Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Brit vote

A charismatic politician leading a party to three general election victories in a row, a feat considered impossible, before resigning without losing a ballot. Replaced by a pallid former Chancellor of the Exchequer who faces a recession and a resurgent opposition. The ruling party seemingly headed for defeat, but poll numbers converging as election day approaches. It feels like 1992 all over again.

At that time, John Major was ridiculed for giving speeches standing on a soapbox; Neil Kinnock celebrated victory too early, rock-star style; Rupert Murdoch pulled out all stops to prevent a Labour victory; and, when the votes were in and the counting began, and the BBC displayed a graphic estimating who would occupy the Prime Minister's chair for the next five years, the door to 10 Downing Street opened to reveal the Tory leader still in place.

I doubt history will repeat itself in 2010. The gap between Labour and the Tories appears too wide to bridge. Many now consider a hung parliament the most likely outcome, but many British voters who back the Liberal Democrats when answering pollsters choose one of the two big parties in actual voting. So, the question is, how many Lib Dems can Gordon Brown swing between now and May 6?
My feeling is the Tories will scrape through, mainly because their leader, David Cameron, is more like Tony Blair than like Neil Kinnock. Any dissenters?


The Cydonian said...

According to the Guardian's swing-meter ( , the Tories need a +8.96% swing in favour of them to take an absolute majority, with taking 2005's vote-share as a baseline. I don't know what kind of swings they have in the UK, but going by Indian standards where governments are formed with a +1-2% swing, it seems like a tall order to me.

My reading of UK politics is that Labour's major problem isn't antipathy, but _apathy_ , which brought out oddballs like Nick Griffin getting elected to the European parliament. Hung is my armchair-specialist verdict.

Girish Shahane said...

I suppose the big televised debates, if they happen, will be crucial in these conditions. They're uncharted territory and, if either candidate makes a big mistake, he could sink his party's chances.

adrian.mckinty said...


I cant seem them getting a swing of that much. A Conservative majority government seems very unlikely to me. They may get the most seats but they'll have to run a minority government or (much less likely) a coalition.

Girish Shahane said...

I hope you're right!