Weekly polling review: Labour is back in the game

Written by David Bowers on 20 March 2015 in Opinion
After last week's stumble, Ed Miliband's party has promptly turned its fortunes around

Seven companies have released the results of their national polls this week: YouGov, Lord Ashcroft, Populus, ICM, Opinium, ComRes and TNS.

The average of this week’s numbers gives the following for each party (change from last week’s figures given in brackets):

- Con: 33.2 (-0.2)

- Lab: 33.1 (+0.4)

- LD: 7.5 (NC)

- UKIP: 14.1 (-0.3)

- Green: 5.7 (-0.8)

After my comments last week about Labour’s numbers being in steady decline, they’ve promptly turned their fortunes around this week, while the Conservatives drop by 0.2 per cent. It’s too soon to know how much impact the Budget will have on these figures (only one of the 12 polls released this week took place after Wednesday’s announcement), but for now we’re back at more or less level pegging.

YouGov also published a Scottish poll, which showed that the SNP’s strong lead over Labour shows no signs of diminishing. The nationalists scored 46 per cent, well ahead of Labour’s 27.

Once again, our projected share of seats in the new parliament remains steady, as follows:

Projected seats

- Conservatives: 284 (38 short of majority)

- Labour: 279 (43 short of majority)

- LD: 16

- SNP: 48

- Other: 23

The other big news in the last seven days is that the Labour Party have now officially come out against the possibility of a formal coalition with the SNP, in part to reduce their vulnerability to the Conservatives adopting a “Vote Ed, get Alex” strategy. While that makes sense tactically, it does render the process of forming a government post-May even more difficult than it had previously appeared.

Provided the Conservatives can indeed win the biggest share of seats (and they’ll probably lose a few – but only a few – to UKIP, so will get a bit less than they might otherwise), then they’ll get the first opportunity to put together a coalition, or at least a working minority government.

However, given the SNP’s antipathy towards them – in Nicola Sturgeon’s first speech as leader in November she said that she would “never, ever, put the Tories into government” – the Conservatives can’t possibly make this work: between them, Labour and SNP can vote down the rest of the Commons combined.

Next up would be Labour. They’re in a somewhat better position, in that the SNP won’t necessarily oppose them out of hand, but the fact they won’t bring the nationalists into a formal coalition that an Ed Miliband government is a minority administration by default. It will also be incredibly exposed to Conservative attacks due to its reliance on Scottish votes.

The other option – a grand coalition of Labour and Conservatives – is looking increasingly viable, although I suspect that it would take another deadlocked election (possibly later this year) to persuade party leaders to go down that route.


Tags: Grant Shapps

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