Owen Jones tweeted a couple of days ago: I
“I’m told a poll is coming out on Thursday which isn’t good for Labour in London. It’s been a hellish few weeks for Labour. It’s not in the bag in the local elections. Not even close. This is a wake-up call. If you don’t vote and encourage others to vote, Labour will lose.”
I got all excited. Have the Tories gone up and Labour down significantly in London? Really?
Of course, this was mostly hype. Across the capital, the numbers are Labour 51%, Tories 29%, Lib Dems 11%, Others 9%. Yes, this represents a narrowing of Labour’s lead over the Conservatives in London, but a very marginal one. More pertinent than the headline numbers for Labour are the figures which suggest the Tories may hang on in Westminster and Wandsworth, depriving Corbyn of a big prize some had thought was already in the bag.
But everyone out there is going to talk about the Tories and Labour and this poll. I’d rather write about the Lib Dems’ numbers. Because, man, they are existentially poor. More than poor, really: they suggest a party on its deathbed.
The 11% overall is bad enough until you begin to drill down further. Amongst Remain voters, the Lib Dem number only goes up to 14%. For reference, the Tories are on 17% with this same group. So, the Tories have a three point lead over the Lib Dems, in London amongst Remainers. Amazingly, Lib Dems are at 7% among Leavers. This suggests that no one is listening to anything the party says or does anymore – there is some, small Lib Dem core vote and nothing else, and it doesn’t matter what the party does, it can do nothing to decimate nor grow this number.
How are the Lib Dems doing with under-24s? 3%. That’s not a mistype, three percent is the figure. Among BME voters in the capital? 6%. I could go on, but you get the idea.
I didn’t write this article to mindlessly beat up the Liberal Democrats. Instead, I just want to ask: when will the party face up to the fact that whatever it is doing isn’t working even in the slightest? It is time to stop shouting about local by-election victories and look at the deeper issues. Either that, or face up to inevitable annihilation in the near future.
Phil Beesley says
“Not enough votes!”
I’ve always wondered how Alf Dubs signed up for his dole that summer.
Paul W says
Not a surprise really is it? If you define your party and, by extension, the entire British liberal tradition as not much more than being pro-electoral reform, pro-weed and anti-Brexit what can you expect? Sad!
“It is time to stop shouting about local by-election victories and look at the deeper issues.”
May be you could spell out what you think these deeper issues are.
On the figures you quote, it would seem that well over 60% of remainers intend to vote Labour. However it is unclear how relevant this is, since there is little that local government can do to fight Brexit. In London, Sadiq Khan is clearly anti Brexit and at odds with Corbyn.
The biggest worry is the 3% amongst the under 24s,Though it could be a factor for some, I doubt it is tuition fees. Sheer lack of visibility is the overriding problem; you write “This suggests that no one is listening to anything the party says or does anymore”, – obviously Liberalism still exists as an outlook and obviously the Liberal Democrats have things to say, which can be found by anyone who is looking out for it, but in the current climate the Party is effectively stifled.
Kenny HM says
Shocking numbers that underline the truth I’d been hoping to avoid – the Liberal Democrats are mortally wounded. Whether the wound was inflicted in government, by the referendum or by Corbynism I can’t say, but they’re bleeding out for sure. Their only hope for survival in any form is if they make overtures to the Labour right and the most rebellious Tory Remainers with the intention of providing the party machinery for a new centrist venture.
People have said the same thing about the Liberals/ SDP/ Lib Dems on many occasions. In 1987, for example, yet 10 years later they had 40 MPS and a further 13 years later they were in a coalition.
I completely reject that a party which has been around for centuries is mortally wounded, having had far fewer seats than they do now. It is true, however, that it does have serious problems to overcome if it is going to return to the UK’s third party.
11% is a couple of per cent better than at theGE in London. So not that bad.m
Alex Macfie says
Got that a bit wrong then