Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The first general election with an unpopular Lib Dem leader
My memory of general election campaigns goes back to February 1974, but the 2015 campaign will be a first.
It will be the first election the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats have fought with an unpopular leader.
Jeremy Thorpe, David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy were all wildly popular with the voters, even if it was sometimes possible to wonder why.
The one leader who was not popular with the public, Ming Campbell, was defenestrated before he could fight an election
In 2010 Nick Clegg was popular, even if the Cleggmania engendered by the first televised leaders' debate had largely dissipated by the time polling day came.
But in 2015 Nick Clegg is not popular. the latest Ipsos MORI poll to ask about such things found that his approval rating was a lowly -36.
All of which means that Nick Barlow is probably right when he says we should not expect the Liberal Democrats' poll ratings to go up during the election campaign just because they always have.
Perhaps wisely, the optimists in the party are looking to a strong incumbency factor for our sitting MPs as the key to our defying the national opinion polls, and some constituency polls do give them a rational basis for their optimism.