April 2005 Forecast: Labour Majority Slashed, Gains for Tories  

UK-Elect Forecast, 10th April 2005. ((See also the latest UK-Elect forecast for the next General Election). For the first time, after some debate as to whether it should move slightly toward Labour, we have left the forecast unchanged from the previous one, which was on April 3rd. (Why? Because at this stage we are not convinced that there has been any significant new development that will affect the May 5th result.)  As with the March 20th forecast, the March 5th forecast and the Feb 2005 forecast it is again based on the new Scottish parliamentary boundaries, and intended to represent a realistic possibility for what will actually happen at the next General Election, although major events, e.g. wars or resignation of a party leader would of course affect the totals. Previous UK-Elect forecasts of this type, based on anticipated voting trends, as opposed to current opinion polls, have been quite accurate. Those before the 2001 election were within 2 seats for all major parties.

This forecast assumes a slightly higher Tory vote than previously.  This is due to a feeling that the Conservative election campaign is (despite some setbacks) slightly more efficient than previously anticipated (although some of the polls probably exaggerated their recovery). The Labour lead, however, still looks sufficient to protect their overall majority. This is helped by a bias in the electoral system so strong that Tony Blair could win an overall majority even if the Labour Party came third in the polls. See "What if the Tories overtook Labour in votes?" What if the Liberal Democrat vote surged?, What if the Labour vote slumped?, What if the Tories reach 40%?, What if Tactical Voting explodes? and What if main Parties get equal votes? See also maps showing the 2001 General Election.

The percentages used were Lab 36%, Con 33%, Lib Dem 22%, Nationalists 2.5%. (If you prefer to forecast using your own percentages, the current opinion polls, or with a lower/higher level of tactical voting, click here. Although if you believe in opinion polls too much, you probably need to see Opinion Polls: History, Theory and Practice or even Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists And if any of that is too heavy, you probably just need to have fun, in which case Prime Minister Forever is the obvious solution. Expect a review of this excellent General Election 2005 simulation game to appear on this site soon (if we're not too busy playing our review copy to write it!).

Also, if you would like to forecast the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly or your own local election, as well as the General Election, then click here.

The main change over the last year in our forecasts is a slow reduction in the anticipated total share of the vote won by the two main parties, especially the Labour Party,  and an increase (partly reversed) in the projected Liberal Democrat vote, coupled with an increasing belief that there is a significant possibility of anti-Labour tactical voting in some seats. This is in reaction to the after-effects (and continuing effects) of the Iraq War and a series of unpopular policies such as tuition fees. The combination of these and other factors, in our judgement, created enough anger in a small proportion of the electorate to persuade them to vote for anyone who can defeat the local Labour MP. In this election simulation we again assume that a maximum of 20% of people would be prepared to vote tactically against Labour in the right circumstances. This is a little higher than we have generally previously assumed before this year, but still within what we judge to be a realistic range (and it should also be emphasised that this figure is not the number that we think will vote tactically, simply those who would be prepared to do so if they lived in a constituency where the circumstances were right.)



Change from current situation  Change from adjusted current situation  Change from 2001 election
Labour 345 -65 -54 -67
Conservative 209 +48 +45 +43
Liberal Democrat 60 +5 +6 +8
Scottish National Party 7 +2 +3 +3
Ulster Unionist 6 - - -
DUP 5 -1 -1 -
Plaid Cymru 5 +1 +1 +1
Sinn Fein 4 - - -
SDLP 3 - - -
Ind 1 - - -
Speaker 1 - - -
Labour Majority 46 -117 -108 -121
Forecast for South West England Forecast for West Midlands  
Forecast for Wales Forecast for UK  
Forecast for London Forecast for UK (Equal Area)  

Click on image to enlarge

With every forecast until the General Election we will also feature the detailed forecast for one or more constituencies.

For April's First Featured Constituency Forecast we return to Dorset West:

Dorset West, Dorset [South West England Euro/PR Region]
Electorate 74016
[Simon Green], LDm 22371 46.77%
[Oliver Letwin], Con 21847 45.68%
[Richard Hyde], Lab 3605 7.53%
Total 47823 64.61%
LDm Majority 524 1.10%
Liberal Democrat Gain From Con. Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin loses his seat.
Swing from Conservative to Lib. Dem. of 1.97%
[] indicates party candidate at PREVIOUS election - actual 2005 candidate names not yet used for this forecast.

Note: This is an interesting example of a situation where the electoral simulation is affected by the tactical voting in an unexpected way. Oliver Letwin could actually narrowly expect to retain his seat on a completely uniform Conservative to Liberal Democrat swing of the amount specified, but because this particular simulation was set up both to factor in tactical voting in the relevant constituencies and also to compensate for it in the others (by adjusting their percentages as required in order to achieve the total GB target percentages specified) he is forecast to lose. Basically, after making a first forecast based on the various electoral factors, UK-Elect then counts up the results, compares them with the target GB percentages (Lab 36%, Con 33%, LDm 22%) and readjusts its forecasts in order to compensate for deviation from the overall targets.

Notes: A uniform percentage swing method was used, and the percentages were applied to GB constituencies only. The assumption was made that up to 20% of the electorate would be prepared to consider voting tactically against the Labour Party. The forecast base was the 2001 General Election constituency situation, adjusted to take account of the new Scottish parliamentary boundaries. No attempt was made to apply more accurate Scottish or Welsh poll percentages to the forecasting of constituencies in those areas (hence the forecasting of Nationalist gains or losses is likely to be less accurate). Results from Northern Ireland are based on those of the last election and included for completeness only. The "change from adjusted current situation" column represents the change from the  the current situation f the latest boundary changes are taken into consideration.

What if the Tories overtook Labour in votes?  What if the Liberal Democrat vote surged?  What if the Labour vote slumped?  What if the Tories reach 40%?  What if Tactical Voting explodes? What if main Parties get equal votes?




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