Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Great Unknown - UK politics and the 2015 general election

I try and avoid talking about UK politics because I am a disaffected voter who in the last few elections has spoiled his ballot paper by scrawling on it 'None of The Above'.

The upcoming election will be impossible to predict, since we just don't know what the effect will be of UKIP taking votes away from all three major parties. It will vary from seat to seat, depending on how tactical the local electorate will be. At least it should mean rather than 40 or so seats out of 600+ being genuinely contested rather than 'safe' for the incumbent party, we could well have many times more seats changing hands.

For what it's worth and please don't go down the bookmakers on the basis of what I say, I don't think there will be an outright winner at the polls able to form a majority government. Instead it will be a 3-party coalition, involving Lib-Dems and SNP with Labour Or LibDems and the Northern Irish DUP with Conservatives. UKIP will win no more than 6 seats, Greens will be lucky to hold on to their lone single seat. This is just how the first past the post electoral system works. UKIP will take votes away from both Labour and Conservative, enough to ensure either of the latter lose seats, but not enough to win the seat outright for UKIP. If Miliband weren't such a walking disaster as a leader, Labour should romp this election. But he is an electoral liability, so much so that the vapid Cameron has a greater popularity rating than Miliband. Also Labour will lose seats in Scotland as the SNP managed to sustain their post-independence bandwagon of support, which they really shouldn't be able to do since they lost the referendum, which removes a good portion of their raison d'etre. Instead we now have the irony of them potentially being kingmakers down in Westminster. They might be able to negotiate a devolution of powers from Westminster to Edinburgh so large that it becomes de facto independence in all but name.

As an example of how fragmented and inchoate the psephology is, take a look at London. London is a wealthy city, a natural constituency for the Conservatives you would have thought. And yet it is overwhelmingly Labour and Labour are predicted to take some more seats in May, off both Conservatives and Lib-Dems. And yet Londoners have voted to re-elect a Conservative Mayor in the form of Boris Johnson!

So, what will be the outcome? Almost certainly a lot of surprising results on an individual level and I reckon no one party will have a majority. I think there will be a lot of tooing and froing which may not result in putting a coalition together, or a coalition that is too strained and collapses quickly, so that we might actually have 2 elections within a period of 12 months. Which would crucify the finances of all the parties.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

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