The next General Election for the UK will be held on 7 May 2015. The 2010-2015 Parliament will be dissolved on Monday 30 March 2015. The official timetable on the UK Parliament website is here.
Who will win?
To see a month-by-month poll of the polls for the previous month – more accurate than any individual poll could be – check out Electoral Calculus. You can also see the odds the bookies are placing on each party winning at BestBetting.
The odds of there being a Tory/UKIP coalition are discussed here. (The condensed version is: this is too improbable to worry about.)
Another website GE2015.co.uk by Tim Carr, discusses the candidates he thinks are most likely to win the general election – “based on 262 candidates (once they are all selected) in around 225 parliamentary constituencies”.
Who do I vote for?
That is of course between you and your conscience.
However, if you want to know who the candidates in your constituency are likely to be, check out YourNextMP. The deadline for nominating candidates for the next General Election is 4pm on 9 April 2015: full lists will be released after this date by the Electoral Commission. YourNextMP is a crowdsourced website and the information is, as I understand it, purely speculatory, not an official legal declaration.
Note that many candidates won’t declare themselves until they have to – because of the spending limits.
You become a candidate on the date you or another person declare that you will be a candidate, or on the date that your nomination papers are submitted, whichever is earlier. Being named on YourNextMP has, I believe, the legal value of gossip in the newspapers: until a candidate declares themselves or is declared by someone with reason to know, they are still in the long campaign.
There are two campaign spending limits: the long campaign, which began on 19 December 2014, and ends for each candidate on the day before they declared themselves to be a candidate: and the short campaign, which begins for each candidate on the day when they declare themselves to be a candidate and ends on polling day.
For the long campaign, the spending limit is (£30,700 + 6p/9p per elector) in a borough/county constituency. For the short campaign, the spending limit is (£8,700 + 6p/9p per elector) in a borough/county constituency.
How do I vote?
Make sure you are registered before 20 April 2015, or get yourself registered. The site most people will find useful is AboutMyVote.
In response to Ed Miliband’s recent speech about the problems of the new voter registration system, Juliet Swann of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland notes “some inaccurate information has made its way into the media. Here is my attempt to address some of those concerns”.
In 2014, a law was passed that changed voter registration in the UK from registration by head of household – the UK may have been the last western democracy to use this system – to each individual voter being responsible for their own registration. It also made it possible to register to vote online.
The important part is: If you were registered to vote already for the independence referendum, and you still live at the same address, then until December 2015 you are still registered to vote. So, everyone in Scotland who was registered to vote in September 2014, which was most of us, is registered to vote in May 2015.
But, if your previous household registration data doesn’t ‘match up’ with other electronic data the registrar can access then for you to stay on the voters’ register after December 2015 (because they haven’t been able to confirm you are who you are and live where you live) they will need you to re-register – which you can do online, or by paper. You will need your NI number. But most people who haven’t moved house since the last time they registered to vote, will be on the voters’ register because they were automatically transferred.
If you aren’t – for whatever reason – you might have moved house, or you don’t have other data at your electoral register address – you’ll be asked to re-register. Though of course if your registration was at a previous address, you might not receive the notification to re-register (in order to stay on the voters’ rolls after December 2015). But you can call your local authority electoral registration officer (you can find out who that is and how to contact them by entering your postcode at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk) to find out if you are registered, and they’ll tell you if you need to re-register.
If you are a student, you can quite legally register both at your home address and your term-time address. You can apply for a postal vote for either address. What you cannot do is vote at both addresses: that is illegal. You can apply for a postal vote for any reason whatsoever, incidentally – you merely have to want to vote by post.
If you are homeless or want to register at an anonymous address, you can quite legally do that also: call your local authority electoral registration officer (see www.aboutmyvote.co.uk) and ask them how to make that happen.