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Category archive for: Liberal Democrats

Tax credits showdown: for once, public opinion may be with the House of Lords

Written by Louise Thompson.

After a week of anticipation and a tough three-hour debate, the House of Lords finally voted on the government’s controversial plans to cut tax credits for 3m households. Rumours abounded that a vote against the government would trigger a “constitutional crisis”, and Conservatives warned that the prime minister would simply pack the upper chamber with Conservative peers should the lords veto the plans.

In the end, the house defeated the government not once but twice, delaying the plans until the chancellor can find a way of compensating those affected by the cuts.

It’s not uncommon for governments to be defeated in the House of Lords, and this government is especially vulnerable there. Unlike the House of Commons, where David Cameron has a majority of MPs, the presence of more than 150 crossbench peers in the House of Lords means he has no working majority. He has already been defeated several times over the past few months. Continue reading Tax credits showdown: for once, public opinion may be with the House of Lords

Tim Farron wins Liberal Democrat leadership contest

By Andrew Denham and Matthew Francis

How do you rebuild a political party after an electoral calamity? That was the question facing the Liberal Democrats when deciding who should replace Nick Clegg as their leader.

Now the party has chosen Tim Farron to replace Clegg – a decision that could help bring back a spirit of optimism in a party battered by five years of government with the Conservatives.

After being reduced from 57 MPs in 2010 to just eight in 2015 – numbers reminiscent of the Liberal Party of the 1950s – the Lib Dems now face a difficult path back to political significance, let alone power.

Continue reading Tim Farron wins Liberal Democrat leadership contest

Lib Dem incumbency advantage persists but fails to prevent disaster

By Tim Smith

As this author warned here, some of the assumptions that incumbency advantage would prevent a poor result for the Liberal Democrats at the election were flawed.  As the post suggested, the party did indeed do far worse than the projection that they would hold onto at least 25 seats. As David Steel said, decades of progress were reversed with the party finishing up with just eight seats, the lowest since 1970, and it was arguably its worst result since 1959 in terms of share of the vote.  The party lost all of its seats in its strongest English region, the South West, and all but one of its eleven seats in Scotland, another traditional stronghold for the party.  Despite this, analysis in this post of the results of the election show that the large incumbency advantage the party has traditionally relied on has not gone away, but that it was not enough on its own to prevent a disaster.

At the election, the Liberal Democrat share of the vote fell in all 57 seats the party won in 2010.  The smallest decline was in East Dunbartsonshire (2.4%); the largest was in Brent Central (35.8%), with a mean decline of 15.7%, slightly worse than the average in Great Britain.  The table below shows the change in the Lib Dem vote from 2010 to 2015 in various categories of constituencies.

Continue reading Lib Dem incumbency advantage persists but fails to prevent disaster

Predicting Liberal Democrat seats at the election: incumbency, swing, tactical voting and unknowns

by Timothy Smith

Among all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitous.” – George Eliot – Middlemarch

It has always been difficult to predict the likely numbers of Liberal Democrat MPs ahead of an election, and with the exception of 2010, predictions based on exit polls have generally been at least 10% off beam, sometimes much more.  At the 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats lost a net five seats despite increasing their vote share from 22 to 23%.  The results saw seats moving in both directions with the party gaining and losing seats from both the Conservative and Labour parties.  The big drop in support that the Liberal Democrats have suffered since joining the coalition in 2010 means that it is next to certain that they will lose a large number of seats at this election.  This post discusses the factors that will decide how many of the 57 seats the party won in 2010 it can hold.

Continue reading Predicting Liberal Democrat seats at the election: incumbency, swing, tactical voting and unknowns

Police and Crime Commissioners – Two years on: Are there lessons for designing devolution?

By Francesca Gains and Vivien Lowndes

Two years ago the forty one directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners for England and Wales took office, swearing the oath of allegiance and beginning a new era of policing governance.  The way the Commissioners have developed their responsibilities and set local policing priorities has attracted considerable controversy and debate.  In a little over eighteen months their current term of office is due to end, with fresh elections timetabled for the spring of 2016.  But the future of the Commissioner role after this date is very uncertain.  Following a review of the new arrangements for the Labour Party by Lord Stevens, the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, announced in her speech to the Labour Party Conference that Labour would seek to abolish the directly elected Commissioner role.  Meanwhile under George Osborne’s devolution deal with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (announced at the beginning of November), the responsibilities of the current Greater Manchester Commissioner would be taken over by a new directly elected mayor by 2017.  This is a model that could well be replicated for other city regions or areas seeking combined authority status. Continue reading Police and Crime Commissioners – Two years on: Are there lessons for designing devolution?

Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: A wonderful book of political well-I-nevers is launched today

By Philip Cowley and Rob Ford

Today sees the launch of a Specialist Group project that’s been over a year in the making. The plan, hatched by the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties specialist group, was to get elections and electoral behaviour researchers to each write a short, punchy essay on their area of expertise. The result is Sex, Lies, and the Ballot Box, which we have edited, which is launched tonight and published tomorrow.

It is not – absolutely, categorically not – an introductory textbook. There are plenty of such books on the market; indeed, several of our contributors have written such books. It isn’t a compendium or an atlas, but a series of thumbnail sketches, each introducing an aspect of elections and electoral behaviour.

Continue reading Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: A wonderful book of political well-I-nevers is launched today

The representation of women in politics, addressing the supply side: Public attitudes to job-sharing parliamentarians

By Philip Cowley Dr Rosie Campbell 

Job shares – in which two or more people working on a part-time basis share the same fulltime position – are an increasingly common form of employment. A 2012 BIS survey found that job-sharing was available to 43% of employees.  One group currently not able to job-share in the UK are elected politicians – but there are moves afoot to change this.

This new article (£), just published by the journal British Politics, sets out to see what the British electorate’s reaction to such arrangements might be. It finds no great support for the introduction of job-sharing candidates but nor does it detect overwhelming opposition. Just over a third of respondents were in favour of job sharing or said they would support job share candidates; just over a third took the opposing position; and around a quarter said that they did not know.

Continue reading The representation of women in politics, addressing the supply side: Public attitudes to job-sharing parliamentarians