Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Is a significantly hung parliament really likely?

According to the latest ComRes poll, the Conservative lead over Labour has slipped to 7 points (fieldwork was done between 29th and 31st January - so after the 0.1% growth figures for Q4 2009 were released). The figures are Con 38% (nc), Lab 31% (+2), LD 19% (nc), others 12% (-2).

On a uniform swing, according to the UK Polling Report calculator this would give:

This would be very, very close to what in my view is the best it could get for the Lib Dems in terms of influence. The Tories would be 30 seats short of a majority as stated with the Lib Dems on 48 and hence able to give them a majority on specific issues. However Labour are only 50 short of a majority themselves and hence it would be very close to being able to vote as a majority on specific issues with the Lib Dems too.

Here's a quirk though. What would happen if the Lib Dems managed to go up one more percentage point at the expense of the Tories?

That's right, a dead heat between Labour and the Tories in terms of seats and the Lib Dems able to form a small majority with either of them.

I am not saying any of this is likely. It's still too early to call it but you can bet your bottom dollar that the leaderships of all the parties are war-gaming these scenarios right now. It's been a long time since the possible result of an impending general election was this close (18 years to be precise).

The next few months are shaping up to be a roller-coaster ride, for everyone involved with politics.


Matthew Huntbach said...

It won't be a uniform swing though.

As I've argued elsewhere, with fewer people getting their politics through serious coverage in the national media, local effort counts for more, and local effort is patchy.

For our party in particular, a poor national image that isn't playing well as share in the polls is likely to mean more of a drop in those places where we aren't doing much and so people are seeing us in terms of that national image, and less of a drop where people are seeing us active locally.

Given that the drop we've see in the national polls isn't catastrophic, I suggest that probably does imply a falling off in places where it doesn't matter because we're not going to win FPTP anyway, and a rise in places where it matters.

So, I'm fairly confident that we will see an increase in our number of seats on these poll figures. We may lose some, particularly where the MP has been lazy and/or the local party has fallen to pieces. But I think there'll be some surprising gains.

The party's strategy has to be to work to this, but subtly because we don't want to give our game away. In some ways, the national image is a dummy target to hide what we're really doing to win the seats. How we could do this is towards the end of the general election campaign swing it nationally to supporting the local campaign - "get yourself a good MP, vote LibDem" and "we're winning round here", showing all the places where we have won in the past and expect to win again rather than "Clegg for PM - vote LibDem".

This advice offered for free. Consultants from Saatchi, I guess, cost more.

VickyK86 said...

How would the Lib Dems react to a hung parliament and is this something you could benefit from? I read an interesting article on regarding polls showing that a hung parliament is very likely. What do you think about this?
I think that parties should commit themselves now to working to produce a multi-party supported government on a fixed four-year term.