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The figures still stack up to a Labour government

Miliband Hope imageNate Silver, the statistician who predicted the US election results right in 2012, has said his forecasting model indicates neither main party can get a parliamentary majority with just one partner. What he didn’t say however were two things that are more important than this headline. One is that the Tories can’t get to the 324 seat threshold for a parliamentary majority with any number of partners, whilst Labour most certainly can. The other is that his figures may significantly underestimate Labour’s total baseline number of seats because the party is doing much better in the marginals, where the election is largely decided, than in its polling generally across the country.

Silver’s model polls the Tories at 283 seats and Labour at 270. But the total Tory tally then works out at 283 + LibDems (24) and possibly the DUP (8) + UKIP (1) = 316, still 8 short. Labour’s tally is 270 + SNP (48) + Welsh Plaid Cymru (3) + Irish SDLP (3) + Green (1) + the Irish independent Lady Hernon (1) = 326, 2 above the line. However, after Cameron’s vitriolic attacks on the SNP in this last week, the Irish DUP leader has made clear he will have no truck with the Tories if that is their attitude to the nationalist parties. If then the DUP decided to support Labour, it would take Labour’s total to a safe 334, with an overall majority of 10. Conversely that would also reduce Cameron’s total numbers to 308, 16 wide of a majority.

Of course if the Tories do get the largest number of votes and/or seats, they’ll bang the drum for all they’re worth that they’re the legitimate winners. But constitutionally the issue is, and has always been, who can assemble enough votes in the Commons to form a stable majority. Labour won most votes in the 1951 election, but the Tories won most seats and took over the government. Then in 1974 Labour had fewer votes but 4 more seats than the Tories, so Wilson took over from Heath. So on the figures quoted above Labour has both the electoral right and constitutional precedent for assuming government powers.

Then there is the role of the SNP which Cameron has demonised – just 7 months from pleading with the Scots to stay in the union to vilifying them as some sort of intrusive alien force. And as several leading Tory figures have complained, Cameron’s tactics in marginalising the Scots and fanning the flames of English nationalism is killing the union stone dead – it’s only a matter of time before the SNP wins the next referendum hands down. The truth is that the Scots are as entitled as much as anyone else to have a say in the direction and governance of the UK in accordance with their numbers in Parliament, and that is nothing but a good thing in the light of the alienation, frustration and anger manifested in the referendum.


  1. Robert says:

    Kinnock and the polls and the people in office said the same, the people did not, so we will see.

    1. John p Reid says:

      For once Robert I agree,
      but 1992 was a high turnout, this time it’ll be. A low turnout, I can’t blame the electorate for not voting,

  2. David Pavett says:

    I find it extraordinary to focus on Cameron’s objectionable appeal to English nationalism as the main threat to the unity of the UK when it is plain for all to see that it is Labour, as the national party with a one-time massive Scottish base, which has blown it on a hitherto unimaginable scale. Labour and Tories together have endured that the SNP is in a win-win situation. Whichever party leads the next government it seems that the situation will serve the aims of the SNP.

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