On Sunday 10th May 2015, I anticipate that I will be waiting to hear the results of several days closed-door coalition negotiations, all depending on what number of MPS each of the four major parties won on 7th May.
As the May2015 site reminds us: “Technically, 326 is a majority. In practice, 323 is.”
(The deadline for registering to vote is 20 April: you can register online, you just need your National Insurance number.)
I plan to vote Green. One reason why I do not plan to vote Labour: look to your right. Immigrants are not the problem.
The problem here then is not the mug, but what the mug reminds us of: just how wrong Labour are on immigration. The proposed policies centre around the idea that immigration needs to be managed, the implication being that it’s out of control. This is a response to the belief that New Labour let far too many immigrants come into the country – Miliband has branded this a mistake on numerous occasions.
Labour is not unsalvageable. The right-wingers may be in control of the party, but there are plenty of left-wingers still left trying to be heard. If the Labour leadership can be made to understand that it’s not nationalism that has hurt their vote but their assuming they can support Tory policies and court the UKIP voter, deny their support to people claiming benefits, and still get the left-wing vote: that if Labour wants the left-wing majority to vote for them, they have to stand up for left-wing policies: well, then maybe the 2020 election will look a bit different.
But the result I hope for on 8th May is enough Labour MPs and SNP MPs (with support from Green and Plaid Cymru) to be able to form a government: that the Tories and LibDems lose enough seats that they cannot form a government because they will always lose a vote of no-confidence to the Labour-SNP majority.
Judging by the trend of opinion polls, the only party that could outright prevent this happening is Labour itself: they could, if they get fewer MPs than the Tories, refuse to join the SNP in no-confidence vote that would overturn a Tory-LibDem Queens Speech: that would ensure the Tories could form a government and Labour would doubtless complain that this was the fault of the Scots for voting SNP.
Electoral Calculus‘s current prediction (based on opinion polls from 8th to 28th March 2015) is that Labour will get 290 MPs, and the Tories will get 271 (but a larger share of the vote).
The parties that might support either Labour or the Tories: LibDems 17 MPs (giving Labour 307 and the Tories 288) and DUP 8 MPs (giving Labour 315 and the Tories 296).
Parties that will only support the Tories: UKIP 2 MPs, giving the Tories – at best – 298 MPs.
So if the Tories can put together a four-way coalition including LibDems, DUP, and UKIP, they might be able in theory to declare a minority government that could outvote Labour.
But, of the parties that will only support Labour: Green 1 MP, Plaid Cymru 3 MPs, and the SNP 48 MPs.
Assuming that Labour does get 290 MPs and that the remaining LibDems prefer the Conservative party, as seems likely, even if the Tories can put together their 4-way minority government and have a Queen’s Speech, 338 Labour and SNP MPs outvote the 298 MPs that is the maximum the Tories can put together: and unless Labour abstain, the no-confidence majority overturns the Tory attempt to form a minority government.
Electoral Calculus is less optimistic about the Conservative chances that Election Forecast, which offers a low-end prediction for the Conservatives of 247 MPs and a high-end prediction of 325 MPs: most likely 283. Their predictions for the LibDems suggest a low of 17 and a high of 35: most likely 26. While it’s unlikely that the LibDems and the Conservatives will both have higher-than-predicted results (since many predicted Tory gains come at the expense of the LibDems and vice versa) if the Conservatives are the largest single party and the LibDems can give them a majority that will outvote Labour and the SNP, we are looking at five more years of the Slytherins.
The low-end prediction from Election Forecast for Labour is 236 MPs: high end is 321 MPs: most likely 280. Their low-end prediction for the SNP is 23 MPs: high end is 51 MPs: most likely 38. As with Tories and LibDems, the two parties are competing for seats and therefore both parties can’t have low-end results.
During the days after the General Election, while we’ll have more solid information about which party got how many MPs, we will not be privy to coalition discussions. What the leadership of the various parties are promising or threatening each other with – we may never know, unless it becomes clear in a public coalition agreement – or a still-more public disagreement.
No matter which way results are added up, the most likely result remains: Labour government with SNP support. (Despite all of their very public support for keeping Scotland in the UK last September, the Tories now profess to find this “sinister”.)