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The Real Winners on Thursday Could be the LibDems

April 29, 2013 10:55 AM
By Iain Dale
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

I've been thinking about the local elections and I have come to a rather surprising conclusion.

It seems to me that the Tories are frit. Frit of UKIP. The fact that they have put up more than 1730 candidates tells its own story. In a sense, even if none of those candidates does any campaigning at all, they will all get a couple of hundred votes or more. Now the fact is, in most county councils, the LibDems are in second place, with Labour trailing a poor third. Despite this, the conventional wisdom is that Labour will do very well on Thursday. No one quantifies what 'well' means. With 2500 seats up for grabs, you'd think a gain of at least 3-400 seats must be the minimum which Labour must aim for.

So if UKIP does well and scores around 10-15% of the vote, it is reasonable to assume that the bulk of these votes will come from disgruntled Conservatives. Which might well mean that the LibDems do disproportionately well assuming their vote doesn't entirely collapse. There is little evidence from council by-elections that this will happen. Their vote has held up very well bearing in mind their terrible polling results.

So I wonder whether they really will lose the 150 seats they are projected to. I can imagine a scenario, where, thanks to UKIP they might not lose very many at all.

The real winners on Thursday will be the 'Don't votes'. If turnout is much above 25-30% I will be very surprised. And the losers? If the Conservatives restrict their losses to 300 that would be regarded as acceptable by most Tories. But if they lose more than 500 I suspect there will be much muttering. And we can all imagine what the muttering will be about. Leopards don't change their spots and Tory MPs clearly haven't changed the habits of a lifetime.

About Iain Dale