What Lib Dem members say the Eastleigh by-election result shows

by Stephen Tall on March 24, 2013

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 650 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

You say Eastleigh shows…

mike thornton eastleigh jon aylwin
There will probably be a hung parliament with the Tories under pressure from Ukip, the Lib Dems digging in against the Tories, and Labour the largest single party

LDV asked: I think the Eastleigh by-election result shows… (Respondents could choose multiple options.)

    75% – Ukip will pose a significant threat to the Conservatives at the next general election

    54% – Labour is most likely to end up as the largest single party after the next general election

    53% – The Lib Dems can hope to retain most/all the seats we’re defending against the Conservatives

    53% – A ‘hung Parliament’ is the most likely result at the next general election

    26% – Ukip will win at least one seat at the next general election

    24% – The Lib Dems can hope to make net gains from the Conservatives at the next election

    24% – Ukip will pose a significant threat to the Lib Dems at the next general election

    19% – Ukip will pose a significant threat to Labour at the next general election

    11% – The Lib Dems will lose a significant number of seats to the Conservatives at the next election

    2% – The Conservatives are most likely to end up as the largest single party after the next general election

    10% – Other

    4% – None of these

    1% – Don’t know

Here are some of your comments:

I don’t think Eastleigh shows anything in regards to a general election 2 years away

We have no idea how we would fend against Labour

Local champions allowed us to hold Eastleigh in the face of vicious UKIP campaign and growing LD unpopularity – we can’t extrapolate to 2015!

Where we work we win!

The result is encouraging but cannot be seen to reflect national chances; our strength will lie in local campaigns (even where this is supported by national themes) and I am cautious of making generalised comments based on one by election. It has shown, however, that we can win and knowing that will help morale/skills when we go into the next election.

Lib Dems will have a net result of seats that is the same as 2010 but there will be a churn of seats we hold (probably fewer in the North but more in the South)

We lost 47% of the 2010 vote in Eastleigh – alarm bells should be ringing

The Lib Dems have done a good job locally over the years and they reap their rewards, I do not think it can be applied to all other constituencies. Not to mention the resources that were available there.

UKIP may well help Labour win an overall majority on a low vote share by affecting marginal seats. And help Lib Dems hang on in a few seats and even help us make the odd gain from the Conservatives. We are still vulnerable to losing seats to Conservatives where Labour resurgence is stronger than in Eastleigh.

The Eastleigh by-election result tells us what happened at Eastleigh in the by-election. No more, no less.

Lib Dems can hope to win some seats against Tories

Both governing parties are unpopular

When the Lib Dems concentrate on getting the message across at a local level we can be successful, but we can’t rely on using the national media

We like Mike

Where is “we’ll lose seats to Labour”?

It is far too early to make predictions

Even in a seat where we have all the councillors and an excellent local reputation we are so unpopular that we still drop 15 points.

I think some of these are true, but I don’t think any of them are shown by Eastleigh, which as a high-profile mid-term by-election is a Special Case.

Put Keith House in charge of the country

We will see Lib Dem MPs in certain seats ‘bucking the trend’ and holding their seats, while our national vote share will go down.

That our party has resilience, even if it does not have good leadership. The result was a triumph for the party, not Nick Clegg.

We did well inter alia because we concentrated big resources there. This is not possible in a general election and so the result is of very limited significance.

The voters are still fed up with politics and politicians.

That the Lib Dems were able to win the Eastleigh by-election

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 647 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 17th March.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.