Opinion polls

How the final polls of 2014 compare with the final polls of 2013

The pollsters have wrapped things up for the year, meaning we’re in for a couple of weeks free from the temptation to number-crunch minute changes in percentages and extrapolate results from what are only ever snapshots, not predictions.

I’ve had a look to see how the final polls of 2014 compare with those from 12 months ago. There are some clear and common trends, but also a few inconsistencies.

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South-east England: the Tories’ blue wedge

Labour has been driven out of various parts of the country over the past decade, but none more comprehensively than in south-east England. The 2010 election left not a single Labour MP in this region. Three of its five counties were solid blocks of blue until very recently, when a couple of Tory MPs defected to Ukip in late 2014.

But this area also plays host to the UK’s only Green MP, while three Liberal Democrats have continued to cling on:

SE England

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Election campaign

Hung parliaments: a note about numbers

I’ve mentioned before how Sinn Fein’s decision to abstain from participation in the House of Commons reduces the number of MPs needed for an absolute majority in parliament. Sinn Fein currently has five MPs. Because they do not take their seats, the total number of working members of the Commons is 645, not 650. And this means the number needed for an absolute majority in the Commons is 323, not 326.

But there are some other people we need to add to this calculation.

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Election campaign

Once Christmas is over, MPs will sit for just 54 more days before the election

Parliament has shut up shop for Christmas. The House of Commons won’t meet again until 5 January 2015, with the House of Lords returning the following day.

MPs will then sit at Westminster for a total of 54 days before the election. This is not a great deal time for the government to get any outstanding legislation safely through parliament.

Ministers won’t want to leave things too late, for two reasons.

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