Were those the words echoing in the ears of millions of voters on Friday morning? Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems appear to have the initiative, taking advantage of a collpasing Labour vote and pinning the Tories back to a total that’s barely better than they managed in 2005. It’s not quite a ‘Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government‘ moment, but Clegg’s party looks to be on the threshold of a major breakthrough to compare to its 1997 success, guaranteeing them seats at the next cabinet table, regardless of who is at its head.
I’ve long sensed that the Tories, just like Neil Kinnock in ’92, hadn’t sealed the deal with the electorate. Cameron’s Eton background and lack of real political pedigree, combined with the lumbering collective memory of the 90s ‘nasty party’ suggested that, while they may have enough votes for an overall majority, many of those casting their ballots would be holding their noses and hoping for the best. The more viable the Lib Dem alternative looks, the more likely it is to pick up votes – and with the way the latest polls are looking, could it be that the rise will be self perpetuating and the Lib-Dems getting towards the magical 40 per cent their polls say would vote Lib Dem if they thought the party could win?
More likely, in my opinion, is a slide back towards the main parties, leaving the Lib Dems perhaps targetting an extra 20 seats and getting within two or three points of Labour. So here goes. First prediction of the election;
Conservatives – 34 per cent
Labour – 29 per cent
Lib-Dems – 26 per cent
Most likely the Lib Dems will take seats where they’re currently second to Labour rather than surging through from third (look for Pendle as a possible, interesting exception). Also there would be a small Con to Lib swing, so a handful of tight seats could fall.
According to the excellent BBC election calculator, that leaves Labour as the largest party with 282 seats, 44 short of a majority, the Tories on 260 and the Lib-Dems on 79. And we’re into hung parliament territory with a vengeance…
Quick word on the previous post; Still no sign of Labour in Blackpool South, one leaflet from Ron Bell (couple of pics of David Cameron, tiny Conservative logo well below the fold and an oblique reference to Kensingtongate). The Lib Dems also remain conspicious by their absence.