Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I was right about the 2015 General Election results



Many of us got wrong what the results would be. Pollsters claimed that the Tories and Labour were neck and neck with the former slightly ahead of the latter. (This is to account for an often confirmed effect that Tories see a slight rise in support when voters are faced with making their vote on the day - can be a point or two in their favour.)

The big questions were - so which of the two main parties would be the biggest? And which party or parties might form a new coalition?

But then the election actually happened. Predictions that the SNP would do really well became a major landslide north of Hadrian's Wall. Expectations that the Liberal Democrats would do badly, but not catastrophically proved too optimistic. And the Tories won an outright majority to everyone's surprise.

So attention then turned to what happened. How could the polls be so wrong? I was interviewed by ABC News and said that there was a simple explanation. The answer is not that the voters misrepresented their intentions to pollsters, but that some voters turned out in greater numbers than others. The polls were probably right about the general public's views about the parties. The problem is that the general public does not have a 100% voting record. Who wins is determined by who votes and not by responses to opinion polls.

Tory voters were motivated to vote more than supporters of other parties. This can be explained by their worries about how many might turnout to support UKIP and allow Labour to win new seats. This can also be explained by the worry that Tory voters had that Labour and the SNP would join forces to put Ed Miliband in 10 Downing Street (no matter how often Labour and SNP officials denied any coalition would ever be agreed between them). Or so this was my gut instinct after speaking with voters across several constituencies and candidates over the last six weeks or so.

I might have been surprised by the result like just about everyone else. But I got the reason for the surprise result spot on.

This is now confirmed by Ipsos-Mori in what they're calling the 'Lazy Labour' voters: voters who supported Labour, but failed to turn up at the polls and actually vote for Labour.

It should not go without saying that if Labour was able to equal the Tories in getting their share of the vote out then we'd have something much closer to the expected result of coalition politics.

There is now a major leadership campaign on - not only for the Leader of the Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and its Deputy (as Harriet Harman indicated that she will step down soon, too), but we will also see new leadership in the House of Lords as Baroness Royal is stepping down as Labour's leader in the upper chamber. So much change is afoot.

It's essential that whatever team takes over in this time of fairly sudden and potentially intense change is not only able to provide direction for the Labour Party as a political organisation and progressive movement for change, but to better motivate support from voters in the centre ground. Choosing leaders that unite the party can still lose the national election if we can't improve our ability to motivate support from members and non-members alike for our progressive vision.

My interview on the general election can be viewed here - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-09/britains-tories-defy-polls-and-win-back-government/6457098 [VIDEO]

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