by Stephen Tall on January 5, 2011
‘Lib Dem support hits all-time low’ shouts the front page of the Independent today. It’s a bit of a rum story for two reasons.
First, because it’s not true — though I recognise that’s rarely a reason for a newspaper not to run a story. Those who doubt my word can read Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Blog post, pithily titled: Lib Dem support NOT at all-time low.
And, secondly, because even if it were true it’s not really news — we all know Lib Dem poll ratings have taken a battering. We also all know how fickle have been the opinion polls over the past 12 months. A year ago, many were writing off the Lib Dems’ chances because we were regularly polling below our 2005 general election figure. The came ‘Cleggmania’, and our ratings rocketed — only to subside by polling day itself. And since then they’ve been on a downward trend.
What will be the position by May 2011? No-one really knows. Our opponents and pessimistic supporters will assume we should get used to low ratings; those who are optimists among our ranks will look forward to our ratings increasing.
These are tricky days for the Lib Dems: none of us doubt that. We knew the risks well enough when we entered into Coalition, that the value of our investment could go down as well as up. I’m not complacent enough just to assume that there will be an upward trend sooner or later. But our party has been written off so many times by the media, always to bounce back again, that it may take more than a dodgy Indy headline to persuade me that this time we’re all doomed.