With the election campaign fully under way, it’s high time to revisit the 60 constituencies that will play the biggest part in determining the result.
They are the seats Labour is hoping to take from the Conservatives, and it will be the advance Labour makes down this list that most shapes its success in advancing towards Downing Street.
I’ve divided the 60 into five categories, according to how much of a challenge I feel it will be for Labour to win. In each case I’ve listed the swing needed for the seat to change hands.
Ever since Labour did better than expected in London in last year’s local elections, there’s been a sense that come the general election the party will benefit from a higher swing in the capital than elsewhere.
A poll in the Guardian a few days ago suggests this remains the case, with Labour on course for around eight gains.
There’s a chance it could go further and make up to 11 gains, however.
If you take a simple average of all the latest forecasts of the election result*, the Conservative party has an 13-seat lead over Labour. Both the main parties are well short of the 326 needed for an absolute majority in the House of Commons, however:
This shouldn’t be a surprise. A hung parliament has been on the cards for at least six months, ever since Labour started losing ground to the SNP last autumn.
What’s only become a factor more recently is the tightness of the race between the Tories and Labour. Neither party looks likely to reach the 326 figure even through some kind of coalition or deal with, respectively, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. They wouldn’t even reach the notional figure of 323, which is the number for a majority once you deduct Sinn Fein, who don’t take their seats, and the Speaker, who doesn’t vote.
But there’s another way of looking at current forecasts.
All of this week’s council by-elections took place outside England. There were five in total, four in Scotland and one in Wales.
The SNP won three seats: two gains and one hold.
The most notable was undoubtedly on Fife council, where the nationalists won a seat from Labour on an impressive 9.1% swing:
It’s time for another refresh of my anatomy of the Liberal Democrat party.
I first updated my list of six species a couple of months ago. Since then things have if anything got worse for the Lib Dems, and several MPs need to be reshuffled around the categories.
As before, I’ve assessed the chances of survival for a Lib Dem MP in each of the party’s current constituencies. I’ve coloured the seats according to which party I predict will win them at the election. I’ve had to use a pink-ish colour for the SNP, as yellow doesn’t show up well on this blog. The name is that of the current Lib Dem MP. An asterisk denotes a new Lib Dem candidate.
The SNP is likely to win upwards of 30 seats at the election. Ukip is tipped to win around three. So why are both parties often treated as if they’ll have equal influence in the next parliament?
It’s a favourite habit of the London-based media. Andrew Marr did it last Sunday, when he opened his BBC programme by bracketing together guests Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage as “the insurgents” and “Britain’s possible kingmakers”, implying a parity of reach and ambition.
This is misleading.