Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Hung Parliament that never was... [at least, not until later]

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Us old hands will remember the 1992 election, when almost all the polls pointed to a hung parliament, and even the network exit polls confirmed it. As the night wore on, the Tory projection increased, and the Conservatives were ultimately returned with an overall majority of 21, which, as it happened, proved insufficient to last through the parliament.

1992 is remembered now for being the "Waterloo of the Polls", and less for its real significance - the emergence of a strong anti-Tory bias in the electoral system, which has increased markedly since that date.

John Major's majority rested on just 1241 votes across 11 constituencies. Another 0.5% swing, and Labour probably would have forced a hung parliament.

Although virtually uncommented upon at the time, the electoral system had shifted dramatically in Labour's favour, and continued moving in the same direction at the two subsequent elections.
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The Problem...

I'll start with an article I wrote for PoliticalBetting back in 2006, which I think gives a good "at-a-glance" overview...

The relevant bits:

"Electoral System: The first graph has been compiled from Anthony Wells' data for the new constituency boundaries. For each percentage point the LibDems might reasonably score in the range 15-25%, the outcome of the Election has been calculated for plausible Conservative LEADS ranging from 0-11%. The concept of Swing implies that the difference between the main two parties is important while their absolute level of support is not. So we can represent three vote variables with only two dimensions.

A topical new blog....

This is a new blog on the prospect of a hung parliament at the next UK general election, which will be held before June 2010, and the consequences of such an outcome.

To avoid a hung parliament, the Conservative Party requires a larger swing and a larger turnover in seats than they have obtained at any general election since 1931.

The last hung parliament in the UK was in February 1974, and they also occurred in 1929, 1923 and twice in 1910. They were also narrowly avoided in 1992, October 1974, 1964, 1951 and 1950.

It looks quite likely that there will be another in 2010. There are good reasons for believing this, which we hope to explore here further....