It’s 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 December, I’ve increased the number of seats I think the SNP could take from Labour and the Liberal Democrats:
Labour’s total of 299 is up 41 on its result in 2010. This total includes Corby, which the party won in a by-election in 2012.
The Conservatives’ total of 273 is down 33 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 31 is still above what current opinion polls are suggesting.
I remain unconvinced that Mark Reckless will hold Rochester & Strood for Ukip, but I’ve no doubt Douglas Carswell will retain Clacton. I’m also still unsure of precisely where Ukip may pick up any further seats, so once again I’m limiting their total to just one. This is included within the total for “others”.
By contrast, I’ve increased my calculation for the SNP. This month I’ve put them on a total of 24 seats, which represents an increase of 18 on 2010. I’ve handed them six gains from the Liberal Democrats and 12 from Labour – below what recent polls have been implying, but more than I gave them in December.
One of the gains from the Lib Dems is Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey: the seat of chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander.
Despite his party losing 12 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 extremely tight. The combined total of such an arrangement would be 328: just two above the number needed for an absolute majority in parliament. A Labour-SNP coalition would come to 321: five below the target. A Tory-Lib Dem coalition would total 302: 24 below the target.
(Note: If Sinn Fein holds the five constituencies it won in 2010 and sticks to its vow not to take its seats in parliament, the target notionally falls from 326 to 323.)
Here’s how I calculated this month’s totals:
Labour’s 52 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, Croydon Central, Erewash, Ealing Central & Acton, Norwich North, Dudley South, Bury North, City of Chester, Worcester, Keighley, Corby, Stevenage, Cannock Chase and Wirral West (total = 41).
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 18 gains:
From the Lib Dems: Gordon, Argyll & Bute, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, Dunbartonshire East and Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey (total = 6).
From Labour: Ochil & South Perthshire, Inverclyde, Dundee West, Falkirk, Aberdeen North, North Ayrshire & Arran, Airdrie & Shotts, Glasgow East, Livingston, Edinburgh East, Midlothian and Linlithgow & East Falkirk (total = 12).