Blair on course for election victory

Predicting the seat-by-seat outcome at a General Election is a scientific art. Political Editor Graham Dines looks at an Internet site which does just that – and makes uncomfortable reading for the political parties.

Predicting the seat-by-seat outcome at a General Election is a scientific art. Political Editor Graham Dines looks at an Internet site which does just that – and makes uncomfortable reading for the political parties.

ONLY four seats will change hands in East Anglia at the next General Election, which will leave Labour still dominating politics in Britain until the end of the decade.

That's the prediction of Internet site –www.financialcalculus.co.uk/election/ – which has interpreted the opinion poll standings of the major parties and undertaken a seat-by-seat analysis of how the parties will fare if percentages are translated into votes.

Its predictions include:


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Labour MPs Alan Hurst and Ivan Henderson will lose their seats in Braintree and Harwich, the Tories will take Peterborough from Labour, and the Liberal Democrats are predicted to lose Norfolk North which they gained with a wafer thin majority last time.

All Tory MPs will increase their majorities, with Rayleigh and Maldon & Chelmsford East forming with Saffron Walden an impregnable Tory bulwark arching around Chelmsford West, which itself will be transformed into a safe Conservative seat.

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Labour's vote in Colchester will collapse, benefiting both the Tories and Lib Dems, and giving Lib Dem MP Bob Russell a reduced, but still safe, majority.

The result in Ipswich will mirror the by-election outcome with Labour's Chris Mole back by 4,000, while all Tory MPs in Suffolk will have majorities not far short of the 10,000 mark enjoyed in the Thatcher glory years.

I would inject several words of caution. Not all seats behave the same way, the figures assume a similar turnout as 2001, and no account has been made of tactical voting. Therefore, a projected Tory gain in Norfolk North is too early to predict, while Labour cannot be certain of holding Great Yarmouth.

Forecasts that Labour will have easy rides in Cambridge, Watford, and Norwich South take no account of aggressive local campaigning by the Lib Dems. And the UK Independence Party, the Greens and the British National Party may win a higher percentage of votes than expected.

The number of constituencies in the UK will fall at the next election from 659 to 646 as electorates in Scottish constituencies are equalised with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to take account of devolution.

If the predictions are right, Labour will have 352 MPs compared with 403 at the last election, the Tories 216 – up from 165 – while the Lib Dems will fall from 51 to 47. The remainder will be won by Scottish and Welsh Nationalists and Ulster parties.

The political playing field is not level at the moment because the last boundary review favoured Labour. Assuming the Liberal Democrats poll a constant 15%, then Labour would win a majority if it polls 41% of the vote. But the Conservatives would have to win 47% of the vote to have a majority.

With the Liberals at 20%, then Labour can win with 39% (even if the Conservatives get a larger share of the vote), but the Conservatives would need 45% to have a House of Commons majority.

In other words Labour only needs to come 2% below the Conservatives to win, but the Conservatives have to come 10% above Labour to win themselves.

ELECTION OUTCOME?

(EADT Political Editor Graham Dines has calculated the estimated majorities from the Internet figures).

Braintree: Conservative 44.94% (41.27%), Labour 36.2% (41.98%), Liberal Democrat 13.05% (11.26). Others* 5.81% (5.49%). Con gain. Estimated majority: Con 4,000 (2001 actual: Lab 358)

Bury St Edmunds: Con 47.15% (43.48%), Lab 32.72% (38.5%), Lib Dem 15.71% (13.92%). Others 4.42% (4.1%). No change. Estimated maj: 7,500 (2001 actual: Con 2,5030).

Chelmsford West: Con 46.14% (42.47%), Lib Dem 25.05% (23.26%), Lab 23.68% (29.46%), Others 5.13% (4.81%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 9,100 (2001 actual: Con 6,281)

Colchester: Lib Dem 44.38% (42.59%), Con 33.57% (29.89%), Lab 19.2% (24.98%), Other 2.86% (2.54%). Estimated maj: Lib Dem 4,400 (2001 actual: Lib Dem 5,553).

Essex North: Con 51.12% (47.45%), Lab 25.68% (31.46), Lib Dem 19.29% (17.5%). Others 3.91% (3.59%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 12,500 (2001 actual: 7,186).

Harwich: Con 45.62% (39.84%), Lab 40.23% (43.9%), Lib Dem 10.31% (8.52%), Others 5.95% (5.63%). Con gain. Estimated maj: Conservative 2,000 (2001 actual: Lab 2,596)

Ipswich: Labour 45.55% (51.33%), Con 34.21% (30.54%), Lib Dem 16.98% (15.19%). Others 3.27% (2.95%). No change. Estimated maj: Lab 4,200 (2001 actual: Lab 8.081)

Maldon and Chelmsford East: Con 52.92% (49.25%), Lab 24.28% (30.06%), Lib Dem 17.67% 15.88%). Others 5.13% (4.81%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 13,300 (2001 actual: Con 8,462)

Rayleigh: Con 53.78% (50.11%), Lab 24.95% (30.73%), Lib Dem17.25% (15.46%). Others 4.01% (3.70%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 15,000 (2001 actual: Con 8,290).

Saffron Walden: Con 52.6% (48.93%), Lib Dem 26.73% (24.94%). Lab 16.81% (22.59%). Others 3.85% (3.54%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 14,000 (2001 actual: Con 12,004).

Suffolk Central and Ipswich North: Con 48.09% (44.42%), Lab 31.28% (37.06%), Lib Dem 17.91% (16.12%). Others 27.2% (2.4%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 7,500 (2001 actual: Con 3,469)

Suffolk Coastal: Con 47.01% (43.34%), Lab 28.98% (34.76%), Lib Dem 20.02% (18.24%). Others 3.98% (3.66%). No change. Estimated maj: Con 9,000 (2001 actual: Con 4,326)

Suffolk South: Con 45.07% (41.39%), Lib Dem 26.73% (24.94%), Lab 24.4% (30.17%). Others 3.81% (3.49%). No change. Estimated majority: Con 9,000 (2001 actual: Con 5,081)

Suffolk West: Con 51.27% (47.59%), Lab 31.69% (37.47%, Lib Dem 13.61% (11.82%). Others 3.43% (3.11%). No change. Estimated maj: 8,000 (2001 actual: Con 4,295)

Waveney: Figures not available because of a web site fault, but estimated maj for Labour, based on other predictions, is 3,900 (2001 actual: Lab 8,553)

*Others is the combined vote of candidates from UKIP, the Greens, British National Party, and fringe parties.

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