If Ed Miliband and David Cameron have both learned something terrible is coming before 2020 that they would rather be in Opposition than have to deal with as Prime Minister, this could explain both David Cameron’s lacklustre campaigning and Ed Miliband’s curious statement last night on Question Time: neither one wants to be Prime Minister.
However, this does seem improbable to me.
Take it as a given: Ed Miliband wants to be Prime Minister.
Yet, on Question Time on 30th April, with just a week to go to the election, he seemed to reject the job:
“I am not going to have a Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the Scottish National Party.”
“If the price of having a Labour government is a deal or coalition with the SNP, it’s not going to happen.”
What was Miliband thinking?
First-past-the-post voting systems don’t lend themselves to coalition government. But that’s what we’ve got, and there are four possible governments we could have after the General Election on 7th May 2015.
How we vote on that Thursday in just over three months time has very little to do with the government we’ll end up with. The rise in support for the Greens across the UK no more translates into increased numbers of MPs than the rise of support for UKIP means they’ll become a major party.
But the SNP are likely to be the third or fourth largest party in Westminster after May 2015. Electoral analysis shows a huge swing to the SNP across Scotland, which – if we had a more representative electoral system – could translate to over forty seats for the SNP (Labour down to seven MPs and LibDems to one), But just as the tremendous fall in LibDem support isn’t likely to be reflected in an equivalent loss of seats – Greens are more popular than LibDems but aren’t likely to do more than retain their one MP – the Labour wipeout isn’t expected to be as extreme as a naive reading of the polling figures would suggest.
Toscafund, an established asset manager based in London and Dubai, chaired by former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir George Mathewson, commissioned Professor Richard Rose to carry out seat by seat analysis of polling across the UK. For Scotland, their report says:
“A uniform ‘national’ movement of votes is unlikely because the SNP must jump from third to first place over different challengers in different parts of Scotland. Because the median Labour seat is held with a margin of 31.6 per cent over the SNP, any recovery by Labour would reduce the depth to which Labour plunged.”
I’m discounting the Voldemort option – Tory majority or Tory/UKIP coalition – because this is not a probable option. The Tories can’t win a majority, and UKIP can’t win enough seats to help them out.