As each month passes and we get nearer to the general election, I’ll be offering a prediction of the result.
Today marks precisely 11 months until polling day, so here’s my forecast of how many seats each of the parties will win:
I’m sticking with my original prediction of a hung parliament, but I’ve revised my totals slightly.
I’m now forecasting Labour to win 299 seats (up 41 on the 2010 result), the Tories to win 280 (down 26), the Lib Dems to get 42 (down 15) and others 29 (no change).
Why is this different from my prediction of last month? I’ve increased Labour’s likely total from 292 to 299 based on how they did in the local elections, in particular how the swing to Labour will probably be larger in London than across the rest of the UK.
Conversely, I’ve not given Labour the three gains from the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens that I did a month ago. This is why the “others” total for 2015 is the same as 2010. I’m now expecting the Greens’ one and only MP Caroline Lucas to get re-elected in Brighton Pavilion. I’m also saying Hywel Williams will hold on for Plaid in Arfon, and Stewart Hosie will do likewise for the SNP in Dundee East. Again, this is informed by how all the parties did in last month’s elections.
Incidentally, that “others” total contains no appearances by Ukip, who I continue to predict will win no MPs at the general election.
The Tories’ total of 280 actually contains some gains, but all from the Liberal Democrats.
Here’s how I calculated this month’s forecast:
Labour’s 41 gains
From the Tories: Warwickshire North, Thurrock, Hendon, Cardiff North, Sherwood, Stockton South, Lancaster and Fleetwood, Broxtowe, Amber Valley, Wolverhampton South West, Waveney, Carlisle, Morecambe and Lunesdale, Weaver Vale, Lincoln, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Stroud, Brighton Kemptown, Bedford, Dewsbury, Warrington South, Pudsey, Enfield North, Hove, Northampton North, Brentford and Isleworth, Croydon Central, Harrow East, Ealing Central and Acton, Norwich North, Ilford North, Finchley and Golders Green (total = 32).
From the Lib Dems: Norwich South, Bradford East, Brent Central, Burnley, Manchester Withington, Dunbartonshire East, Birmingham Yardley, Edinburgh West, Hornsey and Wood Green (total = 9).
Tories’ six gains
From the Lib Dems: Solihull, Dorset Mid and Poole North, Wells, St Austell and Newquay, St Ives, Somerton and Frome.
(Hence the Conservatives would see an overall net loss of 26 seats, despite losing 32 actual seats on the night.)
I suppose the main significance of my forecast is that the Tories would no longer be able to form a government by going into coalition with the Lib Dems. Their combined total would be 322: four short of the magic figure of 326.
Labour would still need to go into a coalition to form a majority government, but given how delicately balanced the totals could be, I wonder if they might opt for a minority government instead. Labour would then dare the weakened Lib Dems to join with the Tories to defeat them on a vote of confidence, knowing that this would lead to another election that might diminish the Lib Dems still further.
All conjecture, of course. I’ll be offering the next prediction on 7 July 2014, when we’ll be 10 months away from polling day and (thankfully) a little bit nearer to knowing what will actually happen.