Sunday 7 June 2009

Expectations, expectations

PoliticsHome has an expert panel, including MPs, journalists and people like me, so we can all benefit from the wisdom of politico-crowds, or groupthink as the case may be.

Nationally, Labour could come third, fourth - or even second. Indeed, the margins between 2nd and 4th might be just a few points. (The opinion polls for European elections are not particularly reliable because, as a "second order national election", voters may not take what is at stake anything like as seriously as MEPs and candidates might wish, and they vary a great deal).

Second would, however absurdly, now seem an unlikely triumph which would stop the faltering coup plot dead.

Fourth, which is quite possible, might yet bring it back to life a bit - especially if the BNP also gains a seat or two.

But what about third?

I think it would be rather better for Gordon Brown if Labour finished third behind UKIP, but ahead of the LibDems, rather than third behind the LibDems but ahead of UKIP, or of course fourth behind both.

A stronger UKIP performance would strengthen the claim that this was an exceptional election - primarily about anger at the 'establishment' parties. The LibDems faltering too would seem to substantiate that, while Ukip might also worry the Tories.

It would also, as in 2004, highlight the limits to reading across from the European elections. Differential turnout means that keen "get us out" Eurosceptics (who make up perhaps 30% of the electorate, as a very rough rule-of-thumb) are more likely to turn out, and so have a greater presence than in higher turnout national elections. There is no comparable strongly motivated Europhile vote, though the electorate is still likely to be more "in" than "out" if the question is put seriously on the agenda.

The Greens will also hope to do well.

Fifth and all bets really would be off.

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