allegiance to anyone. Wash your hands of the Tories and I’ll gladly come back.