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How far will the Liberal Democrat recovery go?

The party is surging, and the question now is whether voters’ old allegiances are breaking down completely

By Peter Kellner  

Dinendra Haria/Zuma Press/PA Images

Will this time be different? This week, for the fifth time since 1962 the Liberal Democrats, or their predecessor parties, have enjoyed a lead in the opinion polls; on all four previous occasions, euphoria has given way to disappointment.

Following the Liberals’ by-election victory in Orpington in March 1962, an NOP poll put the party in first place nationally—but its support soon subsided. Much the same happened after the Lib Dem victory in the Brent East by-election in September 2003, and after the first…

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