A long way from equidistance?

We have been publishing regular updates on the Lib Dems voting for several years now, and have tracked a remarkable change in the party’s behaviour. Having previously been more likely to vote with the Government than against it at the beginning of the Blair Premiership, leading to accusations that the party was in bed with the government, the Lib Dems then transformed into a bona fide party of Opposition.

Evidence from the most recent sessions – available from this short briefing paper (pdf, 68k) – reveals that that transformation has continued apace. The session saw hostility to Labour at a new high, with the party voting with Labour in just 12% of divisions, and with the Conservatives in 71% of votes. The figures for the votes on the principle of government legislation were even more dramatic, with the Lib Dems supporting just one piece of Government legislation at Second or Third Reading (voting for the Second Reading of the Greater London Authority Bill), voting against the principle of the government’s legislation in 94% of the relevant votes.

We don’t draw conclusions as to what’s driving this transformation. We posted a very short version of the findings at Lib Dem voice this morning, and lots of Lib Dems (as well as being very defensive about the findings) are convinced that it’s not them that’s changed, but Labour. Maybe. But whatever the cause, the effect it pretty dramatic.