State of the Polls: One week to go

It’s only a week now ‘til one of the most anticipated General Elections in recent decades.  The result of next Thursday’s vote is still completely up in the air, and there’s every chance that the next seven days could determine who gets the keys to Number 10 Downing Street for the next five years, but with people beginning to firm up their voting decisions the general trend we can  expect is becoming clear.

Remember, if you are still unsure on how to vote, that you can check out the manifestos of all major parties standing in Scotland on my site here along with detailed bullet-point summaries that should help you find the party that suits your ideals best.

Here are how the polls how they stand at the moment, along with how these vote shares will transfer into seats.

UK
Con Lab LibDem UKIP Green Other
34% 33% 9% 13% 5% 6%

Current UK seat projection:

Party MPs Change
Conservatives 283 -20
Labour 260 3
Lib Dems 20 -38
SNP 58 52
Plaid Cymru 3 0
UKIP 4 2
Green 1 0
Sinn Fein 5 -3
DUP 9 6
SDLP 3 3
UUP 1 0
Alliance 0 -1
Independents 0 0
Other 2 2
Scotland
SNP Lab Con LibDem UKIP Green Other
50% 25% 16% 5% 2% 1% 0%

Current Scotland seat projection:

Party MPs Change
SNP 58 52
Labour 0 -41
Lib Dems 1 -10
Conservatives 0 -1
Green 0 0

I’ll post my predictions for the General Election in full next Thursday for the overall election and for each seat after we have the final pre-election polls, but there are already some things I’m certain of.

The SNP are going to annihilate Scottish Labour on Thursday and sweep at least 50 seats, with a good chance, and one that wouldn’t be a surprise at all at this point, of cleaning up all 59 seats in Scotland.  With three polls in the last week showing support for the SNP over 50%, the highest for any party in Scotland since the Liberals in 1910, it’s an absolute nailed-on certainty that they will be the third-largest party in the UK Parliament after the election, which is incredible considering they had only 6 MPs last time around.

The only problems foreseeable for the SNP are ones that they have already overcome.  Although SNP support has been very high since the referendum, most political commentators and pollsters expected some fall back towards Labour as the election drew nearer – as people revert back to how they voted last time, as they are doing in England at the moment towards the Conservatives.  The opposite has happened so far, and any move back towards Labour now will likely be minimal – but in some close seats like Jim Murphy’s in Renfrewshire East and even Willie Bain’s in Glasgow North-East it could prove all the difference.  There are also still a number of people who don’t know how they will vote, and although with the SNP so dominant it’s possible that they will fall towards the party they expect to win, it’s also possible they will go back to how they voted last time which would likely be Labour.  We saw this Don’t Know swing clearly in the referendum and could do so again next Thursday.  The final point is whether the tactical voting campaigns such as SNPout will have any effect.  A recent poll showed that a significant number of party supporters would be willing to vote tactically in their constituency to avoid electing an SNP member, with these figures being the net gain in terms of the percentage of party supporters who would switch votes to oppose the SNP (i.e 1% of Labour supporters would change their vote to Conservative if they lived in a seat which was a race between the SNP and Conservatives):

LAB support

CON support

LIB DEM support

LAB v. SNP

34%

39%

CON v. SNP

1%

18%

LIB v. SNP

9%

50%

If these figures play out as above then it will drastically impact the final results, as the voting intentions that I and many others base their predictions on are only accounting for voters choosing the party they say they want to vote for – rather than the one they will.  The effect of tactical voting could be very important indeed in determining the size of SNP victory in Scotland.

The other major prediction I’ll make ahead of time is that this election will kill off first-past-the-post as the preferred, or even accepted, voting system for the UK Parliament.  UKIP are going to win a big share of votes, around 13% or so, but will only likely win a handful of seats at best.  The SNP are going to win around 5% of the UK vote share and win 50 plus.  There are also going to numerous seats where voters will be forced into choosing between two parties they don’t particularly want to vote for because they are the only two conceivable choices, such as the tactical voting that could happen here in Scotland.  These are all undemocratic in a grand sense, and while the idea of picking the best representative for your constituency as a whole is still valid and worthwhile, when it means that the Parliament and likely the Government doesn’t reflect the wishes of the people then it isn’t a sustainable system for fair governance.  Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP have noted in their manifestos that they will radically reform the House of Lords should they get into Government, and although it won’t be the first time that it was promised and not delivered, the possibility does remain that the issues with first-past-the-post could well be remedied by the time Britain next goes to the polls.

There are six whole days of campaigning now before Britain votes for its’ next Government.  While the election campaign has been slow and relatively uneventful so far, what happens over the next few weeks will be far from it.

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