Why the tax vote was so close at Lib Dem conference

On Monday afternoon, the party leadership’s opposition to a 50p top rate of tax only just won out at Liberal Democrat conference, by a threadbare margin of 4 votes.

Yet other ‘leadership tests’ in Glasgow have been won much more easily. What is more, just 444 votes were cast compared to today’s 550 votes cast in the Trident debate. (Ignore comparisons, by the way, with how many voted at other recent party conferences held in England. Vote totals are always lower when the conference is further away from south east England.)

So a close vote and a low turnout. The reason? The usual text messages to MPs, peers and others reminding them to get to the hall for a vote did not go out with their usual efficiency. The GOTV operation ran less effectively than today. And hence in large party why there were so many fewer votes cast than today.

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