Quick post on how the system works, because it has been messing up my head for a few days now.
A couple of days (18 April) ago, an ICM poll had the parties at the following levels of support:
CON - 33%
LD - 30%
LAB - 28%
Not one to put that much stock in opinion polls (though I don't quite go along with Lord Foulkes idea that we shouldn't have them during elections) I'm taking everything they say with a pinch of salt. There are, after all, 650 elections going on - not just one. And yes, I know there have been a multitude of polls since then - by many different companies - but this poll is interesting for a particular reason.
Putting those poll numbers into Electoral Calculus, you get the following result:
LAB - 263 seats
CON - 254 seats
LD - 101 seats
And that, for me, is what is incredibly interesting. Ignoring the million caveats about polling companies' methods, margins of error, national swing etc, there's a larger point to be made if this happens and it is this:
Despite polling just over 1 in 4 of the eligible votes in the election - and having polled considerably fewer votes than either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats - Labour would remain the largest party in the House of Commons, albeit a long way short of a majority.
This emphasises the shortcomings in the electoral system - and the institutional bias against the Conservatives, emphasising the truth in a post I wrote in October.
Two things of note. Firstly, if this is indeed how the public vote - indicating a minority preference for the Conservatives - how will they react if Labour end up winning a fourth term in office? And secondly, and perhaps ironically for the Tories, it probably puts electoral reform on the table (if there was indeed a Lab-Lib coalition) which is something they are resolutely opposed to.
Interesting stuff. Doesn't help me any - but interesting nonetheless.