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April 20, 2010


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Another reason to consider the LibDem surge real: A key problem with voting LibDem (or for any third party) for most people is that our vote is wasted in the UK's first-past-the-post system. It only makes sense to vote LibDem if you know that enough other people in your constituency are also going to vote LibDem.

Because Clegg performed well in the first debate, more people were inclined to support him. Knowing that lots of other people are likely to support him, means that for any one of us, our vote for a LibDem candidate may not be wasted. Therefore, the "likely support" that most people have will more readily turn into "actual support".

This is a classic problem of co-ordination of joint action, something the game theory folks have studied. IMHO, much of advertising serves the same function - alerting potential customers to what other customers are thinking and doing, so that they can all co-ordinate their actions. No one wants to choose the product which nobody else chooses, after all. See this blog post of mine here:



Very good way of putting it.


If the result of the election is that an unelected (by party or nation) Labour politician is prime minister there'll be apoplexy. I think Clegg knows that and I think the Labour big beasts know it. I think a Lib-Lab pact can only work with Clegg as PM.

You have coalition government while they put through a reform bill and referendum. Then Labour get a new leader in time to champion the referendum. Then once the act is passed, Clegg calls another general election. At that point so much will have changed that it's not so much idle fantasizing as the creation of whole worlds so I'll stop there.

But my first point still stands. Any result which does not have Labour as the biggest party by seats and by votes will not lead to a Labour PM. If they need other people then Brown has to go. If Brown goes then they have to have a genuine leadership election.


like it or not ppl vote for leaders of the parties to be a PM, hence the stink about unelected Brown. If Labour gets to form a government it will hardly make any sense that it will be led by another, i.e not Brown.


Great piece. The last paragraph of this piece is worth using over and over again, because it expresses the truth of the experience of this election among the electorate. Nice work.

Some thoughts;

The Tory wobble would be slightly less worrying for them if the extreme right entryists - UKIP and BNP - weren't sucking away much of their grey support. 60+ voters, especially among the working-class, buy into the right-wing narrative regarding immigration and the cost of state support for poorer immigrants. To these people, DavCam is a flip-flopper on their big subjects - the EU and immigration. So - luckily for Labs or Libs - he is neither appealing nor trustworthy to a sizeable number of pensioners who will be voting this year, and will instead waste their votes on genuinely unelectable parties. The worrying trend of right wing extremism will have to be left until after the election - when we will have harder data (it'll also be important in this regard to examine the voting patterns of unemployed working-class voters away from the cities). The Tories have, to their credit, a leader who won't indulge too heavily in pro-right shtick (on the possibly spurious basis that this is what did for Howard). If they manage to snatch failure from the jaws of triumph, where will they head next?

At the other end of the spectrum, voters in the 18-24 bracket are not predominantly in favour of the Tories (despite their attempts at student-level organisation), but, then, nor do they see the point in voting for a deeply unpopular ruling party whose reign has recently been supported by the narratives of war and recession. This is massive, because - unlike when I fell into that age bracket - no-one is suggesting that the election is a binary choice. A major consequence of this *has* to be the decline of the 'wasted vote' argument that crept into DavCam's assertion that "every vote for Clegg is a vote for Brown". If voters believe the polls, and reasons to doubt them are rarely made explicit by a media dependent upon them as pretexts for coverage, this seems like another politician's lie among the many voters who have no interest in political science/the first-past-the-post system.

On this basis, I think that the higher the voter turnout, the greater the likelihood of a Lib-Lab coalition.


If there is a hung parliament, won't the Liberal Democrats insist on proportional representation for future elections as their price for joining a Lib-Lab coalition? And won't Labour agree to it? That sets the Lib-Dems up for running as a "real" party in the future, and maybe even for displacing Labour as the main left-of-centre party. Is there a realignment taking place?

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