New LDV competition: predict how the Lib Dems will do on 1st May

by Stephen Tall on April 21, 2008

Election fever is gripping the nation. Well, maybe not, but political activists up and down the country are currently wearing out their shoe leather canvassing and delivering leaflets ahead of the local elections in 10 days’ time.

Since the last national test of opinion, in May 2007, both the Lib Dems and Labour have replaced their leaders, a general election has been hyped-up then postponed, and a global credit crunch has become reality. So there’s plenty for the voters to pass judgment upon. And of course many local votes will be decided, quite rightly, on the performance of local government with barely a reference to national policies.

We’re asking you to use all your psephological nous to tell us what you think will happen this year. Here are the three questions:

1. How many Council seats do you think the Lib Dems will gain or lose on 1st May? (This is net seats as recorded by the BBC website at 5pm on Fri, 2nd May).
2. What do you think will be the Lib Dems’, Labour and Tory national projected share of the vote? (Again, as stated by the BBC website at 5pm on 2nd May)?
3. What do you think will be the percentage of first preferences won by the three main candidates for London mayor?

Please leave your entries in the comments box, below. You can use a pseudonym if you prefer to remain anonymous, but you must use a valid email address for your entry to be included.

And the prize? Leaving to one side the admiration of your peers and glory of victory, you’ll win a limited edition Lib Dem Voice mug.

Here’s some historical background to help you in your deliberations…

Back in 2004, when most of the Council seats up this time were last contested (along with the European Parliament elections), the Liberal Democrats won almost 1,300 seats, 21 percent of the total and a net gain of over 100. The party won more seats than the Conservatives in both the North East and North West regions. The Lib Dems gained control of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Pendle but lost control of 4 other councils.

Estimates suggest that the Lib Dems won around 27% of the national equivalent vote, compared to 37% for the Tories and 26% for Labour. This was the first time the Lib Dems had come second in nationally contested local elections in modern political history. (All information from the House of Commons research paper 04/49, Local elections 2004.)

In the London mayoral election, Simon Hughes (14.8%) came third against Labour’s Ken Livingstone (35.7%) and the Tories’ Steve Norris (28.2%), with Mayor Livingstone besting Mr Norris after second preferences, 55.4% to 44.6%.

In the London Assembly elections, the Lib Dems polled 18.4% of the constituency vote, compared to Labour’s 24.7% and the Tories’ 31.2%. After additional members were added to reflect the top-up vote, the Tories had nine AMs, Labour seven, the Lib Dems five, Greens two and UKIP two.

And here’s what electoral expert John Curtice’s analysis, as published in the Sunday Telegraph last week:

The Liberal Democrats look as though they will struggle to repeat their 2004 success. Their national poll standing is three to four points down on four years ago, while their performance in last year’s local elections was also some three points below 2004. Even if the Tories are no more than the principal beneficiaries of a Liberal Democrat decline, Mr Cameron will still be able to notch up some gains. Such an outcome could be enough to ensure the party gains control of a clutch of councils in the South and Midlands.