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Liberal Democrat Election Blood Bath - Could Nick Clegg Lose Sheffield Hallam?

ElectionOracle / UK General Election Feb 25, 2015 - 09:43 AM GMT

By: Nadeem_Walayat

ElectionOracle

If the opinion polls are to believed then the Liberal Democrats are literally facing an election blood bath, a wipeout that could see the Lib-Dems lose more than half their MP's, falling from a major third party coalition forming tally of 56 ( already having lost 1 MP along the way) to as few as just 20 as according to Lord Ashcroft's detailed constituency level polling, and no more than 26 according to the current most favourable projections which would mean no more limousine rides for Nick Clegg & co!


Many liberal democrats facing electoral disaster have just stuck their head in the sand and completely lost the plot as illustrated by Danny Alexander's comments on the Andrew Marr Show, where he stated that he even expects the Liberal Democrats to GAIN seats at the May election.

“More generally I think we Liberal Democrats will be the comeback kids in this election campaign because I think when people look at the choice they have - clueless Labour, heartless Tories - and they want to continue the recovery in the way that it’s going, you only get a strong economy and a fair society through the Lib Dems.

“I think that means a lot of our MP's, all of our MP's potentially, will hold their seats and we’ll gain more seats too.”

Whilst in the real world it is most probable that Danny Alexander will lose his own Highlands seat to the SNP insurgency.

According to the BBC Election poll tracker, the latest opinion polls put the Liberal Democrats on just 8% of the vote, where they have languished for several months now which translates into only retaining 22 seats that translates into a loss of 34 MP's, even more than their much larger coalition partner, the Tories who are managing to hold steady virtually neck and neck with the Labour party on 280 MP's (-22). Whilst at the upper end of the seats range of 26 would still result in a loss of 30 MP's.

Liberal Democrat Betrayals

For the reasons why the Liberal Democrats face an election blood bath is to look at the long list of manifesto betrayals of what the Lib-Dems had said they had stood for and promised to do.

1. Going into Coalition with the Conservatives.

The left leaning Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the right wing Conservative party. This was the first shock to hit Lib-Dem voters for today it would be akin to the SNP going into coalition with the Tories. The natural party for the Liberal Democrats to be in coalition with is the Labour party something that could have been achieved in 2010 as part of a rainbow coalition of several left of centre parties. Another alternative would be have been to let a weak minority Conservative government die a slow death triggering another election within 12 months, instead the Lib-Dem MP's chose the route which their voters disliked, even hated the most.

2. Tuition Fees

For literally decades the Liberal Democrat MP's had been banging on and on about their opposition to University tuition fees, and in the run upto he 2010 election had even pledged to scrap it. Instead as soon as they got a whiff of power they abandoned this solemn pledge and in fact supported the vote to TRIPLE tuition fees from £3000 to £9000 per year resulting in much student outrage.

This one act of betrayal may have sealed the fate for Nick Clegg for his Hallam constituency is densely populated with STUDENTS, some 20% of the electorate and surrounded on all sides by angry socialists in the Labour strong hold of South Yorkshire.

3. NHS Spending, 4. Mansion Tax abandoned, 5. Lords reforms...

The list could go on and on as each act of betrayal will likely claim a handful of MP's. Against this all that the Lib-Dems can celebrate is the lifting of the starting allowance for tax to £10,000. Which most people give the credit to the Tories anyway as the tax cutting party.

Could Nick Clegg Lose Sheffield Hallam?

Desperate door stepping Liberal Democrat activists have already been busy for some weeks stuffing letter boxes full of leaflets of Nick Clegg's Hallam constituency, and more recently ramping up the intensity by knocking on doors, asking people for their vote for their 'Dear Leader'. Whenever the Lib Dem / Tory coalition is brought up then assurances are made that such an outcome will never happen again, Its Labour that the Liberal Democrats seek to coalition with. In fact the impression the activists give is that they are not even in a coalition with the Tories, as if voters are that stupid.

At the last election Nick Clegg won the seat on a comfortable majority of 15,284, with more than 50% of the vote, thus making is inconceivable at the time that the seat could be lost no matter how disastrous subsequent Lib-Dem actions were.

Sheffield Hallam Constituency 2010 Election Result

Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg
27,324
53.4
Conservative Nicola Bates
12,040
23.5
Labour Jack Scott
8,228
16.1
UKIP Nigel James
1,195
2.3
Green Steve Barnard
919
1.8
English Democrats David Wildgoose
586
1.1

 

Still 5 years of betrayals on what was for many years seen as the unthinkable is now thinkable that the Liberal Democrats could now lose their party leader at the May 2015 election.

However given the 2010 voting structure that placed Labour on a distant third on just 8,200 votes means that even if the Liberal Democrats lost 1/3rd of their votes to Labour, then Labour would still be just short of winning the seat. Which implies that to unseat Nick Clegg then a significant amount of tactical voting is likely to take place of Conservative voters holding their noses and voting Labour so as to deny the Liberal Democrats a victory. Whilst it is unlikely that more than 10% of Hallam's Conservative voters would entertain such an action, still a 10% swing to Labour could just be enough to achieve such an outcome.

Though against this we have the fact that Sheffield Hallam has NEVER ever elected a Labour MP, not once and for most of the past 100 years the Hallam constituency has voted Conservative which begs the question could the Conservatives win the seat? However the Tories face two significant problems -

1. UKIP are likely to take 1,000 to 2,000 potential Conservative voters.

2. Any potential Liberal Democrat drift to the Conservatives is likely to be far less than drift to Labour as a consequence of a drop in the Conservatives national share of the vote on the 2010 election.

Therefore the Nick Clegg losing is not just dependant upon deserting voters and tactical voters but disgusted life-long Liberal Democrat core voters just not turning out to vote that could result in 15% fewer Lib Dem votes totaling approx 4,000.

Therefore Sheffield Hallam could result in a close three party race as illustrated by the following number crunching conclusion that lists Labour with the advantage and the Liberal Democrats trailing in third place which means that it is possible that Nick Clegg could lose the Sheffield Hallam seat.

Party Votes
Liberal Democrat 13,500
Labour 15,200
Conservative 14,500
UKIP 4,000
Green 1,500

 

The one thing that could rescue Nick Clegg is if Conservative voters banking on another Con-Dem coalition government vote tactically for Nick Clegg and thus deny Labour an additional MP. In fact Nick Clegg and David Cameron may have already discussed such a tactical pre-election announcement that should the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives collectively command an a majority then the coalition government would continue. Thus would trigger a huge amount of tactical voting of Lib Dem and Conservative voters that would in this instance save Nick Clegg so as to avoid the loss of a ConDem seat to Labour.

Liberal Democrats - So How Many MP's?

Whilst is is clear the Liberal Democrats are going to lose a lot of their seats. However the opinion polls in my opinion are exaggerating the loss due to three factors -

1. That the Liberal Democrat vote is more concentrated in constituencies and so requires a greater swing to lose a seat.

2. That the Liberal Democrat heartlands tend to have the opposition vote near evenly split between Labour and Conservative from both of whom the Lib-Dems draw votes thus making it much harder for either to win a Lib Dem seat.

3. That Parties in government usually tend to do much better on the actual polling day then the opinion polls tend to suggest, i.e. people are less inclined to inform pollsters that they will be voting for a government party then an opposition party. And that tactical voting for the continuation of the Coalition is not being factored into opinion polling.

4. That the Liberal Democrats facing potential electoral disaster are clearly battening down the hatches and concentrating virtually all of their resources towards retaining their existing MP's

5. That the Labour party are themselves fighting for survival in many seats such as in all of its Scottish seats so resources are spread thinly elsewhere, and probably wholly focused on the 100 or so marginal seats which Sheffield Hallam does not fall into the category of.

Therefore the more probable outcome is likely to be the Lib-Dems retaining 6-10 more MP's than the 22 disaster polls suggests. Therefore my conclusion is that the LIberal Democrats are targeting retaining at least 30 seats and possibly as many as 35 seats which would still mean a near 50% loss of 26 MP's and it remains to be seen if Nick Clegg will be one of those lucky additional MP's. The Sheffield Hallam result will likely to be a close call, probably resulting in a majority of less than 2000.

And where the formation of the next government is concerned those 8-10 extra MP's could make all the difference in the value of the Lib-Dems in the formation of the next majority government.

In answering which major party, Labour or Conservative will benefit the most from the 26 Lib Dem seats up for grabs will be covered in my next in-depth analysis that concludes in a detailed seats per party election forecast, so ensure you are subscribed to my always free newsletter to get this in your email box on completion.

In the meantime see my existing long standing forecast conclusion as of December 2013.

16 Dec 2013 - UK General Election Forecast 2015, Who Will Win, Coalition, Conservative or Labour?

The following graph attempts to fine tune the outcome of the next general election by utilising the more conservative current house prices momentum of 8.5% which has many implications for strategies that political parties may be entertaining to skew the election results in their favour.

The the key implications of the above graph are -

  • The window for an outright labour election victory has ended as of July 2013.
  • As of writing an election today would result in a Coalition government with a majority of about 40 seats.
  • The window of opportunity for a Coalition government ends by mid 2014 after which there is an increasing probability for a Conservative outright majority.
  • A May 2015 general election at an average house price inflation rate of 8.5% would result in a Conservative overall majority of about 30 seats. Therefore this is my minimum expectation as I expect UK house prices to start to average 10% per annum from the beginning of 2014.

And also a video version of the analysis and forecast conclusion -

UK General Election Forecast 2015

Source and Comments: http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article49578.html

By Nadeem Walayat

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Copyright © 2005-2015 Marketoracle.co.uk (Market Oracle Ltd). All rights reserved.

Nadeem Walayat has over 25 years experience of trading derivatives, portfolio management and analysing the financial markets, including one of few who both anticipated and Beat the 1987 Crash. Nadeem's forward looking analysis focuses on UK inflation, economy, interest rates and housing market. He is the author of five ebook's in the The Inflation Mega-Trend and Stocks Stealth Bull Market series that can be downloaded for Free.

Housing Markets Forecast 2014-2018The Stocks Stealth Bull Market 2013 and Beyond EbookThe Stocks Stealth Bull Market Update 2011 EbookThe Interest Rate Mega-Trend EbookThe Inflation Mega-trend Ebook

Nadeem is the Editor of The Market Oracle, a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication that presents in-depth analysis from over 1000 experienced analysts on a range of views of the probable direction of the financial markets, thus enabling our readers to arrive at an informed opinion on future market direction. http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any trading losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors before engaging in any trading activities.

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