Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Ten Predictions for Thursday's Elections

We often hear from left of centre commentators the argument that the Conservatives should be doing much better than they are in the polls. Admittedly they have been much quieter in recent weeks, but the argument still gets the odd outing by the less enlightened. I expect it to be ramped up a notch in volume on Friday. People need to consider that around 5.3 million people are voting in London, which equates to 22.4% of the electorate on Thursday. The mayoral and GLA electoral systems actively encourage people to vote for fringe parties (we may see a BNP member of the Assembly as a result). Couple this with the increased use of PR in Wales, Scotland and the Euro elections, and people are more regularly voting for the fringe parties. So I do not expect to see the Tories hit the dizzy heights of 45% as some of the more partisan Labour commentators are saying they must. Here are my ten predictions, for which you can hold me accountable!

1. Boris will win the London mayoralty by a margin of 3-5% on second preferences.
2. Brian Paddick will perform more strongly on first preferences than the polls predict
3. Ken Livingstone will blame his defeat firmly on Gordon Brown
4. The BNP will get a seat on the London Assembly
5. Nationally, the Conservatives will gain more than a hundred seats
6. The LibDems will emerge with a small net loss of councillors
7. National vote share (weighted to take account of areas without elections) will be Con 41, Lab 27, Lib 23
8. Conservatives will take Reading (possibly), Vale of Glamorgan (probably), North Tyneside (hopefully)and Bury (hopefully) and establish footholds in some northern councils, but lose Coventry
9. Gordon Brown will not hold a reshuffle until July
10. Most of these predictions will be wrong!

In some ways it is a complete fools errand making predictions like this, but I am rather fed up with political commentators and pundits who won't put their money where their mouths are. It's what they are paid to do. Even if you can't come up with a rationale for every prediction you can often feel things in your water. You also have to take into account the spin from the different parties and translate what they are saying. These seem to be the lines being put out by the parties at the moment...

Labour: The Tories need to make at least 200 gains if they are to have a chance of winning the election
Translation: We really think they're only going to win 100

LibDems: We expect to make advances on Thursday in our key target councils
Translation: We'll be lucky to hold on to what we've got and what we gain on the swings we'll lose on the roundabouts.

Conservatives: Our results were so good in 2004 that, while we expect to make some gains, we're realistic about what we will achieve on Thursday
Translation: Anything over 100 seats is a triumph and we're on the way to power.
Last year the Conservatives gained more than 1,000 council seats. At the beginning of the evening the BBC were using 600 gains as the criteria for success. During the evening this bar was raised every hour and if you listened to Labour politicians you'd have thought the Tories had done really badly to gain 1000 seats!

And then there's London. The mayoral election result will overshadow everything else. As I have said before, there are only two ways of interpreting this results. If Boris wins it's great for the Tories and terrible for Labour and if Ken wins, vice versa. A narrow defeat is just that, a defeat. I do hope we don't see a succession of politicians from all parties appearing on TV claiming that everything is a massive victory. In my experience owning up to the negatives is actually a rather refreshing thing to do. I don't expect it to happen, but if things go wrong on Thursday for the Party I support I hope you won't find me trying to spin my way out of it.

And now I'm off to Millbank to take part in the BBC Election programme dress rehearsal, where apparently I am going to play the role of George Osborne and Luke Akehurst transforms himself into John Reid. LibDem blogger Alix Mortimer has drawn the short straw. She has to cut off all her hair and be Vince Cable.

Anyway, let's have your own predictions in the comments.


Anonymous said...

"increased use of PR in Wales"


Anonymous said...

Iain Dale: Anything over 100 seats is a triumph and we're on the way to power.

Translation: I don't think the Tories can win much more than 100 seats at best

Anonymous said...

the lib dems are stormin to victory, tbh

Inspector Morse said...

Are you in reality that man who does amazing mind tricks on TV? Your predictions are so spookily (is there such a word?) in keeping with my own, that I fear the moral "Fools seldom differ" may be appropriate.

What a difference a (one more) day makes.

Guido Fawkes said...

Only London matters. Boris!

Anonymous said...

Most of these are, in my view, highly likely. I think however Reading will go to NOC from Labour rather than a straight Tory gain.

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, you say we won't catch you out trying to spin your way out of the truth.

You already have ! I offer this proof :

"10. Most of these predictions will be wrong!"

Alan Douglas

Christian May said...

You're quite right Iain; what many left wing 'commentators' will conveniently forget is that we already have more councillors than Labour and the LibDems combined - making a spectacular victory unlikely. The bottom line is that even if we win London the pundits will complain that the margin was too small. Even if we win another 200 seats, they'll claim we should have won 250.

Patrick said...

I predict a slow death.

Labour will do just not badly enough to precipitate anything dramatic in Westminster. The Conservatives will do just not well enough to build from into a general election. The Libdems will do just well enough to hang around.

We'll all get two more years of Brown and his cabinet of pygmies slowly ruining the country.

Anonymous said...

I'm not as confident about Boris winning London as you are Iain. Something tells me Ken may wing it.

I hope I'm proven wrong.

Tim Hedges said...

I think it's all about turnout and Labour won't get their vote out. Boris to win and Tories to gain 125+

Anonymous said...

Labour meltdown.

I enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

Anonymous said...

I do wish you had pointed out to Rory Bremner when he questioned if Boris could handle a London bombing, that on July 7th 2005 Ken was in Singapore, Blair was at Gleneagles and so were half the MET plod. Makes you think that sometimes it's better for the Politicians to be well out of it.

Rory Bremner meets Mrs. Dale

Blackacre said...

Good for you for sticking your neck out and you will probably be as right as anyone. I think, though, that you are wrong about the mayor and Boris will lose albeit not badly, but as you say a loss is a loss. That, though, will be a personal vote for Ken who is quasi independent of Labour and the Labour result elsewhere will be poor.

Anonymous said...

Reading to no-overall control without any doubt. Conservative control not possible with the elections by thirds this year.

Anonymous said...

If two of your predictiosn could be wrong, Iain, let's hope they are 4 and 10.

Laurence Boyce said...

My predictions are:

1. Boris will be Mayor.
2. Lib Dems will claim that Brian would have stormed to victory if only everyone had properly understood the voting system.
3. Lib Dems will retain Cambridge (not difficult).

Baldwin said...

I think your predictions are OK but we will see.

As you suggest, much of the BBC seems to be nervy about Tory progress and play it down as inadequate.

Yesterday, Newsnight's Emily Maitlis got quite ratty and flustered with amiable Eric Pickles. Her main objection was that his target is around 100 seats, surely a reasonable figure.

Richard said...

I'm not convinced that Boris will triumph - I think that the publication of these pro-Tory polls is more than likely going to mobilise the anti-Tory voters to turn out and vote en masse tomorrow. Waking the sleeping tiger springs to mind.

The rest of your predictions seem about right - although I fear the Tories will lose control of Purbeck District Council down here in Dorset, which was ranked by The Telegraph as one of the Lib Dems' top 5 target councils in 2008.

I would expect Brown to make a reshuffle between now and the summer recess - either straight after the local election results to stave off the inevitable questions over his leadership, or perhaps towards the end of June to mark his first year anniversary as PM.

My money is on the abolition of the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh Offices, and the creation of the Secretary of State for the Nations post. Perhaps that will go to Paul Murphy?

I would also put a little money on Jim Knight, Caroline Flint and Jim Murphy all joining the Cabinet before the end of Labour's term of office. The door is likely to hit Shaun Woodward and perhaps even uber-Blairite (and perceived rebel) John Hutton on their way out of Gordon's inner circle.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

A Radio 4 interview?
Well done - may I ask when they asked you on the programme?

Only "The World at One" contained a particularly anti-Boris piece from the BBC's london political editor.

Scipio said...

My only prediction is that this will be billed as a 'bad night for Labour' by the medja, who I think have collectively decided it's time for Gordon to go, and that Cameron is now the flava o' da month!

I also think that most of your predictions are about right actually.

PS -word verification behaving itself today! For once!

Anonymous said...

If Boris wins it just shows how desparate people are to register their displeasure with Brown.

Boris is a twat but Livingston and Brown are bigger twats. What a sad stage of affairs that these are the people we have to vote for in the main parties. Vote independent and stuff the main parties that take you for granted.

Madasafish said...

Enjoyed listening to you on R4 with Michael White.

Full marks for stating your case clealry and concisely

cymrumark said...

Labour to lose caerphilly, Neath and Newport in Wales with at least 70 losses across Wales. Libs to gain control of Cardiff..

Niether know nor care about London but the battle for Llandudno Town council looks close...

asquith said...

Johann Hari's onslaught against Boris Johnson in The Independent was excellent. But he shouldn't have endorsed Leavingsoon, he should have endorsed Paddick, whom he in fact didn't deign to mention at all! Shocking!

Anonymous said...

The problem last year was that half the results weren't declared until Friday. Labour are ruining a fine British tradition: election night.

Because the outlets needed a narrative for the morning's headlines, they could only take a small part of the picture. It just so happened that what Tory disappointments there were (failing to gain overall control of Bury, not getting any councillors in Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle), were declared first so the media narrative was "Tories fail to make breakthrough".

That and the BBC is biased and was happy to spin Labour's line that 1000 gains was a bit so-so.

Anonymous said...

Here are some predictions for Wales by the BBC's Vaughan Roderick.

"In the case of the number of seats I predict that the Conservatives will be the big winners tomorrow. This is pretty much a sure thing because of the substantial increase in the party's number of candidates especially in areas such as Pembrokeshire and Powys. There is no doubt in my mind either that the Conservatives will win a majority in the Vale of Glamorgan."

Anonymous said...

Richard @ 5pm - hefty polling in favour of Labour in 96/7 mobilised Labour votes and depressed Tories, why would it be different today?

I'm not going to stick my neck out and predict which way the London vote will go, I just know that Labour and the LibDems have found it difficult to get workers to promote their Parties, so Boris has a good chance.

Oscar Miller said...

Josh is absolutely right. Last year I got exasperated how every BBC interview on the Conservative victories started by saying they hadn't broken through to 40% - even though when all the votes were counted it was clear they had. The BBC still remained adamant they hadn't. This year - surprise surprise - the BBC is suddenly happy to declare that the Tories got 40% last year and must do 'substantially' better than that this year. So if the Conservatives get 40% this time - the BBC (et al) will pretend this is some kind of failure. And if Labour manage to hang on to their abysmal 27% - this will be hailed as some kind of achievement for Brown. It really is a ridiculous game.

Bill Quango MP said...

I think Obama will get most protest, student and time for change votes but Hillary will win on second preference, going for experience, spending and ethnic minority votes.

Anonymous said...

I predict 150+ and would not at all be surprised if it was far more.

I predict Boris winning by an amount not foreseen by even the most optimistic of Conservative activists.

The Lib/Dems should go away with their tails between their legs, but of course will not, because no political Party ever does, whatever result they get.

I predict these results will make no difference whatsoever to who is leading the Labour Party or the Lib/Dems, anytime soon if ever before a 2010 election. Still less have any affect on government policy.

In short extremely good for the Conservative Party and its leader, but no cigar. Not that Cameron could smoke it anywhere, even if he ended up with one.


Anonymous said...

The expectations game dictates the Tories need to win 40% or more of the vote if the press is to declare them the winner of the elections.
They will do because Conservative voters are enthusiastic because they sense victory and can see a chance to put Gordon Brown on his backfoot for good. Labour's continuing disarray can only dispirit Labour voters and so depress Labour turnout. Tories win the turnout game and, therefore, win between 125 and 150 council seats.
If Labour loses the by-election in Crewe and Nantwich (to either the Tories or the LibDems), then the reshuffle occurs by mid-June.

Anonymous said...

from Sea Shanty Irish:

Excellent post, Iain, with reasonable predictions.

Esp. like #10 (your tenth prediction, that is)! But think you might lose that particular bet.

Anonymous said...

Ken Livingstone will keep his job, but by the tiniest of margins. 1%.

In the locals, Conservatives will win 160+ seats.

Brown will declare tractor production up.

Anonymous said...

One last thing... as is traditional, I will be downing a fine bottle of Pommery. Whatever happens, I end up happy.

Anonymous said...

"Niether know nor care about London but the battle for Llandudno Town council looks close..."

And the whole world is watching with bated breath.

Anonymous said...

Leninslime is going to win. Boris hasn't got a chance; Leninslime's creepy Islamist supporters are going to steal the election through the medium of postal votes. Even worse, the BNP are going to pick up the votes of the disaffected white working class.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the results it don't matter a damn...bureaucrappers will continue to lead us down suicide alley. The UK needs,as they say, a 'complete makeover' but I fear our shelf-life has expired...Pule Brittania.

Luke Akehurst said...

You never told me I'd have to dress up as Tessa Jowell for the rehearsals. It was so embarrassing!

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

Boris 42% with the BBC banging on all day and all night about the high number of BNP second preference votes that he gained, not being able to recognise a protest vote even as it hangs them and their nu-lab clown bedfellows to the nearest lamp post.

Anonymous said...

As above, but to be more specific: eurobureaucrappers.

Gregg said...

QUOTE: "Boris will win the London mayoralty by a margin of 3-5% on second preferences."

You could be right. I therefore present five (5) positive outcomes if Boris "BoJo" Johnson wins the Mayoralty:-

1) House prices outside of London will increase rapidly as people migrate en masse from the metropolis.

2) BoZo's calamatous cock-ups and corruption will ensure Cameron loses the next general election.

3) BoDoh's bumbling response to any future terrorist incident, whilst at first embarrassing and upsetting, will soon appear comical, and Londoners will be united in their time of need by their contempt for this useless fop.

4) The massive destruction wrought by the second Great Fire, after SloBo presides over swingeing cuts to the fire service, will allow the next Mayor to embark on a massive programme of public works, so that London will be completely transformed by 2020, a city of skyscraping wonders, ready to serve as the planet's capital in the C21st as New York did in the C20th.

5) Ken Livingstone will be a shoe-in for a celebrity cameo in the next series of Doctor Who.

Anonymous said...

How on earth are the BBC going to fill 7 hours of Election Special tonight?

Only half the councils are declaring and these exclude London. All the results will be in by about 2-3am. What will they talk about until 6am?

Anonymous said...

Iain, as a fond follower of the Welsh Tories you will be pleased to know that in Cardiff we are looking like defeating both the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour group and forcing Labour into 3rd place.

Unfortunately there are few direct Tory/LibDem marginal wards in Cardiff and the LibDems will stay in office, losing 3 seats to the Conservatives but picking some up from Labour.

Cardiff North, the No. 18 Top Tory Target, will see Labour routed and Conservatives hold 15 of its 21 seats. Independent Conservatives will hold their 2.

Cardiff Result Pred:
CON 24/75 - up from 10/75.
LAB 13/75 - down from 27/75
LD 32/75 - down from 33/75
PC 4/75 - up from 3/75
Ind 2/75 - hold steady

Chris Paul said...

You have missed out:

11. Tories will be in terrible hot water after their Manchester Whalley Range candidate and his acolytes bats for Hizb_ut-Tahrir leaflets and adopts sub-continent/Zimbabwe bully boy tactics. The Caliphate endorsed by Cameron's Conservatives? Fancy that.

12. Despite above Labour should gain Whalley Range (LD) and Hulme (from Greens) with solid chances of good progress in Longsight, City Centre, Gorton North and South (all LD). Tory/Lib Dem attacks on Chorlton and Northenden will be repulsed. Closest seat will be Newton Heath and Miles Platting where the BNP again appear to be colluding with the LD pretender who has a record of candidature for Labour until dumped out for fraud, as Independent (with NF-related sidekick), UKIP (quickly disowned) and now Lib Dem.

13. Unluckiest of all for Lib Dems will be Liverpool where they have held sway for 10 bewildering years. Current leadership face 26 counts of breaches of the Code of Conduct. And also a loss of 11 seats to see an outright Labour administration or 6 or 7 for NOC and the beginning of the end for the end of the pierhead comedy act.

Chris Paul said...

PS Pickles is Cameron's Prescott, discuss.

Janice Small said...

Narrow win for Boris
Tories increase seats by 120

After John Humphreys's disgraceful interview with Cameron the other day and the subsequent election broadcast by Brown yesterday, the BBC are doing their best to shore up Labour. We really must get to grips with this monolithic dinosaur when we regain power.

janestheone said...

Reading Lab to NOC. Con gain at least 4 from Lab, 1 from LD, LD gain 2 from Lab, including Katesgrove, represented by current leader of council David Sutton. vg. Bottle of something sparkling already chilling in fridge.

Anonymous said...

I fear you might be right on the BNP prediction. They were so close last time. I just hope however that we are both wrong.

If they do win a seat, it will become a BIG story.

Alex said...

"Con 41, Lab 27, Lib 23"

Way off I am afraid