LONDON — Pollster John Curtice said the Liberal Democrats will struggle to win back most of the seats they lost in the 2015 general election
despite widespread talk of a “Lib Dem fightback.”
He said that local elections on May 4 would give a clearer indication of how well the party will do in June, but warned that they would struggle to win back most of the 49 seats they lost in 2015 after a period of coalition with the Conservatives.
Curtice told Business Insider: “Are they going to get back most of what they lost two years ago? Not unless they start increasing their national vote share. They need a broader base upon which to try to build in individual constituencies,” he said.
“I guess the Liberal Democrats would be disappointed if they didn’t manage to get something close to double the number of seats they have got,” he said.
The Liberal Democrats currently have just 9 seats, but their anti-Brexit stance has seen their membership swell to 100,000 and their popularity among Remain voters increase dramatically.
In December last year, Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney overturned a 23,015 Conservative majority after pledging to campaign against a “hard” Brexit which would see Britain pulled out of the Single Market.
Curtice said: “The big uncertainty about the Lib Dems is that there’s still only modest opinion poll progress, but there has been some very spectacular progress in some individual by-elections.”
“We may well find that there are some individual constituencies where they bounce back and people begin to forgive them.”
“Given the weakness of the Labour party, if the Liberal Democrats can begin to command the Remain vote and take it away from Labour then see if their chances begin to improve,” he added.
Former cabinet ministers Vince Cable and Ed Davey are among the Lib Dems who lost their seats in 2015 to announce that they will run again in June’s election.
Our polling average update:
Con: 44.1% (+6.3)
Lab: 25.7% (-5.5)
LDem: 10.4% (+2.3)
UKIP: 10.0% (-2.9)
Grn: 3.8% (-)
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.