'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Wednesday 10 August 2011

I've just asked Nick Clegg how many seats he wants to win at the next election. Here's his answer.

Today was a 'meet the leader' session for London members of the Lib Dems at the National Liberal Club. A packed room heard Nick take questions for over an hour and I'll be blogging plenty of them. But first - here's what I asked.

"Nick, when you were elected leader, you said you had a target of doubling the number of Lib Dem MP's by the election after next. Is that target still the same?'

Nick's answer was (with a chuckle...)

'Yes, let's stick with it'.

So that's as straight an answer as you're ever likely to get. To save everyone looking it up, this means we should be aiming to win 126 seats in 2015. Nick didn't reference the fact that electoral reform means The Commons should be reducing from 650 to 600 MP's at the next election, but as the question before hand was about exactly that subject he hadn't forgotten this. So...


Everyone got that? I know targets aren't everyone's cup of tea, but in this case, I like having something to aim at.

Nick then made a more important point (which I'll paraphrase).

At the last election, while we ended up in Government, we had a net loss of 8 seats. While there were specific reasons why we lost some existing seats (I'm guessing that was a dig at Lembit, who was in the audience - Lembit at a London event, weird isn't it?), the real question was "why didn't we win more 'new seats'?".

Polling in May 2010 indicated with a week to go that we'd win 12 seats off Labour in the North - tremendously important if we are to be seen as a national party, not a party with strengths in pockets of the country but no overall appeal. We ended up winning just 2 of them (Burnley and Redcar).

What went wrong?

It seems that very consistently, thousands of people who liked our manifesto, liked Nick in the debates, and thought we were the fairest party, all decided at the last minute that they couldn't quite bring themselves to do it. They questioned if we were a serious choice, their heart said Lib Dem but their head said something else. They couldn't imagine us governing.

They can now. We are now a serious party. A party of government. A party that gets things done.

And as we differentiate ourselves more and more from the Tories over the next 4 years, we will be in a better place to be seen as a serious and credible candidate for more peoples votes.

That's the plan, anyway.

So folks

2015. 126 seats.


  1. Did he come up with ANY evidence for either his hypothesis for the last few days of the 2010 campaign or the way he claims it will benefit us in 2015.

    There is an oft quoted poll that XX% of people would vote for us if they thought we could win where XX is always much higher than our poll ratings. The problem is as we grew as a party XX fell - so as we became more likely to win, fewer people said they would vote for us if they thought we could win!

    That doesn't augur well for people voting for us just because we've been in government.

    (BTW there was at least one more gain from Labour in Bradford East)

  2. well, to be fair he was asked an unexpected question at the end of an hour long Q&A so I wouldn't expect him to have the evidence to hand - but yes, he certainly indicated that there was quantitative evidence to back this up. He certainly wasn't referring to the usual story to which you allude - this was rather more concrete.

  3. Does show there's a massive disconnect in the setup that evidence is there and been studied, but that the organiser of one of the three seats gained doesn't know about it and hasn't been asked to comment on it though.

    My gut says Nick's right on that, and I got that anecdotally locally, but it would be nice for a proper review to be circulated, even if it is only to key activists (if I'm not to see it, I can accept that, but Hywel not seeing it? Not on)

  4. I think we're getting better at circulating that sort of info - it's exactly what we need to know to craft our tactics at a local level. Tho here in Ham Common we'll be tackling the other problem - beating the Tories.

  5. Perhaps it's too early in the electoral cycle for this question to be asked though it does emphasise that our targeting strategy requires a lot of thought for us to maximise the benefit from our time in government

  6. Thanks Peter - wondered about the timing when i asked it, but i figured he was happy to make the prediction in 2008....