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Why the Lib Dems did better than you think

The party is now in second place in 242 seats.

The Liberal Democrats may have won just 57 seats on Thursday, five fewer than in 2005, but the extra 850,000 votes they received still allowed them to progress elsewhere.

As UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells notes, the Lib Dems are now in second place in 242 seats, up from 188 at the last election. And the party is now within 10 per cent of the winning party in 45 seats, up from 31 in 2005.

By contrast, Labour is now in third place in 232 constituencies, up from 151 at the last election. There are large parts of the country, most notably Scotland and inner-city London, where the Tories were pushed into third place in 1997 and have struggled to win ever since. Some in Labour must now fear that it faces the same fate.

In other circumstances, the Lib Dems would be in a good position to progress at the next election, but the present situation puts them at risk. If they strike a deal with the Tories they risk alienating floating Labour voters, and if they strike a deal with Labour they risk alienating floating Conservative voters. The party may be gambling that the dividend it would gain from electoral reform will compensate for this.

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