Saturday, May 01, 2010


Poll Gloom for Labour but Still Chance of a Hung Parliament

The current Economist offers a good take on the election. As you note, I have 'borrowed' said graphic the better to relay its messages. It illustrates a poll conducted by high performing Canadian firm Angus Reid Public Opinion whose 'ballot paper' technique The Economist admires. The poll shows Cameron holding 33% but Labour trailing in 3rd place on 23%. Gloomy indeed for those of us who think the Conservatives will be bad both for us and the country. On policies the Tories lead on seven out of eight issues with Labour shading it just on health. Even worse, Angus Reid polls have in the past shown how Labour deliver a lower level of support on polling day than the polls display.

Mike Smithson, who runs, a website that displays Angus Reid numbers, says that every poll but one since 1987 has overstated support for Labour, whether in general or local elections. Those that show the least enthusiasm for the party tend to be most accurate. No one is entirely sure why, or whether the trend will continue this time.

Having drenched Labour supporters with gloom, the journal gives its article the cheery title: 'It's not over yet'. Well, you could have fooled me. The silver lining seems to be the willingness of 39% of the electorate to vote tactically- this might help Labour- and the 'softness' of some of the vote. As the graphic shows 32% of Tory supporters, 35% of Labour and a whopping 53% of Lib Dems say they could change their minds before 6th May. I accept the crumb of comfort gratefully but it seems very unsubstantial; Labour has done nothing so far to suggest it could seduce large slices of support from voters leaning in other directions. The worst Labour result since 1983 seems certain and some of us would settle for that. B ut it still might be a hung parliament and out of that a system changing coalition might conceivably emerge. Seats based on the polls figures would deliver 294 to Conservatives, 32 short of a majority.

More re-assuring, perhaps, is the view of Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England who predicts that the severity of the cuts required to solve the deficit problem will be so great that the government implementing them will be 'exiled from power for a generation'.

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