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Election 2015: How the Lib Dems are sleepwalking into oblivion

| 22.02.2015

As the Spectator’s political editor James Forsyth suggested in a recent piece for the stalwart magazine, the Liberal Democrats seem far to cheery considering at least half of their MPs look to be heading straight out of Westminster.

On BBC Question Time in Stockton-on-Tees, Minister of State Norman Lamb attempted to make the case for the junior party remaining in Government, largely through badly rehearsed and clearly contrived hand movements.

Lamb and co have set out to convince the electorate that they can be the counterpoint to either Labour or the Conservatives, anchoring the historically ‘big’ parties to the centre ground of politics.

Forsyth seems to agree that this is the Lib Dems’ best (and perhaps only) hope, while stating the strategy has hit a major snag. Nobody’s listening.

The SNP and Ukip have overtaken Nick Clegg’s crowd on the ‘scrappy insurgents’ front, with much of the talk regarding potential coalition makeups after May’s election focused on Nicola Sturgeon’s and Nigel Farage’s parties.

Indeed, Sturgeon came across much more authentically on #bbcqt compared to Lamb, who’s probably a bit short at 1/8 to hold onto his North Norfolk seat, having served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the toxic Deputy Prime Minister in the first half of this parliament.

The SNP and the Greens are advocating the end of nuclear proliferation and economic policies completely out of kilter with much of the western world, while Ukip struggle to shirk the charge that many of their members are thorough-going racists.

None of that seems to matter to the electorate, with the English-based pair pulling in around 25 per cent in the opinion polls to the yellows’ nine per cent. Meanwhile, Sturgeon’s lot are expected to go from six House of Commons seats to 30+.

In their current incarnation, the Lib Dems have always struggled to turn support at the ballot box into seats in the Commons; Paddy Ashdown managed to win just 20 out of 650 in 1992, despite claiming over 22 per cent of the vote.

It’s likely they’ll get nowhere near that much backing this time round, so 8/11 on under 28.5 Lib Dems seats after the election looks like money for sale, while 4/1 on Clegg’s flailing force snagging between 11-20 should also be snapped up.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune