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Lib Dem election hopes

Deborah McGurran | 10:59 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

Voting booth

May's elections will provide an indicator of public reaction to the recent spending cuts

It's a fascinating set of elections this May. It is the first time we have had a coalition government for 60 years and we have the largest budget deficit since the Second World War. It's a heady mix.

As central government cracks down hard on our councils, how will it play out at the ballot box? Whose fault will it be perceived to be? The Conservatives blame Labour for "getting us into this mess". Labour blames the Lib Dems for 'supporting the cuts' and the Lib Dems believe they're taking the responsibility of government seriously.

Support for the Lib Dems has waned since their pre-general election high point last year.

Baroness Ros Scott

Baroness Ros Scott

Latest polls are showing them at a 16% share of the vote, after a little bounce recently, but it's still way down from the 22% share they actually won last year.

I asked the Lib Dem peer Baroness Ros Scott whether they are going to be the whipping boys of this set of council elections. She hopes that candidates will be judged on their local record.

"I hope it's fought on how good a candidate is and how good the job is at a local level. I also hope we can get the message across that we took responsibility when we could have walked away from government.

"We are making a difference in government on all sorts of issues like the raising of the income tax threshold, EMA concessions and we'll hear next week about pensions," the former President of the party told me.

She also believes that the Conservative and Lib Dem parties are distinct enough at a local level, even though they are in coalition:

"We are in coalition but part of that is that our starting position is different. We have no ideological drive towards smaller government like the Conservatives but we do believe very strongly that we have got to tackle the deficit."

The Suffolk peer is surprisingly confident that Lib Dem support will hold up and they won't be punished for their U-turn on tuition fees or the splits in their ranks over the cuts at a local level.

"It is possible some people might sit on their hands but it's also possible that others who didn't think we were a serious offer before will take us seriously as a party now. And that could be especially true of Conservative voters."

"This is one of those elections where anything could happen," - a sentiment with which I can only concur.


  • Comment number 1.

    Protest votes are normal in mid-term elections but I think both the LibDems and Conservatives will hold their ground quite well. At the end of the day, one has to remember that, whatever the problem is, Labour is not the answer.

  • Comment number 2.

    It doesn't matter what happens to the Lib Dems.

    Of far more concern to me is the question why the Government are happy to call a referendum on a subject that will not really change anything and about which the vast majority of voters couldn't give much of a monkey's, but refuse to give us a vote on the UK's membership of the EU - a subject upon which the majority of voters WOULD be delighted to express their opinion. Says it all.


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