We would normally expect to see Populus’s monthly poll for the Times go into the field over the weekend, but given it is a bank holiday we’ll have to wait and see if they delay it a week. In the meantime Saturday’s Times does contain some new Populus polling – what seems to be a rather strange little poll with just a single question.

55% of people now expect the Conservatives to gain a majority at the next election, including 12% who expect a Tory majority of over 100. An additional 12% expect the Conservatives to be the largest party in a hung Parliament. 7% expect Labour to be the largest party in a hung Parliament, and 18% expect Labour to retain an overall majority.

83 Responses to “Expectations for the next election”

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  1. Wow, suggests lots of non-Tories have conceded the election.

    Looking forward to the next polls; I wonder how the thought of future tax hikes v spending reductions will affect polls…

  2. Hung Parliament with more Tories I think is most likely. What I feel will be crucial and extremely intriguing is the number of seats the LibDems gain.

  3. More polls needed – it’s fun seeing all the in fighting, not just within the Labour Party but on here as well – lol

  4. V strange – the spread betting gives about a 5% chance of Labour winning a majority – 18% seems mad. Is it just tribalism from Labour voters?

  5. @Nbeale – It must be, they must be looking through rose-tinted spectacles at the Government’s situation if they believe in Labour winning an overall majority. Either that or they are forgetting to take their tablets.

  6. Cliff,

    Yeh they are very THICK GLASS AS WELL!!

  7. It’s not surprising. We’ve had a few Labour diehards on here clinging with impressive tenacity to a variety of hopeful “ifs”. If the economy magically and dramatically improves … if Gordon Brown has a personality transplant … If David Cameron is caught naked in a hotel room with Colonel Khadafi …

  8. “If David Cameron is caught naked in a hotel room with Colonel Khadafi …”

    Are those pictures public now :-)

    It ain’t over until it is over and you can guarentee that Labour will fight to the end and make it as difficuly as possible for us sorry conservatives to win.

    Despite being bungled he did manage to get through some reforms on MPs allowances and in fairness even the Daily Mail agreed with what he was trying to do in it’s editorial yesterday (minus the daily allowance).Does anyone think there might be an unexpected slight bounce because of this?

    I also thought Andrew Lansley put up a paticualry weak and quite naive argument on second jobs on question time.(although i have to say i agree with him) but when a large number of the population earn less than £25k saying you earn this for 12 days work is not going to endear you.

  9. @Leo – at the moment a hung parliment is not the most likely event. The polls suggest a win for Tories and a healthy margin at that. With local polling for labour seats at its worst since Blair came to power. Also given the amount of labour MP’s “stepping down” before the next election or defecting to Lib Dems to protect their income, I really don’t see how a hung parliment is possible (unless what James suggests actually happens)

  10. I don’t understand why people are seeing a hung Parliament as a majority anymore. That could have been the case shorly after the non-election in Winter 2007 or in Blair’s dying days but we are now seeing consistent 15-19 point leads for the Tories.

    Furthermore, polls of marginal seats have been showing that the Conservatives are even further ahead.

    Surely this is now not a question of will the Conservatives win the election but it is a question of the size of their majority.

  11. If Brown calls an election this year he will save the Labour party a humilating defeat, if he waits until 2010 the Labour party will go down to its worst defeat in their history, the fed up factor is already there and when that happens it just gets worse, it will also open the door even further for the Lib Dems, if Labour win less than 165 seats then i don’t think they will ever come back.

  12. “18% expect labour to keep it’s majority”

    I support labour and I expecting a figure much worse.

  13. I think Labour winning, or getting a hung parliament, is based less on Labour recovering and more on the Conservative vote imploding.

  14. Off-topic so apologies for that (and if it’s been covered before) but I was wondering how comparable the 2009 county (and new unitary) results will be to previous elections. Clearly there’s little comparison with 2005, if we assume that this time they won’t be on the same day as the General Election, because of the hugely different turn-outs. How easy is it to compare the results to those from the districts in 2007 in order to give us a picture of where we are compared with 2 years ago – and what’s likely to happen in these seats (probably) next year?

  15. Shame it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any polls in the near future. If ever the Lib-Dems were going to move ahead of Labour in the polls you would think it’d happen this week.

  16. I am sitting on the wall in Germany and see things perhaps more rationally than some might as I cant vote in the UK.
    I can only say that NL will have to think up something extrordanary if they hope to be reelected, and if the tories get the expected majority, they are going to have a tough time ahead of them to get the machine running properly again.

  17. The results of this poll probably reflect the fact the most people don’t realise that the likelihood of a hung parliament is quite large when the LDs have 62 seats, despite the expectation that they will lose quite a few of them.

    A majority of the public probably assume that a Tory lead of 5% or more will deliver them a majority which of course isn’t the case.

  18. TV news features rumours of post GE defeat defections from Labour to LibDems-out of fear of a lurch the the left.

    Clegg has some thinking to do since his recent stance seems to have has taken him closer to Cameron.

    Does he want to stay centre left and wait to pick up the Blairites as Labour disintegrates-or centre right and shared power in a hung parliament?

  19. Colin

    Perhaps the more interesting question is what do the Orange Book LibDems do if there is such a defection.

    Say, hypothetically, there are about 40-50 LD MPs after the next election, and they are joined by 25-30 Blairites in 2011 (assuming it will take a while before they give up hope of reclaiming Labour’s soul). That would mean that the OBLDs are suddenly a clear minority in what is truly a social democratic party. Could you see them move across to the Conservatives in the way that both the Liberal Unionists and the National Liberals have done in the past?

  20. The polls indicate a slim chance of there being an hung parliament anyway Colin. If there is then what the parties do now is rather irrelevant, that will be dealt with then by negotiations based on what happens then, what happens before polling day won’t matter anymore.

  21. James, I think David Cameron being caught naked in a hotel room with Colonel Khadafi is the most likely of the three. And I think an economic improvement will do nothing much for Labours fortunes, just as is it did nothing much for John Major.

  22. 7% Lab largest party plus 18% Lab overall majority makes 25% – this is Labour’s tough resilient core! At present, at least, I would not put money on Labour getting less than this at the GE.

    What is interesting is that only 12% are expecting a landslide victory for the Cons. I expect this to change greatly by the time we get close to the GE. And this expectation may have an impact on tactical voting.

    It could be that some who do not want to see the Cons with a massive majority will vote for the Lib Dems. Admittingly, that is what I am hoping for. Otherwise, I think the Lib Dems are on course to losing a lot of seats to the Cons.

  23. Charles-interesting.I have often thought David Laws would fit comfortably into Cameron’s Conservatives.

    Philip (T)-yes it seems so-but Polls can change-even at this stage-there are alway “events”.

    I’m not sure I agree with you otherwise-The LibDems have to mount an Election Campaign, so like all the other parties they will have to nail their colours to the mast & tell the electorate where they stand.

    I merely suggest that-for example-if Clegg presents his party as Social Democratic , centre left ; a refuge for disenchanted New Labour voters before the GE……he might find it less than credible to walk into a coalition with Cameron afterwards.

    However, as Charles suggests, a badly beaten Labour will probably take some time to break up & reshuffle the pack. Who knows how the cards might fall.

  24. I agree with onthejob about Andrew Lansley’s performance on question time on Thursday. No way is he worth £24K to anyone for 12 days work. When we see on publication under the new rules all the second and third jobs Tory MPs have plus the news that private offices of Tory frontbenchers are being financed or supported with manpower from big companies, Cameron’s Tories will be seen for what thye are – in the pockets of business. It will be pretty obvious that business is buying access to a potential future government – how else would they get value for money for their shareholders from such payments. And of course we shouldn’t forget the New Labour ex-ministers with their noses in the big business trough – step forward Patricia Hewitt for example.

  25. As far as I can see, no one else seems to be thinking along the lines I am. I think that Gordon Brown’s best hope of avoiding total Labour Party meltdown is to call an election now, to coincide with the local and European elections on June 4th. If he holds out until next year, I think Labour could be obliterated, meeting a fate similar to that of Canada’s Progressive Conservatives in 1993. What I see happening in a 2010 election is the Conservatives winning a 1931 or 1935 sized landslide with the Liberal Democrats as official opposition and Labour a distant third. However, the Conservatives will gain many seats from the Liberal Democrats, who’ll gain many more from Labour.

    I think that a 2010 election will be devastating for Labour because I think that while there’s been a temporary slowdown in the rate of house price falls, I think house prices have another 15%+ to fall before they’ll stabilize. I also think that unemployment will rise much faster than predicted and I think that the massive budget deficit will be seen as unsustainable by everyone within 6 months. The Labour government will be stuck between a rock and a hard place even more than they are now.

    Call an election now and Labour may return 200+ MPs. Call it in a year’s time and I think that they’ll be lucky to return 50. I don’t think there’s anything Gordon Brown can do to avoid defeat but he could achieve damage limitation.

  26. Charles Stuart,

    You are talking a lot of sense.
    Labour think a pick up in the economy will benefit them. They are wrong because the huge national debt will still be there and unemployment will be much higher than now. But more than anything the time for change theme is well underway and gathering more pace each day !!

  27. Brown won’t call an election until next year. He might hope that things pick up between now and then, but failing that, if he’s already resigned himself to defeat, then he stays an extra year in the job if he hangs on. The state of Labour? He likely doesn’t care; he’ll leave the Commons soon after a defeat I suspect and never look back.

  28. Rumours circulating down here of disastrous Scottish poll for Labour tomorrow- perhaps YouGov in Sunday Times?

    Anyone heard anything?

  29. I agree with Charles Stuart that things are likely to appear even more grim for Labour by next year. However, as much as I would love to see the Lib Dems in second place I think there is no way of being confident at this present time that it will happen.

    It is not to be underestimated the ability of some people to be blindly loyal to something. For example, there are many people who will support a football team year after year regardless of their performance. And certainly the 18% who said that Labour would win by a majority are displaying that same kind of blind loyalty. Although IF Labour were to be reduced to 18% then a reduction to 50 seats becomes mathematically possible.

    In terms of testing the loyal supporters of the Labour party we are entering new unchartered waters. We will have to wait and chart the development of the polls.

    @ Colin

    I don’t think Clegg will be worrying about the improbable event of going into a coalition with the Cons after this GE.
    Why can’t Clegg promise greater fairness and also greater competence? New Labour achieved that for about one term!

  30. With a 19% lead on election day, the Tories would romp home with a large majority. A 19% lead in a couple of opinion polls a year before the election is not quite the same thing. A swing back to Labour if economic confidence perks up is quite possible and per Electoral Calculus, Con 40%, Lab 30%, LibDem 22% yields a hung Parliament.

    Only people who are unaware of Labour’s 7% edge from the vagaries of the electoral system could imagine that a Tory majority is a sure thing.

  31. 18% of those surveyed think Labour will have a majority after the election? Now that’s what you call optimism. I expect the Tory lead to fall back a couple of points in the next few polls because this really has been a disastrous few weeks for the government and (probably) wont be repeated. Having said that as long as the Tories do not make any huge blunders I cannot see the lead falling below 10 points.

    The Lib Dems will find themselves in a very awkward position if there is a hung parliament because they have polar opposite views to one of the main Parties on several issues. For instance they have been very close to the Conservatives on issues of civil liberties and crime legislation and yet any European debate would split the coalition down the middle. Another interesting point was raised on ‘This Week’ which was that the Lib Dems’ seats are split between poorer inner-city seats and fairly affluent south west seats. Therefore most decisions of support are likely to upset one part of their vote.

  32. Those who are expecting a huge Tory majority would do well to be more moderate in their thinking. Strange things occur in politics. As recently as the summer of 2007, there was speculation about the Conservatives imploding and becoming a foot-note in history. When Labour was at its worst under Michael Foot, it still polled well enough to return more than 200 MPs. Current polling intentions are more about punishing the Government than embracing the Conservatives. Mr Cameron and his colleagues – largely unknown to most of the general public – have a lot of convincing to do if they are to convert strong anti-government feelings into positive pro-Conservative ones. They will need to do this without the gaffes they have been seen to be prone to when they have tried to reveal their policies in the past. With one or two notable exceptions, there is a little of substance on the Conservative Front Bench at the present time.

  33. Gordon will go at some point after the Euros. Alan Johnson as the “transitional stability” candidate to take the sting out of the pandemic “government hatred” and deliver the heartlands saving Labour 30 odd seats : Tories with a 70 plus majority ?

  34. @John C – “there is little substance on the conservative front bench at this time” – Actually there is a lot of substance, but not widely known. You will see these people slowly coming to the fore over the coming months to coincide with the election campaign – bringing them out now would allow Labour a year in which it can sleeze and smear those people who are currently protected by annonimity. Also anti government feeling and need for change were 2 of the major messages that saw the blair landslide. Although I do not expect the same result as DC is not blair, it will close. How the conservatives do in their 1st 4 years is what will be interesting. So if you don’t mind, I’ll moderate my thinking then – but thanks for the advice :-)

  35. The idea that Labour will be reduced to 50 seats is at best a gross exaggeration, at worst simply ludicrous. Labour are likely to retain over 200 seats simply because a great deal of their vote is still firmly attached to class politics and party loyalty- as the 18% of people who still believe in a Labour victory demonstrate.

    There will be a Tory majority, but Labour are not going to be trounced into being a “footnote of history” as someone has already said. The Conservatives looked finished in 1997, and they remained a languishing entity until 2005, but now they’re back and expected to win. The same with Labour in 1983 and 1959 and the Tories in 1945. Labour will be back, but hopefully not for a good few years and with a new generation of leaders- the current Labour heirarchy are mired in corruption, scandal and skullduggery.

  36. @John C

    You have no doubt heard the saying that oppositions do not win elections, governments lose them. This is very much true. Major lost his and Brown looks like he is losing his today.

    I must ask how many of the Labour front bench were known widely to the public in 1997 after an entire 18 years out of power. How would you define substance?

    Perhaps a less partisan view would balance the two out?

  37. @Harry Scott-Parker

    Not just that, there is also the massive electoral bias towards the Labour party. Through constituency sizes, Lab vs Con turnout, urban areas being unbalanced etc.

  38. Charles Stuart / Philip JW,

    Please bear in mind that there are two stages to LDs supplanting Labour as the alternate to Conservatives.

    It is feasible that LDs may overtake Labour in terms of popular vote at next election – we will have a aguide to this in June – but that is a long way from overtaking Lab in terms of seats.

    While LDs may take some seats from Lab at next GE, the number is likely to be limited to between 10-20, and will probably be exceeded by the number of seats they lose to Cons (20-30).

    Strategically, Clegg should acknowledge this and base his pitch as a viable centre-left alternative to Labour, even if it costs him some seats in 2010. His medium / long-term position will be stronger if his share of the vote is close to or level with Labour, regardless of the number of MPs he has. After all, Clegg is young enough to remain LD leader not just up to the election after – when he could hope to replace Lab as the official opposition – but also to 2018-2020 when he could possibly be the first Liberal to win a general election for 100 years.

    It will take courage to plot such a strategy simply because too many LD MPs are sitting in ex-Tory seats and are fearful of losing them this time. Equally, many LDs are philosophically closer to Con than Lab (incl, I suspect, Clegg himself). A repositioning to teh left would attract Lab defectors – and why wait until after teh GE) but it would split the Orange Book Liberals and weaken teh LDs in the SW (hitherto their strongest English region).

    The big question for the Lib Dems is whether they have the vision / courage to take up that challenge.

    If instead, Clegg continues the LD tradition of seeking to be different things in different places according to what appears most popular locally, then they will be seen as an irrelevance at the next election, and really will deliver Cameron a landslide.

  39. To those who say that Lab will hold at least 200 seats after the election (for whatever reason), that implies that they will have lost no more than about 150 across the country.

    If we accept that they will lose about 5-10 to SNP/Plaid, and about 10-20 to LD (could be more), that only leaves 120-130 being lost to Cons, which means that Cameron would have to rely on gains from LDs for his majority.

    So, if, as the majority of the country appear to believe, Cameron is going to win a working majority (and possibly a landslide), it is more than likely that Lab will be reduced below 200 – and we could see some seats lost is surprising places.

    FWIW – I can see Lab dropping to c 150 (bit like 1997) but not much below that. f they did fall below 100, then, even if the LDs have fewer seats, I think the game will be up for Labour as the effective opposition, let alone as a party of government.

  40. As Harold Pipe-Chomper observed, ” A week is a long time in politics” And so a year is an even longer time…David may seem to have it sewn up now, in May 09, but a lot can happen in a year..
    However, I doubt a lot will change, Gordon will stay in charge, due to his well engineered cabinet (ie fill it with nonentities who couldn’t possibly mount a challenge to his leadership)
    Their lack of “punch” also translates as a lack of political knowhow, hence the dreadful state of the Brown Government today..
    As for the comparisons with the last dying days of the Major administration- all are spot on! Broon and Labour always get a kicking at the local and Euro elections, but this time the clock is ticking..


  41. I agree with quite a lot of what Harry Scott-Parker says.

    There will remain a large group who look to Labour, partly out of class loyalty, but also as the people who are associated with things such as the NHS (despite all the improvements the Tories appear to have made to neutralise such things and focus on the domestic agenda).

    I’m extremely sceptical about these projected Lib Dem advances against Labour amongst who are basically core Labour voters, when they are faced with a real contest and a likely Tory government.
    If those LD advances don’t come off, on top of their likely losses to the Tories, then that would indicate an LD vote below the 17% of 1997.

  42. Oh, looking up this thread, nasty comment from “a Lib Dem” about Andrew Lansley.
    Andrew Lansley has rather impressed me for the simple reason that he seems knowledgeable about health, and is pragmatic, and has had staying power in the job.

  43. My concern regarding the Lib Dems losing quite a number of seats to the Cons is based on the fact in their top 5% marginal seats there are 20 Cons and only 13 Lab.

    And many of these seats were narrowly won because the Cons supported the Iraq war. But now that the Iraq war is not a big issue these seats are vunerable.

    This is supported by the polls which most often show the Cons benefiting more from than the Lib Dems from Labour’s unpopularity. Thus I am hoping that people will vote Lib Dem in these marginals in order to limit the Con’s majority. I do think it is plausible that this can happen.

    In order to improve their number of seats the Lib Dems will need to fight a shrewed campaign on two fronts against both the Cons and Labour. I can’t see it being enough for them to simply protray themselves as the alternative left of centre. In truth it is more complex than that anyway. And I think that people are yearning for politicans who will show them the respect of being truthful.

  44. Regarding how many seats Labour are likely to win I would like to say that my only firm conclusion is that Labour are very unlikely to do better than 27% at the GE. And also the Cons are very unlikely to do worse than 40% and the Lib Dems no worse than 17%

  45. I think Labour will get no less than thirty percent (I expect now to get a few insulting comments) it was like summer of last year, it’d have been quite easy for us to assume that Labour was going to get a very low GE score, then they had a bounce back, I wouldn’t rule out another Labour recovery, even if that recovery only takes them to 30-32%.

  46. There is always the possibility that Brown will resign as leader before the next election. I don’t mean due to a scandal in the party etc, but because – as is well known – he doesn’t like fighting elections. Ok, it does seem unlikely, but if his popularity is plummeting, he may see little point in going on to lose the election and the party leadership in any case.

    If Brown went, a Labour recovery is a very real possibility. However, he doesn’t have long to do it. An election must be called within a year, and internal party leadership contests take time.

  47. I do think people are not considering the possibility of an anti governement vote along the same lines as ’97. What would stop some LD voting tory just to make sure Labour are out? especially in seats where the LD’s are a distant third! I think on recent events, this is a plausible probability!

  48. Blears is in the press today making jibes at Brown. This is the first cabinet minister to take a pot shot since Milliband last year. Kate Hoey has waded in too but that is to be expected.

    I see her speech as clearly setting out her stall in a future contest.

    And on the back of Clark’s intervention this week the Blairites do seem to be gearing up again to try and topple Brown after the local elections.

    They may even see a worse loss then as a way of getting more leverage on ousting Brown. Because this public infighting and backbiting can only go down badly with the electorate.

    It’s a month away but I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that Labour will have their worst local election results in modern times, even trumping the 2008 catastrophe.

    I’m predicting they’ll get 23% and come third.

    In the Euros I expect Labour to do even worse on the back of the referendum the country didn’t get over Lisbon.

  49. A Lib dem agreeing with me what next!

    cliff point about Labout doing badly enough to come third in June is intersting (especially as iam standing in an area which has a Labour majority at the moment seat not council) though canvassing returns seem to suggest a serious loss of vote for them if Labour come third who would come second in the europeans? The Lib Dems seem to do worse in european election due to there pro euro stance could we see a dommsday scenario where the BNP come 2nd! or would UKIP be the most likley benifeciary? if that happened would Labour be third or even 4th if they were that low surley it really would spell the end of Brown

  50. IMHO a very big contrast between Tory leads in the opinion polls and actual votes in by-elections.,which have been very poor.Votes were down in nearly every seat contested this month.

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