Friday, 29 September 2017

Liberal Democrats and coalition

Dr Mark Pack writes that one should not believe the conventional wisdom that the Liberal Democrats are unpopular because we went into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. He cites a YouGov survey which he interprets as supporting his point. Well, maybe the overall result does not show an overwhelming revulsion against that decision, but neither does it show enthusiastic support. Indeed, if you look at the Scotland column, you find that a majority (33%) falls into the category "The Liberal Democrats were wrong to go into coalition with the Conservatives and I haven't forgiven them". Unhelpfully, the survey lumps Welsh respondents in with the English Midlands, but it is a fair bet that Wales' response would have been on a par with the Scots'.

A question I would like to have seen on the survey was: Were the Liberal Democrats right to stay in government after the financial crisis had passed? It seems to me that much of our unpopularity results from the repressive legislation, like the Welfare Reform Act, passed in 2012 and afterwards.

What is also noticeable from this survey is, not surprisingly, the unclear image the party has. Fewer than 10% of respondents in any region had a clear idea of what the party stood for. Of the 20% or so who felt they had a broad idea, I would guess that most associate us with the EU and very little else. It would have been instructive to have inserted the words "Apart from remaining in the EU" in front of that particular question.

On the general question of membership of the EU, support for leaving remains stubbornly high. The inflation resulting from sterling's fall against the dollar had clearly not hit home by the time the survey was conducted in the middle of this month.

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