Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ask An Adult: Who Will Win The General Election?

The Debrief: Will Russell Brand affect the votes? How likely is it that Nigel Farage will be the Prime Minister? We grill an expert.

Illustration by Assa Ariyoshi

It’s 100 days until the election – but how likely is it that we'll have UKIP Prime Minister? REALLY? Does The Green Party have any chance? Will David Cameron go away forever so we never have to look at his Camerony face again? Before the gloves come off, the propaganda starts, and the leaders of the battling parties all appear on TV having American-style debates, I wanted to ask a polling expert who will actually win the election.

No, I don’t know shitloads about politics, but I also don’t (or can’t) believe that they’re all dicks and we should be non-voting for anarchy a la Russell Brand – what about the Green Party, for example? Or Nigel Farage (JOKE)? – so I chatted to pollster extraordinaire Nick Moon, head of Social Research at market research company GFK, who have been predicting and polling the general elections since 1979, in an attempt to figure out how this year is going to swing. 

We won’t have a UKIP government 

Regardless of the scare-mongering, and the fact that Nigel Farage has been on Gogglebox, UKIP won’t be leading the country this year. ‘That’s one thing I can pretty much guarantee,’ he laughs. ‘UKIP will probably win two, three or four seats, probably from the Tories losing seats and them taking votes away from them. In the coming months, you will see a lot of, “Vote UKIP and you’ll get a Labour government!” scare-mongering from the Tories.’ Basically, thanks to our voting system, there are a shitload of safe Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem seats in parliament, which means that voting for the minority parties might equal votes – but it won’t mean equal seats. And seats equal the real power.

We won’t have a Green Party government

Similarly, the Green Party can’t get into power thanks to the safe seats, but they could work to take votes from Labour. ‘A green vote could result in Liberals or Labour losing seats – they’ll probably get between zero and two actual seats in Parliament,’ says Nick. If you’re currently crying and wondering what the point of everything is – votes are still important, and voting for the party you want to see rule the country is still a good idea. To understand why, let’s move on to... 

We will almost definitely not have just one government

When Dave and Nick got married in a rose garden back in 2010, they passed an act that has made things more difficult for one party to rule them all. ‘No party will be able to form a government on their own, we’re going to have to get used to coalitions. Or even potentially a minority government,’ Nick (Moon, not Clegg) predicts. ‘We can rule out another Conservative – Lib Dem coalition, and a National Party was floated at a conference recently [this is where the Tories and Labour would join, like in Germany], but two hacks from the Labour and Tory parties said this is impossible with the current leaders – the hatred is too strong. Miliband and Cameron couldn’t work together.’

So where does that leave us? Either the main parties would try to form a coalition with one of the lesser parties – like what happened last time with Clegg – or they’d form a minority government. Votes do count when it comes to a coalition, so even if a party doesn’t have loads of seats – if they can demonstrate that, say, ten million people voted for them, it puts them in a stronger position for power. And also, it hits home the fact that our current voting system is a load of balls. ‘The number of millions of votes a party gets is a sign of the level of support – and currently it’s hard, because unless you're in a marginal seat, it’s kind of hard to influence the voting,’ Nick says. ‘If you’re getting, say, 15% of the votes and not getting seats, then that reignites the debate about proportional representation.’ FYI – PR is an alternative voting system, which would allow for a more even spread of seats in Parliament – as the votes are more representative of the seats. The downside? You’re far more likely to find yourself with a coalition government made up of several different parties. 

A minority government is possible

This is where one government rules, and the parties either agree with their legislation or disagree, but if everyone disagrees  then either another leader in the same party gives it a go, or the next most powerful party has a bash. If that doesn’t work, then another general election is called – which isn't a great idea. ‘I think the Tories are hoping to form a minority government. Half of people think it’s quite likely that a general election will be called, and half reckon nobody wants two elections in a year because they can’t afford it, so the parties will all avoid this where possible. I reckon Labour are hoping for a minority government if the Tories get enough votes, because if they’re voted down then the next biggest Party will step in. Which is them.’

Russell Brand probably won’t influence the polls

For all his calls of anarchy and revolution, people are a bit reticent to throw in the towel and have absolutely no government for a bit while we all decide what to replace it with. ‘With Russell Brand, he’s appealing to and reaching out to a group of people who wouldn’t be voting anyway – young people just don’t vote, which is why governments ply so much money into benefits for pensioners, because they do vote – so his actual influence is peripheral,’ says Nick. ‘He is, however, performing a valuable role getting a different kind of debate going, and having people think outside the usual box.’

The Tories will probably get the most votes

When I asked Nick who he would pick to win if I told him he had to pick or he’d die, he went for Dave C. ‘I would say the Conservatives will be the largest single party, whether they form a  government that will last is another thing,’ he says. ‘There’s plenty of time for it to change massively between now and then – if Labour goes from being truly appalling in Scotland to halfway decent, then they could take back a lot of the gain the SNP have made, and could become the largest single party.’

Well there we go! Anyone else got a massive urge to lie flat on their back and smoke a joint right now? Me neither, because it’s illegal. 

To register to vote, go to gov.uk/register-to-vote

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Tags: Ask An Adult