As you might imagine, a year out from a general election the one question I get asked more than any other is “well, who is going win then?”. It’s a question I try to avoid answering like the plague. The simple answer is we don’t know – polls measure public opinion now, not a year ahead. Assuming no change from the polls now (which would imply a Labour majority) is a naive approach that would have served you poorly in past Parliaments. Assuming public opinion will change in the same way as it has towards the end of previous elections gives you a prediction (hung Parliament, Tories the biggest party), but also gives you huge confidence margins that stretch from a Tory landslide to a comfortable Labour majority.

My answer, therefore, tends to be to give the five questions (and one observation) that I think will decide the next election one way or another…

1) How will the growing economy effect the polls?

The economy has universally been the issue that voters see as most important in polls since the economic crisis began, and as such has been a major influence on voting intention. Economic confidence amongst the general public started rising sharply early in 2013 in all the major trackers, and has continued on a broadly positive trend. This has coincided with movement in public attitudes towards the government’s economic policies. From being neck-and-neck with Labour on the economy last year the Conservatives now have a consistent lead. Last year YouGov’s cuts trackers consistently showed that people thought that their cuts to public spending, while necessary, were actually bad for the economy, now they show more people think the cuts were good for the economy. It is impossible to draw a causal link, but over the same period the average Labour lead has dropped from about 10 points to around about 5 or 6 points.

Whether or not the facts back them up (that is a discussion for some economic blog elsewhere), the recovering economy seems to be having the effect of convincing some the public that the government’s economy policy was right and that the Conservatives can be trusted more on the economy. I am not an economist and this is not an economics blog, so I have no educated view on if the economy will continue to grow, which seems to be what commentators expect. Assuming it does, will that lead to continuing increases in government approval and a bigger lead for them on the economy, and will that translate into increased support? More specifically, while polls show people are more optimistic about the economy as a whole, they are still downbeat about their own personal finances. Will people themselves start to feel better off in the next 14 months, and would that translate into more government support?

A final thing to watch there is how important people say the economy is. There are examples of government’s losing elections despite being ahead on the economy – the classic is 1997. The reason becomes apparent if you look at what issues people told pollsters were important in 1997 – it wasn’t the economy (where the Tories were still holding their own), it was public services like the NHS and education where Labour were a mile ahead. I don’t think 14 months is long enough for this to happen, but if the economy really starts getting better keep an eye on whether people stop telling pollsters it is such an important issue.

2) Will Ed Miliband’s unpopularity matter anymore than it does now?

I find the contrast between Ed Miliband’s ratings and Labour’s support a puzzle. There really is a gulf between them. The basic facts are straightfoward – for an opposition leader whose party has been consistently ahead in the polls for years Ed Miliband’s ratings are horrible. His approval ratings are horrid, down at IDS, Howard and Hague levels; best Prime Minister ratings normally track voting intention pretty closely but Ed Miliband trails behind David Cameron by around 15 points. Polls consistently find that people think Ed Miliband is weak and not up to the job of Prime Minister. This is not just a case of opposition leaders always polling poorly compared to incumbent Prime Ministers – if you compare Ed Miliband’s ratings now to David Cameron’s in opposition Miliband is doing far worse. For example, in 2008 49% thought David Cameron looked like a PM in waiting, only 19% think the same about Ed Miliband now. To claim that Miliband’s ratings are not dire is simply denial. Yet Labour consistently lead in the polls.

Pause for a second, and imagine that we didn’t ask voting intention in polls. Imagine all you had to go on was all the other figures – the polls asking who people would trust more on the economy, who would make the better Prime Minister, who people trust on the issues they currently think are most important. Based on those figures alone the next election looks as if it should be a Conservative walkover…and yet Labour consistently lead in the polls.

The paradox between the underlying figures, which in most areas are increasingly favourable to the Conservatives, and the headline figures, consistently favourable to Labour, are fascinating. They are something I’ve returned to time and again without apology, as I’m sure there’s a key message here. Whatever the result of the next election, it’ll tell the loser something very important. If the Conservatives win, Labour will need to learn about using the goodwill an opposition gets to actually build up the foundations to, well, support their support (I suspect they’d also have to accept that getting a leader who people take seriously as a potential PM really is a prerequisite). If Labour win, the Conservatives should take home the message that leadership, economic competence and being preferred on policies really isn’t enough, that they have a serious issue with how people perceive their party and its values that needs to be addressed (I doubt they would learn that lesson, but there goes).

Given Labour are ahead now, I think the question is whether perceptions of the opposition and the choice of Prime Minister increase in importance as the election approaches and voting intention becomes less of a way of people indicating their opinion of the government, and more a choice between two alternatives. The reason Labour poll badly on so many of these underlying questions is not because Labour voters say they prefer Cameron and the Tories, it’s because many Labour voters simply say don’t know (or none of them). They aren’t convinced Miliband would be a good PM or Labour would run the economy well. Will those people overcome those doubts? Vote Labour regardless? Or do something else?

3) What level of support will UKIP get at the general election

Looking back over UKIP’s performance in the Parliament so far their support has mostly followed a pattern of election successes leading to boosts in the polls, followed by a decline to a new, higher plateau. I think UKIP can fairly comfortably expect a strong performance European elections (personally I would still expect them to come top, but whatever happens it’s going to be a strong showing). This will in turn be followed by another publicity boost and another boost in the Westminster polls. It will vary between different pollsters, as ever, but I think we can expect UKIP in the mid to high teens with the telephone polls and up in the low-twenties with the more favourable online companies.

From then on, it’s probably a case of a decline as we head towards the general election as the focus moves more towards the Con-v-Lab battle. The question is how quickly that support fades and to what extent. Here we are very much in unknown territory. UKIP got up to around 8% in the Westminster polls following the 2009 European elections, but declined to around 3% by the 2010 election; the Greens got up to 8% in the polls following the 1989 European election, but declines to 0.5% of the vote by the 1992 election. This time round is clearly different in terms of the size and scale of UKIP’s support and history provides no good guide. Neither does present polling – people are notoriously bad at answering questions on whether they’ll change their mind or what might make them change their mind. We are flying blind – but given that UKIP support has thus far disproportionately come from people who supported the Conservatives at the last election it is something that would have implications for the level of Tory support come the general election.

4) How resilient will Liberal Democrat incumbents be?

The three points so far have been about levels of overall support at the next election. The fourth is instead about distribution of the vote and therefore the outcome in numbers of MPs. On a uniform swing the Liberal Democrats will face severe losses in the election. It obviously depends just how badly they do, whether they are still in the coalition, whether they recover towards the election and so on, but projections of them losing half their seats are not unusual. However, there is also an expectation that Liberal Democrats will do better than this because of their incumbent MPs’ personal vote. Analysis from past elections and from studies like the PoliticsHome and Lord Ashcroft polls of marginal seats are pretty consistent in showing that Liberal Democrat MPs benefit more from personal votes than politicians from other parties, they handily won the Eastleigh by-election and have managed to hold on to councillors in some (but not all) of the areas where they have MPs. This would point to the Liberal Democrats actually doing better in terms of MPs than the raw numbers would suggest, although don’t expect magic… Lib Dem MPs might outperform the national trend, but it doesn’t render them immune to it. If you’ve lost a third to a half of your support, it has to come from somewhere and would be naive to expect it all to come from places you don’t need it.

As a caveat to this Lib Dem optimism though, look at the Scottish Parliament election in 2011. In that case Lib Dem incumbents didn’t seem to do any better, if anything the Liberal Democrats lost more support in areas where they had the most support to begin with, the very opposite pattern. The cause of this is probably a floor effect (the Lib Dems lost 8% of the vote in the election, but started off with less than 8% in many seats, so by definition more of their lost support had to come in their stronger seats). If the Lib Dems do really badly we may see the same effect at Westminster, if the Lib Dems lose enough support it’s impossible for it all to come from seats where they have hardly any support to begin with! The question is to what degree, if any, Lib Dem MPs can outperform the swing against them.

5) Will Scotland be voting?

Or perhaps more accurately, will the Scottish MPs be sticking around afterwards! All the polls on the Scottish referendum so far have shown the NO campaign in the lead. There has been a slight trend in the direction of yes, but nothing more than that. Personally I would expect the NO campaign to win, but there is obviously a chance they won’t and if so it would massively change our predictions for the next election. Exactly how and when Scottish MPs cease to be members of the House of Commons would need to be decided, but it would obviously disproportionately affect Labour – the Conservatives have only one Scottish MP to lose. More important though would be the wider effect on politics, thus far the Scottish independence referendum is something that has had minimal effect upon politics south of the border. Until January the London based media barely even mentioned it, it’s still something that’s very much a sideshow. If Scotland were to vote yes then then the negotiations in the following 18 months would suddenly become an issue of paramount importance, David Cameron’s position would presumably come under some pressure but either way, nothing would be the same anymore. I don’t expect it to happen, but it would be remiss of me not to include it here.

So, five things that I think will decide the election. I said there was an observation too – remember the impact of the electoral system. This one isn’t a question, we know that the system is more helpful to Labour than the Conservatives and, given the government’s failure to get the boundary review through, will remain that way. Getting ahead in the polls is not enough for the Conservatives – it would probably leave Labour as still the largest party. To get an overall majority the Conservatives need a lead of somewhere in the region of 7 points. We can’t be certain of the exact figures (the double incumbency bonus of MPs newly elected last time round will shift things a bit), but we can be confident that just being ahead isn’t enough for the Tories – they need to be well ahead.


319 Responses to “Five things that will decide the next election”

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  1. @Colin

    “So when they were voting LibDem-they were really voting Labour ?”

    No Colin, historically many Libs/LDs voted LD in the belief in a radical alternative on the Left to Labour’s “policy timidity” both as when recently “New Labour” and back in the right-wing “Wilson-Healey-Callaghan era” as “Old Labour” – both Labour incarnations merely wanted to tinker with capitalism rather than move to a society based on community enterprise and co-operative values. Historically many LDs were not, and are not, Orange-Booker middle of the road capitalist reformers, but Radicals of the Left wanting something akin to Dubcek’s “Prague Spring” economy, or the hopes of the likes of Guenter Grass for a continuing East Germany after the fall of Communism based on a liberal-social co-operative economy, rahter than joining capitalist West Germany. Forming a colaition with the Tories was a complete betrayal by the LD leadership of the radical wing of the Liberal tradition which had grown up since the Grimond realignment politics of the 1960s.

  2. @NickP

    ‘ALISTER1948
    I agree with NickP’

    I agree with NickP and Alister1948 .. Particularly about the USA 2012 madness bit.

    Mehdi Hasan on Nate Silver being sacked by the NYT:

    ‘In July this year, however, he left the New York Times – where his blog had accounted for a fifth of the traffic to the paper’s website in the week of the 2012 presidential election. Why? “Nate disrupted the traditional model of how to cover politics,” wrote Margaret Sullivan, the paper’s public editor, in July. “His entire probability-based way of looking at politics ran against the kind of political journalism that the Times specialises in: polling, the horse race, campaign coverage, analysis based on campaign-trail observation, and opinion writing, or ‘punditry’, as he put it, famously describing it as ‘fundamentally useless’ .”

    http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2013/08/why-do-miliband-haters-carp-and-groan-hes-favourite-rest-noise

  3. @ Carfrew

    Many apologies .. I hadn’t fully taken on board the significance of the moon base!

    Space mirrors to reflect the sun’s heat sound pretty whizzy too (smiley thing).

  4. @Crosssbath11 ‘Andrew Neil’.. ‘was having a bit of a falling out with Owen Jones which culminated in him saying to Jones that it was his show and therefore he (Jones) wasn’t entitled to disagree with him!’

    Yeah saw that, thought it was out of order, though Owen Jones came out of it very well indeed.

    Andrew Neil is an excellent broadcaster, but has his off days, and on those days he lets the (allbeit irreverent and mischievous) deference he reserves for the three traditional parties slip when interviewing someone from outside the ‘Westminster bubble’.

    At those times it can resemble the unedifying bear baiting spectacle that makes QT unwatchable. Those three smirking oafs texting away don’t help either. Mr. Neil needs to do less and better programmes.

  5. EL

    Thanks for reminding me about St Francis of Maude. Wikipedia describes him as the “Holy Spirit of Conservative modernisation”. I presume this was not a reference to petroleum spirit but who can say.

    It prompted one of my rare edits of Wikipedia where I deleted the nonsensical assertion that the Government Data Service improved access to government info by suppressing departmental websites and moving to the single GOV.UK website and replaced it with one that is highly debatable but at least not demonstrable rubbish – that the change was intended to improve….

    I actually suspect that’s the opposite of the truth but perhaps I’m just an ole cynic

  6. I agree with Nick as well.

    I think that, amongst some, there is a such a fear of a Tory majority Govt that they believe it MUST be going to happen.

    Snot.

  7. @JohnPilgrim

    ‘in Europe, in environmental policies, in human and working rights, and in redistributive economics, otherwise known as “holistic”.
    It should also, of course, include ziggy’s trees and invading Lybia with solar panels instead of bloody drones.’

    Sounds great… particularly about invading Libya with solar panels instead of trying to colonise/privatise/nick the water from their vast ancient aquifer.

  8. The situation in Ukraine is deteriorating rapidly, I fear, and it appears that we may be living in dangerous times.

  9. I think it would be very bizarre if the Tories don’t outperform their 2005 result, if only because they’re polling higher than that now, and most of the things that are likely to happen between now and the general election (continuing economic recovery, Kippers returning to the electable parties) will at least marginally increase their VI.

    One should never underestimate their capacity for self-destruction, but I would be very surprised if their 2015 vote share fell below 35%.

  10. That said, with all due respect to our esteemed host’s boss, this article is mad:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/14/david-cameron-general-election-fundamentals-favour

    If you look at how big the Lab -> Tory swing has to be over the next twelve months to make the Tories the largest party after the election, the arithmetic just doesn’t add up. The disparities in voter distribution between the two parties make Miliband the clear favourite.

  11. I agree with Nick P to a certain extent. The electorate is a bit different to 2005, there have been some boundary changes and we have different politics. Cameron is not Howard and appeals to more people. Miliband is not Blair and may not appeal to as many people.

    As I have said before on here, I expect Labour and Tories to both obtain about 35% of the vote. The Lib Dems will do much better than polls predict and UKIP will do some damage to Tory voting in some seats, letting other parties win.

    I don’t believe the Tories can be the largest party in terms of seats, because they don’t have widesspread support across the country. They simply have not done enough to win over people in parts of Birmingham, London and Manchester. It is ok talking tough on immigration, but when there are millions of extra voters from immigrant backgrounds, it might not be helpful.

    I expect Labour to be short of a majority, but possibly in a position where they do not have to go into coaltion.

  12. Spearmint – read it without the headline. The headline isn’t Peter’s.

  13. SYZYGY
    “Sounds great… particularly about invading Libya with solar panels instead of trying to colonise/privatise/nick the water from their vast ancient aquifer.”

    Bizarrely, it was Ghaddafi wot started it, employment mainly American engineers and agriculturalists to create the Great Man Made River, I think it was called, to grow wheat in the desert using deep pumping to provide irrigation water from the aquifer.

  14. employing….

  15. R Huckle
    I think you should discriminate (excuse pun) between ‘immigrants’.

    EU immigrants cannot vote in the 2015 GE (or any other GE).

    Other immigrants will not either, unless from the Commonwealth and settled here (I forget the exact conditions for those).

    If folk are ex-immigrants, then of course they can, and it is these to whom you refer of course. The descendants of those may feel similarly to their parents.

    In how many constituencies are these matters likely to be significant? They will nearly all be safe Labour surely?.

  16. @Howard

    There are plenty of established immigrant voters in my Tory marginal alma mater

  17. GM
    Ah, then it depends how many of those there are then doesn’t it?

  18. @carfrew

    I’m interested why you dismiss the potential of “palladium” reactors as something that should be in a comic? I’m certain there is substantial evidence that so called cold fusion reactors (probably using nickel/hydrogen) will be capable of providing at least heat and perhaps direct electricity. I for one will welcome this but perhaps the Scots will not if they opt for independence.

  19. @ Anthony,

    I know, and he does put in some caveats, but the overall impression from the article is still that one should expect the Tories to win next year unless they have a nervous breakdown after their third place European election finish. Mr. Kellner mentions a number of fundamentals in their favour, and all of those are real and important, but the seat allocations in the current Parliament, the boundaries/voter distribution and the respective voter pools are fundamentals too. They all point in the opposite direction, and none of them get a mention in that article.

    Your own analysis was much better. ;)

  20. JOHN PILGRIM

    @”Nooo, Colin. They and most Labour voters were voting social democrat ”

    But there isn’t/wasn’t a Social Democrat Party. It wasn’t a Party anyone could vote for.

    The people you refer to were NOT voting Labour in May 2010-they were voting LibDem. A few short weeks later they were indicating that they would now vote Labour.

    So this indicates not only that they perceived change occurred in the LD Party after the GE .
    If they had perceived no change in Labour , they would not have switched to Labour-or to put it another way-they would have voted Labour in May 2010.

    They clearly believed that LibDems moved rightward, AND that Labour moved TO a leftward position which they approve of-and which they believe Labour did NOT occupy at the 2010 GE

  21. Others have raised an excellent point about immigration. By importing a new electorate Labour fundamentally changed the balance of the country forever.

    Many of these people are grateful to the party that gave them unfettered access to this country. Many of these people also have lower incomes and want Nanny to provide.

    I’m not implying all immigrants are Labour supporters, but I’d assume they were disproportionately in favour of Labour than other parties, have their been any polls on this?

  22. @ Colin,

    Huh?

    Let’s say I have two piles of apples, one with seven apples and one with five, and I ask you to choose a pile to take home with you (assume for the purposes of this thought experiment you really like apples).

    You choose the pile with seven.

    Now I take three apples away from the 7-apple pile and ask you to choose again.

    You don’t have to believe there has been an improvement in the 5-apple pile to change your vote.

  23. Technically Colin voters in East Yorkshire could vote for the SDP!

  24. @ Howard

    I think you would need to look at how many immigrants had taken up UK citizenship. I think it is a sizeable number, but I don’t know where you would find the information. Those registered to vote increased by 400k between 2011 and 2012. So if 400k is the annual extra number of net new voters, then between 2010 and 2015, there would be a potental extra 2 million voters.

    I suspect that a good proportion of these are immigrants or from immigrant backgrounds. Many of these will live in and around major cities, potentially impacting on election results. I suspect that a majority of these would be more likely to vote Labour, especially if Tories keep going on about immigration being a problem.

  25. Huckle

    We are all from Immigrant backgrounds if you go back far enough.

    In 2012, 194,344 foreign citizens naturalised as British citizens, up from 177,878 in 2011 and from a five year average of 169,373 from 2006-2010.

    Some 20% of this is as a result of Children of UK citizens born overseas (too young to vote)and another 30% Spouses and Civil Partners of British Citizens.

    80%+ Of New UK Voters get to be eligible because they were Born in the UK 18 Years previously

  26. SPEARMINT

    ………my point being , that if Labour had been as acceptable to those voters in May 2010, as it so clearly has become now, they would presumably have voted Labour then, rather than LibDem.

  27. spearmint

    What are you going to do with the apples you’ve got left?

    I think its much simpler than Colin’s thesis anyway.

    GB was clearly not wanted: after the election he was gone and – without any need for Labour to do anything like “moving left” for example – they were quite clearly now more left than the right moving [or wrong moving if you prefer] Cleggsters.

    Which is what your appullanogy demonstrated very well.

    [Can I have a napple for that?]

  28. Glorious day -Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Yellow wags. & the first Swallows in off the sea.

  29. I don’t think the improving economy will help the Tories as PW does…quite the contrary.

    Labour will seek to fight the election os the NHS, on education (Free Schools can do what they like…unless they decide they will pray Islam?), tuition fees and energy prices and not having a pointless EU referendum.

    I noticed somebody (statgeek?) suggesting the Tories might get more than 2005. It’s conceivable. But it would be extraordinary if they score more than 2010 as a percentage.

    No, sorry. I’ll have to wait till I can say I told you so, just as Nate Silver did. But your arguments about the polls shifting towards the incumbents in the run-in don’t convince…why should anybody who didn’t vote Tory in 2010 decide to in 2015, especially with UKIP in the picture?

    Ain’t gonna happen.

  30. I notice Anthony didn’t mention immigration in his analysis at all. I think as with the American election in 2012, the number of new residents and demographic changes will play an important part in 2015 as they did in 2010.

  31. NickP the parallels between you and Nate Silver are uncanny.

  32. One last minor thing. Public sector workers used to be fairly split between them and us. Not in 2015.

    Rather like the Immigration issue and the welfare issue, the people you insult and demean for your political convenience, don’t be too shocked if they never vote for you, even if you started to reduce the structural defect.

  33. “Ernst & Young has revealed that the average UK wage will increase by 1.7% this year and surpass inflation.
    According to benchmark EY Item Club analysis, the increase in earnings will be the first time in six years that the average wage has risen above the consumer price index (CPI), which stands at 1.6% for 2014.

    Economists say that the average wage will continue to increase more than inflation and allow families to battle the rising cost of living up until 2017 as CPI is set to stay below 2% until 2016.

    When it finally does rise above the 2% mark to 2.2% in 2017, the EY Item Club predicts that average earning will be set to rise by 3.5% in the same year.

    The lowering price of commodities such as energy, food and petrol, coupled with the strong pound, will help keep the cost of living down for a prolonged period of time.

    “We are set for a long period of low inflation as pressures from commodity prices… remain largely absent,” says Peter Spencer, chief economic supervisor to EY Item Club.”

    IBT

    Will it affect VI after the Farage Fest in May is over ?

  34. NICKP

    @”Labour will seek to fight the election on the NHS,”

    That will be good to watch (particularly in Wales) -I do hope so.

  35. @SPEARMINT

    I agree with you on Kellner’s article. I’m not even sure about his chosen ‘fundamentals’. For example he says, “I can find no example of a party losing an election when it is ahead on both leadership and economic competence”. Yet there are plenty of examples of a party losing despite one or the other. If neither is a guarantee of victory on its own why should either become one simply by virtue of occurring at the same time as the other?

  36. NickP I assume you are referring to my Italian heritage and not as it may appear breaking house rules. :P

  37. @ Colin,

    You have to choose between the parties available to you, as the Spearmint Rainbow Dream Party sadly lacks the infrastructure and funding to win a parliamentary seat despite its excellent policies.

    Given a choice between Labour and the Who the Liberal Democrats Claimed to Be Before the Election Party, many voters opted for the latter. When he formed the coalition Nick Clegg dissolved the Who the Liberal Democrats Claimed to Be Before the Election Party and formed the Who the Liberal Democrats Actually Are Party, which many of those same voters found they could not support. With their preferred party eliminated, they were stuck with their second choice, Labour, even though it hadn’t yet changed (since Ed Miliband wouldn’t be elected for another few months).

    Or, what the puppies said. Here: http://www.nutro.com/images/contents/natural-choice-crunchy-apple-dog-treats.png

  38. @ Anthony

    I have to agree with Spearmint Peter Kellner does reinforce the arguments for the title in his article plus on television at the weekend he clearly made the case for a Tory win in the GE. I do think your analysis is better although I do not agree with every point.

    @ JOHN PILGRIM

    I have followed the debate on this site over how many 2010 Libdems have come over to/will stay with Labour. My question is how many of those who voted Libdem were traditional disillusioned Labour voters who have now seen the error of their ways? In addition I know of many Labour voters who did not vote in 2010 but plan to return to the fold in 2015.

  39. [Snip – just click the report button – sarcastic comments don’t usually help! – AW]

    :-) :-) :-)

  40. NickP – “why should anybody who didn’t vote Tory in 2010 decide to in 2015, especially with UKIP in the picture? Ain’t gonna happen.”

    Nick, that was the point of this article a couple of months back. The argument that everyone who could possibly vote Tory already did in 2010 is bunk, easily demostrated by the fact that polls consistently pick up a section of the electorate saying they didn’t vote Tory in 2010 but would now: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/8629
    (which in turn points to this by Peter: http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/02/10/truth-about-britains-volatile-electorate/)

    It might indeed be bloody tricky for the Conservatives to gain enough new votes to make up for those they are losing, which would make it difficult to avoid a net loss, but the argument that they cannot gain any new voters who did not vote for them 2010 is patently false. There is always churn, often in the strangest of directions. The argument that these people can’t exist is an argument from personal incredulity, rather than one based on evidence.

  41. mitm

    I broke my own rule by responding to you at all.

    I was amused when republicans tried to suggest that including the votes of immigrants in a democracy was somehow cheating but I am less amused by home grown stupidity.

  42. SPEARMINT

    @”Given a choice between Labour and the Who the Liberal Democrats Claimed to Be Before the Election Party, many voters opted for the latter.”

    Indeed.

    My question is why did they not opt for Labour then-if nothing has changed in the Labour Party which they choose to support now. ?

  43. Remember before the financial crash Conservatives were able to reach around 43% that potential is still there, many feared cuts and switched away from the Conservatives.

    But as it turns out the cuts were nothing much to worry about and it seems everyone now agrees they were necessary just their implementation is what is being argued over now.

    I think it’s obvious that some Ukippers will return to the Tory fold, polls occasionally show Cons now around the 35/36 mark.

    They may repeat their 2010 performance only to lose seats as Libs have scampered over to Labour.

  44. AW

    OK-will do.

  45. NickP

    Looks like you just broke it again didn’t you :P

    Seems you just can’t help yourself. A touch of self control is needed perhaps?

  46. aw

    the sort of churn you are referring to I would suggest cancels itself out by not being all in one direction. So if 36% of the vote went to the Tories in 2010 and they retain that in 2015 I am perfectly willing to accept that it is not exactly the same people!

  47. @ Colin,

    Because at that point they believed (falsely, as it turned out), that there was an electable, more progressive alternative to Labour.

    To try again with a more concrete, less apple-y example, suppose you are a single issue voter who is opposed to tuition fees. Labour introduced them, the Tories favoured raising them, and the Who the Liberal Democrats Claimed to Be Before the Election Party pledged to abolish them. It’s obvious which way you should vote: Liberal Democrat.

    Then the coalition is formed, and it turns out the Who the Liberal Democrats Actually Are Party favours raising them. On the other hand, Labour opposes the fee hike; they want to keep them at the rate they set while they were in government. Again, it’s obvious which party you should support: Labour. They are now the party whose position is closest to your own, even though their policy (which you opposed at the general election) hasn’t changed.

  48. As Colin mentioned Wales, could we see a Labour dip there in 2015?

    It’s quite staggering whenever Question Time is in Wales the strength of feeling over Labour’s handling of the NHS in Wales.

    I’d be interested to see a poll on who welsh people trust more with the NHS. Is it still Labour despite everything happening, or has it moved to another party, Plaid perhaps?

    Alternatively, are Labour trusted less on the NHS in Wales than they are in the rest of the country.

    Could Wales experience a Tory revival? Back in 2009 the tories were able to beat Labour in the Euros there after all.

  49. “Labour will seek to fight the election on the NHS”

    Wasn’t the Tory plan to ringfence the NHS (whereas Labour opposed ringfencing anything) what stopped Labour from focusing on this issue? Despite some major changes, the NHS seems to have been off the political radar for most of this parliament, and I had (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that this was a consequence of the ringfencing strategy.

  50. Colin – I think spearmint is pretty clear.

    The LDs platform and implied manifesto seemed the closest of the parties to many voters before the GE but afterwards they appeared to have been guilty to some of this group of mis-selling.
    Such that without either said voters or Labour moving positions the latter was/is closer to their values etc.

    Result 6% or so solid LD vote to Labour (25% of their vote).

    With a further 2% (10%) perhaps less solid and of course some LD-Tory shift has occurred as well.

    As I suggested a couple of times I think AWs otherwise excellent piece gives insufficient weight to this group of voters.

    It may be because like many he thinks that these are essentially already decided so it is not a factor that will determine the outcome which we don’t know unlike the 5 he lists.

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