The end of January and still the fog persists:
There are lots of sights that will give the latest polling figures for the forthcoming election. There are many more that provide a forecast of the election result. I cannot compete with their expertise on either front. There are an awful lot of polls. We seem to have almost as many now as in presidential elections in the USA. And thanks to Lord Ashcroft we now have polls in a breadth of constituencies on a scale we’ve never before seen. Whether these will enable anyone to divine more than might otherwise be divined is very hard to say.
What can be said with certainty – if the polls are to be believed – is that definitive moment of clarity which the pundits promised would arrive with autumn and the party Conferences has yet to arrive. The defining moment may be the fall in oil prices which have put some genuine money into folks’ pockets at just the right time. Whether Osborne and Cameron deserve credit they are only human and only politicians and like all of their kind – they’ll take the credit – whether or not it’s their due. It is for the voters to decide whether their claims are credible and in that battle my voice and vote are mine alone. One voice credible or incredible and carries no weight.
That said the rest of the evidence is that neither of the larger parties seems likely to break loose now and in the anniversary year of the start of World War I it is apt that it looks like stalemate will govern us for the next four years or so.The shape the stalemate is to take is just as uncertain. There is now a discernible rise in the Green vote in the polls.This has chipped more votes from Labour. UKip meanwhile refuses to deflate and no matter how slight or silly they are portrayed to be by wise pundity their Teflon coating is in tact. Thus if their numbers are on a gentle decline once they get the oxygen of publicity in the campaign the numbers may once again be on the rise.
The LibDems are similarly becalmed somewhere in the region of 10% but the SNP looms large over their Scots seats – as it does even more devastatingly for Labour – and thus it seems likely that they can hold no more than around 30 pf their current seats in parliament.
Meanwhile, the debates that were such a novelty in 2010 look less likely to happen in 2015. Again, politicians are bound to calculate to their party advantage and if Cameron can find a safe way to avoid the debates there is honestly plenty of advantage to be gained. It will be the broadcasters who most likely determine that outcome. However, the rising % for the Greens in the polls would make it easier for all those involved to include the Greens but that will itself not really resolve the problem because the SNP – like Banquo’s ghost – is very likely to intrude upon proceedings. Essentially, Cameron has probably decided on his tactic and will stick to it and that is now going to make this a very different election. If he wins or gets to be PM after May 7th it will be seen as a stroke of political genius – if however he loses – like Heath’s ‘who governs Britain election – it will be seen to have been a big mistake. if he is seen to have been forced to the debating table in the larger debate forum that comes before the head to head – Cameron may be beset and that will not look good on TV.
All this said the balance of political advantage has surely turned towards the coalition government – money in pockets helps every incumbent government – but whether that is just to the advantage of the Conservatives alone – is another debatable point.
However, unless Labour picks up in Scotland it is hard to see how they will emerge as the largest party in any election that is this close. The great things is we have only three months left before we know the answers ….
The latest calculation shows Labour 280 Conservatives 279 SNP 38 LibDems 25 UKIP 5 Greens I Others 22….that path leads I’d say to Labour but truth told who knows?