The televised debates between the major leaders have failed to yield a significant breakthrough for either of the two major parties according to the opinion polls. Both Labour and the Conservatives are still neck in neck with a hung parliament appearing to be the most likely outcome out of this General Election.
Both major parties and their leaders are insistent that they are still fighting for a majority. The Conservatives though arguably have an easier task as they ended Parliament with 302 MPs, less than 25 short of an overall majority. They could even achieve this by not taking any seats off the Labour Party and concentrating on winning seats off the Lib Dems.
Polling is not an exact science and has to be taken with a pinch of salt as evidenced by the polls of the 1992 General Election. Historically the polls have tended to underestimate the Conservative vote and traditionally there is also a late swing towards the governing party. If these factors were to occur again at this election, the Tories could perform better than any of the polls are currently suggesting. Perhaps even 25 seats better.
The rise of the SNP offers more hope with the belief that voters in England will become more worried about a Labour government propped up by the SNP and so move towards the Tories. Allied to this, there are signs in some polls that UKIP’s vote is currently being squeezed. Proportionally UKIP still take more votes from the Tories than they do from Labour and if this squeeze materializes on Election Day, then this will benefit the Tories.
There is also a feeling within Tory HQ that people have not started paying attention to the forthcoming election yet and when this happens voters will inevitably move towards the Conservative Party. Questions over economic competence and leadership, both areas on which the Tories have a lead will come more sharply into focus in the final few days of campaigning.
A hung parliament may be seen as a given by most in the political bubble, but there is a plausible case to be made that the Tories can still win this election outright and can gain a majority. Inaccurate polls, a late swing to the governing party and the fear factor of the SNP. Suddenly 25 extra seats might not be so far out of reach.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Telegraph