It’s not all over


Although I’ve earlier reported the Kellner and Rallings predictions of 300 seats or so for the Conservatives that would almost certainly take them into a minority government position, I’m nonetheless puzzled by the extent of  defeatism reported to be coming from the Labour camp which the increasingly committed MSM is obligingly amplifying.  Hunting pack, Gadarene swine or what?

Today, it would seem  it’s all over, had it not been for the following timely corrective in mid morning.  While archanalyst Prof John Curtice has been hired for the duration by the bloodcurdingly partisan Sunday Telegraph, he’s anything but paper’s creature. Curtice confirms what a second squint at the figures tells us straight away. Try squeezing the Lib Dems from any direction just a millimetre or two in the BBC’s interactive election calculator  and see what happens.


John Curtice says

If the Conservatives could pull ahead by another of couple of points or so, then the winning post would at least be in sight. Yet equally, if the Tory lead were to narrow a little, Mr Cameron might yet still find he does not even lead the largest party.

There is little chance the Lib Dems will win more seats than Labour. The electoral system will ensure that does not happen. But if they push Labour into third place in votes for the first time since 1918, they will have a moral authority – and perhaps also the bargaining power – to argue for a change to the electoral system that seemed unimaginable just a few short weeks ago. At the moment, though, it seems Mr Clegg still needs to increase his party’s share of the vote by another point or two to achieve this objective.

Equally, Labour needs to advance a little, not only to ensure it does not end up third in the popular vote but also to keep alive its hopes that it might yet still come ahead of the Tories in seats.

Modest, yet crucial movements in the parties’ fortunes are certainly still possible. No less than 18% of voters still say they have not decided how they will vote, little different from the position at the beginning of the campaign.



  • Cynic2

    I see what you mean about the BBC Election Projector but it simply assumes a uniform swing The problem for Labour and the Lib Dems is that the swing wont be uniform. It looks like the Tory efforts in margins is paying off big time. That could mean a difference of +40 seats to them and say -30 to of Labour and -10 to the Lib Dems

    They wont want to do a Kinnock but today even the Daily Mirror followed the Guardian and wrote off Labour. All their headlines were like a normal news day. They weren’t supporting Labour and the election coverage focused on who will replace Gordon after the rout – even the talks of coalition have faded. This is almost over,

    Indeed, the only newspaper still in thrall to Nick Clegg seems to be that well known source of accurate forecasting the Belfast Telegraph. I see last week they were still flogging the Clegg dead horse (based on a poll partly over 2 weeks old in fast moving race). Still that’s what you get with the Dead Tree Press these days.

    Next week they also promise an in-depth analysis constituency by constituency, apparently based on the same poll. By that time it will be three weeks out of date, based on a sample of perhaps 120 voters/ constituency and slightly less reliable than an Ouija Board.

    So I wont risk any money on Paddy Power on it but still, a few headlines will sell the paper and sure the readers wont notice after the election.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im increasingly of the opinion that the old cliche “650” contests will play out here.
    I think a lot of people will vote Lib Dem to keep Labour or Tory out.
    Tactical voting?
    Only to some extent. If you are “pro” one party then it is.
    If your politics are really a matter of being anti Labour or anti Tory then it isnt actually tactical. Its in compliance with political philosophy.

  • Paddy Matthews

    Tonight’s polls:

    ICM for the Guardian: Con 33% (-3% on today’s poll for the Sunday Telegraph), Lib Dem 28% (+1%), Lab 28% (-1%)

    YouGov for the Sun: Con 34% (-1% on today’s poll for the Sunday Times), Lib Dem 29% (+1%), Lab 28% (+1%).

    In other news, Adrian Watson must be fuming that he didn’t seek the Tory nomination for Sutton and Cheam:

    What else is lurking in Dave’s woodshed?

  • Let’s put that moral authority is a rather different light.

    If share-of-the-poll grants moral authority, then a voter in (say) Winchester has more than twice that magical potency than one in inner-city Liverpool.

    That is because turnout is highest in Tory-Lib marginals (generally leafy suburbia or provincial utopias) and lowest in Labour fiefdoms (urban wastelands).

    Share-of-the-vote is critical under STV, less so under AV, and totally irrelevant under FPTP.

    I would be somewhat more convinced by Professor Curtice’s moral authority were the marker the aggregates of potential electors in seats won by each party. The disaffected, disillusioned members of the underclass may not vote, but they still belong to our society, even if they are discounted by psephologists.

  • Brian Walker

    cynic2 Some people think uniform swing is not a bad guide ( see UK Polling Report whcih explains why at length and discusses other methodology: this kid is well rated). But Labour behaviour suggests they don’t agree, otherwsie they’d be steadier. I’ve no idea myself but I have a hunch the Clegg phenomenon throws all projections into doubt. Malcolm is philosophically interesting but the moral authority is a simple point derived from adding up. It doesn’t mean you go to heaven or anything.

  • Reader

    Malcolm Redfellow: The disaffected, disillusioned members of the underclass may not vote, but they still belong to our society, even if they are discounted by psephologists.
    OK, count them as natural Tories, then, since clearly they have been abandoned by Labour for the last 13 years and they must want change…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Can anyone confirm how Cameron can form a minority government with Unionism (9 seats) if Labour and Libs together with Nats (12-15 including SDLP) have more seats?

    Or is the suggestion that the Tories with Unionists will have an overall majoirty and this is what is being referred to as a minortiy government?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t get that one either, Sammy. For it to be a minority government, it would have to be the largest single grouping in a scenario where all the other groupings cannot agree to form a government. I think that’s improbable.

    If you’ve got Lib Dems, Labour and Nationalists, I think we’re in for very interesting times. Electoral reform for a start – and possibly a constitutional reconfiguration of the whole UK putting the country firmly on the path to federalism.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “If you’ve got Lib Dems, Labour and Nationalists” this would potentially be quite a boost to the SDLP who could argue that they had actual power in Norn Iron providied it was a popular government and they staved off cuts to the Celtic fringe.

    How many seats did the Nats have the last time a government was propped up – is this the first time the Nats have had more seats than the Unionists? If so this really means that unionism’s potential power-broking role is much less likley to be realised although they too could throw their lot in with the 3 Nat. parties.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit at 11:33 am:

    How many seats did the Nats have the last time a government was propped up

    Consider a very neat, if distant, parallel:

    The results are finally in, February 1910:

    Con/Unionist (on 47% of the vote) 272 + 1 Ind Con
    Lib (on 43½% of the vote) 274 + 1 Ind Lib
    Lab (on 7% of the vote) 40
    Irish (on 2% of the vote) 71 + 8 “All-for-Ireland”+ 3 Ind Nationalists

    Now, wasn’t the fall-out of that little lot fun, games and tears-before-bedtime?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Yes, interesting but I was referring ot 1976 when Callaghan need Ulster Unionists votes and wondering how many seats Nats (and Unionists) had then – the point being that if Nats outnumber Unionists now then power broking days of Unionism much less likely unless they show common cause with their Celtic cousins but constitutional enemies.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit at 12:06 pm:

    Fair enough. In which case your remarks are particularly pertinent.

    Let us recall the circumstances of the 1979 debacle. It was precipitated by the SNP in a huff because the 32.9% of the electorate supporting devolution — a 51.6/48.4% split — failed to reach the 40% threshold. One of the few cool-headed observations then was Jim Callaghan describing the SNP as “turkeys voting for Christmas”. Sure enough, the SNP lost 9 of 11 seats. And the fragmentation of the UUP continued apace.

    Let us equally reflect on how the Wilson/Callaghan government managed to prolong its minority, and even miserable existence. At the time of the death of Michael Foot, he was given credit for the unseemly stitching-up of backstairs deals. The other factor was the unwillingness of the minority parties to combine with the Tories and achieve closure: not out of any ideology or sense of commitment, simply because they couldn’t afford an early election. That will apply to the next couple of years (except, perhaps, to the Tories, greased by Ashcroft and the grateful City gents).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    also there was the Major government reliance on the UUP but I think then the Unionists had more seats (13) than Plaid, the SDLP and SNP together?

    I suppose the only scenario in which these numbers will be relevant is where using the Unionist block of 9 (assuming victory in FST and loss of ND) is not enough for stable minority government but using the Nats block of 14 or 15 including Sylv is .

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow

    ‘Now, wasn’t the fall-out of that little lot fun, games and tears-before-bedtime?’

    For Ireland subsequently it was all of that. The Liberals under Gladstone were committed to Irish Home Rule (early devolution) and had they been successful our ‘Troubles’ would have probably been avoided .

    But then that other greater fall out in August 1914 put the kibosh on that possible history.

    Somehow I can’t see any imminent possibility of WW3 although back in 1910 many would have thought the same of a major European war .

    The other Chamberlain’s in Arklow Co Wicklow circa 1910 iirc decided that gun cotton would be better produced closer to where major future wars would likely be held and thus moved their Kynochs plant from Arklow Co Wicklow to Umbogintwini close to Durban South Africa . A hundred plus of their local employees went with them .

    Ironically or perhaps not the Chamberlain seat (Neville’s that is ) Birmingham Edgebaston which had been a Tory fiefdom for 100 years fell to Labour in 1997 . The Labour MP one Gisela Stuart happens to be a German and has held the seat since . The seat has some claims to notoriety as it’s been a female only seat since 1953 .

    If Edgebaston holds for Labour it could be a good omen for Gordon Brown . It’s 39th on the Tory target list of marginals considered winnable . But Stuart is popular and has worked hard as an MP .The Lib Dems are too far behind to hope for a win but in this case their voters to some extent may plump for the Labour candidate .?