I haven't written anything on the election campaign because I've been busy with work, travel and talk writing. But I've certainly been keeping an eye on things, and I do have a few opinions I'd like to commit to paper (or the internet). This post has gotten so long, I've decided to split it. First, let's discuss what we are likely to see come Friday morning.
This is the most unpredictable election I can remember, and this is obviously due to the rise in various minor parties. we could see as many as five parties getting 5% of the vote, though the most important party probably will not even get that. I refer to the SNP, whose vote share will be small but will likely end up with the third largest number of seats. We will obviously have another hung parliament, so the question is what coalitions will or can form.
Throughout the election, my preferred prediction website has been ElectionForecast. At the time of writing, they give the following predictions:
- 281 Conservative
- 266 Labour
- 51 SNP
- 27 Liberal Democrat
- 8 DUP
- 4 Plaid Cymru
- 3 SDLP
- 1 UKIP
- 1 Green
- 8 Other (Sinn Fein, Alliance Party, Independent)
- 317 Labour + SNP
- 308 Conservative + Liberal Democrat
The only remotely feasible government on such results would be Labour + SNP + Lib Dem. This would still be a small majority, and would probably have to operate as a Labour minority government with unofficial support. It would also be interesting to see what the Tory voters supporting Nick Clegg would think of this...
As an aside, as an ardent leftie the comments on that article are incredibly depressing. Tactical voting is not cheating, even when it works against you. It is both an inevitable consequence of plurality voting, and a smart decision to use your vote to get the best outcome you can. Hell, I remember Labour-Lib Dem tactical voting in 1997 to take down as many high-profile Tories as possible. But I'm sure those Guardian readers condemned that too, right?
Finally, I should note that ElectionForecast are somewhat atypical. Most predictions seem to have Labour doing a bit better, good enough to form a majority with the SNP. See, for example, Electoral Calculus for an example. In that case, things get simpler. Miliband will become PM because if Cameron tries to resist, he'll lose a vote of no confidence. Whether we end with an official coalition or a Labour minority government, the net effect will be similar.