Monday 8 October 2007

Has Brown Blown Labour's Last Chance To Win?

Ten of you Prospering for Evil.
Ten of you Suffering for Good.

The balance between Good and Evil teeters on a knife edge...

OK, this week's poll is actually about polling.

Has Gordon Brown made a silly mistake?

Certainly, I can't see Labour having a better poll position than they have had of late. It's not going to get any better. Iraq will go on and on, the housing market will burst soon, the economy is going to take a downturn for sure, Scotland will remain an uncomfortable issue and basically, the public are soon going to remember just how sick of New Labour they are.
Even with a personnel change.

This was almost certainly his only shot.
Because elections aren't about opinion polls- they are about how people vote on the ground. And what many of you may not realise, is that the odds are, Labour would lose their majority, even if the national voting percentages exactly replicated the last election.
There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, new constituency boundaries will be in place at the next election. This irons out some of the inequalities in constituency size which give Labour such a lead in seats. It doesn't make much difference, but if every voter in 2005 voted today the same way, the Labour Majority would drop from around sixty to around thirty.

Secondly, tactical voting and tactical unwind.
In 1997, everyone wanted the Tories out. In many Tory-Labour marginals, the LD vote collapsed, as LDs voted tactically for the Labour candidate. In Tory -LD marginals, Labour voters voted for LD candidates.
Thus the Tory defeat was skewed by everyone voting for who wasn't the Tories.

This phenomenon was still in effect in 2001, but by 2005, had shifted a little. By this time, Tories were happy to vote LD to get Labour MPs out, and sometimes vice versa.
But the Tories were not yet benefiting from tactical voting against them abating.

That will happen next time. It will be LABOUR, that gets hit by tactical voting. The Tory vote will probably drop in seats Cameron can't win, but the LDs can. Seats such as Norwich South, represented by the unpleasant Charles Clarke.

Correspondingly, LDs will hold their noses and vote Tory, where this can help get a Labour MP out.

The polls don't show the electoral arithmetic. Time and time again, we have seen parties LOSE votes, yet WIN seats- The LDs are a good example, but Plaid Cymru have done it more than once.

Tactical voting and tactical unwind will probably cost Labour fifteen or so seats.

Oops. There goes that majority.
And that's without a poll shift from 2005.

Had he called an election now, maybe he could have scraped home. I think the LDs would have been hardest hit right now, but the Tory advance would have been negligible. Even if Brown lost his overall majority, he would probably have been in the position of being the only party realistically able to broker a power deal.

He won't get the chance again, in my opinion. Election Fever has woken the Tories up. They have started to think about policies. OK, not many of them are any good, but nor are Brown's.
And the Tories haven't been in power for ten years, so if they start to oppose properly, they will wear this government down.

All Brown has to do to give Cameron an absolute majority, is go full term. The longer he goes on, the more seats he will lose.

John Major made that mistake.

Well, he had his chance. Five more years of Labour.
Maybe he realised that Labour really couldn't take another five years- that another five years would make it so unpopular, it would be annihilated in the election after.

Or maybe he wants to adopt a scorched earth policy.
Maybe it doesn't matter. Who are the Tories pretending to Socialists, and who the Socialists pretending to be Tories?
Or have we got two brands pretending to be both?

It's an amusing game to watch, but it really is Nulab versus Blulab.

Do you think Gordon has blown it?

Have your say!

PS For those of you interested, I've decided to start posting my novel online as an incentive to myself to get on with writing it. If you think it's drivel, please let me know. It's linked in the sidebar above the blogrolls under its working title 'In the Service of Order'. I intend to post bit by bit as much as I have actually got typed up.


Anonymous said...

I agree with much of your proposition. I think the next election will also be the most targeted ever, with many safe serats getting little proper campaigning and seeing much smaller swings.

Anonymous said...

You know I wanted more choices in that poll! So I had to abstain.

I can make no sensible comment on this post, nor the one below I'm afraid. I'll just have to read the novel instead.

Anonymous said...

I thought he should've gone NOW to the polls?
Obvious: he's had no chance to sully his prime ministerial reputation yet!!

Anonymous said...

Spectacular propositions are often those less likely to be guarded by the proportions allowed.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wins has a serious problem on their hands and by dithering now he will be blamed by the electorate for the downturn, which he is partially responsible for. You're right, he is a fool - he always was. Labour will end up in the wilderness like they were in the 80's - and they'll probably be relieved because they won't be able to control a recession. They couldn't even manage a boom without running-up a massive deficit.

Anonymous said...

Norfolk Blogger- The interesting one in Brum, will be Birmingham Hall Green, it takes in much of the Old Small Heath, where Respect came a good second last time. Where that vote goes will swing Hall Green, which on paper is a good prospect for your party.

Watford is IMO the one to watch. If either main party wins it, they will win a majority. If the LDs win it, expect a hung parliament.

jmb- I guess its difficult to comment if you're not au fait with UK electoral arithmetic.
I've already started trying to work out which seats will change hands properly.

Gledwood- Well, it may be a short honeymoon.
When the economy buggers up, he can't exactly blame the last Chancellor...

Mu Tai- Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.. or I will when I figure it out.

Wolfie- He's also an idiot, because He risks letting Cameron in while the SNP are running Scotland.
Cameron will be MORE than happy to see goodbye to 41 more Labour MPs, whatever he pretends about the party being the party of the union.

Anonymous said...

Every vote counts!

Anonymous said...

It will be all about the last week of the campaign. In 1997 11% of the voters said they could vote either way right up to polling day. In 2005 that number had risen to 34%. The polls only give an indication now. Who wins will be down to who can perform the best in the last few days before the election.