Archive for the 'Lib Dems' Category


A possible Westminster by-election opportunity for the LDs – Brecon where the MP has just pleaded guilty to fraud

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

It was held by the LDs from GE1997 to GE2015

This morning the MP for Brecon and Radnor, Christopher Davies, pleaded guilty to parliamentary expenses fraud. He awaits sentence. If he receives a custodial sentence of a year or more than he automatically will forfeit his seat in House of Commons.

But if the sentence is any less than a year the new recall procedure, currently in operation in Peterborough, could comes into play and he would have to go if 10% or more of the electorate signed the recall petition.

This is a seat that the Lib Dems first won in 1997 and lost at the 2015 general election when they took a battering nationally at the end of the coalition.

In areas where the Lib Dems have been traditionally strong they are usually well placed to fight by-elections and particularly so in the supercharged political atmosphere that we now have with Brexit. That’s not going to go away whatever happens in the next couple of months.

Everything now is dependent on the sentence that Davis is given. At the referendum in June 2016 Brecon and Radnor voted 52% to 48% to leave almost exactly in line with the national average.

By land area the constituency is the largest in England and Wales.

Mike Smithson


Vince Cable stepping down as LD leader. Layla Moran the opening favourite to succeed

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

On the eve of the Lib Dem Spring Conference in York the leader since GE2017, Twickenham MP Vince Cable, has announced tonight that he’s stepping thus opening up a leadership contest.

This has not come as a surprise and it was always envisaged that his period as leader would be to bridge the gap following Tim Farron’s exit after GE2017.

Two women head the betting. Layla Moran, who took Oxford West and Abingdon from the Tories two years ago is the early favourite followed by Jo Swinson, who served in the coalition as a minister and returned to the Commons at GE2017.

The party has changed its rules and could conceivably now elect a leader who isn’t even an MP. Gina Miller has been suggested.

As for Moran she has a powerful media presence and has taken a very strong role on Brexit. It has been noticeable how her media appearances have increased in recent months. She’s also the first MP of Palestinian descent.

Swinson was widely tipped in 2017 but she did not want to put herself forward at that stage.

What’s important for the LDs, who have been in the media shadow since GE2015, is that they have a proper leadership contest and they elect a leader who will attracts media coverage. Both Moran and Swinson could do that.

I’m on Layla at 2/1 but I won’t put any more on until she confirms that she’ll run.

If the LDs elect a woman then Labour’s Mr. Corbyn, would be the only male heading a significant UK political party.

Mike Smithson


Layla Moran now becomes favourite to become next LD leader

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

The LD MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Laylan Moran, made a point at PMQs this lunchtime that I’m surprised hasn’t been taken up by other remainers – the pro-Brexit comments by Putin.

This comes as her betting price on Betfair has tightened and the last price recorded by Betfair as I write rates her as a 42% chance.

There’s isn’t, of course, a vacancy but Vince Cable has indicated that he’ll go before the next election. My guess is that if she stood Moran would win a membership ballot. She has a powerful media presence and has taken a very strong role on Brexit. It has been noticeable how her media appearances are increasing. My only caution is that I’m not sure she would stand.

The other possibles are Jo Swinson and Ed Davey.

Mike Smithson


Paddy Ashdown (1941-2018) RIP

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

It was announced about an hour ago that Paddy Ashdown, the first leader of Lib Dems has died at the age of 77. Two months ago he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Normally we don’t run obits on PB but I’m making an exception with Paddy who is someone I knew and had great respect for. He was the leader of the LDs from its formation in 1987 and saw the parliamentary party move from 22 seats to 46 providing the foundation for its growth to 62 seat at GE2005

He actually led the party at the 1992 and 1997 general elections. In the former I was a candidate for Bedford which happened to be the place where he had gone to school. This connection meant that there were a number of times when we were in contact and I remember chauffeuring him around on more than one occasion.

He had courage and a charisma that enabled the third party to make a mark and be heard. I can remember dozens of occasions on the doorstep when reminding voters that our leader was Paddy was enough to shift the vote.

His background as an officer in the special services and later on as a diplomat gave him a breadth of experience that made him unique amongst party leaders.

He will be sadly missed.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast: Where do the Lib Dems go from here?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Keiran Pedley is joined by Mark Pack of the Lib Dem Newswire to discuss this week’s Lib Dem conference. Keiran and Mark discuss how the conference went and where the party goes from here and Mark gives everyone an outside tip on who the next Lib Dem leader might be when Vince Cable steps down.

Listen to the latest episode here:

Follow this week’s guests:


If you’re betting on the next Lib Dem leader the field could be about to get rather large

Friday, September 7th, 2018



After just a year in the job Cable comes under pressure

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Could he be the first party leader out?

I have no idea whether the Mail story linked to in the tweet above is correct but there’s little doubt that Cable’s failure to participate in one of the key Commons votes of this Parliament has raised a few eyebrows something that’s been exacerbated by the narrowness of outcome.

But is the report right that there is a plot to replace him with the woman of Palestinian descent who took Oxford West and Abingdon back from the Tories at the last election?

There’s little doubt that when the Lib Dems do choose a successor to Cable that Moran together with the former minister, Jo Swinson appear to be the strong favourites.

The problem for the Lib Dems is that since dropping to just 8 seats at the 2015 General Election they’ve simply been ruled out of political discourse. At the last election that seat total was increased to 12 and at the local elections in May they gained control the four councils which compares with labour’s net total of zero.

My guess is that Moran or Swinson would be able to command more media attention and that is something that is urgently needed by the yellow team.

As to the first leader out betting Theresa May remains the strong odds on favourite.

Mike Smithson


With just about all the LE2018 results now in the clear winners were the LDs gaining most seats and councils

Friday, May 4th, 2018

BBC News

One of the things that generally happens on local election nights is that the media narrative is determined by what happens in the first few hours of results. So the big coverage was of Lab’s failure to take its key targets in London and of course the antisemitism element of the result from Barnet.

But now that we’ve got just about all the results in we seen clearly that the big winners were the Lib Dems who have clawed a fair bit back from the abyss that they entered following the decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. This is their best set of local elections since then. It also fits into the big trend that we have seen in council by-elections.

Unfortunately for them in terms of the media coverage most of the big action has happened during the daytime rather than last night when the major success was restricted to just one Richmond upon Thames. Today has seen them take the London Borough of Kingston with some huge gains, Three rivers in Hertfordshire as well as South Cambs.

Clearly all these were strong remain areas and were not places where in recent times where LAB has had much presence.

What the yellow team desperately need are some parliamentary by elections which have been somewhat scarce. It is now expected that we could see two being called pretty quickly – Lewisham East and Barnsley Central. Both have wapping LAB majorities but Cable’s team ought to be making them a key target now. They have the skilled activists and the expertise and they should go for it while the two main parties are both going problems periods.

Mike Smithson