Monday, 14 March 2011

Is Britain coming back to a series of two party states?

In the distant history of the United Kingdom, governments usually only had one opposition. In the 19th century it was the Whigs being opposed by the Radicals (or vice versa) and for the majority of the 20th century it was the Conservatives being opposed by Labour (or vice versa). It's only been since 1997 (and the complete collapse of the Conservative vote in that election) that Britain can be described as a three party state, however following the formation of the coalition and the collapse in the Lib Dem vote since then, people have suggested that Britain may be heading back to it's natural two party state (and that process could happen as soon as May!)

A new Scottish poll published in the Scottish Mail on Sunday puts Labour 6% ahead of the SNP on the constituency vote and 7% ahead on the regional vote. This (when run through the calculator on Scotland suggests 62 Lab MSP's, 50 SNP, 11 Con, 5 Lib Dem and 1 Ind. Similarly the poll a few days ago from Wales suggested 35 Lab AM's, 12 Con, 11 Plaid and 2 Lib Dem with Labour on the verge of 50% of the constituency vote.

Scotland has 129 MSP's (of which 112 are from the top two parties), Wales has 60 AM's (of which 35 belong to the main party). If that is the result on election night, then whilst the state of democracy in Scotland should be applauded (for having two parties so close), the lack of opposition in Wales might be of concern.

Full Details (Scotland)
Constituency: Lab 43%, SNP 37%, Con 11%, Lib Dem 5%, SSP 2%, Green 1%
Forecasts: Lab 49 seats, SNP 22 seats, Con 1 seat, Lib Dem 1 seat
Regionals: Lab 44%, SNP 37%, Con 11%, Lib Dem 4%, Green 2%, SSP 1%
Forecasts: SNP 28 seats, Lab 13 seats, Con 10 seats, Lib Dem 4 seats, Ind 1 seat
The poll was conducted for the Scottish Mail on Sunday and the full figures can be found on UK Polling Report.


  1. I think there's a problem with the poll. The constituencies results say that the Greens are on 1%, but they only stand in the regionals.

    Regarding the election, from a political/democratic point of view, I'm not very optimistic about how widely represented the Parliament will be. The SNP and Labour will have the vast majority of seats again, but depending on what the electorate think about the coalition we could see both the LD's and the Tories with pretty big losses, which wouldn't be a good thing for the Parliament.

    I do think that the Greens will increase their seat numbers though, and depending on the type of campaign and manifesto the Tories run with, they could also get a few more. But whatever the case, the LD's will be the big losers.

  2. I don't necessarily think it's early enough to draw any long-term trends. In close elections - and this is one, people do tend to homogenise towards the competitors for the top spot - indeed this is what happened in 2007. Plus the Scottish parliament is still young, and had, for the Scots, the relatively fun and funky new system of AMS. When electoral systems change there is often a temptation to start using them to vote in new ways before old patterns re-establish themselves.

  3. Looking at that poll ,I would say it's bye bye Rainbow Parliament,its a fight to the death(ok its only an election ,but you get my drift),between the Nats and the Labour Party,the Lib Dems are in for a squeeze of quite massive proportions,maybe the Barnsley result will be looked on in years to come,with the same knowledge as Donald Dewars victory at Garsgadden in 77?,or Winnie Ewings at Hamilton in 67,imo Barnsley is the death knell of the Lib Dems,it's hello National Liberals and coupon candidates.