by Atul Hatwal
The next election is not too close to call. Neither is it a contest where the current party system is under threat nor one where voter volatility renders meaningful predictions impossible.
There are excuses wheeled out by pundits and pollsters who are frit. Here are my predictions.
The Conservatives are going to repeat their 2010 performance and secure 36% of the vote while suffering a small fall in their number of seats to the range 290 to 300.
Labour will struggle to 32%, boosting its seats by 20-25 to the high 270s or low 280s and the Lib Dems will exceed their current polling to get to 16% with seats in the high 30s or very low 40s.
Ukip will under-perform their current poll rating to achieve 7% with one seat (Douglas Carswell) while the SNP will lose to Labour in Scotland. However, they will make some progress, boosting their representation by taking 6-10 Labour seats and reducing the majorities for most of Labour’s Scottish MPs.
This is why.
As May 7th draws near, three shifts will take place in the way that the voting public go about their choice that will move the current polling.
These changes happen in every electoral cycle and are the reason that decades of forecasts of new settlements, moulds being broken and unprecedented uncertainty are usually wrong.
They relate to the nature of the decision that voters are making, the criteria they use to make it and how they judge the parties meet that criteria.
First, the way most voters perceive their choice fundamentally changes in the run up to a general election.
For the majority of the parliament, when pollsters (or indeed friends and family) ask about voting preference, the question is taken as a referendum on the government.