Most pollsters and pundits seem to have already accepted the result of the next election. A hung parliament has been factored in and the only debate has been about the make-up of potential coalitions after the election.
Publicly Labour and the Conservatives refuse to listen to what the polls are saying and maintain that they are fighting for an overall majority. In order for Labour to form a majority they would need to improve significantly on the 256 seats they ended on at the dissolution of the Parliament, some 70 seats short of the 326 needed to form a majority. The current electoral system favours the Labour Party, even though they start from a pretty low base. The system generally means they will not have to poll as highly as the Conservatives to gain an overall majority.
Ed Miliband has been much maligned during his leadership and has trailed David Cameron significantly in the leadership stakes. An impressive performance in the television debates has greatly improved his numbers. If voters become less concerned about the prospect of Miliband becoming Prime Minister and the leadership numbers narrow between him and Cameron, Labour are likely to gain.
A proportion of voters are still not feeling the recovery and remain scared of potential Tory cuts, most notably in welfare. These fears alongside the negative campaign being fought by the Conservatives, leave room for a compelling Labour message which can still attract undecided voters.
By exploiting these factors, Labour should give themselves a good chance in many marginal seats. They would expect to take many seats off the Lib Dems who face the prospect of a hard election. This could bring Labour close to the finishing line.
The main problem for Labour is the SNP surge in Scotland. Labour HQ believe this will fade as the election draws nearer and voters’ minds in Scotland are focused on the choice between a Conservative government and a Labour government.
Labour have much to do and a long way to go to gain that majority, but if these factors were all to line up there is still a possibility of a substantial late swing towards the party, perhaps even enough to see them across the line.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Telegraph