For various reasons mostly related to energy I’m intending to spoil my ballot this election.
However I always like the opportunity to make a fool of myself by hazarding a prediction of the results.
The main factor which I’m taking into account which I doubt many people in the “establishment” press and forecasters will appreciate is the role of social media. This effectively removes previous “barriers” to electioneering that prevented small parties from competing with the larger ones.
So, in the past, the election was seen as a competition between the main establishment parties are portrayed by establishment broadcasters like BBC focussed on UK-wide establishment interests. So big-parties, big media big campaigns.
However this time the small parties will be campaigning, not through huge glossy posters nor quiet chats to a few select journalists, but this time by personal contact between supporters and potential supporters online.
So, I think the key election battlefield in this election will be between “establishment” parties and new parties. So, basically if UKIP do well, so will the greens and so will SNP the Welsh nationalists and probably a host of small independent candidates which no one outside their local area has heard about.
This makes the UKIP vote particularly difficult to predict. Some establishment media already predicting up to 40 votes. I’ve assumed half this vote. But as the UK electoral system means a very small increase in percentage of votes can dramatically increase party support from 50-150. If it were near the 40 seat level, they might easily get over one hundred seats. And if that happened it would be at the expense of both Labour and Tory. If however UKIP are starting to get above 100, then as this is a “non-establishment” surge, we are likely to see Lab, Tory, Liberal doing very badly and other parties all surging.
The critical factor is the “facebook effect” – just how important will be those face to face contacts on social media compared to traditional media. Not only that, but will the internet allow small parties to focus national resources on a few seats and so deliver far more seats than would normally be possible when media was dominated by national tv & papers. There’s a lot going for smaller parties and not much against so the following could be a dramatic underestimate.
TORY 265 (245-275)
LAB 255 (245-265)
SNP 55 (45-55)
LibDem 25 (15-30)
UKIP 20 (10-40)
Green 10 (5-15)
You need 325 seats to form a majority. So, the only two parties are:
- Social media has dramatically brought down the cost of campaigning meaning that money is far less important than enthusiastic supporters. So I think all smaller parties will do better at expense of larger ones.
- UKIP in particular is a dark horse, because they’ve never stood at this level of support and because it doesn’t take a lot of extra support to go from 50-150 seats.
- SNP really can’t do much better than they are now, so they can only really go down.
- UKIP & Green being a new options at a time of “austerity” will benefit from the election coverage and are likely to do better as the campaign progresses.
- Libdems being old and being lumped with being “in power” will struggle.
- Also in the present climate and with new social media making it easier to campaign at the local level I think we’ll see local campaigns deliver a handful of independents around local issues.