Is talk of a hung parliament being far-fetched?

Is talk of a hung parliament being far-fetched?


    Let’s do some number-crunching

The veteran political commentator, Alan Watkins, returns to the theme of a possible hung Parliament in his column in the Indpendent on Sunday this morning.

He notes that he is just one of three pundits who have been prepared to contemplate such an outcome – the others being the former Times editor, William Rees-Mogg and the Strathclyde Professor of Politics, John Curtice.

    Given current polling numbers how far-fetched is Watkins being? The answer’s not very.
  • TAKE the the latest vote shares from the only pollster which got the parties in the right order at the Euro Elections last June – YouGov. LAB 35: CON 33: LD 23.
  • WEIGHT these figures in line with the accuracy of the pollster’s prediction in June and you get LAB 32.96: CON 33.89: LD 26.36
  • CALCULATE how many seats the parties would get using Martin Baxter’s uniform national swing formula and you get: LAB 323: CON 226: LD 66
  • OUTCOME A Hung Parliament with Labour one seat short of an overall majority. Given that the party would be in second place on votes with less than a third of the total it shows how the electoral system works for Tony Blair’s party if the uniform national swing applies.
  • If you apply an element for tactical vote unwind – that’s allowing for the return to normal allegiance of just 2% of Lib Dems who supported Labour last time to stop the Tories winning in marginal seats – then Labour are still top party by a long way but are 26 seats short of an overall majority.

    Although these are not predictions but just playing with figures they do show how things can change dramatically with both main parties having percentage poll shares in the 30s.

      All we have done is to extrapolate what would happen if the current most accurate pollster is as accurate as it was the last time it was tested.

    As for the betting – the 7/4 that Skybet have on Labour getting less than 340 seats looks good value. You would win if Labour got an overall majority of 32 or less.

    Copyright 2005 Mike Smithson

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