|General Election May 6 2010||CON>LAB/LD switchers required|
|Camborne & Redruth (LD)||34|
|Oxford West & Abingdon||89|
|Total switchers needed||***458***|
Would Labour have hung onto power?
As we all are no doubt aware the May 2010 general election finished up with party seat totals that meant that only a combination of the 307 Conservative MPs with the 57 Lib Dem ones could produce a majority government.
There are 650 MPs in the house so a minimum of 326 were required for a majority. A combination of the 258 Labour MPs with the 57 Lib Dems ones would have produced a block of 315 – eleven short.
It was this simple arithmetic and the obvious difficulty of bringing pother parties into a “rainbow alliance” against the blues that made a CON-LD the only viable grouping for a majority government.
But what if just 458 Tory voters in the seven seats listed in the table above had gone Labour or Lib Dem instead? The LAB-LD total would have been 323 seats which combined with the continuing practice of Sinn Fein MPs not to take their seats would have been sufficient for a majority.
In my judgement this would have totally altered the post election negotiations between the Lib Dems and the two main parties and it would have been much harder for the CON-LD coalition to have been agreed.
For the main argument that the arithmetic meant there was only one option would not have been there and Clegg & co would have found it very challenging taking the party with them.
The Labour approach to the negotiations would have been different and I think that it’s highly likely that Gordon Brown standing aside would have created the conditions for a red-yellow pact.
I write this is response to an article by the Indy’s Steve Richards who tries to assert that LD decision was ideological and the argument over the numbers didn’t matter. He’s seriously wrong.
Those 458 voters in seven Tory seats could have changed British politics for generations.
Mathematical note: The figures in the table are calculated by taking the Tory majority, dividing it by two, and then adding one. This is because for every theoretical switcher the Tory total declines and the LAB/LD total increases.