The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Lib Dem voters aren’t defecting to Labour

Labour’s vote crumbles to 13.6 per cent in delayed election as Lib Dem support rises.

Thirsk and Malton is the sort of place where they still weigh the Conservative vote, rather than count it, so there was never any doubt that the Tories would romp home in the postponed election.

But more revealingly, the claim that scores of Lib Dem voters would defect to Labour in protest at the Cameron-Clegg union turned out to be wrong. Labour's share of the vote crumbled from 23.4 per cent to just 13.6 per cent. By contrast, the Lib Dems jumped into second place and saw their share of the vote rise from 18.8 per cent to 23.3 per cent. Support for the Tories rose fractionally from 51.9 to 52.9 per cent.

Now, this is just one constituency and it's true that all new governments enjoy a honeymoon, but I hope and expect that some Labour figures now realise that they can't bank on anti-Lib Dem votes at the next election. As Mike Smithson sensibly points out, the Lib Dems may be losing some support from the left, but they are gaining far more from the increased visibility that the coalition allows.

And so long as Labour remains a leaderless and directionless party, immersed in a so far uninspiring leadership election, I doubt it'll win back any voters.

Once a new leader is in place, the real test will come in those constituencies (unlike Thirsk and Malton) where the Lib Dems traditionally campaign to the left of Labour.

Special offer: get 12 issues of the New Statesman for just £5.99 plus a free copy of "Liberty in the Age of Terror" by A C Grayling.

Next Article