by Stephen Tall on May 7, 2010
Here’s a few to ponder … Or perhaps best to sleep on them.
1. What happened to the predicted Lib Dem surge? Did people change their mind at the last minute? Did young people not turn out? Did floating voters turn their back on us?
2. How did the opinion polls get the Lib Dem share of the vote so badly wrong? They were pretty accurate in terms of the Labour/Tory vote, but all nine of the final polls put the Lib Dems in the 26-29% range when in fact we scored 23%.
3. What happened to our targeting strategy? Given our share of the vote was higher than in 2005, how did we lose so many seats? Did we over-reach ourselves? Or did we underestimate the residual Labour/Tory vote?
4. Why were there such differences between results in individual Lib Dem seats, sometimes making gains against the Tories (eg, Wells, Eastbourne), sometimes suffering horrendous swings (eg, Oxford West & Abingdon, Montgomeryshire). Incumbency seems to have helped in some places, not in others: why?
5. Should Nick Clegg have ruled out any form of coalition before the election to avoid a week of the campaign getting bogged down in the usual hung parliament media process stories? Was it a mistake to state openly the party wouldn’t work with Gordon Brown if Labour came third?
6. How far did the rightwing press’s smear operation in the latter half of the campaign eat away at our vote?
7. How far did the Tories’ Ashcroft money torpedo our campaign against the Tories?
8. Did people in the end decide they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for our liberal policies on immigration and Europe? Or did they in the end simply decide the Lib Dems couldn’t win (the old ‘wasted vote’ argument most of us hoped this election would put to rest)?
9. Have the Lib Dems reached a ceiling of what can be achieved within the constraints of a third party not backed by the financial largesse of the trade unions or big business? Is 50-70 seats all we’re scaled-up to win given the unfairness of the first-past-the-post system?
10. And the $64,000 question – what happens next?