My prediction for the election

I’m going to do a proper blog post later, if I’m well enough (been busy today and it’s taken it out of me), but I thought I’d set out my best guesses as to what the final result of the election will be.
I think in terms of MPs, we’re going to have something like 280 Labour, 270 Tory, 38 SNP, 35 Lib Dems, and no other party having any significant numbers (the Northern Irish parties will be roughly the same, Plaid will get four, UKIP will if they’re *very* lucky get three but will most likely get one, the Greens will probably hold their one MP). The other parties will mostly be interesting in terms of how they affect the results in marginals — will more Labour-leaning than Lib Dem-leaning people defect to the Greens, for example, giving the Lib Dems an advantage in otherwise difficult Labour-facing seats?

I also suspect that the Tories will get *slightly* more votes than Labour, but fewer seats, and that UKIP will get a *LOT* more votes than the Lib Dems (though not as many more as the polls show at the moment — UKIP’s support is very soft and they’ve got lousy get-out-the-vote compared to other parties) but basically no seats. The SNP will come sixth in votes and third in seats. Basically, the result will be a mess.

If I’m right, or anything close to it, there will need to be a three-party agreement in order to form a government. The SNP have already ruled out working with the Tories, but not with Labour. Labour have ruled out coalition with the SNP, and vice versa, but neither have ruled out confidence and supply. The Lib Dems haven’t ruled out working with either Labour or the Tories, but *many* of the front-benchers have been hinting very strongly that they think Labour would be easier to work with, and Ed Miliband recently refused to repeat his old rule that he won’t go into coalition with the Lib Dems while Clegg is the leader.

The Lib Dems, meanwhile, are very unlikely to be happy with confidence and supply if the party can keep a fairly reasonable number of MPs. They’ll want full coalition.

So my guess is that if the result looks *anything* like what I expect, the only viable option will be a Labour/Lib Dem coalition with SNP confidence and supply. The stupid result will reopen the debate about electoral reform, and even Labour, who will have benefited from it, will notice that they’ve been nearly completely wiped out in their former strongholds in Scotland. So I *very* strongly suspect we’ll get electoral reform *at least* at the council level. Labour may well be persuadable that STV would be better than d’Hondt for Euro elections, too…

I suspect that with a result like that Nick Clegg would have to step down, but not until coalition negotiations had been completed and enough of a decent interval had passed that it didn’t look like he was being forced out by Labour — possibly waiting until party conference in September. If we *don’t* get a coalition, he’s pretty much definitely gone long before then.

I must admit, though, that a Lab/Lib coalition is my preferred outcome out of the possible ones (though I’d wish for a MUCH larger number of Lib Dem MPs than we’re likely to get, and if it relied on a third party for support I’d prefer the Greens or the Pirates to the SNP, though I don’t find the SNP as viscerally revolting as some of my Scottish friends do), so while I think I’m being sensible here, there may be an element of wishful thinking. But I don’t think so. I think something like this is the most probable result, though “most probable” when predicting a chaotic system through several inferential steps is still not hugely likely in absolute terms.

On the other hand, those results *could* go another way. There’s been an uncomfortable amount of kite-flying about a Labour/Tory coalition recently, and other than UKIP being in government I can’t imagine anything worse for the country.

What do you think?

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16 Responses to My prediction for the election

  1. misssbgmail says:

    I think that would never get through special conference

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I think it would depend on what the deal was offering for the SNP, what was being offered us, what the guarantees were for what was being offered, and the size of the payroll vote. I certainly don’t see it getting the 95% support the last one did, but get Farron up there to make a speech, get a guarantee of STV for councils as a confidence vote in the first weeks, and get some big symbolic compromise like scrapping Trident or decriminalising cannabis, and I think you could get it to scrape through.
      I don’t see, on those numbers, any other possible government, and I think the political situation is *so* unstable that no-one will want to risk another election once elected…

  2. Iain Coleman says:

    Very similar to my own thoughts, on current polling (though I think the Lib Dems will be doing well to get over 30).

  3. A Labour-Tory coalition would be a) hilarious, and b) good for political diversity in the long term, in that after five years at least half the electorate wouldn’t be seen dead voting for either of them ever again.

  4. Nick says:

    I still think that a grand coalition needs a crisis, so wouldn’t come until after a second inconclusive election.

    I’ve also been thinking that the most interesting result could be Labour getting something above 300 but not a majority, where there’d be a strong temptation for them to govern as a minority and look for support from other parties on an issue by issue basis. IMO, that would be a way for the country to understand more of the implications of milti-party politics.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Was it you who suggested that a Labour minority might end up getting the SNP giving them confidence, but the Tories giving them supply on austerity budgets? That might well be the worst imaginable result…

      • Nick says:

        No, wasn’t me. I can’t see that, to be honest, but I could see Miliband being able to use the need for SNP and/or Farron-led Lib Dem support to push to the left. They could actually run quite a strong government as a minority, if they’re in a position where there are multiple routes to a majority on any particular vote.

  5. andrewrilstone says:

    Labour biggest single party. Labour minority administration. Labour basically challenges the SNP and the Liberals for force a second general election which they (Liberals and SNP) would do worse at. Labour struggles on from vote to vote. No-one really notices very much difference.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      The problem with that is that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, a vote of no confidence *wouldn’t* force another election — rather, it’d just mean that Labour were no longer the government, and there’d be another two-week negotiation period while attempts were made to form another government with the same Parliament — attempts which would, I suspect, lead to the Labour leader being kicked out so he could be replaced with another one with whom the other parties were more willing to do business.
      I also think that the Lib Dems, certainly, would do better in a second election. There’d be a new leader (almost certainly Tim Farron in this scenario) and the public have *very* short memories. But I think Labour would be worried that the Tories would do *much* better in a second election. Just campaign on “when *we* were put in a position of choosing party or country, we chose to work with others for the good of the country. Labour, on the other hand, chose to throw their toys out of the pram and refuse to work with anyone else because they couldn’t get their own way all of the time. Do you really want to be governed by a bunch of squabbling children, or do you want a grown-up in charge?”
      Basically, I don’t see *anyone* wanting a second election.
      But I do agree that whatever government we get this time, no-one will notice a difference in the way the country is governed, except that supporters of one party will scream blue murder about the other party doing things that are identical to the things that party did in power. Depressing.

  6. TAD says:

    The trend in Europe has been that conservative parties have been polling better, so your predicted result would buck that trend, although I realize that the UK isn’t exactly “Europe.”

  7. drplokta says:

    I don’t think the Lib Dems will make the mistake of going into coalition again. They need to be free to oppose the government, and more importantly to be seen to oppose the government. I predict a Labour minority government with confidence and supply from both the Lib Dems and the SNP, in exchange for both parties’ top wish-list items. I also think you’ve rather over-estimated the Lib Dems’ seats and under-estimated the SNP’s.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I’ve seen a lot of “we should be pushing for another full coalition” from top people in the Lib Dems. How much of that is bluff, I don’t know, but I certainly don’t think the party would be entirely against it. And while I personally agree that we should be able to oppose the government, it might be argued that it might do the party’s current image as Tory-enablers more good to be seen to be working with Labour.
      I know on current polling I’m rather overestimating the Lib Dems, but I don’t think unreasonably so — I think the current polling picture is rather distorted by YouGov’s biases, since YouGov are the most regular pollsters, and YouGov are also the ones that show the smallest Lib Dem numbers, fairly consistently. I think thirty-five is at the top end of the realistic range, but I don’t think it’s far off.
      As for the SNP, I agree that on current polling they’ll do better. I think we’ll get some regression back to the previous norm, some voters scared off, and quite a bit of anti-Nat tactical voting, but I could be wrong.

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