The results of the polls are all in and, to the amazement of pretty much everyone, Cameron has not only seen off a challenge from Labour but also managed to obtain a majority, albeit a slim one. My predictions were way off the mark, although I can take some consolation in the company I keep – every poll in the run up to the election was also a poor prediction of the eventual result.
My prediction: 3-5 MPs
Actual result: 1 MP
Despite taking one in eight votes, UKIP only managed to get a solitary MP, which is one down on the number they had before the election.1 As far as I can tell, UKIP have the highest votes to MP ratio, which may cause them to campaign heavily for electoral reform. My prediction about Farage not winning the seat he was standing for proved to be correct, though I didn’t anticipate his resignation as leader of the party (oddly he says he might stand again in the forthcoming leadership election, so we may not have seen the last of him yet).
My prediction: 270-290 MPs
Actual result: 232 MPs
A shocking showing from the official opposition. Being almost wiped out in Scotland by the SNP was always a risk, but Labour failed to compensate with gains in England and Wales. Against a supposedly unpopular government overseeing controversial cuts to public spending, Labour should have been the largest party, even if they fell short of an overall majority. Miliband was quick to jump on his sword – presumably before someone would push him – but the party is now left bereft of any leadership. Many senior figures lost their seats, including the shadow chancellor Ed Balls. Why Labour lost so badly will be the talking point of columnists for the next few weeks, but I suspect a lot of voters looked at the possibility of a Labour/SNP coalition and decided to vote Conservative to block it.
My prediction: 260-280 MPs
Actual result: 331 MPs
The shock result of the night: not only did the party increase their representation at Westminster, they actually managed to secure a majority. This is just as well, as the rout of the Liberal Democrats left Cameron with few options for forming a coalition. Presumably the negative campaigning, with threats of Labour tax rises and a Miliband in the pocket of the SNP, together with a recovering economy, did the trick.
My prediction: 25-35 MPs
Actual result: 8 MPs
As the Chuckle Brothers would say: Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Calamity Clegg lived up to his name as he lead the party to one of their worst defeats since its formation. Shunted into fourth place by vote share and losing over 80% of their MPs, it couldn’t have been much worse for the party. Hundreds of candidates lost their deposits and the hammering was pretty evenly distributed. The only positive thing is that the only way from here is up (or obliteration, but I don’t think that’s likely). Clegg resigned, which gives remaining MPs a 1 in 7 chance of being elected leader, should they want to drink from the poisoned chalice.
Scottish National Party
My prediction: 45-55 MPs
Actual result: 56 MPs
I was only off by one, so I’m going to count this as a nearly-successful prediction. Victory for the SNP has created an odd situation though where we have a nationalist Scotland and a unionist ‘rest of the UK’. I don’t think another referendum is on the cards though, as the SNP have already been promised a large degree of fiscal autonomy, without the risks associated with full independence such as loss of currency and being ejected from the EU.
My prediction: 1 MP
Actual result: 1 MP
Retaining their single seat with an increased share of the vote, plus a huge increase in their nationwide vote share, was probably as good as the Greens could realistically have hoped for. They would have been entitled to far more seats if we had a more proportional form of representation.
So overall my predictions were pretty much a failure, with the exceptions of the Greens (spot on), SNP (nearly right) and Farage (lost as predicted). I wasn’t expecting a Conservative lead, never mind a majority, and this election will probably change the country for the worse. Increased surveillance, dismantling of human rights and withdrawal from the EU are all on the cards, and every single one of those policies will make the UK a worse place to live in.