Consider what a few days can do to the expected seat results. This is from the market:
Quite simply, Labour gained 35 seats over where they were generally expected to be for the whole time from Duffy to the Tooting Declaration. They took 15 of these seats from a Conservative total that was expected to be 324 or so, and 20 from the Liberal Democrats.*
Amazingly (at time of writing) the two parties who are most miserable with this result look like being the ones deciding the next government. I am finding the spinning around this issue fascinating to observe. The Times would like it and call Cameron’s opening bid ‘surprisingly generous’. The Telegraph sees accepting Cameron as a ‘no brainer‘. (the pleasant Doug Murray thinks the Conservatives would have been better off with a more right wing campaign. Heffer obviously agrees, but intriguingly urges the Conservatives to consider some sort of electoral reform!)
Whereas Jackie Ashley also thinks Nick Clegg faces a no-brainer. LeftFootForward is scooping up as much evidence as possible that the delivery of PR is a red line issue for LibDem activists. And this tweet from CrippledEagle is a sign of how contorted are the attempts to produce a rainbow coalition of anti-Tories. A poll on the Guardian – you’d never guess – urges Clegg to hug Brown close by 80:20 at time of writing.
Will Hutton, whom I rate v high, says the Lib Dems ‘have GOT to ask for more’ from the Tories, and wonder if a referendum on PR may be offered. And Alex Barker wonders if the Cameron offer is a mousetrap:
hen the Lib Dems sit down to some serious talks on a coalition, Cameron will just accuse them of being difficult in order to strengthen his case for going it alone. The electoral reform concession was described to me by one Lib Dem as “total, unadulterated cynicism”. If Cam is serious, he’ll have a job on his hands winning the trust of these Lib Dems MPs, let alone the beardies in the party.
I don’t quite agree with Conway of the Telegraph: is there really such a fearful rush to have this sorted by Monday? He doesnt’t really explain why the gyrations of sterling are so important nowadays. We borrow in our own currency, mostly, don’t have a big external funding issue, and so on
*How? First, by having an overall vote share about 2% higher than expected, with the LD vote share that much lower. But looking more closely: by having their strength brilliantly channelled to where it matters. To construct the result I need, I found that Labour had to suffer no swing to the LibDems in seats where Labour were fighting off the Tories. As Bill and others have pointed out on this blog, Labour are very effective at getting Lib Dem votes to turn into Labour ones where the Tories are threatening Labour.
I found that a 7pc swing to the Tories in Labour-Cons seats produces last night’s result. But if the Labour vote had slipped towards the Lib Dems by 2% as well, this would have produced a Tory Majority. This was not reciprocated. See Romsey, for example. So, in brief, the LibDems suffered not only a shock loss of 3-4% of the vote, but had a miserable time trying to husband it in the right place.