bookmark_borderThe LibDems have a duty to make it work

Tim Gunn embroidery
Originally uploaded by Totally Severe

I’ve already argued that the LibDems made a huge error when they decided not to explore the possibility of a coalition with SNP in the Scottish Parliament and with Plaid and the Tories in the Welsh Assembly:

This is ridiculous! If they want to work only with Labour, why don’t they join Labour?

The same now applies in Westminster.

The LibDems keep saying that proportional representation is needed, and this will of course lead to many more coalition governments.

Because of this, the LibDems have a duty to demonstrate that coalitions can work.

To be concrete, they should do their very best to try and form a coalition with the Conservatives.

This is probably the only realistic option, given that Labour don’t have a majority together with the LibDems.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they should enter a coalition with the Tories no matter what the terms are.

The important thing is that a coalition is explored thoroughly, and if it fails, it has to be because the Conservatives wouldn’t agree to reasonable terms, not because it’s easier to stand on the sidelines.

bookmark_borderSecond-guessing as a feature of FPTP

3D Character and Question Mark
Originally uploaded by ????

Although the LibDems advanced by about 1% in votes, they lost a few seats.

I presume it’s because Cleggmania made the LibDem focus their resources on seats that would be winnable on a 5% swing to them instead of pouring time and money into their existing seats.

It’s a huge problem with FPTP that unless you have unlimited resources, you have to guess which seats you might feasible win or lose, and then concentrate on those. If you get it wrong, it might cost you dearly.

The same applies in a different way to voters:

Nobody likes to waste their vote (apart from my father-in-law), and that means people are likely to vote tactically.

However, voting tactically means guessing which parties that the contest is really going to be between and then vote for one of them, which again means that getting it wrong will mean you’ve wasted your vote.

I really hope the LibDems will manage to use this hung parliament to achieve electoral reform!

bookmark_borderRespect for votes

It often appears to me that votes are not really respected in the UK.

For instance, many overseas voters got their ballot papers too late to vote, but nothing is done about it.

Also, there are often issues with postal voting fraud, but very little is done about it.

Finally, the BBC were just now reporting that many voters were turned away at some polling stations after queuing for more than half an hour because they didn’t have the resources to let them vote before 10pm.

Phyllis suggested that this attitude might be due to first-past-the-post normally delivering such clear results (as well as disenfranchising half the electorate) that a few missing votes wouldn’t really change the picture.

I’m appalled.

All votes should be respected, even if it means delaying the count!

bookmark_borderCon 298, LD 108, Lab 212

Ballot box
Originally uploaded by ratinasock

Most of the last polls before tomorrow’s election are now out, and they seem to point to a result along the lines of Con 33-37, LD 26-29, Lab 24-28.

There’s also a Scottish poll predicting Con 17, LD 22, Lab 37, SNP 21.

If I put the average of the figures into the Electoral Calculus Regional Predictor and shift LibDem support slightly towards the north of England, I end up with a seat prediction of Con 288, LD 98, Lab 232.

The Tories seem to be doing better in Lab-Con marginals, but this is to some extent cancelled out by the LibDems doing better in Con-Lib marginals.

Let’s therefore assume that Labour lose another 20 seats to the Conservatives, and that the LibDems win another 10 seats from the Tories, and we end up with my final prediction for tomorrow: Con 298, LD 108, Lab 212.

In many ways this would be an excellent result: The Tories would probably end up in power, but without being able to do whatever they fancy. Labour would have to find a new leader, and the LibDems would have demonstrated how bad the electoral system is if they got more votes but fewer seats than Labour.

bookmark_borderThe LibDem victory in 2014/2015

The Horse Race
Originally uploaded by dougsamu

FiveThirtyEight has an article about how the LibDems normally need two elections to win a seat:

[T]hey tend to win seats not in a single election cycle, but after first reaching a critical threshold of support an election before. While still losing to the major party in the constituency, this baseline of support provides the “plausibility” factor that can turn tactical and ideological voters to the party.


In 2005, seats that the Lib Dem picked up showed a particular voting trend from 1997 to 2005. In nearly every case, the 2001 election saw a swing to the Lib Dems, usually pulling votes from both Labour and the Tories. And, the stronger that swing was in 2001, the bigger the swing they experienced in 2005. Similarly, many of the seats in which they made progress but did not win in 2005 are now key pickup opportunities for the Lib Dems in 2010.

I did some quick calculations to see how much this matters.

At the moment, the LibDems notionally hold 76 seats and are in second place in another 194 seats.

If there is a uniform 5% swing from Labour to LibDem, the latter will get 118 seats, but they will suddenly be in second place in 332 seats!

In other words, although a LibDem vote can seem wasted in many constituencies, it might just prepare the ground for a LibDem landslide in 2014 or 2015.

bookmark_borderWhat David Cameron didn’t learn from Lisbon

I was watching Andrew Marr’s interview with David Cameron this morning.

Cameron was asked repeatedly whether he was going to raise VAT, and he kept saying it wasn’t what he wanted to do; however, if you listened closely, he didn’t rule it out.

It reminded me of an interview Marr did with Cameron just before the Lisbon Treaty was ratified: Cameron stuck to his line that he would call a referendum so long as it wasn’t ratified, but he refused to discuss what he’d do if that happened before he became PM.

As we know now, a lot of Tories felt upset and betrayed when Cameron swiftly dropped the idea of a referendum two weeks later.

Cameron said he had never promised a referendum under these circumstances, but lots of people had believed he’d call a referendum no matter what.

In other words, Cameron thought he was being really clever by talking only about what he’d do if things went his way, but when they didn’t, people felt betrayed.

I can’t help thinking the same story is repeating itself when it comes to VAT.

Cameron probably thinks it’s clever not to talk about a VAT increase that perhaps won’t be necessary, but he’s forgetting that the vast majority of people will have understood him as ruling out higher VAT, and they’ll feel majorly betrayed when Cameron has to increase the rate to 20% (as seems very likely).