Our politicians are infatuated with dubbing the incoming May elections as ‘the most important in a generation.’ An election tool perhaps, yet nonetheless the polls show no majority across any predictions. Ultimately, the battle will not be solely between Cameron and Miliband, but a result of the partnerships made to reach those elusive 326 seats – should they seek to avoid a fragile minority government.
Of course, the MP’s who would proclaim this phrase may recall that 16 of the 18 governments since the end of the Second World War have been majorities. Now, more than ever, do the seats from non-Labour or Tory parties count – so let’s examine some potential scenario’s for May 7th.
The only plausible coalition partner for Labour today would be Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party, tipped to blanket Scotland. Ed Miliband has, however, ruled out a potential coalition deal with the SNP, although this could be as a result of the threat the party poses to Labour seats in Scotland. The SNP are currently likely to achieve around 55 seats by The New Statesman’s predictions.
If Labour maintains it’s polling at 34% they look to hold 272 seats across the UK. The 55 seats from the SNP in coalition would secure them at 327, a majority with only one seat to spare.
Sturgeon has highlighted her party’s desire for a “constructive” role in Westminster. The chance to lead government in both the Scottish Assembly and indirectly in Parliament would probably lead her to accept a compromise with Labour – especially as they would have likely decimated their Scottish base and could carry extra negotiating clout.
The blue picture is less likely, but not altogether improbable. Ed Miliband is not polled as favourably as Cameron to hold the keys to Downing Street, and it’s likely this will play an important factor in voters’ minds.
To repeat the coalition, the Tories need to hold their current 35% polling, giving them 287 seats, and the Liberal Democrats largely surviving with 40 seats to push them over the edge – nonetheless, this is unlikely. Especially as pollsters predict a much sharper loss for Nick Clegg.
However, a possibility would be for Cameron to lead a 36-point lead (Lab 32%), commanding 291 seats and holding a renewed coalition with the Liberals, who face a drop to 27 seats, as well as a deal with the DUP of Northern Ireland who would have to maintain their 8 seats – in order to just form that 326 mark.
Nick Clegg’s party hasn’t overtly hinted to how his party would behave post-election, the sudden scourge of seats might push them to reach a deal to save face. However, current DUP MP’s have indicated their willingness to work alongside their Conservative political brothers should the need arise.
Hung parliament, a minority government with the Conservatives as the major party.
Polling intentions vary; however, latest YouGov polls give a slight lead to Cameron.
‘The most important election in a generation,’ perhaps rings true when considering how volatile these numbers, albeit potentially, are. The 2010 elections were arguably fought with the personalities of the leaders in the minds of voters, and how they conveyed themselves in the broadcasted debates. With this years debates scheduled for the 2nd and 16th of April, these preliminary figures will be revisited to see if the debates carve that same Clegg-effect we witnessed last election – but at this point in time, it’s still a Clegg or Sturgeon affair as to who will be kingmaker.