Thursday, 1 January 2015

Predicting the General Election 2015

Predictions as all "psychics" know are best made after the event or with get out clauses or when stating the bleedin obvious.

However, by common consent the UK general election 2015 will be one of the most unpredictable for a long while - probably since 1945.

The most obvious prediction is a hung parliament - if the Conservatives failed to get a majority in 2010 against an unpopular Labour Party and unpopular Labour Prime Minister it is difficult to see how a grateful nation will reward five years of austerity and with more votes in 2015.

However, the British First past the post voting system makes predicting exact results very difficult if not impossible. A handful of votes  can quite literally change the result in a number of seats.
In 2015 we face the following swings and roundabouts.
a) The biggest change is likely to be in Scotland where on current trends the SNP is likely to win 50 or more of the 59 seats.  

b) The second change will be the near annihilation of the Liberal Democrats.  Currently with 57 MPs they are likely to lose the majority of them.   Some of these are the most difficult to predict. Lord Ashcroft has undertaken polls in many of the Lib Dem held seats (and a few they almost won)  on the ordinary voting intention question the Lib Dems where ahead in none of them - only when a second question asking people to think about their own constituency did the Lib Dems get back ahead  in some of the seats (more on this in another post) - taking an optimistic view the Lib Dems are currently set to lose 9 seats to the  Conservatives, 9 to Labour and 9 to the SNP.

c) Labour ought to be winning seats form the Conservatives - on current levels of Labour support the will do so.  Currenty they are on 34% to the Conservatives 31% compared to 29% and 36% respectively in 2010.

Fascinating when Labour got 28% of the vote cast in 1983 it got 209 MPs, 29% in 2010 netted then 258 MPs. The Liberal SDP Alliance got 26% of the vote in 1983 but got only 23 MPs.

d) UKIP is rather unpredictable - looking at the results from local and European elections and from constituency polls by Lord Ashcroft it is obvious that while UKIPP support is rather evenly spread, it does have some areas of strength.  Seemly these are based more on the demographics of the seat and  less on the amount of campaigning by UKIP. My hunch is that they will win about 12 seats mostly from the Conservatives but with a couple from Labour and the Lib Dems

e) The Green Party has only one MP and in unlikely to add many more - but in the increasingly fractured political system they could have the opportunity to establish themselves as a national force.  They outpolled the Lib Dem in the election for Mayor of London and in the European elections. They have wisely decided to target just a few seats - I suspect their best chance of a win is in Bristol. What could be crucial for their future success is their share of the vote.  Some opinion polls have hed them as high as 9 and 10% although 5-6% is more typical - 5-6% is  big improvement on the 2% they usually poll. 

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