May Election in the UK
by Jerome Armstrong, Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 05:07:30 PM EST
All the conventional wisdom is that Labor is going to win, and it's just a matter of by how much:If Labour gets back with another big majority - say about 100 seats compared with the current figure of 159 - Mr Blair has a decent chance of fulfilling his recent pledge to serve a full third term, implementing an ambitious policy agenda. But if Labour's margin of victory is 50 or less, Mr Blair may struggle to keep his job... Labour's private polling suggests it is looking at a majority of between 80 and 110. But it's the "apathy factor" that could undermine Blair and Labor, with a low turnout. If that's the case, the interesting question is, Could the Lib Dems replace the Tories as the main opposition party, or is this just a pipe dream? If the former, ...it is May 6, 2005, and a chirpy Charles Kennedy, his party having doubled its House of Commons seats to more than 100, is striding up Downing Street to demand at least four seats in a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition cabinet, and immediate legislation to introduce proportional representation.
But how big a Labour majority? The website politicalbetting.com quotes the spread-betting exchange Spreadfair, which in a 646-seat House of Commons (down from the present 659 because of Scottish boundary changes) has Labour winning about 352 seats, a loss of more than 50. The Tories are seen as winning about 197, up more than 30, the Lib Dems 71, up 16. If this turns out to be right, Blair's majority would be 58; 100 down and close to the point where his Downing Street neighbour tells him his time is up.
It may not happen. December's opinion polls averaged out at Labour 37%, the Tories 32% and the Lib Dems 21%. According to Thrasher and Rallings that outcome at the election would give Labour 383, the Tories 172, the Lib Dems 59. others 32 and a government majority of 120, enough for Blair to tell Brown to go away. Between a big Labour victory and a small one, the course of the next few years and the prime minister's political future will lie.