|No more two-horse races?|
One of the pleasures of general and local elections as a Liberal and then a Liberal Democrat used to be going out for a coffee the following Saturday, buying the Guardian and going through the results. There were always plenty of seats and councils where we had made progress.
It wasn't like that this time. In fact, I haven't had the courage to look at the results from 7 May too closely.
So thank you to Seth Thévoz for looking at them for me on the Social Liberal Forum site. But his conclusions make you turn to something stronger than coffee:
While the party came fourth nationally, on a constituency level the results were even more sobering, with 54% of Lib Dem candidates coming fourth; and an even more galling 26.5% actually coming fifth; and more sixth places than first places. In numerous cases where the party came fourth or fifth, there were only four or five candidates standing, and so the Lib Dems came bottom of the poll.And:
Some Lib Dem seats won in 2010 did exceptionally badly. In four cases, Lib Dems came third (Aberdeenshire West and and Kincardine; Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk; Brent Central; and Bristol West), and in one case (Norwich South) they came fourth. In all but one of these five seats (Brent Central), the incumbent MP was seeking re-election, so the much-vaunted ‘Lib Dem incumbency bounce’ did little or nothing to stem the collapse of the party’s vote.And:
In five seats that were held during the 2005-2010 parliament, but lost in 2010, the Lib Dems fell back to fourth place: Camborne and Redruth (the successor to Falmouth and Camborne, with Julia Goldsworthy re-standing after having lost by just 66 votes in 2010); Chesterfield; Dunfermline and West Fife; Hereford and South Herefordshire (the successor seat to Hereford); and Rochdale.His concludes, surely rightly, that the debacle of 7 May means that the tactics we have relied on for the last 30 years or more are going to have to change:
If the party is to survive in first-past-the-post elections, and to even keep more than half of its deposits (let alone begin winning elections in new areas), its campaigning tactics will have to adjust dramatically.