Is there anything more the party can do to turn the polls around?

by Stephen Tall on October 12, 2008

Obsessing about any individual poll is a mug’s game, as we at Lib Dem Voice have long argued. However, we have also always said that polls – taken together and observed over a reasonable time period – are useful evidence of trends. And the trend for the party at the moment is, let’s be honest, not the happiest.

Three weeks ago, the Lib Dems benefited from a polling spike – two polls putting us at or above 20% – possibly as a result of increased publicity surrounding the party conference. Since then there have been seven polls (three from YouGov, two from ICM, and one each from Populus and ComRes) with the following party averages:

Tories 43%, Labour 31%, Lib Dems 16%

The polls at the moment are in a fair amount of flux. The last month has witnessed all three party conferences, together with the greatest traumas the global financial markets have known in decades; it’s going to take a little while for that to be maturely and fully reflected in the polls.

And yet Lib Dems may feel with some justice a little hard done by at the moment. After all, it was Vince Cable, the party’s shadow chancellor, who has been proven the most prescient politician of any of the parties, outshining to the nth degree his opposite numbers, Alastair Darling and George Osborne. Yet the political rewards have been scant (though Vince’s personal ratings are sky-high, and deservedly so).

And it’s hard to see how Nick Clegg could be doing more than he already is, with frequent radio and TV appearances, as well as articles in the serious press putting across the Lib Dem viewpoint, and stressing the party’s distinctive solutions. I got the impression during the Lib Dem conference that Nick was beginning to relax into the role, displaying a great deal more verve and confidence than he did during the leadership campaign. This week’s impressive appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions – an arena in which he has proved himself an accomplished performer – was simply the latest sign that Nick is hitting his stride.

So, simple question: is there anything more the party can be doing as we enter a deep recession to shore up our current poll ratings? Or are we largely captives of the current economic down-turn, during which little that we say or do is going to make much difference?