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I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that there will not be a hung parliament.

Either Labour will make enough of a recovery with Brown to hold on to a single figure majority with an early election. Or economic disaster will lead to a complete Conservative landslide.

Great to see my constituency of Tooting recognised by Professor Curtis as one of the ones we need to target next time. It's not necessarily the size of the Labour majority that counts so much as how soggy it is, and Tooting is distinctly damp...

Simon makes a very important point and party strategists would be wise to listen.

Last year in the City of Chester constituency Paul Offer and his team managed to reduce a 7000 + Labour majority to 915 largely because the sitting Labour MP was unpopular. Nevertheless because that 7000 majority didn't put us, quite obviously, on the target seat list we were ignored by the senior party.

We need to take into account factors other than simple majorities when considering our target seats.

Also, as much as I like speculation (it really is the stuff of politics) I do think it is far, far to early to talk about possible majorities or otherwise.

I see no reason why Brown shouldn't call a snap election; indeed I suspect recent events might have made this a more likely event.

I totally agree with you Rob.

It will be either a honeymoon majority for Brown or they will be kicked out of power by a Conservative majority.

I unfortunately, still believe it will be the former, but obviously, I hope that will change.

You have to take these professors' predictions with a huge pinch of salt. How wrong did they get the local elections?

NW Leicestershire is certainly not in the West Midlands for a start. Has the Professor accounted for boundary changes in this I wonder.

I agree with Rob too. Generally I believe that "if there's a will, there's a way." The electorate will wither vote to keep Brown or to have David Cameron instead. It's usually only when both parties are deeply unpopular, such as in 1974, do Hung Parliaments become a real possibility, and so far we don't look to be heading into that sort of situation.

Also, there will only be a Hung Parliament of the type John Curtis identifies if you believe in that silly little thing called "Uniform National Swing". For example there could very well be a four-and-a-half point swing from Labour to the Conservatives at the next election - there could also be an average of a six percent swing in the marginal seats, a swing probably big enough to deliver us a majority. But if you use UNS, your not able to predict these changes - I know if you were to type in the 2005 election figures using the 2001 model, then my home seat should have a Liberal Democrat majority of more than 2,000. It actually has a Conservative majority of more than 3,000.

That map is also riddled with inaccuracies. For example they've confused Westminster North with the Cities of London and Westminster seat, a very safe Conservative seat!

Another factor is where the support is. Brown is likely to build up support in already safe seats and lose it in the marginals. A national swing doesn't take that into account.

Voice - Westminster North is a new seat caused by central London boundary changes. It's part of the changes that see Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea seats changed.

Westminster North has a notional Labour majority

The Liberal Democrats look almost certain to lose seats - probably both to Labour and the Conservative Party, probably what they do have being mainly saved by tactical voting, Labour probably will make some net losses to the Conservative Party but no doubt will recover the few seats they have lost to Independents - a Hung Parliament is looking increasingly unlikely with the probability being another Labour victory but with people distinctly unimpressed by the Liberal Democrats, nobody is going to be impressed by the Liberal Democrats latest initiative on Criminal Justice which actually relies on locking fewer people up, there are enough scum out there that if 10,000 people a year were executed that the prison population could still easily be doubled - if you lock up or execute people then they don't commit crimes.

Strange that the graphic doesn't mention Westmorland & Lonsdale - a Liberal Democrat seat that obviously has a profile of a seat that the Conservative Party would expect to be one of their safest if one in the South of England matched such a profile.

UNS data is nothing more than a rough guide, and I'm sure we can all point out examples of this from the last General Election, as Henry (rightly) does above.

The fall in Labour's vote between 1997 and 2005 was disproportionately in safe seats (of all colours), and in LD/Con contests. I expect that if we continue to enjoy a 6%+ lead in the polls it will translate into a disproportionate swing in the seats we need to win.

Let's not get hung up by a uniform national swing that simply doesn't exist.

Matt Simpson - What I meant was the map, instead of showing the Westminster North seat, had instead highlighted the Cities seat instead. They've done the same with Lancaster and Fleetwood - the No. 6 constituency on the map is the Ribble Valley, not Lancaster and Fleetwood.

>>>>They've done the same with Lancaster and Fleetwood<<<<
Either that or Fleetwood and Lancaster have been moved well inland and South East, last time I went to Fleetwood it was just to the North of Blackpool sticking out into the Irish Sea.

The Labour majority for Warrington South is actually 3,515, rther than the higher figure shown on the map, although a boundary change is likely to favour Labour at the next GE.

The one thing you always can be sure about party activists/believers, the tendency they have to slide into unreality: read ,'Things Can Only Get Better,' by John O'Farrell.

One day the Labour party will lose power, of that you can be certain, just like the Conservatives did. Then the Conservatives will lose power, just like Labour did.

But despite that, I still have great difficulty in believing that when it comes to the crunch, the voters will chose DC over GB. Something just tells me, that when they are alone in that booth with that stubby black pencil, they will go for the 'safe option' and that won't be DC.

I think DC has been very lucky, he's come along when the government is in difficulties and TB is on the way out,this has exaggerated DC's appeal. When GB takes over, and I can't imagine that TB will get through the conference season, without some statement of his intent to go, things will change, not necessarily in a way that most contributors to this site will enjoy.

david I see the same facts as you but come to the opposite conclusion! Of course this isn't proveable at all but it's an interesting example of what might be called "Psephological Bayesianism". The polling data is true, with probability one, and all the discussions around what it means is how individuals are interpreting it. It is evidence, e, for support for the hypothesis H (H = Cameron will win). You can't turn this into a statement of probability about H, "objective" (as a Bayesian I don't believe that exists anyway) or even subjectively, without informing e(H) with your prior-to-e belief in H.

There's an interesting academic work to be done on this: how does the prior belief of the competing sets of tribal voters impact on the outcome of elections? It's some sort of intuitive, not explicit understanding of this, which leads some countries to ban opinion polls in the run up to voting - those countries are after the unobtainable objective truth.

It is worth noting that the non-Lib/Lab/Con vote has gone up from 19% to 22%. The distribution of the 3% gain could be critically important to electoral calculations if it betrays a pattern of growth to one minor party.

This inofrmation is not made publicly available so we will just have to guess.

well graeme, I am more inclined to chaos theory. If u go back to 1955, 95% of voters chose either Conservative or Labour. The growing instability of the electoral system makes it more difficult to decide outcome. In that we have moved from a linear to a nonlinear system.

The introduction of more variables, i.e. Libdems/UKIP/SNP/PC make the outcome of a GE much more difficult to decide. However certain factors, constituency size+regional bias work in Labours favour.

In some ways the British electoral system resembles Henri Poincare's work on celestial bodies, i.e how do you have stability in a three-body planetary system.

For 3 planets to be in stable orbits, it is necessary that their resonances are not in simple ratios like 1:2 or 2:3, In order to remain stable the planets must be quasi-periodic-that is the periods never exactly repeat themselves. If they do not repeat themselves, then small events can have a major effect. The planets orbits could snap sending them whizzing off through space.

So we've probably reached the point were, all those who are trying to make sense of the system will fail, anything can happen.

When voters are faced with instability, they will seek out the stable.

I think that voters will vote for the person/party most likely to remove an umpopular incumbent in their seat so results will vary across the country,


>>>>I think that voters will vote for the person/party most likely to remove an umpopular incumbent in their seat so results will vary across the country<<<<
Where they are sitting MP's the Liberal Democrats will pick up Tactical Votes, where there is a Conservative or Labour MP I'm rather inclined to think that voters will bypass them mostly and vote either Labour or Conservative in England, in Scotland and Wales it will be more between Labour, Liberal Democrat and Nationalist.

>>>>It is worth noting that the non-Lib/Lab/Con vote has gone up from 19% to 22%<<<<
I assume you mean from 9% to 12%.

The Labour majority for Warrington South is actually 3,515, rther than the higher figure shown on the map, although a boundary change is likely to favour Labour at the next GE.

I think the figures listed are based on Anthony Wells' notional predictions rather than the raw 2005 results. Where the seat names haven't changed there is obviously an excellent recipe for confusion!

You are right - the map is riddled with innacuracies.

It shows Chatham & Aylesford as a 2,000 Lab majority where, in reality, the effect of boudary changes increases Labours lead to 6,000.

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