Sir George took time off from his Westminster duties to bicycle to the City of London School and talk to the school Politics Society about the next election.
He warned them not to believe the result was a foregone conclusion.
"We do badly in Opinion Polls, but much better in the real thing.
In 1999, in the Euro elections we got 35.8% of the vote, to Labours 28 and the LibDems 12.7%. (Others such as the Greens and UKIP got 23.5%) In the local elections in 2000, we got 39%, Labour 29%, LibDem 28%. There was a swing of 9% to us in Preston by-election.
All that time, the opinion polls put us behind Labour.
Other factors are working for us. Less tactical voting; differential abstentions; greater volatility.
There was widespread tactical voting in 1997 to get out the Tories, with voters switching between Labour and LibDems. There is not the same imperative now to ditch the Tories. That tactical voting cost us 43 seats.
Differential abstention will hit Labour “A vacuum at the Heart of New Labour” said Peter Kilfoyle. Philip Gould, TB’s adviser said “Tony Blair is all spin and presentation..,. he said that he would improve the NHS and public services, but instead things have got worse.” There is apathy amongst core Labour voters and disenchantment on non-delivery."