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.

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

 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Could Jeremy Corbyn still be excluded from the leadership race? The High Court will rule today

Labour donor Michael Foster has applied for a judgement. 

If you thought Labour's National Executive Committee's decision to let Jeremy Corbyn automatically run again for leader was the end of it, think again. 

Today, the High Court will decide whether the NEC made the right judgement - or if Corbyn should have been forced to seek nominations from 51 MPs, which would effectively block him from the ballot.

The legal challenge is brought by Michael Foster, a Labour donor and former parliamentary candidate. Corbyn is listed as one of the defendants.

Before the NEC decision, both Corbyn's team and the rebel MPs sought legal advice.

Foster has maintained he is simply seeking the views of experts. 

Nevertheless, he has clashed with Corbyn before. He heckled the Labour leader, whose party has been racked with anti-Semitism scandals, at a Labour Friends of Israel event in September 2015, where he demanded: "Say the word Israel."

But should the judge decide in favour of Foster, would the Labour leadership challenge really be over?

Dr Peter Catterall, a reader in history at Westminster University and a specialist in opposition studies, doesn't think so. He said: "The Labour party is a private institution, so unless they are actually breaking the law, it seems to me it is about how you interpret the rules of the party."

Corbyn's bid to be personally mentioned on the ballot paper was a smart move, he said, and the High Court's decision is unlikely to heal wounds.

 "You have to ask yourself, what is the point of doing this? What does success look like?" he said. "Will it simply reinforce the idea that Mr Corbyn is being made a martyr by people who are out to get him?"