Friday, May 01, 2009

Are we on course for another 1931?

The headline in the Daily Telegraph today says "Brown's lost it, say ministers - Prime Minister is heading for poll defeat on scale of John Major's, warn senior Cabinet figures". Some seem to fear an even bigger defeat.

Could we be on course for a landslide election like that of 1931? In that election the results were: National Government 556, Labour 52, Independent Liberals 4, Irish Nationalists 2, Independent 1. Or to put it in a bar chart:

I think it's a little fanciful that things could get this bad, but for much of the current Parliament I've been sceptical about all the polls, being scared they're too good to be true.

Still things could be even worse for Labour. In the 1993 Canadian election the governing party went from having a majority to winning a mere two constituencies.

And if that doesn't frighten Labour enough, the two surviving MPs comprised one new member and the party's deputy leader. Are Labour members prepared to cry "Hail Harman! Leader of all you survey; nothing!"?


James Burdett said...

I don't think it will be as bad as 1931, but I strongly suspect that on current trends that they will have fewer seats than in 1983. I wonder whether we are seeing the long term death throes of Labour as a major player in UK Politics?

Benjamin Gray said...

I would imagine that the LibDem "lovebombing" tactic might help this as well. Cameron and Clegg looked rather at-ease in each others' company, and that could translate into a more palatable tactical vote for those who oppose Labour but can't bring themselves to vote Tory.

Some on ConHome have mentioned it before, but there's a desire to see the LibDems replace Labour as the opposition party to the Tories. If that happened there could be some very interesting realignments. That however would depend on a post-defeat battle. If they go down the Foot route again they could witness their own utter destruction.

So I'd say that 1931 would be likely to occur not this GE, but at the next one. It would be helped if:

1. The LibDems retain a respectable presence, either as an opposition party or in coalition (probably the former for positioning reasons);
2. Labour implodes and lurches to the left.

Anonymous said...

Would it be a little too obvious to make a two horse race joke about that bar chart? I suppose if you compare it with 1935 you could say "Labour on the up here" etc.


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