How much of a sure thing is it the the Torys are going to get in this time?

(48 Posts)
electra Fri 19-Mar-10 13:56:23

Is there still the possibility that it could go the other way?

cakeywakey Fri 19-Mar-10 14:36:47

No election is ever a sure thing. The Conservatives aren't very far ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. At the moment we're more likely to end up with a hung parliament, with no party having an overall majority.

This would lead to either Labour or the Conservatives forming a coalition (sp?) with the Lib Dems to form a Government.

Most likely the Tories would do this and bank on making some good progress in the first few months before calling another election in the autumn (probably October) in the hope of winning an overall majority.

Or at least that's what I've hear/read anyway grin

PandaSam Fri 19-Mar-10 14:41:57

The chances of the Torys winning the election is very slim. They need to win 117 seats in order to get a majority of 1 and this has never been done before. Plus, the seats they need to win are in traditional labour areas.

Its gonna be really tough.

It is VERY unlikely that the Lib Dems would form a coalition with the Conservatives - they are much more likely to go with Labour which is why "a vote for a Lib Dem is a vote for Gordon Brown".

If the Conservatives manage to get the most seats - but not enough for an overall majority - they could form a coalition with the smaller parties (Plaid Cymru, SNP etc) and then call another election later (which they would be more likely to win because Labour will be pretty bankrupt by then and the Conservatives have more financial support)

thedollshouse Fri 19-Mar-10 14:44:22

How does a coalition work? When you say that the Lib Dems would probably form a coalition with Labour rather than the Tories what does that actually mean? Why do they get a choice? Sorry for being so clueless!

PandaSam Fri 19-Mar-10 17:49:46

A coalition is basically where two or more parties get together to form a majority party. You need a majority in order to form a government (because when you come to vote on legislation you want to be able to get your laws through - any everyone else will probably try and block them)

So after the election if no party has an overall majority (there are 646 seats in the House; so 323 needed to form a majority) then they will look to others parties for support (lib dems, snp, etc).

These parties can then make deals whereby they will form a coalition on the basis of...(they then set out their demands).

The Lib Dems are more likely to go with Labour because they're ideologies are closer.

If the Conservatives are only a couple of seats away from an overall majority (i.e. 320) then they could approach SNP/plaid cymru/independents to form a coalition rather than having to go to the Lib Dems.

Coalitions are really complication - and in this country and generally not good for government. It will mean that it takes a very long time for anything to happen (because deals have to be made); which in a recession is a really bad thing.

Coalitions fall apart quite quickly (because parties are not used to sharing powers) and that is why another election is generally called quickly; especially if a party thinks it could get enough seats for a majority.

Does that make sense - happy to explain further

thedollshouse Fri 19-Mar-10 18:59:44

I had wrongly assumed that the two parties with the most votes formed a coalition so was expecting a Labour/Tory coalition. Thanks for explaining so clearly PandaSam

electra Fri 19-Mar-10 19:44:19

Thanks for that explanation, pandasam.

cakeywakey Fri 19-Mar-10 20:25:12

PandaSam, I agree that coalitions are not great. I once worked at a council with no party in overall control and it meant that the big tough decision were often not made, with fudges or procrastination being the order of the day. Very frustrating and, in the long run, not in the best interests of residents. Would not like to see this repeated at national level.

alicatte Wed 14-Apr-10 18:00:04

I am a bit disappointed with the Conservative Manifesto.

To paraphrase David Cameron,

'If we're elected on May 6th you're on your own on May 7th'

isn't a very attractive idea as we are just coming out of a recession (even if it was a single issue bank thing this time). (yes I know he didn't say that but that was the impression it gave)

When I watched the launch I was really hoping for some ideas and inspiration. A plan maybe but ...

I wonder, perhaps, if a coalition might not be the best thing for the time being.

alicatte Wed 14-Apr-10 18:01:23

I am a bit disappointed with the Conservative Manifesto.

To paraphrase David Cameron,

'If we're elected on May 6th you're on your own on May 7th'

isn't a very attractive idea as we are just coming out of a recession (even if it was a single issue bank thing this time). (yes I know he didn't say that but that was the impression it gave)

When I watched the launch I was really hoping for some ideas and inspiration. A plan maybe but ...

I wonder, perhaps, if a coalition might not be the best thing for the time being.

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 18:04:11

conventional wisdom is that a hung parliament is a v bad thing from an economic point of view; uncertianty producing paralysis in markets etc (this already seems to be happening in the housing market). I do think conventional wisdom is probably right in this instance.

BeenBeta Wed 14-Apr-10 18:05:55

The political betting markets show that the money (hence measurng fairly serious considered opinion) is split evenly on a Tory win or a hung Parliament with equally high probability. Betting odds show Labour winning is a very low probability outcome.

alicatte Wed 14-Apr-10 18:19:00

Then might it not be better to choose the devil we know. I would find it hard to feel safe with the Conservatives at the moment.

throckenholt Wed 14-Apr-10 18:19:33

most European countries work with coalitions - so there must be ways of making it workable. Neither labour or conservative want that to happen so have no vested interest in explaining how coalitions can work.

It would be nice to imagine they all have the good of the country at heart, and would be happy to work together for the common good. Somehow I don't think that is what actually motivates the leading members of most parties.

alicatte Wed 14-Apr-10 18:19:43

Oh I don't know!!!

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 19:10:28

Our system of politics creates "artifical polarisation" of the 2 main parties. It is not in their party political interest to be seen to be too close on key issues and instead have traditionally tried to play up their differences. It would be unimaginable that Tories and Labour could form a coalition without alienating all of the traditional voters on both sides. They both approach many things from completely opposing view points even on fundamental issues of government involvement in the economy and lives of the population.

so in a coalition, how do they decide who is Prime Minister? Presumably it's the party with the largest number of seats, but what about their coalition partner? Can they take any of the big jobs? If not, what's in it for them?

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:22:01

Many, many countries in Europe and the wider world exist quite happily with coalition governments. They can be as stable and as effective as one-party governments. The impression (put about entirely by Labour and Tory activists who have, shall we say, a vested interest) that coalition government = ineffective disaster is not borne out in reality.

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:23:02

<prepares big klaxxon noise for the first person to say 'Italy' grin>

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 19:24:11

A hung parliament is viewed as a worst case scenario. We aren't geared up to have partnerships or coalitions so markets would fall over night and uncertainty and anxiety would be high.

Generally a party who narrowly lost would try to get a smaller party (say with 10 seats or so) to join them in bolstering up their weak position. The small party can make demands (like the Welsh party said they would agree to do a deal if they were given £x million in funding for Wales).

Generally they hobble along and call another election ASAP but this doesn't happen much in UK politics. I think the last similar crisis (they do refer to it as a crisis) was in the 1970s with some "who rules" style elections.

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 19:28:29

Hung parliaments have never lasted long in the UK. We had the national government in WW2 but that was a bit of special case. Hoping for world war to ensure political stability is a bit extreme.
Anyway, in this context what matters is whether the markets think it's good thing. if there's a hung parliament market participants will act on the basis that (a) effective action to cut the deficit won't happen and (b) there will be another election within a year. That's not good.

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:29:09

Mint, when you say 'we aren't geared up for it', don't you just mean that it's not something we're used to? There's no structural reason why it shouldn't work; so long as there's an operational government, everything else will fall into place. The markets might fall initially, but they'd recover so long as the situation remained politically stable.

abride Wed 14-Apr-10 19:29:46

My husband is canvassing for a political party in a marginal south-of-England market town.

Out of ten households he will probably get four/five Tories, two/three Labour, one BNP(!!!) or one UKIP and one/two don't know/won't say.

Experience from the past tends to suggest people are more secretive about voting Tory.

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:31:07

I find the idea of being ruled by the international markets a lot more sinister and worrying than the idea of being ruled by a coalition government.

Germany has been ruled by coalitions for pretty much the last 50 years. If Germany is financially and politically ruined, I must say it's doing a good job of hiding it.

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 19:31:21

Any shuffling after the election could be very unpopular. We have a system where we vote for one party. We don't have (in England) the option to give a second choice or third choice.

So if Labour had an unconvincing /unworkable victory, Gordon Brown would still be Prime Minister but he might invite the Lib Dems to join him by offering them key seats in the Cabinet (this would be the unpopular bit for Labour voters and probably the Lib Dem party). I don't think anyone considers that the Tories would join with the Lib Dems at all.

The thing about the constitution is that there isn't one (not a written one at least) we've always relied upon the fact that these things sort themselves out so any stalemate gets resolved. There isn't actually hard and fast rules about what happens if there is no convincing victor and none of them can decide how to resolve it except that the Queen technically decides but that means the Queen having to wade into a party political situation when everyone is keen that she remains neutral.

pinkteddy Wed 14-Apr-10 19:31:49

Agree with you policywonk, can't see why on earth coalition wouldn't work. As far as I'm concerned the markets dictate too much and look where its got us!

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 19:34:14

abride - it is a proven fact on exit polls that people who vote Conservative are less likely to reveal how they voted than people who vote Labour. We had Bob Worcester (of MORI polls) come to talk to us about it at uni and how not factoring this in had scewed predictions.

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:35:00

I'd had the impression that both Labour and Tory leaderships have been desperately courting the LibDems and would grab their votes (in Parliament) with both hands given half a chance. But Clegg's playing hard to get (which is proving a rather good tactic IMO).

I'm not convinced that the public at large would be upset by a hung parliament. I think quite a lot of people think it's the least worst option, given that neither main party is terribly attractive at the moment and Vince Cable is so popular. Plus it has novelty value.

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:37:03

As for the constitutional issue, the civil service has been preparing for a hung parliament for some time and has issued all sorts of protocols about what would happen in various scenarios. I don't think Liz will be asked to pull a name out of a hat or anything like that grin

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:39:39

Here you are - yesterday's Times/Populus poll says that 32% of those surveyed want a hung parliament.

I want one anyway, it will be great fun for political geeks.

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 19:41:58

I think many of the objections to a colaton is that neither party wants one and it would not be in the party interst to cooperate in one (except in times of national emergency when they all sing from the same hymn sheet eg the World Wars).

There was an article on it a while ago and these were the reasons cited that it wouldn't work:

"Both parties are themselves coalitions already. Labour, in particular, is sustained by an oppositional not a governmental ethos.

Neither party leader could hope to deliver on a deal.

Big beasts in both parties would wreck it.

The extremes would be empowered to revolt.

The parties could not be put back together. These are all very serious practical objections".

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 19:43:04

I must admit to feeling a bit geekily excited about what would happen. That's bad isn't it - but it would be interesting to see how it played out.

Alouiseg Wed 14-Apr-10 19:45:23

The safest place to check who will win which seat are the betting websites.

They are more accurate than any poll. Money where the mouth is speaks volumes.

policywonk Wed 14-Apr-10 19:53:20

Well, to fisk those reasons in a (hopefully) discursive and chin-strokey way:

neither party wants it - well they can eff orf, can't they? This isn't about what they want, it's about what we want. And they are singularly failing to enthuse us at the moment.

Both parties are coalitions already - a) doesn't this just mean that they have some experience of compromise? and b) as others have said, it's unlikely they'd be in coalition with each other. (Of course, Lab and Tory actually have quite a lot in common in some policy areas - probably as much as, if not more than, either has in common with the LibDems.)

Leaders couldn't deliver/big beasts would wreck - do you think so? If the alternative was to drag an unwilling electorate back to the polls within a matter of months? Neither party has too many big beasts at the moment IMO. Although the idea of, say, BoJo doing a massive flounce is indeed attractive.

The extremes would be empowered to revolt - well, if this meant that the government couldn't get its leglislation through, this would admittedly be a problem. It would all depend on the size of the coalition's majority I suppose. But I'm not convinced that the Labour backbenches really know how to revolt any more, with a few honourable exceptions: they've had their collective balls in a vice for so long I don't think they know where to find them any more. Not sure this is so true of some of the backwoodsmen in the Tory party, who might well go native given half a chance.

The parties could not be put back together - I don't think that's an objection. So we end up with more parties that are, individually, less powerful - sounds like democracy to me.

zazizoma Wed 14-Apr-10 19:56:10

It seems to be that the Lib Dem manifesto is much more in line with the Tory manifesto than the Labour one.

Alousie can you explain about the betting sites. For eg here - it says "Overall majority 2/5" what does that mean? 40% chance of one?

The Labour majority odds are given as whole numbers and the Tory majority odds as fractions... what's the difference?

ahundredtimes Wed 14-Apr-10 20:03:53

Oh this is interesting thread.

Do people still lie about voting Tory though? I can't believe they do in the same shame-faced way as they used to?? It used to mean I'm a Big Bad Selfish Person. Surely people now think it means, I Don't Like Brown. Or even I Really Want to Run My Local Post Office grin

Also - I think it's so interesting how close they are in the polls. Six months ago it was going to be a Cameron cake-walk wasn't it?

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 20:06:13

Zaz - You're quite possibly right. Historically I think Lib Dem and Labour were seen as more aligned but maybe this is not considered the case anymore.

I think that unwilling electorate being dragged to the polls again is one of the usual outcomes of a hung parliament. I think its Canada where this happens quite a lot (they keep having the upheaval of elections to rejiggle power).

I agree it shouldn't be up to the politicians to dictate what we can and can't have. They are supposed to serve us but because they belong to parties competing against each other, it makes it false and awkward to compromise on issues with other parties and to still keep face with their traditional voters, people in the party etc. They worry about losing the ability to keep face and form a future government in the future by giving in to short term pressures in a temporary coalition.

These things aren't set in stone though and coalitions have worked before but usually only in Wartime.

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 20:07:46

"form a future government in the future" I mean "form a future government in their own right" which is currently the aim of every party that exists.

MintHumbug Wed 14-Apr-10 20:08:35

(every "main" party that is - some small parties are happy just to wield influence but not form the government - lol you know what I mean)

claig Wed 14-Apr-10 20:47:34

overall majority 2/5 means that if you give them £5 they will give you £2 if any party wins with an overall majority. So you are risking £5 to earn £2. So they think this is quite likely to happen. If it happens you will get your original £5 back plus an extra £2.
odds of 2/5 is the same as a probability of 5/(2+5) = 5/7 = 0.71 = 71% chance of happening

at the moment they are quoting a Tory majority as being about 4/7 i.e. your £7 earns £4 of theirs i.e. probability is
7/(4+7) = 7/11 = 0.64 = 64%

Labour majority is about 10/1 i.e. your £1 will earn £10 i.e. proability is 1/(1+10)= 0.09 = 9%

So it looks like there is no way that Labour will win

claig Wed 14-Apr-10 21:25:15

however no overall majority is about 6/4 i.e. probability of 4/(6+4) = 4/10 = 40%

so there is still a small chance that Labour might be able to form a government with the Liberals, depending on how well the Liberals do

amothersplaceisinthewrong Wed 14-Apr-10 21:28:52

Remember 1992 when everyone was sure Labour were going to overturn John Major and then Kinnock blew it at the 11th hour with that rally in Sheffield and Major limped home the winner

The liberal manifesto is much more to the left than labour centralism - but it could not be further away from the Tories if they were on the moon.

claig Wed 14-Apr-10 21:36:07

yes you're right about 1992, that was a shock result, and I think that's why you can't trust the opinion polls. But the betting companies don't go by polls, but base their odds on the amount of real money that has been invested by clients, so they are probably more accurate than the polls.

Hassled Wed 14-Apr-10 21:42:32

I agree there will be interesting times ahead with a hung parliament and subsequent coalitions - and agree that there is no reason why, in theory, it couldn't work. But it will take quite a change of mindset for the public as much as the politicians. I can't see any way that the Conservatives can get an overall majority - they just have too far to go.

Hassled Wed 14-Apr-10 21:45:32

thanks claig!

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