Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in my latest mini-survey. As I always emphasise when talking about the results from previous editions, it’s the equivalent of chatting to lots of people in the queue for coffee at Liberal Democrat events. A quick dip into views rather than a statistically rigorous analysis, in other words.
This time around, the skew of participants was heavily towards longer-standing party members. Interestingly, though, the answers did not vary much between newer and longer-standing members. Both groups very strongly put the party as being closer to Labour than the Conservatives, for example.
Not much variation except in one, counter-intuitive, respect. Generally, newer members said they knew more about events from the party’s history than longer-standing members. Perhaps that’s a quirk of the sampling. Or perhaps newer members include more people who have recently studied modern British politics at school, college or university? Whatever the reason, it’s a good reminder not to stereotype people based on their age or party experience.
There is one answer, in particular, I wanted to pull out due to its relevance to discussions all through the party this year: attitudes towards Paddy Ashdown’s political strategy in the 1990s.
His approach generated much controversy at the time, but the results in the 1997 general election have given it a very warm afterglow:
(Of course, the answers would have been much less positive if I’d asked ‘… including flirting with the idea of merging with Labour’. But that’s not relevant to this Parliament.)
You can hear more about that strategy, why it worked and the lessons for this Parliament in The Project: How the Conservatives were beaten last time.
Listen to the Liberal Democrats and British politics being discussed by myself and a wide range of experts from inside and outside the party on my podcast, Never Mind The Bar Charts.