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Labour's aim now isn't to stop David Cameron

My leitmotif throughout this election is that most voters are feeling two impulses. The first is to kick the politicians.  The second is to mind their wallets (and their families).

If enough voters are swayed by the first on Thursday, the Liberals will come in at 28% or above. Labour will collapse to 25% or below.

If enough voters are moved by the second, Labour will come in at 28% or above, and the Liberals at 25% or below.

If the two cancel each other out, both parties will end up in the mid to high twenties.

Melanchthon believes that the first outcome is more likely to take place, as he's made clear here and elsewhere.

Like everyone else, I don't know what will happen, but suspect that the second outcome is more likely, because my sense is that voters are increasingly turning their minds to the economy, as I wrote recently here, and to the dangers of a hung Parliament.  According to ICM's poll in the Sunday Telegraph here, 52% of those polled now believe that this outcome would be bad for Britain.

If this is correct, the Liberals will find during the next few days that their support slips away.  Left-leaning voters, spooked by the spectre of "Tory cuts" (especially in the public sector), will drift back to Labour. Enough may do so for Brown's party to limp in second in the popular vote.

That's their main aim now - not to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister, but to reverse the Liberals' poll ratings.  Hence the scare stories, the lies, the class war rhetoric: anything to terrify former Labour voters back into the red corner.

In such circumstances, right-leaning voters, worried by the prospect of a hung Parliament and alarmed by the prospect of a Clegg-supported Brown back in Downing Street, will meanwhile float back towards the Conservatives - perhaps unconvinced, but ultimately willing to give Cameron a chance.

As I say, no-one knows what will happen, and opinion polls are slippery things, but there's some evidence that voters are ready to take the second route.  All five of this morning's polls find the Conservatives up or unchanged, and the Liberals unchanged or down.

The first route seems more likely to me to deliver a Conservative majority, as the Labour vote falls low enough to turn previously "safe" red seats blue - compensating for any lack of Tory progress (or actual regress) in the blue/yellow marginals.

But again, no-one really knows, given what regional variation, tactical voting, tactical unwind, and local factors will do to uniform national swing.

However, if we can get our vote up into the high 30s, Labour and the Liberals will be left fighting for second place, with every chance of a Conservative majority. Fingers crossed.  All to play for.  Or rather, work for.

Paul Goodman


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