Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My latest election prediction: a (well) hung parliament.

According to a mix of the Ashcroft constituency polls and general polling the outcome of the election will look something like this:

Conservative 281
Labour 267
Libdem 26
SNP 51
Green 1
Others 23 (including 8 DUP and 3 SDLP)

In this scenario the Conservatives would try to get support through either a formal coalition (as in the last government) or by "confidence and supply" agreements with other parties. This looks unlikley to work:

Conservative + Libdem + DUP + Lady Hermon (Ind) = 316 (10 short of the required 325, 7 short of the 323 that could technically form a majority without Sinn Fein MP's sitting in Westminster)

Labour would then try, but have a harder time at forming a majority:

Labour + Libdem + SDLP =296 (29 short, assuming the Libdems would speak to Labour at all)

If Labour does not do a deal with the SNP then David Cameron, as the leader most likely to be able to get close to a majority, will stay on as Prime Minister to see if he can get a Queen's speech passed. If he can't then he will probably give way to Labour and let them try.

At this point Labour will either do a deal with the SNP or we will head into a second general election in September.

One warning though: there is a nuclear option. If both the Labour and Conservatives believe that allowing the SNP any influence would be either too toxic or give them unnecessary credibility they might decide to form a "grand coalition" or "national government" with Labour and Conservative parliamentary parties forming one bloc in parliament. With Labour likely to be decimated in Scotland the effect of any fallout on Labour north of the border would be self limiting, making this scenario less unlikely than a few weeks ago.

And one final word on the general election campaign. The BBC Poll Tracker shows us that nothing that any of the parties did changed the outcome. Most minds were made up long before the campaign started:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Procedure and timetable if there is a hung parliament

Here are the rules that apply if the general electon results in a hung parliament:

(Full details on parliament web site here)

1. The Conservatives get first chance at forming a government as they are the incumbents.
2. If they can not secure one then the Prime Minister has to resign.
3. The Queen would then invite the leader of the largest other party to try and form a government (i.e. Ed Miliband).
4. If this fails then he could propose a Queen's speech and try and get it passed.
5. If this fails there could be a vote of no confidence and parliament would be dissolved for another election to take place (according to then Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011).

As the new House of Commons starts sitting on Monday 18th of May this leaves only nine days for negotiations with potential coalition partners.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How Labour lost the Scottish electorate.

It now seems certain that Labour will enter the next parliament with only a handful of Scottish MP's. They may even be fewer Labour MP's in Scotland than pandas. Labour's collapse was predictable and inevitable. It may have culminated in the referendum, but it has been a long time coming,.

Labour could have made a socialist and internationalist case against independence, or even a federalist one within the European Union, but they chose not to. Instead, they went into a coalition with the Conservative Party to push a vision of lack of capability within Scotland to manage it's own affairs. Couple to this an overblown fearmongering, especially with older voters and people had simply had enough.

Labour have also failed to recognise that their core social democratic values are no longer unique. The SNP has reinvented itself since 1979 and is now more clearly social democratic than Labour.

The local breakdown of referendum voting showed that tribal voting has effectively ended. Glasgow voted Yes, even though Labour had traditionally harnessed the working class Catholic vote. Catholic and working class voters now seem more comfortable with the SNP and are voting for them.

Not content with annoying half the electorate many in Labour have continued to demonise those who vote SNP as either racists or "nasty nationalists". This shows a complete failure to engage with the SNP's civic nationalism - if you move to Scotland tomorrow you will be considered Scottish.

Labour's last campaign tactic seems to be an eve of poll leaflet entitled "24 hours left to prevent another referendum". The SNP have made it clear they do not want another referendum unless there is an attempt to leave the EU. Even if they did want a referendum under those circumstances presumably Labour and the Conservatives will vote against legislation enabling it so if it went through it would be Labour's own fault.

With one week left to go, both Labour and the Conservatives may be relying heavily on a pro union bounce from the imminent royal birth.