How David Cameron can win a majority in 2016
Yes, you read the headline correctly. 2016. Even though the next General Election is a year before, in 2015.
Most political experts think the outcome of that election is incredibly hard to predict. The legendary psephologist Sir David Butler, who has been analysing elections since 1945, told me last week that he thought the 2015 poll was one of the hardest to forecast that he’d ever known.
Many observers think it is quite likely that the Conservatives may well win the most votes, but still not get enough seats to form a majority Government on their own. Indeed many believe a result similar to 2010 is quite likely – with David Cameron perhaps 20 seats short of a majority, though with the Lib Dems winning fewer seats and Labour rather more.
That would probably mean another Con-Lib Coalition, but perhaps only for a few months. Eight months before the May 2015 General Election, we’ll have the referendum on whether Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Polls at the moment suggest independence will be rejected, but the SNP leader Alex Salmond is a brilliant campaigner and could still achieve a Yes vote next September.
Alex Salmond hopes Scotland will leave the union very quickly after that, and is planning for a Scotland Independence Day in March 2016. Some people say that’s unrealistic and that it will take many years for Scotland to negotiate its way out of the United Kingdom and all its intricacies, and certainly Labour has good political reasons for wanting to delay the exit as long as possible.
David Cameron and the Conservatives, in contrast, might react to Yes vote very differently. Although the Tories pride themselves on being the most unionist party, they may well feel that once Scots have plumped for independence they may as well give Alex Salmond what he wants. Not least because it would mean 59 fewer MPs at Westminister, only one of whom is a Conservative. Suddenly, Labour and the other parties would lose 58 seats, but the Tories their solitary one.
From being 20 votes short of a Parliamentary majority, David Cameron would instantly find himself with a majority of about 20, free of the shakles of living with the Liberal Democrats. One can’t help feeling that, despite their strong unionist position publicly, privately some Conservatives might not be too distressed if Scotland was to leave the United Kingdom. Not least because it would make it a lot harder for Labour to win a Westminster majority ever gain.