If Blair is considering an October election then the latest opinion poll figures, from Populus in the Times, could be seen as encouraging. But this is only because the next General Election will not be fought on a level playing field. The scales are tilted very firmly in favour of Labour. These are the figures together with the seat distribution, using Martin Baxter’s excellent online calculator, assuming a uniform national swing.
LAB 34% – 346 seats
CON 34% – 202 seats
LDs 22% – 68 seats
Thus with barely a third of the vote , and the same vote as the Tories, Labour would romp home with a workable majority of 46. Michael Howard would get a meagre 37 more seats than the Tories won in 2001 and the LDs would be 16 up. And amazingly the way the seats are distributed mean that if the Labour share dropped to 32% – LESS than a third – and the Tories stayed at 34% then Tony Blair would still have a majority.
LAB 32% – 325 seats
CON 34% – 215 seats
LDs 24% – 75 seats
This would give an overall majority of 5 for Labour. This is in spite of the reduction of at least 10 Labour seats because of the re-drawing of the boundaries in Scotland to bring the size of seats north of the border more into line with the rest of the UK.
The Populus figures take us into territory where it becomes politcally explosive. For Labour to have a substantial working majority on such a small share of the vote will be seen by many as an outrage.
As I’ve been saying for months – however bad it gets for Labour – do not be tempted to bet on any other party however attractive the odds might seem. The time to back Blair will be straight after the predicted poor showing for Labour in the Euro vote on June 10. There will be all sorts of doom-laden predictions and the Labour price should move upwards.