Back to earth Milifans. Labour’s on track to get just 10 more seats than Gordon managed. That’s good is it?

by Samuel Dale

Ed Miliband is having a party. He’s running rings around Boris Johnson, hobnobbing with Russell Brand and joking about the Boston Red Sox.

He is ready. He’s packing his bags for Downing Street along with the bookies, Labour members, some pollsters and an increasing number of political commentators.

Party confidence is growing every day after a well-run campaign has boosted Miliband while a brutally negative one appears to be damaging Cameron.

It looks like we’ve got the Big Mo.

But let’s look at the facts. The FT is projecting Labour on course for 268 seats and that’s before a probable late squeeze that always afflicts the party.

That is a net gain of just 10 from the nadir of 2010 when a monstrously unpopular Gordon Brown was battling the banking crisis and global recession.

That’s after five years in opposition against a fractious coalition that has missed its deficit target, lost the AA credit rating and rained unprecedented cuts on the nation. Just 10 more seats. Ten.

Just 268 seats would be by far the weakest mandate of any prime minister in modern British history. Differently polls tell slightly different stories but let’s use the FT as a barometer for now.

It puts Miliband’s performance as opposition leader just nine seats better than William Hague’s ransacking in 2001 when he won one extra seat compared to 1997.

He’s on course to win 23 seats less than Michael Howard in 2005 when he gained 33 seats more for his party in the House of Commons.

He will also perform significantly worse than Neil Kinnock in 1987 and 1992 when he won 20 seats and 42 seats respectively.

Okay, he’s no Michael Foot who lost a disastrous 51 seats in 1983. No one can compare to Foot for electoral disaster.

But why is party confidence so high when Miliband’s performance is on course to rank somewhere between Hague and Howard?

Two reasons.

Firstly, SNP support. There will be around 50 gains in England and huge losses in Scotland with the SNP on course for 49 seats on FT projections with the vast majority of their 43 gains coming from Labour. The seats have not gone to the Tories and the SNP has vowed to support Labour come what may. Miliband can still make it to Downing Street on their coat tails.

Secondly, Labour is winning the tactical campaign battles. Westminster boffins who get their thrills from a carefully crafted non-dom policy or Milband joke on Andrew Marr are loving his performance. It is boosting confidence but whether this is producing productive electoral strategy remains to be seen.

Both are superficial. Nobody really knows how the SNP will act after May when independence is their true aim. And strategically the campaign is not going as well as everyone thinks.

So I would gently remind you about the numbers: 10 seats.

Margaret Thatcher won 63 seats in 1979. David Cameron won 97 extra seats in 2010. Tony Blair won 145 in 1997. That’s what victories look like.

Yes, there are long-term trends with both main party vote shares steadily falling for decades. Yes, Ukip and the SNP are peeling votes off both parties in unprecedented fashion. Yes, Miliband has kept the party united after a bruising defeat and faced a hostile press.

But he’s had five years. He’s had a government making unprecedented spending cuts in a weak coalition and a collapse in Lib Dem support. And all Miliband is likely to have to show for it is 10 extra seats.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

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19 Responses to “Back to earth Milifans. Labour’s on track to get just 10 more seats than Gordon managed. That’s good is it?”

  1. Delta India says:

    Yes. I am unsure about the FT prediction. Time will tell. I wonder how the drabs feel at Labour HQ to now know and fully understand how amazingly ineffectual they are. It wpuld have been the same with the other more well polished odball sibling. As for Milliband he has failed. Ge failed in his first two years. The HQ machine that generates the mere vetbal generalities and verbal noyhings is a dead model. Additionally of course policy offer is weak and really this is more about the repeat of Labours safe seat Leaders secure in their positions having to lose again because Labours last defeat botheted them not at all. Labour is aftet all their party and inrepresentative as well as democratically dangerous. Maybe one day Labour will rise again as a political force maybe not.

  2. Mike says:

    Exactly. The Lib Dems have shed 10-12% and UKIP have gained around 9% (from 3% going upto 12%). And even with all that Labour may still poll 1% or so less than the Tories! The SNP surge is taking around 2% of Labour nationally, so even if that was not occurring Labour would be winning by maybe 1% nationally. Well done!

  3. Robert the cripple says:

    I do not think your right, and I do think a surge will come toward the Tories with UKIP losing massive amounts of backing they have been slow and have lost their edge. I would not mind being wrong nobody wants to have Cameron or IDS back in not me anyway. but I do not think the people see that much in labour, IDS or Reeves both are cut from the same cloth.

    I think it will be another 2010 with millions of voters staying away, and I suspect Scotland could be even worse then people are projecting with labour losing some powerful people.

    It will depend on the turn out, I suspect Million will not bother.

  4. Delta Alpha says:

    Yes…good comments above. Conservatives will gain and Labours weird tricks of courting celebrities who9 turn up to events they have no control over, of relying on TV debates (I still remember fondly Will Straw being more interested in the presentation of background cosmetics than an actual policy lol).

    The great thing is that the Labour Leadership by being as simple and predictable as they are are doing what their opponents want – it is truly marvelous.
    They do all the work that is needed to brainlessly and continually undermine their own activists as they did when I was stupid and foolish enough to help the talent-less turds out. Now as an opponent I capitalize on it as do my allies.

    Miliband is running out of places to go to, his pathetic rhetoric composed of vague generalities and basic moden principle lacking any kind of meaningful dialogue has had me laughing for some time, I guess if I wrote him a script by a four year old child he could do his very basic parrot fashion repetition and blab that in front of a live camera and think nothing of it…..

    And the juvenile intelligence of his surrounding MPs is even more laughable, so blatantly and clumsily unaware of the meaning of hypocrisy and offensive behaviour to true feminists and equality…I loved the pink bus – had me in stitches. I cannot believe I worked knowing such amazingly incapable people could occupy what once might have been considered respected positions…

    And now we reach the conclusion. Please do not blame Ed Miliband – he is as all his MPs are…a dreadfully simple creature who is terrified of the working world that grown ups inhabit. They could no more rule Scotland than a gold fish bowl though they would have more in common with a gold fish. The problem is fundamentally fixed now and the decomposition of the Party will continue. The seeds are in-bedded in Northern England. Remember the Labour Leadership have created their own problems and have no conceptual understanding of what they are doing to what was once a great party led by very talented people (now long gone).

  5. Madasafish says:

    Ia anyone really surprised when it would appear Labour are full of hypocrites on tax avoidance..?

    “The former head of parliament’s public accounts committee – and a fierce critic of tax avoidance and “secretive” offshore funds – has received more than £1.5m in shares from the tax haven of Liechtenstein, according to a report.

    The money came through a controversial scheme that lets wealthy Britons move undeclared assets back to the UK without facing criminal action.

    Labour’s Margaret Hodge was, according to The Times, among the beneficiaries in 2011 of the winding-up of a Liechtenstein trust that held shares in the private steel-trading business set up by her father.

    The Times reports that just under 96,000 Stemcor shares handed to Hodge in 2011 came from the tiny principality, which is renowned for low tax rates. Three quarters of the shares in the family’s Liechtenstein trust had previously been held in Panama, which Ms Hodge described last month as “one of the most secretive jurisdictions” with “the least protection anywhere in the world against money laundering”.”

    Don’t do as I do, do as I say wins lots of votes…:-)

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    Now just listen up!

    You peasants North of Watford – sorry, hard working British people – must get out and vote for us. We, both Tories and Labour, have hired the Real Experts (from USA and Australia). They know what you like. They know what you think. They do it by science. You like: lots of money thrown at you in the form of free this and free that. We live in Lunnun which, as you may know, is the capital of the world and we know everything.

    People North of Watford cannot do politics. The ridiculous Mrs Sturgeon and the appalling Alex Salmond, for starters. Then there is that idiot Farage. And the Greens! They all are so yesterday!

    Our experts know you like free hospitals too so they talk a lot about that. They know you like low taxes. They know you are worried about housing (in Lunnun only) so they talk a lot about that. They know you are always keen to have a bit of a grumble about your sad life. So they hold the mike nice and close and there are lots of vox pops, lots of dragooning real workers into photo ops. (We got that from North Korea.) We like to know what you think.

    A degree in Politics from Oxford or Cambridge entitles us to know what the plebs – sorry, Great British Electorate – really think. You know it makes sense!

  7. wg says:

    What Labour fail to understand is that there are a bunch of people out here, the oft-described “working class conservatives (small “c”), who hate debt, hate waste, and despise the well-padded council bureaucracies that are partying like there is no tomorrow.

    These working class conservatives have flowed into Farage’s arms as he has preached his “people’s army” meme, but when it comes to the election, and faced with more town hall waste and greed, the electorate are going to wish to keep Labour out of power, and the squeeze will see the Tories gaining that vital 1-2%.

    The Labour party are all about power and pork barrel politics now – they are nothing to do with the manual worker, and, in fact, have nothing but contempt for them.

    Conservatives will always follow the money and nobody knows what species of creature a Liberal Democrat is – it was the Labour party that should have been on the workers’ side; that should have stood up to the European Union with its lobbyists and bankers.

  8. 07052015 says:

    You can look at it two ways

    Dales way little progress made or

    The sensible way ,libdems slaughtered ,big gains from tories in england and wales and an earthquake in scotland where under fptp the unionist vote is split three ways.

    No opposition party has come back from a big defeat like 2010 in one election

    Labour has big problems in scotland ,very much back to the drawing board there,but ironically it could be more radical leading a loose alliance of progressives in a consensual manner than on its own.

  9. paul barker says:

    Of the last 9 polls, 6 have a Con lead giving an average Con lead of 1%.

  10. sensibledave says:

    Firstly, I am a Tory voter – but please hear me out!

    I have come to the very uncomfortable conclusion that the Tories will not be able to form a government after the GE. Based on what we know so far, other than the Lib/Dems and the DUP (and perhaps any UKIP seats), there doesn’t seem to be any other parties that would support a Tory led government. As far as I can guess, that leaves them short, at around a probable 310 to 315 seats.

    So, depressingly from my point of view, it looks like it will be up to Labour to form a government. That will require Labour to have the support of the SNP plus, probably, others, to win a vote of confidence.

    Would I be speaking out of turn if I was to suggest that such an outcome could infuriate English voters so much that it might ruin Labour’s chances of having a majority in England ever again (or in the foreseeable future)? Could Mr Miliband could also become the most hated man in politics in England?

    My logic here being that England would be being run by a party that it didn’t vote for and one that it couldn’t vote for. Labour would have no mandate for their policies in England and no mandate from the people in Scotland.

    I don’t have any answers, other than one of either Labour or the Tories getting enough seats such that the Lib/Dems are in a position to partner with either.

  11. John P Reid says:

    How many ex labour are going Ukip

    Ex NEC Helen Lewis,Pat Condell, Anne Marie waters ex labour now Ukip, and Rod liddle a labour member admires Ukip,
    Many former labour councillors in Thurrock, Dagenham are now UKiP, as was Farnbrook ex GLA now English democrats

  12. Apple says:

    More crystal ball gazing really, lets see how many seats labour win after the ONLY poll that matters on may7th.

  13. paul barker says:

    If The Labour vote in Scotland keeps falling as the polls suggest its not impossible that Labour could come behind The Tories, that would be historic.

  14. john P reid says:

    paul Barker, and pretty much finish us up there

  15. Of course what gives the ‘just 10 MPs more’ prediction some respectability is the loss of Labour seats to the SNP in Scotland. It gets interesting when looking at whom should take responsibility for the mess. Well let’s see.

    We have a general election campaign being run by Progress/Blairites under Douglas Alexander and a Scottish Labour campaign run by Progress/Blairites under Jim Murphy. We shouldn’t forget we had the Scottish referendum campaign which caused such loss of support up there run by Progress/Blairites under the pair of them.

    Does anyone else notice anything in common about the three campaigns?

  16. wg says:

    John McTernan, former Labour advisor once told us that Labour no longer need the white, working class to achieve power – can’t anybody see what is happening here and what type of people now run the top tiers of the Labour party:,d.d2s

  17. Madasafish says:


    Does anyone else notice anything in common about the three campaigns?

    The leader.

    The New Statesman editorial, which comes a week before the General Election, is particularly significant as the magazine championed Mr Miliband over his brother David in Labour’s leadership election in 2010.
    The magazine announced its support for Labour on Wednesday, but was scathing about Mr Miliband, who it said has demonstrated “severe limitations and strategic weaknesses”.
    It said that he has failed to “inspire the electorate” and reach “aspirational voters” because of his “narrow ideological focus on political economy”.”

  18. paul barker says:

    The latest poll has a Con lead of 5%. Of the last 13 polls that makes 9 Con leads & 3 Labour.

  19. John P Reid says:

    WG,Jon Cruddas,as Advisor to Ed in the manifesto, Sid the same at a Fabians meeting last month. I saw my 28 years labour membership, flash between my eyes,

    Apparently public sector middle class career females ,losing our on child benefit, are the way!?

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