Time for my latest prediction of the election result.
I am – as ever – expecting a hung parliament. I also continue to think Labour will get the most seats. But as with my prediction in November, I’ve split the “others” category to allow a fourth party to take its place in the pie chart:
Labour’s total of 298 is up 40 on the result in 2010. It includes Corby, which the party won in a by-election in 2012.
The Conservatives’ total of 276 is down 30 on what they got in 2010, and doesn’t include the seat of the Speaker John Bercow. He is counted within the figure for “others”, which also includes George Galloway holding his seat for Respect in Bradford West, Caroline Lucas doing likewise for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion, Plaid Cymru keeping its three seats, plus the 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland.
As usual, I’ve revised the Liberal Democrats’ total down slightly, but 33 is still above what current opinion polls are suggesting.
I’m not convinced Mark Reckless will hold Rochester & Strood for Ukip, but I’ve no doubt Douglas Carswell will retain Clacton. I’m still unsure of precisely where Ukip may pick up any further seats, so for this month I’m limiting their total to just one.
I’ve been more ambitious with my calculation for the SNP. This month I’ve put them on a total of 18 seats, which represents an increase of 12 on 2010. I’ve handed them four gains from the Lib Dems and eight from Labour – below what recent polls have been implying, but more than I gave them in November. I’m prepared to revise this total upwards if the polls continue to point to an SNP landslide as we get nearer to polling day.
Despite his party shedding seats to the SNP, Ed Miliband could still end up prime minister based on my prediction. A Labour-Lib Dem coalition would be possible, though the arithmetic would be very tight. The combined total of such an arrangement would be 331: just five above the number needed for an absolute majority in parliament. A Tory-Lib Dem coalition would total 309: 17 below the target.
(Note: If Sinn Fein holds the five constituencies it won in 2010 and sticks to its vow to not take its seats in parliament, the target notionally falls from 326 to 323.)
I’ll continue with my monthly predictions right up to the day before polling day, when I will make a final forecast of the result.
Rest assured I will have a plate ready for an appropriately-sized slice of humble pie.
Here’s how I calculated this month’s totals:
Labour’s 49 gains
From the Lib Dems: Norwich South, Bradford East, Brent Central, Burnley, Manchester Withington, Dunbartonshire East, Birmingham Yardley, Hornsey & Wood Green, Cardiff Central, Redcar and Cambridge (total = 11)
From the Tories: Warwickshire North, Hendon, Cardiff North, Sherwood, Stockton South, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Broxtowe, Amber Valley, Wolverhampton South West, Waveney, Carlisle, Morecambe & Lunesdale, Weaver Vale, Lincoln, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, Stroud, Brighton Kemptown, Bedford, Dewsbury, Warrington South, Pudsey, Enfield North, Hove, Northampton North, Brentford & Isleworth, Halesowen & Rowley Regis, Nuneaton, Ipswich, Blackpool North & Cleveleys, Croydon Central, Harrow East, Ealing Central & Acton, Norwich North, Dudley South, Bury North, City of Chester, Worcester and Keighley (total = 38).
The Tories’ nine gains:
From the Lib Dems: Solihull, Dorset Mid & Poole North, Wells, St Austell & Newquay, Somerton & Frome, Chippenham, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Cornwall North and Portsmouth South.
The SNP’s 12 gains:
From the Lib Dems: Gordon, Argyll & Bute, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine (total = 4).
From Labour: Ochil & South Perthshire, Inverclyde, Dundee West, Falkirk, Aberdeen North, North Ayrshire & Arran, Airdrie & Shotts and Glasgow East (total = 8).