Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Could Clegg benefit from a "positive feedback loop"?

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Following the incredible YouGov poll result out today which puts the Lib Dems on 30% up 8 points and ahead of Labour, one thing that everyone is now wondering is if this is an outlier or a trend.

We won't know for sure until we see more polls (ComRes has one in the Indy tomorrow so we should see that later today). One thing that I am hearing a lot is speculation that it is just a short term post leader debate bounce and it cannot be sustained. Maybe. However Paul Waugh floated a fascinating idea yesterday:

The accepted wisdom today is that Clegg is under greater pressure because he's no longer the underdog and that his ratings can only now go down.

But here's a different thought: what if there is a positive feedback effect? What if the TV debate honeymoon continues..and deepens as the campaign goes on? With every TV station now interested in his every move, he gets more coverage and respect than ever, which in turn leads to greater public awareness, which in turn leads to possibly greater support.

Just a thought.

I don't know if this is what will happen but it is at least plausible. The truth is that one of the main reasons (perhaps even the main reason) that people give for not voting for us is because they think we cannot win. If suddenly that reason is no longer there then we are in unchartered territory and frankly all bets are off.

Let's see what the next couple of polls bring...


Neil Gall said...

I think this theory has a lot of credence. I have long admired LD policies but have often voted differently for precisely this reason. I am now glued to the election news like never before.

The Great Simpleton said...

Judging by the rather small and probably unrepresentative people I have discussed it with Paul might be on to something. I suspect that Nick will maintain the "benefit of doubt" sympathy into the next two debates and if he continues to perform well may translate that in to a lot more votes.

However, he will come under a lot pressure during and after the next two debates. Two subjects spring to mind:

1. EU. Whilst the country may not want to leave, if some polls are to be believed, that doesn't mean that those who support your many other policies will want to swallow the ever closer union position that many, if not most, of your party supports. The EU could be as much a problem for you as it has been for the Tories. As for joining the Euro, I really don't see that being a help for you.

2. The economy. You have many eye catching policies, especially the £10k income tax threshold (although judging from what I have seen not many understand why it is a good idea but that's bye the bye for now). I would expect the Tories to come out fighting (and am surprised they haven't already) and doing their damnedest to undermine Vince Cable and show Nick to be weak on the subject and reliant on Vince.

If Nick continues to do well it is going to get very bloody - but that could also play out well for you.

All in all the election has just become a lot more interesting.

PS Do you think you can continue to play this as the Nick and Vince show and not put some of your other, somewhat weaker, spokesman in the public spotlight?

Bernard Salmon said...

In answer to The Great Simpleton: our European policy is to make the EU more democratic and accountable, to support sensible co-operation on issues which cut across national borders (eg the environment and terrorism) and to support an in/out referendum on Britain's future in the EU. We are not currently proposing joining the euro - the way our economy's been wrecked by Brown means that not feasible in the near future.

The Great Simpleton said...


I have been reading your manifesto and I find your position at best confused.

Firstly, I think the making the EU more "democratic and accountable" is a cop in the same way that all the talk about "efficiency savings" is going to save the economy and reduce the deficit without any pain. The failed old parties have been saying that for years and it won't happen. The EU is all about ever closer union and having acquired all it current powers it isn't going to give them up.

As to the referendum position I really don't follow the logic. We won't have a referendum unless there is a move towards further integration (ie transfer of more power). At this point the referendum won't be about whether we maintain the status quo but about in (under the new integration treaty) or out.

If we can't vote to maintain the status quo that implies that you don't think it is a good status. So, if you don't like the status quo why not state what further integration you want and then have an in/out referendum. You won't get any arguments from the EU about further integration.

And yes, I would like to see us out but not because I am some sort of europhobe but because the original trade agreement based union has been usurped by a political union and that cannot be undone without exit. I have also come to realise that even the original trade idea was just protectionism and is bad for the world economy and the poorest countries in particular.

Sad to say but it is your Eu position that will probably stop me voting LibDem, however it doesn't mean I will automatically vote for UKIP as I have bigger issues with them.