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UK election 2010: Erratic swings snap Labour’s thread of support (7 May 2010)

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UK election 2010: Erratic swings snap Labour’s thread of support (7 May 2010)

Posted on 07 May 2010 by admin

While Labour has lost support, no clear swing to the Tories and the Lib Dem losses leaves this election without a real verdict

The 2010 election was even more fractured than one might have expected. There was no real national verdict, except perhaps that the thin thread of public support by which Labour had clung on to power in 2005 had snapped. The results were a kaleidoscope of peculiar local results.

National swing broke down in the 1970s; now it seems that even regional swing has become a thing of the past. Nor can one read off politics from social composition any more – how could Birmingham Edgbaston stay Labour, but Nuneaton go Tory, without politics having assumed a new form?

The swing from Labour to the Conservatives was uneven. Apparently clear patterns in past polls and local elections, such as a Conservative surge in the Midlands, did not appear when the votes were counted, and Labour even held on to the Nottingham suburb of Gedling (a seat the party had not won before 1997).

Most observers expected the Conservatives to do better than average in their target marginals, but in some that had been showered with resources and worked hard for years there were feeble swings.

In some seats, like Corby, Hastings and Stroud it was just about enough to eke out a gain. In others, mammoth swings blew away the competition – Leicestershire North West fell with a double-digit swing.

But Labour has held on well in marginals across Scotland and in ethnically mixed areas of England (holding both Luton seats, for instance).

2010 was supposed to be one of the great Liberal revival elections, alongside 1974 and 1983, but as well as the irregular gains of the Conservatives, one of the stories of the night has been the dashing of so many Lib Dem hopes. Not only did they miss most targets, including low hanging fruit in academic Labour seats like Durham and Oxford East, but some established Lib Dem seats like Harrogate and Hereford fell to the Tories – and Rochdale, supposedly Brown’s Waterloo, was a surprise Labour win.

There is better news elsewhere, and surprise victories like Redcar (where a steelworks closure led to a landslide swing against Labour), but breaking the mould of Westminster politics (as opposed to breaking the two-party grip, which happened years ago) will remain an ambition rather than a reality.

Nor has it been the year of the Independent – party politics having reclaimed Blaenau Gwent and Wyre Forest, and Esther Rantzen having flopped in Luton. The anti-Westminster mood at the time of the expenses crisis in 2009 is certainly not reflected in these results.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/07/erratic-swing-snaps-labour-support

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General election 2010: Lewis Baston’s tactical voting guide (5 May 2010)

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General election 2010: Lewis Baston’s tactical voting guide (5 May 2010)

Posted on 05 May 2010 by admin

Our psephological expert offers the ultimate guide to deploying your vote to best advantage in a range of scenarios, based on the special eve-of-election Guardian/ICM poll

Part one: Conservative/Lib Dem marginals

1. The Lib Dems have a chance of gaining these marginal seats from the Conservatives, and tactical voting for the Liberal Democrats is strongly recommended if you want to avoid a Conservative majority:

Lib Dem targets from the Tories

Tactical voting for the Lib Dems strongly advised to prevent Conservative majority

Con
Lab
LD

*Lib Dem MP 2005-10 but notionally Conservative on new boundaries

Bournemouth West 43 15 35
Chelmsford 42 19 33
Devon Central 47 5 42
Devon West & Torridge 45 5 40
Dorset North 49 5 41
Dorset West 50 5 42
Eastbourne 46 5 45
Guildford 46 5 43
Harborough 46 11 38
Ludlow 48 5 44
Meon Valley 49 5 44
Newbury 52 5 43
Solihull* 43 8 42
Totnes 46 5 40
Wells 47 8 41
Weston-super-Mare 43 11 39
Worcestershire West 48 5 42

2. The Lib Dems will need tactical votes to defend these seats from the Conservatives because they have been targeted for Tory gains, and in such seats a national swing may not be completely relied upon to keep the seat Lib Dem. These seats were within a 5% swing of the Conservatives in 2005.

Vulnerable Lib Dem seats

Tactical voting for the Lib Dems advised to defend the seat

Con
Lab
LD
Carshalton & Wallington 41 10 44
Cheadle 43 5 51
Cheltenham 42 5 42
Chippenham 41 8 45
Cornwall North 38 5 45
Eastleigh 40 13 41
Hereford & Herefordshire South 44 5 45
Portsmouth South 37 14 45
Richmond Park 43 5 49
Romsey & Southampton North 46 5 47
Somerton & Frome 43 5 47
Southport 40 5 50
Sutton & Cheam 44 5 50
Taunton Deane 44 5 47
Torbay 39 6 45
Truro & Falmouth 35 11 44
Westmorland & Lonsdale 47 5 47
York Outer 39 19 40

3. You may want to vote tactically for a Lib Dem in these seats, which are targets from the Conservatives which Clegg’s party may be able to win with a big national swing or helpful local factors.

Optimistic Lib Dem targets

Tactical voting for the Lib Dems may help

Con
Lab
LD
Aldershot 47 14 32
Bournemouth East 48 11 34
Broadland 45 15 33
Cambridgeshire South East 50 13 35
Gainsborough 47 18 29
Haltemprice & Howden 50 5 39
Somerset North 45 14 33
Suffolk South 45 16 31
Sussex Mid 51 5 39
Woking 50 8 35

4. These are seats with Lib Dem incumbents who are safer than a 5% swing to the Conservatives but who may also merit a cautious tactical vote to protect them from any local or sudden surges.

Lib Dem seats worth shoring up

Sitting Lib Dem MPs may benefit from cautious tactical vote in support

Con
Lab
LD
Leeds North West 26 33 37
Brecon & Radnorshire 35 15 45
Camborne and Redruth 26 29 36
Newton Abbot 35 11 46
Devon North 36 9 46
Cornwall South East 35 11 47
St Austell & Newquay 35 14 47
Winchester 39 8 51
Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk 29 16 42
Argyll & Bute 24 22 37
Oxford West & Abingdon 32 17 46
Bath 34 15 44
Colchester 33 20 47

Part two: Conservative/Labour marginals

1. These are Labour seats which the Conservatives would win on the basis of a 7% swing, as implied by the recent Ipsos Mori research in the marginals, and covering the 5.5% swing implied by the final ICM poll plus a 1.5% buffer in case the Conservatives are doing rather better in their target seats, or otherwise do better than expected. The “tactical power index” is a rough indicator of how powerful tactical voting might be in deciding the outcome in the seat. The figures in the chart are crude projections of the national poll changes. The index is the proportion of people who currently intend to vote Lib Dem who would be needed to vote tactically to save the seat for Labour (Labour having a one-point lead on the projection), taken away from 100 so that a high number indicates seats where tactical voting may be particularly effective.

Possibly defensible Labour seats

Tactical voting for Labour advised

Swing for Con gain
Con
Lab
LD
SNP/PC
Tactical power index

* Croydon Central – notionally Labour under new boundaries, but Conservative MP elected in 2005 now standing as Independent

Amber Valley 6.3 37 38 15
Barrow & Furness 6.3 36 37 21
Basildon South & Thurrock East 1.1 42 33 14 29
Batley & Spen 6.8 35 37 18
Battersea 0.4 43 33 16 31
Birmingham Edgbaston 2 42 35 16 50
Blackpool North & Cleveleys 4.2 40 38 17 82
Bolton North East 6 37 38 19
Bolton West 6 36 37 22
Bradford West 4.2 34 32 22 86
Brigg & Goole 3.9 41 38 16 75
Brighton Kemptown 2.4 37 31 20 65
Broxtowe 2.2 40 34 19 63
Burton 2.4 40 34 16 56
Bury North 2.5 40 34 18 61
Calder Valley 1.4 39 31 22 59
Cardiff North 1.3 39 31 22 7
Carlisle 6.7 36 39 20
Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South 2.7 34 29 17 19
Chatham & Aylesford 4.1 40 37 17 76
Chester, City of 1.1 40 31 25 60
Cleethorpes 3 40 35 18 67
Copeland 6.7 36 39 17
Corby 1.6 43 35 16 44
Crawley 0.1 42 31 18 33
Croydon Central* 0.4 43 33 16
Dartford 1 44 35 13 23
Derbyshire South 2.7 40 35 16 63
Dewsbury 4.4 35 33 17 82
Dorset South 1.9 41 34 19 58
Dover 5.2 38 37 19 89
Dudley North 5.6 34 35 14
Dudley South 4.5 38 36 16 81
Dumfries & Galloway 2.9 38 33 11 15
Elmet & Rothwell 5.7 37 38 19
Eltham 3.8 38 34 19 74
Gedling 4.8 40 39 17 88
Gillingham & Rainham 0.1 44 33 18 33
Gloucester 6.5 38 40 17
Great Yarmouth 3.7 41 38 14 71
Halesowen & Rowley Regis 4.8 40 38 15 80
Halifax 4.4 36 34 21 86
Hammersmith 4.2 37 34 22 82
Harlow 0.3 44 33 16 25
Harrow East 3.4 42 37 17 65
Hastings & Rye 1.3 41 33 19 53
Hendon 4 40 37 17 76
High Peak 1.9 40 33 22 64
Hove 0.5 39 29 21 48
Hyndburn 6.9 35 38 17
Ipswich 5.9 34 35 24
Keighley 5.2 37 37 15 93
Kingswood 6.9 35 38 21
Lancaster & Fleetwood 4.4 37 34 19 79
Leicestershire North West 4.8 39 38 15 87
Lincoln 4.7 37 36 21 90
Loughborough 1.9 40 33 21 62
Milton Keynes North 0.9 39 30 24 58
Milton Keynes South 1.5 41 33 18 50
Morecambe & Lunesdale 5.9 40 41 17
Northampton South 1.9 41 34 17 53
Nuneaton 4.9 40 39 16 88
Portsmouth North 0.4 41 31 23 52
Pudsey 5.9 37 37 21 95
Reading West 5.7 37 37 19 95
Redditch 2.6 41 36 17 65
Rossendale & Darwen 4.2 38 35 18 78
Rugby 2.6 41 36 18 67
Sefton Central 6 37 38 22
South Ribble 2.7 42 36 18 61
Stafford 2 42 35 17 53
Stockton South 6.8 37 40 19
Stevenage 4 38 35 21 81
Stroud 1 41 32 17 41
Swindon North 3.1 42 37 16 63
Swindon South 1.8 40 32 20 55
Tamworth 2.9 40 35 17 65
Thurrock 6.5 36 38 14
Tooting 6.1 34 35 23
Tynemouth 5.8 40 40 18 94
Vale of Glamorgan 1.7 40 33 16 8
Warwick & Leamington 5.2 37 37 19 95
Waveney 6 36 37 18
Westminster North 3.3 36 32 23 78
Wirral South 4.7 36 34 25 88
Wolverhampton South West 2.7 41 35 16 56
Worcester 3.4 38 34 19 74

2. Conservative seats where a tactical vote for Labour may produce change. This small selection is composed of Labour incumbents in seats where boundary changes have made the constituencies notionally Conservative on new boundaries, and a few cases of very small Conservative majorities where if there is a late swing to Labour there may be some chance of a gain. In each case, the Liberal Democrat vote starts too low to be in contention to win the seat:


Sittingbourne & Sheppey
, Clwyd West, Hemel Hempstead, Kettering, Somerset North East (incumbent defends), Finchley & Golders Green, Shipley, Rochester & Strood, Wellingborough, Gravesham, Wirral West, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Thanet South (incumbent defends), Enfield North (incumbent defends), Staffordshire Moorlands (incumbent defends).

3. Labour seats vulnerable on a larger swing. Even on an average swing in the marginals of 7% to Conservative, there will be Labour seats that would succumb because the swing is a bit above average, and if Labour support falls as polling day approaches more may come into contention. For this reason, voters wishing to ensure the Conservatives do not gain an overall majority should support Labour in:

Renfrewshire East, Lancashire West, Vale of Clwyd, Telford, Coventry South, Warwickshire North, Newport West, Crewe & Nantwich, Leeds North East, Erewash, Dagenham & Rainham, Sherwood, Ellesmere Port & Neston, Luton North, Chorley, Norwich North, Gower, Birmingham Selly Oak, Bristol East, Wakefield, Blackpool South, Bassetlaw, Harrow West, Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East, Ealing North, Feltham & Heston, Plymouth Moor View, Blackburn, Delyn, Clwyd South, Slough and Birmingham Northfield.

This list comprises all those seats which would be Conservative gains from Labour on a 7-10% swing, and in which the Liberal Democrats do not come within 10% of the current winner when national poll figures are applied.

Part three: Other seats

There are a few constituencies where a candidate other than Labour or Lib Dem is best placed to keep the Conservatives out. In the marginal seats of Perth & North Perthshire and Angus, the SNP is narrowly ahead of the Tories. In Wyre Forest, Independent Richard Taylor (MP 2001-10) is the best-placed anti-Conservative candidate.

Part four: Debatable territories

Lib Dem supporters who are very keen to keep the Conservatives out should consider voting Labour in these constituencies, even if a movement in line with the current national polls would bring the Lib Dems into distant contention locally.

Debatable territories

Labour-held seats where Lib Dem supporters should consider a vote for the incumbent to keep out the Tories

Swing for con gain
Con
Lab
LD
Aberconwy 2 29 25 24
Bedford 4 37 34 25
Brentford & Isleworth 4.1 34 31 26
Edinburgh South West 8.2 23 32 26
Exeter 8.6 25 34 26
Luton South 7.4 31 35 26
Nottingham South 9.6 27 38 29
Pendle 2.7 35 29 26
Plymouth Sutton & Devonport 5.6 30 33 28
Poplar & Limehouse 5.4 24 27 19
Southampton Test 8.6 25 36 29
Warrington South 4.6 35 33 27

The Liberal Democrats may be best placed to defeat the Conservatives in these constituencies, despite being third in the 2005 election, and Labour supporters may wish to consider tactical votes in these cases.

Slim Tory majorities

Seats where the Lib Dems may be best placed to defeat the Conservatives

Con
Lab
LD
Bosworth 46 24 25
Filton & Bradley Stoke 38 26 31
Hexham 45 22 29
Reading East 39 26 27
St Albans 40 26 28

The principal challenger to the Conservatives in two further semi-marginal seats (namely Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale and Shrewsbury & Atcham) is not clear.

The following seats had Labour first in 2005 and the Conservatives in second, but on the basis of recent polls are three way contests:

Bristol North West, Colne Valley, Ealing Central & Acton, Northampton North.

The following seats had Labour first in 2005 and the Lib Dems second, but the Conservatives in a competitive third place:

Derby North, Edinburgh South, Hampstead & Kilburn, Watford.

Part five: And finally

The final list includes Labour seats ordered by how vulnerable they are. In most cases, a tactical Labour vote is advised. In some three-way marginals it is hard to offer advice which is not liable to be counterproductive.

Labour seats by order of marginality

Recommendations given case by case

Constituency
Tactical voting recommendation
Gillingham & Rainham Labour
Crawley Labour
Rochdale None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Harlow Labour
Croydon Central Labour
Oxford East None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Portsmouth North Labour
Battersea Labour
Edinburgh South None – Three-way
Hove Labour
Hampstead & Kilburn None – Three-way
Ochil & South Perthshire None – Three-way
Islington South & Finsbury None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Milton Keynes North Labour – definite
Arfon None – Lab/Plaid marginal, Con no threat
Stroud Labour
Dartford Labour
Basildon South & Thurrock East Labour
Ealing Central & Acton None – Three-way
Chester, City of Labour – definite
Watford None – Three-way
Colne Valley None – Three-way
Cardiff North Labour
Hastings & Rye Labour
Calder Valley Labour
Stourbridge Labour
Milton Keynes South Labour
Corby Labour
Aberdeen South None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Vale of Glamorgan Labour
Ynys Mon None – Lab/Plaid marginal, Con no threat
Swindon South Labour
Dorset South Labour
Northampton South Labour
High Peak Labour
Loughborough Labour
Aberconwy Labour – probably
Birmingham Edgbaston Labour
Stafford Labour
Broxtowe Labour
Burton Labour
Brighton Kemptown Labour
Edinburgh North & Leith None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Bury North Labour
Redditch Labour
Rugby Labour
Pendle Labour – probably
Wolverhampton South West Labour
Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South Labour
South Ribble Labour
Derbyshire South Labour
Bristol North West None – Three-way
Dumfries & Galloway Labour
Tamworth Labour
Cleethorpes Labour
Swindon North Labour
Westminster North Labour – definite
Worcester Labour
Harrow East Labour
Durham, City of None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Great Yarmouth Labour
Norwich South None – Lab/LD/Green marginal, Con no threat
Eltham Labour
Brigg & Goole Labour
Bedford Labour – probably
Stevenage Labour
Hendon Labour
Chatham & Aylesford Labour
Brentford & Isleworth Labour – probably
Bradford West Labour – probably
Rossendale & Darwen Labour
Hammersmith Labour
Blackpool North & Cleveleys Labour
Halifax Labour
Leicester South None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Lancaster & Fleetwood Labour
Dewsbury Labour
Liverpool Wavertree None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Dudley South Labour
Northampton South Labour
Warrington South None – Three-way
Wirral South Labour – definite
Lincoln Labour
Leicestershire North West Labour
Gedling Labour
Halesowen & Rowley Regis Labour
Nuneaton Labour
Warwick & Leamington Labour
Oldham East & Saddleworth None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Dover Labour
Keighley Labour
Poplar & Limehouse Labour – probably
Stirling None – Three- or four-way
Plymouth Sutton & Devonport Labour – probably
Dudley North Labour
Elmet & Rothwell Labour
Reading West Labour
Tynemouth Labour
Morecambe & Lunesdale Labour
Pudsey Labour
Ipswich Labour – definite
Bolton West Labour
Glasgow North None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Bolton North East Labour
Waveney Labour
Sefton Central Labour
Tooting Labour
Amber Valley Labour
Barrow & Furness Labour
Swansea West None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Gloucester Labour
Thurrock Labour
Brighton Pavilion None – Three-way Lab/Con/Green
Copeland Labour
Stockton South Labour
Carlisle Labour
Batley & Spen Labour
Blaydon None – Lab/LD marginal, Con no threat
Kingswood Labour
Hyndburn Labour

Notes

Figures in charts are crude projections of results using the national vote changes implied by the final Guardian/ ICM poll which put the Conservatives on 36 (up 3 percentage points since 2005), Labour on 28 (down 8 percentage points) and Lib Dems on 26 (up 3 percentage points). These are applied to the standard Rallings & Thrasher estimates for the composition of the new constituencies in 2005.

For the avoidance of absurdities, no Labour constituency vote share is projected below 5 per cent; the crude figure is levelled up first from the 3 points otherwise accruing to ‘others’ and then if necessary from the Lib Dem gains.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/05/election-2010-tactical-voting-guide

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Don’t turn right (16 September 2008)

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Don’t turn right (16 September 2008)

Posted on 16 September 2008 by admin

Some Lib Dems are tempted to tack rightwards to win back votes from the Tories. But it’s an extremely risky strategy

The Lib Dems are not in such a dire polling position as Labour. But the party is facing a big dilemma of electoral strategy – which, in turn, poses ideological issues that are surfacing in Bournemouth this year.

The problem stems from the step change in Lib Dem parliamentary representation came in 1997, when the party gained a swathe of rural and suburban seats from the Conservatives. In 2001 and 2005 the Tory vote was also at a low ebb, but if – as seems likely – it revives significantly in 2010, a lot of Lib Dem seats are at risk. History suggests that Conservative revivals are generally bad for the Liberals – in 1924, 1951, 1970 and to a lesser extent 1979 the party fell back as the Conservatives swept up a lot of the anti-Labour vote. What strategy would be most effective in holding onto the ex-Tory marginals, and can this be combined with gaining ground from Labour?

The new right-of-centre Lib Dem pressure group Liberal Vision thinks it has an answer: to embrace an agenda of tax cuts and social libertarianism that will appeal to right of centre voters. The group, as was surely intended, caused a splash with its list of Lib Dem MPs threatened by the Conservative revival – some MPs on the high risk list such as Adrian Sanders of Torbay were apoplectic with fury about it. But its identification of the seats at risk was broadly accurate. If the Conservative vote generally is going up, places such as Romsey, Carshalton and Hereford look extremely tricky. But is a move to the right actually going to protect their vulnerable incumbents from a Tory tide?

The argument is pretty unconvincing. While polling demonstrates that there is an appetite for a small state among a lot of voters, whether the Lib Dems can appeal to this feeling is questionable, because (even though its current policies are very cautious) the Conservatives have such a strong brand image as a party of tax cuts. The Lib Dem right also seems to forget that although many of the seats it holds are affluent and suburban and vulnerable to the Tories, they depend on the votes of people with left of centre values in those areas – their wins often come courtesy of tactical voting or outright conversion of Labour-inclined people. Too much rightwing posturing will alienate these voters.

But what about winning seats from Labour? The Lib Dems have talked, rather unbelievably, about shifting resources to the top 50 Lib Dem targets from Labour. To achieve anything like that assumes a complete meltdown of the Labour vote. It is not completely impossible that Labour will follow the economic markets downhill in a collapse of epic proportions. But this is at the outer end of the range of possibilities, and more worthy of a bit of contingency planning than a large commitment of scarce resources.

Rightwing liberalism will not help win seats from Labour. Their leftwing profile in 2005 helped the Lib Dems build strong votes among a particular category of seat: academic, professional suburbs and college towns. The easiest seats to gain from Labour (other than Rochdale, which already has a Lib Dem incumbent but becomes theoretically Labour under new boundaries) tend to be in the same sort of places that swung strongly in 2005. Oxford East, Edinburgh South, Hampstead & Kilburn, Islington South & Finsbury, Aberdeen South, Edinburgh North & Leith, Durham City and Norwich South are the logical successors to the seats that went Lib Dem in 2005 like Cambridge and Bristol West. While many of these seats were Conservative at one time, their electors are often liberal, environmentally minded people who were permanently turned off the Tories by Thatcherism and may desert the Lib Dems for the Greens or even Labour if the party sounds too rightwing.

Further down the target list there are a few seats that could plausibly pack a surprise, such as Swansea West, Burnley and Sheffield Central and probably a couple of seats that look safe from the 2005 numbers. But picking off a serious number of these is unlikely without a massive Labour meltdown (and even the current polls indicate only around a 3% national swing from Labour to Lib Dem). In seats where the Conservatives are still in contention (except maybe Watford, with its local scandal) it will be difficult for the Lib Dems to persuade floating voters not to join a national Tory tide. After all, seats such as Hastings & Rye followed the national trend in 1997 and elected Labour MPs despite the party running third in 1992, and it is reasonable to expect Conservatives in seats like Hampstead & Kilburn and Ealing Central & Acton to fancy their chances of winning. In some Scottish seats, the rise of the SNP (who polled poorly in 2005 but can expect much better at the next Westminster election) will interfere with Lib Dem chances, making places such as Edinburgh North & Leith and Glasgow North more difficult than they look on paper. Overall, again barring that meltdown, potential Lib Dem gains from Labour look more like 10-15 than 50.

Electorally, therefore, the Liberal Vision approach looks dubious. There is probably little mileage in going any further right than Clegg has already steered the party. The tax cuts approved at conference yesterday can be plausibly presented as being about fairness to low and middle income families, and therefore compatible with the liberal consciences of people who voted for them on the basis of their opposition to the Iraq war and tuition fees. A slide to the right would risk this core Lib Dem vote for uncertain reward. The Liberal Democrats should perhaps ask themselves why Cameron has found talking like a social liberal to be a route to electoral success, and fight him on their turf rather than charging into Tory territory.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/16/libdemconference.liberaldemocrats

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