24 July 2009

Searching for Optimism

Norwich North wasn't a good result for the Lib Dems. We made no progress. Indeed, we fell back a bit both in terms of numbers of votes and percentage share, and now have UKIP and Greens breathing down our necks.

However, there is some cause for hope. Here are a few of thoughts that provide some optimism on how the Lib Dem vote is holding up:

1. The vote for all 3 big parties dropped: Labour by a whopping 17k, LD by 3k and Tory by 2k. The turnout at by elections is always a bit suppressed during by elections, and the Tory faithful are known to be more reliable at turning up to cast their vote. In this light, our total doesn't look too bad. It was the massive collapse in Labour support that won this contest for the Tories. In seats where we are second to Labour, we can expect the same to happen.

2. This was always a Labour vs Conservative race; the 2005 GE result had them significantly out in front. This is exactly the sort of seat where the ethereal 'Lib Dem squeeze' is said to be a factor. However, the result appears to show more of a gentle pinch than a squeeze.

3. People didn't switch much. But when they did, the parties whose votes rose were the little parties (probably due to MPs' Expenses TM). UKIP, Green and the cumulative 'others' all saw their support increase, between them getting a whopping 28% of the vote. This gives us hope in LD > Con marginals... the collapse of Labour isn't giving votes to the Tories. I have a slight reservation - I am a bit confused where the UKIP vote came from. Were there really that many Labour to UKIP switchers?

Overall, while it is disappointing not to have advanced, I think we held our own.