Stephan Shakespeare: “It is becoming harder for any party to win an outright majority”

by Stephen Tall on November 2, 2013

There’s a terrific post in today’s Times by YouGov chief executive Stephan Shakespeare assessing 10 things you need to know about the electoral scene. What makes it fascinating is his summary of quite why 2015 is, in so many ways, hard to read.

For instance, Labour has a small lead in the polls for an opposition party 18 months out from the election – but a small lead may be enough given the current boundaries.

But, set against that, is the fact that voters don’t regard Ed Miliband as prime ministerial and think a Labour victory would make for a worse economy.

However, voters do think Labour is more in touch with their concerns than the Tories, a crucial factor in President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.

Yet the Tories will very likely benefit from the first-time incumbency boost of the 147 MPs elected in 2010.

Add in the Ukip wildcard and the Scottish referendum and the minor matter of this current government being the first Coalition in modern times and you have a mix of utterly unpredictable variables all of which mean “the outcome of the next election is the hardest to predict in a generation”.

Here’s the most significant point from a Lib Dem perspective:

8. It is becoming harder for any party to win an outright majority
Contrary to received wisdom, governing parties do sometimes increase their share of the vote between one election and another. It happened in 1955, 1966 and October 1974 but three big factors mean it will be hard for Mr Cameron to find the extra votes he needs for a working majority. First, lots of unhappy left-leaning former Liberal Democrats will boost Labour’s share of the vote . Second, the Lib Dems will probably hold on to most of their seats. Even if Nick Clegg’s vote halves, he could easily keep three quarters of his MPs, as we saw at the Eastleigh by-election. And third, the most significant postwar voting trend is the decreasing share of the vote enjoyed by the two main parties combined (see graph). This makes it increasingly hard for any party to gain a working majority.

If you can access The Times’ paywalled website, the whole thing is well worth a read: here’s the link.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

Stephan Shakespeare: “It is becoming harder for any party to win an outright majority”

by Stephen Tall on November 2, 2013

There’s a terrific post in today’s Times by YouGov chief executive Stephan Shakespeare assessing 10 things you need to know about the electoral scene. What makes it fascinating is his summary of quite why 2015 is, in so many ways, hard to read.

For instance, Labour has a small lead in the polls for an opposition party 18 months out from the election – but a small lead may be enough given the current boundaries.

But, set against that, is the fact that voters don’t regard Ed Miliband as prime ministerial and think a Labour victory would make for a worse economy.

However, voters do think Labour is more in touch with their concerns than the Tories, a crucial factor in President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.

Yet the Tories will very likely benefit from the first-time incumbency boost of the 147 MPs elected in 2010.

Add in the Ukip wildcard and the Scottish referendum and the minor matter of this current government being the first Coalition in modern times and you have a mix of utterly unpredictable variables all of which mean “the outcome of the next election is the hardest to predict in a generation”.

Here’s the most significant point from a Lib Dem perspective:

8. It is becoming harder for any party to win an outright majority
Contrary to received wisdom, governing parties do sometimes increase their share of the vote between one election and another. It happened in 1955, 1966 and October 1974 but three big factors mean it will be hard for Mr Cameron to find the extra votes he needs for a working majority. First, lots of unhappy left-leaning former Liberal Democrats will boost Labour’s share of the vote . Second, the Lib Dems will probably hold on to most of their seats. Even if Nick Clegg’s vote halves, he could easily keep three quarters of his MPs, as we saw at the Eastleigh by-election. And third, the most significant postwar voting trend is the decreasing share of the vote enjoyed by the two main parties combined (see graph). This makes it increasingly hard for any party to gain a working majority.

If you can access The Times’ paywalled website, the whole thing is well worth a read: here’s the link.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.