If a week is a long time in politics then the five years since the heady days of Clegg-mania in 2010 are a lifetime ago.
With less than two weeks until polling day, the party which lost none of its deposits at the General Election is set to hand over a wad of cash it won’t be getting back, the Guardian has calculated.
Polling shows that in at least 52 constituencies, Nick Clegg’s party is likely to miss the five per cent hurdle needed to hold on to the money. Some of those include South Thanet, where they are on two per cent, Blackpool North and Cleveleys (three per cent) and Castle Point (three per cent).
This was calculated using the 156 constituencies polled by Lord Ashcroft as a sample of the 650 which are up for grabs and the 3,971 candidates who have put their names forward.
The £500 put forward by candidates is to show they are serious about running for parliament, since the rest of the costs of running the election are funded by the taxpayer. But losing one’s deposit is not just a risk for independent candidates or tiny parties.
In the national polls, the Lib Dems have dropped to 8.5 per cent; a humbling downward spiral after the 23 per cent they scored in 2010.
Ukip, on the other hand, is polling around 16 per cent, having picked up in the last few days, and in the 156 constituencies look only to lose their deposits in four seats. It’s a roll reversal for the contrasting parties with Farage’s ‘People’s Army’ circa 2010 looking more like Dad’s Army; a bit hapless with their heart in the right place. But it was a pricey election which cost them £229,000 and the polls show they won’t lose anything like that amount this time around.
Polling worst is the Green party, set to lose 81 deposits which means that 61 per cent of their candidates won’t score above the five per cent threshold. It lost 327 deposits in 2010, costing them £163,500 although unlike UKIP they succeeded with the first past the post system, returning Caroline Lucas to Westminster meaning an office in Westminster and staff allowances which would have compensated their Treasurer. It is fielding 571 candidates this time around, up on the 335 from five years ago, although that could mean more expense and with Brighton Pavilion no means secure for Lucas, Bennett find herself looking for hundreds of thousands of pounds to plug the financial black hole – and in all likelihood a new job for herself.
It’s not just those polls which forecast doom for the Lib Dems, with bookmakers Paddy Power offering odds of more than 11/10 that they will lose more than 200 deposits in this election. That means in order to make back the money they are statistically set to lose, they would have to place about £12,500 with the bookmakers in order just to break even.