Lib Dems. The most popular politicians in the country

Local Lib Dems are faring better than their coalition cousins.

Here's a thought to get New Statesman readers' jaws dropping. Last week - by some distance - the most popular politicians in the country
were Lib Dems.

No Nick, not you.

But of the six local by-elections held last week, the Lib Dems won five. And these victories didn't occur in bastions of Lib Dem
incumbency with the party holding on by the skin of its teeth. Three of them were gains, two of them from the Tories - despite the received wisdom
that says we're going to get a bit of a pasting from the Conservatives at the next General Election and we should be concentrating our efforts on Labour.

So how, in the face of doom laden opinion polling, has this miracle come about?

Well, dare I suggest that purist Lib Dem politicians and policies may be rather more popular than their coalition cousins?

Local Lib Dems, unencumbered by the need to explain why detailed analysis of multiple negotiated amendments to the fine print of white
papers means that they can vote in ways that appear to be the opposite of party policy or manifesto commitments, are winning. Presumably
because their constituents still rather like what Liberal Democrats
stand for.

Now, lots of you have zipped to the bottom and are already writing in the comments section that this is all nonsense. "Have you forgotten the May 2011 elections?" I hear you cry. "Local Lib Dems were not so popular then?"

This is true. But then the May round of elections tends to be an opportunity for people to express a view not only on who representsthem locally, but also their opinion of how a party is performingnationally. Draw your own conclusions.

Now this isn't some diatribe, not-too-subtly suggesting we should pull out of the coalition. There's too much we care about - liking raising
the income tax threshold further and faster - still to do. Like most party members, I think we're doing a lot of good in government.

But as we enter the week of Spring Conference, let's remember that asa party, our own policies and politicians are popular and electable. It's
when we start propping up muddled, over complicated Conservative pieces of legislation ('coughs, stares pointedly at the NHS Bill') - that the trouble starts...

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.