Thought for the day

The lowest vote share a party has taken in a general election and still held a majority is 38% – the Conservatives in 1923. Labour formed a minority government in 1929 on the back of 37.1% of the vote share; and a minority government again in February 1974 on the back of 37.2% of the vote. …35.3%, in 2005. Goodness, do I feel a bit silly for missing that one – thanks cim for spotting it.

It’s likely that whatever result we get on Thursday, we’re going to break that record; barring a sudden Conservative surge, a hypothetical narrow-majority government will have the lowest share of the electorate’s support any majority government has ever had. A minority Conservative government – if the Lib Dems pass up coalition – would quite possibly, again, have the lowest level of support recorded for a sole party in power.

Reassessing: on current polling, it’s likely the Conservatives will either form a majority government on slightly above the 2005 vote-share, or potentially a minority government – if a Lib-Lab coalition fails – on slightly below it. Not the best of omens for making sweeping changes, but it’s remarkable to see the dramatic difference – in seat numbers and in general perceptions of strength – between what the Conservatives would get with 36% tomorrow, and what Labout got with 36% half a decade ago.

4 thoughts on “Thought for the day”

  1. Are you sure? The figures I can find for Labour in 2005 say 36.1% got them a majority. Not that, on current polling figures, it’s certain that the Conservatives will do better than that.

  2. ….huh. I think I read the entry for 2001 twice over. Ooops. I shall amend accordingly.

    35.3% says the BBC; presumably the larger figure is counting Northern Ireland seperately.

  3. On UNS, then, with 36% of the non-NI vote, the Conservatives basically cannot get a majority no matter how the Lab/Lib vote splits unless there’s a massive boost for “Others”.

    On 38% there’s a very narrow range (assuming about 8% for others) in which Labour are too low to keep enough seats from the Conservatives, but the Lib Dems aren’t high enough to start taking too many off the other end, in which they can get a single-figure majority

    At 40% it gets pretty easy for them.

    Of course, just about every non-UNS prediction for the election has the Conservatives outperforming UNS, sometimes substantially, but it’s the UNS ones that are easily available for the public to play with, and generally quoted and used by journalists, so that probably contributes to the perception.

  4. Mmm. If the LDs took about five points off Labour, under UNS, it might just about work. But otherwise…

    I’ve been playing around with a modified form of UNS these past couple of days – uniform swing, but applied proportionally to vote share rather than as raw percentage points. I should really post something about it before it becomes entirely uninteresting!

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