10 APRIL 1964, Page 19


SIR. --David Watt writes : 'Pundits . . . are inclined to think that Liberals will continue to gain two Conservatives to every one Labour voter.' I do not know which pundits he consults and I know of no evidence to suggest that this ratio is correct as a national average. In any case, what is more im- portant ' in today's circumstances is what would happen to potential Liberal votes if there were no I.iberal candidate. Here we do have accurate, inde- pendent and up-to-date information. The second preferences of those Liberals who would vote in the absence of 'their own candidate tire almost equally divided between the two parties. The absence of Liberal 'candidates giVes no general advantage .to either Labour or Conservative. This is an average throughout the country. II is an average of 'the varying results which would be obtained•in 'differing constituencies. There may well be constituencies \shore the local Liberals would divide two to one in 1..% our of. the Tory. In general, these- are just the -LAI,. however, where the Labour challenge is negligible. There are also constituencies where Con- servatives benefit by their opponents-being divided into two camps. In nineteen by-elections since 1959 a Conservative has been returned to Parliament opposed• by a majority‘ of the voters in his con- ,,tituency. In how many of these would he have won if there had not been a Liberal candidate?

For some months national opinion polls have slogan at least a three-to-two majority against the Government. In these circumstances, it is difficult to believe that the Chances of the 300-odd Conser- vative MPs opposed by Liberals could really be improved by having only one opponent instead of


Chairman, Liberal Party Executive 58 Victoria .5treet. SW!