Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
11 June 2014updated 09 Jun 2021 9:30am

Exclusive: Danny Alexander: Lib Dems could be biggest party by 2025

What the Lib Dem minister told a recent parliamentary party away day.

By George Eaton

From the oustside, it might appear as if the Lib Dems have few reasons for optimism. Since entering government, the party has lost a third of its members, 1,500 of its councillors, all but one of its MEPs, nine by-election deposits (most recently in Newark) and as much as two-thirds of its previous opinion poll support. The Tories, by contrast, have retained almost all of their 2010 vote share and have consistently exceeded expectations in local elections. As Angela Merkel told David Cameron when he asked her what was it like to lead a coalition government shortly before the 2010 general election: “The little party always gets smashed!”

But with both the Tories and Labour doubtful of winning a majority in 2015 (see Marcus Roberts’s piece in tomorrow’s NS for more on this), the Lib Dems console themselves with the thought that they will once again act as kingmakers in a “balanced parliament”. Some are even more sanguine. In my politics column tomorrow, I reveal that Danny Alexander told a recent parliamentary party away day in Wyboston, Bedfordshire, that the Lib Dems could be the largest party in British politics by 2025. “We were all rolling our eyes, even Clegg’s spads,” one of those present told me. “He’d really been drinking the Kool-Aid”. David Steel’s 1981 exhortation to Liberal activists to “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government” looks modest by comparison.

But while Alexander’s ambitions might seem unrealistic for a party that could struggle to win more votes than Ukip in 2015 (and we await his ten-year plan with interest), what can the Lib Dems do to avoid being continually “smashed”? That’s the question I try to answer in my column.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy