The next UK General Election is just around the corner in May 2015, and there will be much political to-ing and fro-ing over the next few months as the respective parties jostle for the favour of the public, and ultimately, for votes.
As novelty bets go, the General Election is a fun market to get involved in, but notoriously difficult to predict. Even the experts often call it wrong, but it’s interesting that in the past the bookies have generally been right more often than the opinion polls in the build up to the final count. Well, the bookies rarely get it wrong do they?
While most political observers are reluctant to stick their heads above the parapet and declare an opinion, investment firm, Goldman Sachs, has revealed it’s prediction that the Tories will win the election, and has even laid out the reasons why. Such bold predictions are hard to come by, particularly with the live TV debates yet to air.
The media can have a huge bearing on the result of elections, but the influence has shifted from the traditional press to social media in the current climate. In previous elections we’ve seen the huge influence that the press have had on public opinion and on the vote, with the Sun’s treatment of Neil Kinnock a prime example of the media laying the boot in and having a huge effect on the result. It was perhaps no surprise that in the aftermath of that result, Tony Blair et al set up ‘New Labour’ and cuddled up to the Rupert Murdoch-led media. The Sun changed it’s allegiance to support Blair, and Labour took the next three general elections.
That’s not to say that the papers can decide the result, far from it, but at that time they certainly had a huge influence. It’s been a similar situation of late with various papers such as the Sun and the Daily Mail doing their utmost to discredit Ed Miliband with a series of unflattering photographs and negative articles, but the UK public have become a little more wise to these playground tactics. That was ably demonstrated in the last election when the press attempted to lay into Nick Clegg on the morning of second TV debate – a move which spectacularly back-fired. Within hours a ‘fight the smears‘ campaign had been set up on Facebook, and Liberal Democrat supporters quickly exposed the newspaper stories as a smear campaign. That probably worked in Clegg’s favour, and allied with his performances in the live TV debates, saw a boost in his popularity.
Twitter and Facebook are the new battlegrounds for politicians, and the result of the General Election could easily depend on who plays social media the best.
The Next Government
So if we’re looking for some bets to place, one which catches the eye is for the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition to remain in place. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch of the imagination to suppose that no single party will earn an overall majority, and if we end up with a hung parliament again, surely the most likely coalition would be the one that already exists. Better the devil you know, as it were.
The Next Prime Minister
Equally, David Cameron looks a pretty good thing to remain as Prime Minister. It’s not that he’s particularly excelled in the role, nor that he is particularly popular either, but it’s more to do with the lack of credible opposition. The only party likely to oust the Conservatives from power would be Labour, but Ed Miliband simply doesn’t have the air of a leader about him, and even without the current press campaigns against him, he has little popularity and makes little appeal to the UK public. Labour’s troubles in the traditional Scottish heartland could also affect their vote, and Miliband hardly seems like a viable option.
He’s not out of it entirely, but in what is effectively a two-horse race, it probably pays to side with the favourite on this occasion.
The Party to Win Most Seats
This is another two-horse race between the Conservatives and Labour, and while Labour might have been a decent bet in most years, their dwindling support in Scotland could hand this one to the Tories. The rise of the Scottish National Party has taken a huge amount of support from labour, and this election could be a good one for the SNP.
On the other side of the coin, UKIP may have courted a good deal of the Conservative vote, but when push comes to shove how many of them will really ditch their allegiance to the Blue Party? Nigel Farage has been something of a ‘comedy figure’ in politics over the last few years, dining out on the UK Public’s general backlash against immigration, but it remains to be seen how much that will translate into votes and seats.
There’s a growing swell of opinion in the UK, that ‘none of the above’ should be an option, with more and more of the public becoming disillusioned with our politicians. The turnout for this year’s General Election could easily be one of the lowest on record, and with such apathy comes less potential for change. It wouldn’t be the biggest shock for everything to stay more-or-less as it is now.
UK General Election, May 2015
The Next Government:
The Next Prime Minister:
The Party to Win Most Seats:
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