Turning conventional thinking on its head
The conventional thinking that Tony Blair is certain to be returned with a workable majority even if Labour ’s vote is level with the Tories in the low 30s could be turned on its head by two “tactical voting unwinders” that Politicalbetting users are developing to help forecast the coming election.
It is the belief in Blair’s total invulnerability that dominates the betting, the attitude of the media and mostly the way the Prime Minister is regarded within the Labour Party itself.
But what happens if all this thinking is based on sand? What happens if received opinion changes about the election changes and Tony Blair looks as though he has a fight on his hands?
Earlier in the month we had long discussions on the site when a Populus Poll in the Thanet South constituency showed that the Lib Dems were rating at 18% – the same vote share that they got there at the 1992 election. The share was almost double what they had achieved in 2001 and all the change had come from Labour.
Could this be, we speculated, hard evidence that many of the LD supporters who went with Labour in ‘97 and ‘01 to get the Tories out are returning to their normal allegiance? If so Labour could lose many seats even if the Tories remain static.
This prompted two site users to get to work producing their own complex spread-sheets to try to measure what is happening and to provide a guide to punters, pundits and politicians about what the outcome might be once you factor in the tactical voting dimension that played such a huge part as the mood of the country was to get the Tories out.
Neither of the spreadsheets is ready for publication yet and the developers want to give more time to ensure that they are robust enough to stand up to scrutiny. The two take completely different statisistical approaches but from what we’ve seen their conclusions are broadly similar. There is an inbuilt advantage in the system because Labour seats are generally smaller than Tory or LD ones and turnouts there are less.
But they turn the conventional thinking on its head that the Tories need to be 6-7% ahead to win most seats and 10% to win a majority. And Labour cannot be comfortable until there is clear water between them the Tories.
We hope the developers will agree to us making the spreadsheets more widely available when they are ready and we are very grateful for all the work they have put in.