A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

July, 2010Archive for

The Questions Newsnight Didn’t Ask

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

2010 UK Electoral MapNewsnight are having their fun with a Comres Poll showing that 40% of people who voted Lib Dem on May 6th would not vote for them now. That’s a loss of about 2.7 million votes.

What they don’t ask is how many Tory, Labour and “stay at home” voters would have switched to the Lib Dems if they’d known that they would not have been a “wasted vote” come May 7th.

The Poll gives some clues. 14% of Tory voters would not have voted Tory. That’s 1.4 million votes. I can’t believe many of those would have gone to Labour so most of these would have gone to smaller parties or the Lib Dems.

There is also an unknown number of people who didn’t vote that may have voted Lib Dem if they had known the party would be in government after the election. Again we don’t know because Newsnight didn’t ask that question.

And yes there will be some Lib Dem supporters who voted Labour on May 6th because they thought a Lib Dem vote was a wasted vote. Would these people have voted Lib Dem if they had known that the result would be a Con/ LD coalition? You might think it unlikely but again there is no Newsnight polling data.

The Lib Dem vote is always susceptible to “churn” – changes in who votes Lib Dem from election to election, largely due to variations in how well the local campaigns go and what media coverage the party can secure. Because the Lib Dems get fewer votes than Labour or the Tories, any loss is magnified.

For example if 40% of Lib Dem voters switched to the Tories – 2.7 million votes, the party would only need to get 25% of  Tory voters to switch back to recover their losses.

It may well be that the Lib Dems have lost voters since May 6th. No-one said being a junior member of a coalition would be easy. There are several things that the government is doing that I disagree with and no doubt other Lib Dem supporters feel the same.

However, it seems that Newsnight were only interested in whether Lib Dem voters have been put off by the coalition. They did not consider if the party has become more attractive to voters from other parties and none.

Nick Harvey voices Lib Dem fears about school buildings cuts

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Nick Harvey MPLib Dem Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey MP wants  a speedy review of alternative funding sources for schools that have lost out in the cuts to the school buildings budget.

And he’s written to the Tory Education Minister Michael Gove to point that out.

A few choice quotes are:

“I accept that putting these projects on hold in light of the current deficit, or pending a review of how to achieve best value from such a programme, can be justified but that does not mean that the basic problem of inadequate school buildings disappears.”

“It is important for the morale of the students, staff, governors and the wider community that the real and obvious need for these buildings to be replaced is acknowledged, and that alternative and transparent mechanisms be put in place at the earliest practical moment. I also think that such a course of action is important to the credibility of the Government, as unnecessary delay will only breed an atmosphere of cynicism.”

I knew that the Lib Dem Youth & Students (now Liberal Youth) action week in North Devon in 2006 was a good investment of my time.

Nick is yet another voice in the growing chorus of concern at the cuts. It is not so much that the brakes have been put on, it is the lack of clarity about alternative sources.

I am governor at a Primary School and a lack of refurbishment/ building updates would have meant that our energy bills would have continued to be an increasingly large and uncertain part of the budget. In the last few years we have seen window replacements and special tiling for the (flat) roof, which appears to be saving some money. Not all doors and windows have been replaced and no doubt this winter there will still be many ways for heat to escape.

When budgets are stretched, large-scale rebuilds may have to be scaled back, but there is plenty that can be done with modern materials to improve existing buildings or extend schools to replace temporary huts.

Liberal Democrats need to keep on the case with this policy. Gove should not be allowed to simply stop all school building projects regardless of need.