by Joe Oliver
A personal General Election prediction : Labour to be the largest party
The story goes that the weekend before the last election David Cameron and George Osborne gave up on trying to interpret the varying opinion polls and pundits’ election forecasts, and sat down together to work through a list of every seat in the UK and predict which party they thought would win each.
I’d be interested to know what their final figures were, and I even hope the list itself might be unearthed by a biographer or archivist one day so historians and real political obsessives can see where they were right and wrong.
Because I know how to party I’ve spent the twilight hours attempting a similar thing, looking through the 650 constituencies in the UK and trying to predict how they’ll vote.
One thing that goaded me into this perhaps rather obsessive task was the amount of election forecasts flying about clearly based on algorithms and formulas – calculated on a national swing based on the share of the vote opinion polls are giving parties across the country.
The Electoral Calculus website is perhaps the best known of these where political geeks can lose hours playing around with the ‘Make your own prediction’ function.
My feeling, which may or may not be born out tonight, is that the idea of a national swing won’t be much help in anticipating these results – as UK politics has become such a chaotic kaleidoscope of moving piece with several seats being closely fought between four or more parties, parties strength varying dramatically across and regions, and many MPs increasingly out-performing or under-performing their parties average based on constituents’ perception of their service.
This election could almost be seen as akin to 650 separate by-elections – so I thought it’d be interesting to see if looking at each individual seat and then tallying them up gave a different result than trying to predict the parties’ seats based on the percentage increase or decrease in their support.
I’m very much indebted to the god father of political bloggers, Iain Dale, who is the only person I’ve seen who’s such produced constituency-by-constituency predictions, as his meticulous lists of regional predictions provide both his own assessments of who’ll win each seat and the raw data of the 2010 results which is very helpful in trying to prophesise the near future.
You can see all his predictions here.
I’ve ended up with slightly different figures to Iain Dale’s election prediction.
Iain Dale gives his prediction for overall seats as:
Liberal Democrat 23
Sinn Fein 5
Plaid Cymru 4
Whereas I got an almost exact reversal in terms of the two main parties with:
Liberal Democrat 25
Plaid Cymru 4
Sinn Fein 4
Ulster Unionists 1
(You can see my sums at the bottom of this post)
Although I haven’t differed from ‘the Dale projection’ in the vast majority of seats, in such a tight election even a handful of changes could make a big difference.
Of course I don’t my predictions are any more likely to be accurate than anyone else’s and they should be taken with a pinch or perhaps a gritter lorry full of salt.
There are lots of canyon-sized caveats – I’ve assumed quite a large swing from the Conservatives to Labour in England, around 4%, which brings lots of Tory-held seats within striking distance of Labour. It could well be that this swing doesn’t materialise – I see that Elections Etc the site run by Professor Steve Fisher from the University of Oxford has put up a forecast this morning which works on the assumption that the polls are wrong and the Conservatives will be 3% ahead.
Peter Kellner of YouGov has also been projecting results on the assumption that the Tories will do slightly better in their final vote share than the polls are showing.
Many of my predictions are also based on Lord Ashcroft’s hugely useful polls of dozens of individual constituencies. (Perhaps next time he could poll every seat to save us the trouble of voting?)
But there’s been a lot of discussion over whether the methodology of these constituency polls is right – and whether it’s even possible to get an accurate picture of what’s happening in individual seats from polls.
Stephen Bush’s article ‘Are the Ashcroft polls wrong?’ on The New Statesman’s website sent a small shiver down my spine – if the Ashcroft polls are wrong then so are the basis of many of these predictions.
Also evidently many seats could be so close that its almost a lottery which party wins them – we could see several seats won by under a hundred votes with the votes split between five or more parties. Assuming a margin of error most of these seats are too close to call.
The biggest of caveat of all is of course the pesky voters could surprise us all.
I imagine anyone interested enough to have read down to hear probably decided how they were voting sometime around the 10th May 2010 but it’s possible in the privacy of the polling booths the electorate could deliver a complete surprise, and we can’t really second guess them until all the voters are counted.
As G.K. Chesterton warned
“Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quick forget,
For we are the people of England [and Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland] that never have spoken yet.”
So these predictions are largely a bit of fun (‘Fun?’ I can hear some friends snort in disbelief..) but I’ll be interested to see how many I get right, and particularly if my overall prediction that Labour will be the largest party (and that many of the media forecasts are being much too generous in allocating the Conservatives’ seat share) is borne out tonight or whether I’m wildly wide of the mark.
For those interested the full list of seats I’ve predicted will change hands is here.
I’ve started by listing those where I’ve agreed with Iain Dale’s predictions.
I’ve also included a few quick notes added as I went along – apologies for their rudimentary nature. If typing could show handwriting they’d definitely be scrawled notes.
I’ve also (where I’ve had time) noted the sitting MP and their majority.
The seats I haven’t mentioned (the majority) I’m tentatively predicting will produce the same results as they did in 2010.
Conservative gains from Liberal Democrats
St Austell and Newquay, 1,312, Stephen Gilbert – Conservative gain from Lib Dems – Ashcroft has the Conservatives 6% ahead.
North Devon, Sir Nick Harvey, 5,821 Conservative Gain from Lib Dems – Ashcroft has the Conservatives 7% ahead.
Mid Dorset and Poole – Annette Brooke standing down, 269, – Conservative gain from Lib Dem
Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock standing as an independent, 5,200 – Conservative Gain from Lib Dems (Ashcroft in Nov 2014 had Tory 30% Lib Dem 25% Labour 20% UKIP 17%)
Berwick-upon-Tweed, 2,690 Alan Beith standing down – Conservative gain from Liberal Democrat I may be wrong on this as the Lib Dems could hang on – Ashcroft in Sept 2014 had Tories 33 Lib Dem 30 – and the Lib Dems will try to get Labour voters to back them tactically, but I think particularly without the incumbent MP it’ll be difficult for them to hold.
Somerset and Frome, David Heath standing down, 1,817 – Conservative gain from Liberal Democrats. Ashcroft had Tories 14% ahead in October 2014.
Taunton Deane – Jeremy Browne standing down, 3,993. – Conservative gain from Lib Dems Ashcroft poll had Tories 4% ahead in Oct 2014 – that and Jeremy Browne standing down should seal it. But there is a Labour vote to squeeze and the Lib Dems are fighting hard.
Wells, Tessa Munt, 800, – Conservative Gain from Liberal Democrats
Solihull – Lorely Burt, 175, – Conservative gain from Lib Dems. Ashcroft in September 2014 had Tories 9% ahead.
Chippenham, Duncan Hames, 2,470 – Conservative gain from Liberal Democrats. Ashcroft in September 2014 had Tories 15% ahead.
UKIP gains from Conservatives
Clacton, Douglas Carswell, – based on the last election a UKIP gain from Conservatives
Thurrock – Jackie Doyle-Price, 92, – UKIP gain from Conservatives. This could possibly be a Labour gain or a Tory hold. Ashcroft has UKIP 35, Lab 31, Tories 30 – a complete 3-way marginal.
Labour gain from Lib Dems
Birmingham Yardley, John Hemming, 3,002 – Labour gain against Liberal Democrats. Ashcroft in November 2014 had Lib Dems 3% ahead so very uncertain.
Bristol West, 11,366 Labour – Gain from Lib Dems, Stephen Williams. A huge majority to overcome but an Ashcroft poll in April had Labour 38%, Green 25%, Lib Dems 20%.
Burnley, 1,818 Gordon Birtwhistle – Labour gain from Lib Dems
London North West
Brent Central, 1,345 Sarah Teather standing down – Labour gain from Lib Dems
Hornsey and Wood Green, 6,875 Lynne Fetherstone – Labour gain from Lib Dems. Big majority to overcome. A Survation poll in March had Labour 1% ahead. I think with a big swing in London Labour can take this.
Manchester Withington, 1,834 John Leech – Labour Gain from Lib Dem
Norwich South, 333 Simon Wright – Labour gain from Liberal Democrats
Redcar, 5,219, Ian Swales standing down – Labour Gain from Liberal Democrats. Ashcroft in Sept 2014 had Labour 44, UKIP 23, Lib Dems 18
Cardiff Central, Jenny Willott, 4,576 – Labour gain from Liberal Democrats
Bradford East, David Ward, 365 – Labour gain from Liberal Democrats
Labour gains from Conservatives
Bedford, 1,353 Labour Gain from Conservatives, Richard Fuller
Milton Keynes South – Labour gain from Conservatives, Iain Stewart 5,201, Ashcroft has Labour ahead by 2% in April
City of Chester, Labour Gain from Conservatives, 2,583 Stephen Mosley
Warrington South – Labour gain from Conservatives, 1,553 David Mowat
Weaver Vale – Labour gain from Conservatives, 991 Graham Evans
Carlisle – Labour gain from Conservatives, 853 John Stevenson
Amber Valley, 536 Nigel Mills – Labour Gain from Conservatives
Erewash, 2,501 Jessica Lee standing down – Labour Gain from Conservatives
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport – 1,149 Oliver Colville – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft has Labour 13% ahead
Brighton Kemptown, 1,328 Simon Kirby – Labour gain from Conservatives
Hastings and Rye, 1,993 Amber Rudd – Labour gain from Conservatives
Hove, 1,868, Mike Weatherley standing down – Labour gain from Conservatives
Stroud, 1,299 Neil Carmichael – Labour gain from Conservatives
Stevenage, 3578 Stephen McPartland – Labour gain from Conservatives
Lancaster and Fleetwood, 333, Eric Ollerenshaw – Labour Gain from Conservatives
Morecambe and Lonsdale, 866, David Morris – Labour Gain from Conservatives
Lincoln – Labour gain from Conservatives, majority 1,058, Karl McCartney
London North East
Enfield North, Nick de Bois, 1,692 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft had Lab 10% ahead in Oct 2014
London North West
Harrow East, 3,404, Bob Blackman – Labour gain from Conservatives
Hendon, 106 Matthew Offord – Labour gain from Conservatives
Brentford and Isleworth, 1,958 Mary MacLeod – Labour gain from Conservatives
Ealing Central and Acton, 3,716 Angie Bray – Labour gain from Conservatives
Bury North, 2,235 David Nuttall – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in October 2014 had Labour 9% ahead.
Corby – Labour held since 2012 by-election but based on the General Election a Labour gain from Conservatives
Northampton North, Michael Ellis, 1,936 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in October 2014 had Labour 4% ahead.
Broxtowe, 389, Anna Soubry – Labour gain from Conservatives
Sherwood, 214, Mark Spencer – Labour gain from Conservatives
Cannock Chase, Aidan Burley standing down, 3,195 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in April had a 6% Labour lead.
Ipswich, 2,079, Ben Gummer – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in Oct had Labour 7% ahead. But an Ipswich Star survey in April put Ben Gummer 5% ahead. I’ll take a guess Labour can gain this.
Waveney, Peter Aldous, 769 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in July 2014 had Labour ahead 9%. Return of former MP Bob Blizzard?
Stockton South, 332, James Wharton – Labour Gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in April had Labour 5% ahead.
Cardiff North, 194, Jonathan Evans standing down – Labour gain from Conservatives
North Warwickshire, 54, Dan Byles standing down – Labour gain from Conservatives. Return of former MP Mike O’Brien.
Nuneaton, 2,069 Marcus Jones – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in March had Labour 5% ahead.
Halesowen and Rowley Regis, James Morris, 2023 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in March had Labour 2% ahead.
Wolverhampton South West, Paul Uppal, 691, – Labour gain from Conservatives. Return of former MP Rob Marris. Ashcroft in July 2014 had Labour 16% ahead.
Dewsbury, Simon Reevell, 1,526 – Labour gain from Conservatives. In August 2014 Ashcroft had Labour 10% ahead.
Keighley, Kris Hopkins, 2,940 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Return of John Grogan.
Pudsey, Stuart Andrew, 1,659 – Labour gain from Conservatives. Probably one of the most uncertain seats. An Ashcroft poll in April had the Conservatives and Labour level at 40%. Ladbrokes have Labour favourite to take the seat. YouGov predict it’ll stay Conservative.
I’ll keep a Labour gain prediction largely due to assuming Labour will have the best Get Out the Vote organisation on the day.
DUP gain from Alliance Party
Northern Ireland (obvs)
Belfast East, Naomi Long, 1,533, DUP gain from Alliance Party. An opinion poll for Lucidtalk in January had the DUP 5% ahead. Their chances will be very much helped by the Ulster Unionists not standing a candidate as they did in 2010.
Plaid Cymru gain from Liberal Democrats
Ceredigion, Mark Williams, 8,324 – Plaid Cymru gain from Lib Dems. Might be a bit of a stretch but then much of Mark Williams large majority was only added in a 2010 surge and might vanish.
Respect gain from Labour
Bradford West – George Galloway’s seat won in a 2012 by-election – based on the General Election a Respect Gain from Labour
SNP gains from Liberal Democrats
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross – SNP gain from Lib Dems
Ross, Skye and Lochaber – SNP gain from Lib Dems. Ashcroft in April had SNP 15% ahead
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey – SNP gain from Lib Dems. Ashcroft in April had SNP 29%
Gordon – SNP gain from Lib Dems
West Aderdeenshire and Kincardine – SNP gain from Lib Dems. Ashcroft in February had SNP 14% ahead of Tories.
Argyll and Bute – SNP gain from Lib Dems
North East Fife – SNP gain from Lib Dems (Ashcroft in April had SNP 13% ahead. Mathematically possible they could be saved by Tories tactically voting but probably too big a gap)
Edinburgh West – SNP gain from Lib Dems
East Dunbartonshire – SNP gain from Lib Dems (Ashcroft in April has SNP 11% ahead. Possibly saved by tactical voting but unlikely)
Berwickshire, Roxborough and Selkirk – SNP gain from Lib Dems (Though could be a Tory gain or a Lib Dem hold – depending on tactical voting) Ashcroft in April had Tories 30, SNP 29, Lib Dems 28
SNP gain from Conservatives
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale – SNP gain from Conservatives (Ashcroft in April had SNP 12% ahead)
SNP gains from Labour (deep breath)
Kirkaldy and Cowdenbench – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in February had SNP 45, Labour 39 with little tactical vote to squeeze. On a uniform swing with YouGov a 6% Labour lead. Much of the Labour majority may have been a personal vote for Gordon Brown.
Aberdeen South – SNP gain from Labour. Anne Begg could be saved by tactical voting but on a uniform swing the SNP should be far ahead.
Edinburgh East – SNP gain from Labour. Again not a write-off for Labour put hard to see how it’s held if the SNP perform as well as recent polls have suggested.
Edinburgh South West – SNP gain from Labour. Feb Ashcroft had SNP 40 Labour 27 Tories 19. Could be some tactical voting but perhaps not enough to close the gap.
Edinburgh North and Leith – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in April has SNP 14% ahead.
Aberdeen North – SNP gain from Labour
Dundee West – SNP gain from Labour
Stirling – SNP gain from Labour
Ochil and South Perthshire – SNP gain from Labour
Dunfermline West and Fife – SNP gain from Labour
Falkirk – SNP gain from Labour
Linlithgow and Falkirk – SNP gain from Labour
Livingstone – SNP gain from Labour
Midlothian – SNP gain from Labour
East Lothian – SNP gain from Labour
North Ayrshire and Arran – SNP gain from Labour
Central Ayrshire – SNP gain from Labour
Kilmarnock and Loudoun – SNP gain from Labour
Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in February had SNP 11% ahead. Possible tactical voting could save it for Labour but it’s a big gap to close.
Dumfries and Galloway – SNP gain from Labour also a potential Tory gain on a split vote. Ashcroft in February had SNP 34 Tories 30 Labour 28
Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 18% ahead
West Dunbartonshire – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 47, Labour 38 with very little tactical vote to squeeze
Inverclyde – SNP gain from Labour. Labour might possibly hold on
Paisley and Renfrewshire South – SNP gain from Labour – might be a little closer than the 11% SNP lead in an April Ashcroft poll, and Douglas Alexander’s profile may help but I’d say SNP are the favourites.
East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow – SNP gain from Labour
Lanark & Hamilton East – SNP gain from Labour
Airdrie and Shotts – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 8% ahead with little tactical vote to squeeze.
Paisley & Renfrewshire North – SNP gain from Labour. Labour could just hold on but looks difficult
Motherwell and Wishal – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 50 Labour 39
Glasgow East – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 51 Labour 37
Glasgow North – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 45, Labour 33
Glasgow North West – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft in January had SNP 44 Labour 38. Labour could hold on but looks difficult with the current polls
Glasgow Central – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft has SNP 45 Labour 35
Glasgow South West – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft has SNP 21% ahead
Glasgow South – SNP gain from Labour. Ashcroft has SNP 15% ahead
Scotland’s results tonight really will be uncharted territory – and it’s almost impossible to predict how a lot of seats will go until the Returning Officers announce them.
If the polls showing an SNP landslide with around 49-54% of the vote nationally turn out to be correct then the other parties saving any seat could be seen as an achievement.
The results listed would have the SNP holding the 6 seats they won in 2010, gaining 10 of the 11 seats the Liberal Democrats currently have in Scotland, the Tories’ only Scottish seat, and 35 of Labour’s 41 seats, giving the Nationalists a total of 52 out of 59 Scottish seats, with Labour clinging on the 6 and the Liberal Democrats 1.
For the record these are the seats I have withstanding the SNP tide:
Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill- Ashcroft in January had SNP 46% Labour 43% but I think this is another seat which will come down to GOTV on the day. On a uniform swing based on the latest YouGov poll it would be c. Labour 50% SNP 46%. The huge Labour majority and the long serving Labour MP, Tom Clarke, might just withstand the SNP tsunami.
Glasgow North East – Ashcroft in January had Labour 46% SNP 39%. Probably the most likely of all Scottish seats to stay Labour.
East Renfrewshire – Ashcroft in April had SNP 39% Labour 36% Tory 20% – a 3% lead down from 9% earlier in the month. Jim Murphy may be saved by his profile locally and Tories voting tactically.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West – On a uniform swing with latest YouGov would be about Labour 46% SNP 45%. A May2015.com prediction has a 3% SNP lead. I’d guess Tom Greatrex can cling on.
Orkney and Shetland – Lib Dem hold against SNP. On a uniform swing based on the last YouGov poll Lib Dems will hang on by about 10%. May2015 also has the Lib Dems 3% ahead in their prediction. Though as with everywhere in Scotland an SNP gain is quite possible.
The 5 seats above are the only one’s Iain Dale predicts not going SNP. 2 seats which he predicts going SNP but I think might (just) stay Labour are:
Edinburgh South – Labour hold against SNP. Ashcroft poll in April has SNP 37 Labour 34 Tory 16 Lib Dem 8. Could come down to tactical voting. I think Ian Murray might just cling on.
Glenrothes – Labour hold against SNP. Admittedly this is a guess (as with all these predictions..) A uniform swing based on YouGov’s last poll would give the SNP 50, Labour 46. May2015 also has a 3% SNP lead. Lindsay Roy the incumbent MP is also standing down which won’t help Labour, but I’ll nervously chalk it up as a Labour gain as I think Labour’s Get out the Vote operation on the day may just save it.
Plus if The Daily Record’s last poll showing support for the SNP declining (very slightly) is right this is the sort of place Labour might just hold on to.
Now there’s also a few English seats where my predictions differ from Iain Dale’s, which is enough to tip things from his prediction of the Conservatives as the largest party to mine with Labour as the largest party.
3 Liberal Democrat holds against the Conservatives:
North Cornwall, Dan Rodgerson, 2,981 – Lib Dem hold against Conservatives. Iain Dale predicts a strong ground war on day and the Tories squeezing the UKIP vote will make this a Conservative gain. It’s very possible but as Ashcroft polls in March and April both had Lib Dems 2% ahead, and they have the benefit of incumbency I’d guess this will stay Lib Dem.
Cheadle, Mark Hunter, 3,272 – Lib Dem hold against Conservatives. In June 2014 Ashcroft had the Lib Dems 3% ahead and in October 2014 4% ahead. The Tories may have overtaken them since then but I’d guess Mark Hunter’s incumbency, and UKIP depressing the Tory vote could see the Lib Dems hold on.
YouGov’s final prediction has Cheadle ‘too close to call’ and leaning Conservative but I’ll stick with a Lib Dem hold prediction.
Brecon and Radnorshire, Roger Williams, 3,747 – Lib Dem hold against Conservatives. An Ashcroft poll in November had Lib Dems 31, Tories 27, UKIP 17, Labour 15. Although if the Tories can squeeze that large UKIP vote they’ll have a good chance, I’d predict incumbency will help the Lib Dems’ Roger Williams and he’ll squeak back in.
7 Labour gains from the Conservatives:
Peterborough, Stewart Jackson, 4,861 – Labour gain from Conservatives. An Ashcroft poll in April had Labour 2% ahead. I think with this and a strong get out the vote campaign on the day they could snatch the seat.
Crewe and Nantwich, Edward Timson, 6, 046 – Labour Gain from Conservatives. A traditional Labour seat lost in a disastrous by-election in 2008. Despite the Tories’ Edward Timson seeming a popular local MP, an Ashcroft poll in April had Labour 3% ahead and I think having run a strong campaign Labour are in with a chance of getting it back.
Ilford North, Lee Scott, 5,404 – Labour gain from Conservatives. If Labour get around a 5% swing from the Tories in England, as the latest polls seem to be showing they’re a long way to overturning Lee Scott’s majority. I think an energetic local campaign and a large swing in London could see Labour take this.
Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, 5,809 – Labour gain from Conservatives. An Ashcroft poll in April had Labour ahead by 2%. I think a strong local campaign could see them take Thatcher’s old stomping ground.
Wirral West, 2,436, Ester McVey – Labour gain from Conservatives. A really close and difficult seat to predict (aren’t they all) but an Ashcroft poll in April had Lab 46% Tory 43% UKIP 5% Lib Dem 3% Green 2% – the ultimate squeeze election. Ester McVey has narrowed the gap and has a high profile locally but I still think Labour are most likely to take the seat.
Norwich North, 3,901 Chloe Smith – Labour gain from Conservatives. Ashcroft in April had Labour 38% Conservatives 36%. Chloe Smith may have been closing the gap but I think Labour’s campaign can get out the vote on the day and win.
Various pundits seem to think this will be a Conservative hold, but I’ll stubbornly stick to my Labour gain prediction.
South Swindon, Robert Buckland, 3,544 – Labour gain from Conservatives. An Ashcroft poll in April had Tories 37% and Labour 36% but given how close this seat is I think Labour could just sneak ahead with a strong campaign. Robert Buckland seems a popular local MP, but the former MP Anne Snelgrove standing again for Labour may negate this a bit. Could go either way but I’d guess a Labour gain.
A Labour gain from the Liberal Democrats:
Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Simon Hughes, 8,530 – Labour gain from Lib Dems. In October 2014 an Ashcroft poll had the Lib Dems on 36, Labour on 35 so most commentators fairly enough seem to expect Simon Hughes to hang on – but I’d guess a strong campaign from Labour and a strong swing to Labour in London might topple him.
A Labour hold against UKIP:
Dudley North, 649, Ian Austin. Iain Dale predicts this will seat will be a UKIP gain. An Ashcroft poll in December had Labour ahead on 37% but UKIP close behind on 34%. A think UKIP support will have declined a little by then, and Ian Austin, helped by the incumbency factor should pull through, as indeed he did against the Tories in 2010.
Conservative hold against UKIP:
South Thanet, 7,617, Laura Sandys standing down, – Conservative hold against UKIP. No-one really knows how the seat Nigel Farage is contesting will go. Iain Dale predicts Farage taking it.
A Survation poll in April had him 9% ahead but another poll for Lord Ashcroft had Conservatives 34, UKIP 32, Labour 26. It’s a genuine three-way marginal with perhaps an almost equal chance of being a UKIP gain, a Labour gain, or a Conservative hold – though I’ll hazard a guess at (very narrow) Conservative hold.
1 UKIP gain from the Conservatives:
Boston and Skegness, 12,426, Mark Simmons standing down – UKIP gain from Conservatives.
A guess as much as anything but this is typical of the East coast seats vulnerable to UKIP. A Survation poll in September 2014 showed UKIP 19% ahead (though it was on a small sample of c.300) An Ashcroft poll in January had the Conservatives ahead 38% to 35% so the Conservatives may well keep the seat, but I’d say UKIP have one of their strongest chances of a gain here.
In the European elections last year they were far ahead in the seat around 50% to 26% for the Tories.
An Ulster Unionist gain from Sinn Fein:
Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 4, Michelle Gildernew – Ulster Unionist Party gain from Sinn Fein. I haven’t seen much discussion of this at all (which may mean it’s a safe Sinn Fein hold) but as Sinn Fein won by 4 votes in 2010 and opinion polls seem to show a (small) drop in their support I’d make a guess this could be a Unionist gain.
There’s also a single Unionist candidate, after the Ulster Unionists and the DUP struck an electoral pact, which might help as Sinn Fein might lose a few votes to the SDLP and the Greens.
So, for the all-important parliamentary arithmetic, this model (if I can rather grandly call it that) gives us:
Labour 279 seats
(The 258 won in 2010, minus 35 lost to the SNP and 1 lost to George Galloway, plus 46 gains from Conservatives and 11 from Lib Dems)
Conservatives 267 seats
(The 307 won in 2010 (one of which is actually the Speaker John Bercow), minus 46 lost to Labour, 3 to UKIP, and 1 to the SNP, plus 11 gained from the Lib Dems)
Scottish National Party 52 seats
(The 6 won in 2010, plus 35 gained from Labour, 10 from the Liberal Democrats and 1 from the Conservatives)
Liberal Democrats 25 seats
(The 57 won in 2010, minus 11 lost to Labour, 10 to the Conservatives, 10 to the SNP and 1 to Plaid Cymru)
Democratic Unionist Party 9 Seats
(8 won in 2010, plus 1 gained from the Alliance Party)
Plaid Cymru 4 seats
(The 3 won in 2010, plus 1 gained from the Liberal Democrats)
Sinn Fein 4 seats
(The 5 won in 2010, minus 1 lost to the Ulster Unionists)
United Kingdom Independence Party 3 seats
(All 3 gained from the Conservatives since 2010, including Clacton held after being gained at a by-election)
Social Democratic and Labour Party 3 seats
(Holding the 3 seats won in 2010)
Greens 1 seat
(Caroline Lucas holding Brighton Pavilion from 2010)
Ulster Unionist Party 1 seat
(Gained from Sinn Fein)
(George Galloway holding Bradford West gained from Labour in a by-election)
Independent – 1
(Lady Sylvia Hermon the former Ulster Unionist MP holding her North Down seat she won as an Independent in 2010)
Of course these could all be entirely wrong. I’ll aim to return to them – in the next Parliament – to see how many I called right.
I’m eager to hear any comments or other people’s predictions.
Hope anyone who’s read this far enjoys a night of suspense, swings and statistics!