There has been so much talk of hung Parliaments and small Tory majorities that it is refreshing to hear a contrary prediction.
For example, a Conservative landslide victory.
You’ll have heard of Mike Smithson, founder of Politicalbetting.com, one of the most popular blogs of its kind in cyberspace. His son Rob, a former Goldman Sachs banker (who is also involved in politicalbetting.com) runs a company, Resolver Systems, specialising in sophisticated spreadsheets for business clients.
He has come up with an election modelling system which – he believes – is more accurate than some of its existing rivals.
Instead of applying a national swing to all 646 Westminster seats universally, the model is based on more local data.
“If you go back to the 1950s you could do simple two-way swing analysis because the Conservatives and Labour had 95 per cent of the vote,” says Smithson. “Now the two parties have 65 per cent that makes traditional forecasting pretty inaccurate.”
For example, simply inputting a 10 per cent swing towards the Tories makes no sense in seats such as Richmond (which is overwhelmingly blue) or North Cornwall (which has Labour support of less than 10 per cent).
Key to the model is information – sourced regularly by ICM – on how people voted in 2005 and how they plan to vote this time. Also: how many people will stay at home.
More than 80 per cent of those who backed the Tories plan to do so again next year. But only about 65 per cent of former Labour voters seem likely to return to the red fold. More former Labour voters will turn to the Tories than to the Lib Dems.
In other words, much of the anti-Tory tactical voting of a decade ago will disappear.
The result for Labour is grim, according to the Smithson forecast. His modelling is almost equally bad for the Lib Dems because it shows the Tories seizing large numbers of previous yellow seats.
If you feed a typical recent opinion poll (Tories 38 per cent, Labour 28 per cent, Lib Dems 21 per cent) into www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/ you get a Tory majority of 80 (320 seats to 240) while the Lib Dems keep 59 seats.
If you put the same data into Smithson’s model you come up with a majority of 98.
It shows the Tories at 375 (up 161), Labour at 216 (down 128) and Lib Dems at 31 (down 32).
This isn’t so incredible when you think that New Labour’s 12 per cent lead in 1997 translated into a majority of 175.
Here is one of his examples:
“Under the traditional models a seat like Finchley & Golders Green stays Labour. Under my model, the large number of Liberal Democrat voters moving to vote Conservative, combined with many Labour voters choosing to stay home, turns the seat blue with a 5,000 majority.”
I’m not saying that Smithson has the answer. But this is food for thought.
It is not inconsistent with the verdict of Ladbrokes, which has its lowest odds (4:1) on Labour getting a meagre 200 to 224 seats at the next general election. (By contrast, optimists can get 15:1 on Labour winning 250-274 seats)
Here is the website where you can download their spreadsheet and check out your local constituency: it is
You can change any of the variables to take account of different levels of national support or entrenched “incumbent bias” (the fact that the sitting MP tends to get a reasonable fair wind – or did before the expenses scandal).
Smithson was convinced that the Tories will walk Norwich North. I’ve wagered him £3 (at 15:1) as a remote flyer on the basis that no one seems to know how the by-election will turn out. I’m guessing the Conservatives will win, but I think talk of a mega-majority could be misplaced.