Why doesn’t she take the trouble to look at the polling?
This is a graph that was produced by John Cruddas for his big speech to the Compass conference during the week in an attempt to underline his case that there is a near-permanent progressive consensus in British politics.
One of the participants, Guardian writer and former SDP-member, Polly Toynbee was reported as saying that “the graph showed that the Conservative Party had never, in the post-war era, had a majority of voters.” That is certainly true. But then Labour has never had a majority either and the only way these numbers can be made to work is by combining the Labour and Liberal/SDP/Lib Dem totals together.
This clearly has impacted on Polly’s thinking and her latest answer to Labour’s electoral predicament is that the party must ditch its tribalism and build a centre-left consensus that includes Lib Dems.
There is, alas, a massive problem. The polling shows strongly that Lib Dem voters are now more inclined to the Tories than to Labour.
In Polly’s own paper, the Guardian the latest ICM poll had this question: “Putting aside your own party preference for a moment, which outcome do you think would be best for Britain?”
Lib Dem general election voters from 2005 split:
“Conservative government led by Cameron” 61%
“Labour government led by Brown 26%”
There was a similar outcome in the YouGov megapoll with a sample of 32,268 voter just ahead of the Euro elections in June. Then this question was put: “If you had to choose, which would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative government led by David Cameron or a Labour government led by Gordon Brown?”.
The 2009 Lib Dem Euro Election voters split:
“Conservative government led by Cameron” 42%
“Labour government led by Brown 34%”
The total of Lib Dem EU voters in that poll was 4,237 and is almost certainly the biggest survey of its kind for years.
This perception about those who vote Lib Dem is trotted out so often to make all sorts of arguments – but it is just wrong. Polly and Co should look at the polling before making audacious assertions.