Eric Pickles’ false claims on Lib Dem defectors

Conservative Party Chair Eric Pickles writes in an email to activists that, "Thousands of Lib Dems are choosing the Conservative Party." But Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home outlines that, "A ComRes poll [shows] ... Only 16% said the Conservative Party and 31% said the Labour Party."

Conservative Party Chair Eric Pickles follows up David Cameron’s ode to Liberal Democrats in yesterday’s Observer with an email titled, “Thousands of Lib Dems are choosing the Conservative Party.”

But Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home reveals the truth in an article titled “Liberal Democrat activists want coalition with Labour, not Tories”:

“A ComRes poll for BBC1’s Daily Politics reveals the left-leaning instincts of the average Liberal Democrat acivist.  ComRes asked: ‘In the event of a hung parliament at the next election, and if the Liberal Democrats held the balance of power, which party would you prefer the Liberal Democrats to support in Government?’

“Only 16% said the Conservative Party and 31% said the Labour Party.”

A Populus poll for the Times published last week showed that just 16 per cent of Liberal Democrats would vote Conservative to stop Labour if they “lived in a constituency where the Liberal Democrats had no chance of winning and it was a close two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives.”

The email from Pickles embeds a video featuring eight defectors from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives. It is unclear what happened to the other 9,992 defectors to which Pickles referred.

UPDATE: Stephen Tall has a fascinating poll (of activists, to be clear) asking a subtly different range of questions and produces some different results. It suggests that 61 per cent of activists would be equally ready to negotiate with either Labour or the Conservatives.

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3 Responses to “Eric Pickles’ false claims on Lib Dem defectors”

  1. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Eric Pickles’ false claims on "thousands" of Lib Dem defectors ignore polls of activists and voters

  2. PW

    I’m not sure this stacks up as a piece of evidence-based blogging:

    1. The ComRes poll. Conservative Home represents that it was a poll of “activists,” not voters. I assume this is correct. Pickles is clearly referring to voters, not voters. So to draw a comparison between the poll and the content of Pickles’ email seems misleading.

    2. From your snapshot of the Pickles email above – “thousands of Lib Dems are choosing the Conservative Party.” Again, it appears unfair to suggest that Pickles was claiming 1000s of defections. It is clear that the general trend in recent local elections/by-elections has been for a swing from Lib-Dem (and indeed Labour) to the Conservative Party.

    3. The Populus poll – I think the more interesting point is that anti-Tory tactical voting doesn’t seem to at the levels it has been in previous elections.

    There’s also some additional YouGov stats you may want to update the post with:

  3. willstraw

    Thanks for this:

    1. The ComRes poll was activists who are, of course, also voters by definition. We also included the Populus poll which was of voters (regardless of their level of activism). Since both indicate only 16% support for the Tories, and therefore reinforce each others findings, it seemed fair to include both.

    2. The full email sheds no further light on which individuals Pickles is referring to. Since the main feature of the email is the video interview with eight defectors, I thought it was fair to assume that this was the case.

    3. I suspect that’s right and I’d be very interested to know comparable stats for previous elections if you have them.

    Your post didn’t include the YouGov stats so please do re-comment.

    I have also updated the story with some interesting stats from a Lib Dem Voice poll.


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