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How Labour switching to the LDs helps the Tories

December 23rd, 2004

    Will Charles Kennedy put a smile on Michael Howard’s face

It’s said that Labour are going to campaign hard on the fact that if many of their supporters switch to the Lib Dems then the main beneficiary will be Michael Howard.

This is a tough one for Labour to get over particuarly as Charles Kennedy’s party will be seen to be pressing the Tories hard in such seats as Michael Howard’s Folkestone and all their rhetoric will be about them becoming the main party of opposition.

    But the mathematics are correct – the more Labour supporters who switch to the Lib Dems the more Tory MPs there will be.

In a post yesterday Sean Fear observed: “If you try out predictions on Martin Baxter’s site, and do a straight switch from Labour to Lib Dem, with Conservatives unchanged, you’ll find the Conservatives gain 3-4 seats from Labour for each one they lose to the Lib Dems. “ The Baxter calculation is a simple mathematical formula that shows how many seats the parties get if you apply different percentages to what happened in 2001. This is based on a uniform national swing.

Doing the Sean Fear number crunching we get the following:-

Conservatives remaining constant at their 2001 vote share level of 32.7%
LAB 38.3% share of votes – LDs 19% = CON 176: LAB 389: LD 52 seats
LAB 37.3% share of votes – LDs 20% = CON 183: LAB 381: LD 52 seats
LAB 36.3% share of votes – LDs 21% = CON 186: LAB 373: LD 57 seats
LAB 35.3% share of votes – LDs 22% = CON 191: LAB 367: LD 58 seats
LAB 34.3% share of votes – LDs 23% = CON 201: LAB 356: LD 58 seats

The last calculation throws up of 27 extra Tory gains from Labour in comparison with the first line off-set by two Lib Dem gains from the Tories. All the changes are from Labour including 2 to the SNP and one to PC.

There is a lot wrong with the idea of a uniform national swing and we do not think it will produce the whopping majority envisaged for barely a third of the vote. It does not take into account the outcome of special targeting, regional variations, seat-specific issues and Martin Baxter has not yet produced a formula that would account for tactical vote unwind – a feature that many commentators believe might happen.

But the broad trend is there. A standstill Tory party will benefit much more from LAB-LD switching than the Lib Dems themselves.

The spreadbetting markets, meanwhile are unchanged. IG have LAB 348-356: CON 190-198: LD 69-73

Mike Smithson






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