For many years, we have been told that Ed Miliband is a weak leader, not fit to win the election, and not fit to become prime minister. Well, the moment has finally arrived when we will find out! It is January 2015, and the general election is just 4 months away. So, with 4 months to go, what is the state of play? Can Ed Miliband beat David Cameron, or will David Cameron cling on for 5 more years of Toryism?
On my other blog, which can be found here, every Sunday, I do a calculation of where each political party is, by doing an average score out of all of the opinion polls that were conducted during the week. My most recent results have the Labour party 1% ahead, on 34%, the Conservatives a whisker behind on 33%, UKIP trailing far behind on 15%, the Liberal Democrats on 7%, and the Green Party equal with the Lib Dems at a historic high in general election voting intentions, on 7%. Now, it is notoriously difficult for a party to get back into power after just one term out of office, and this is partially what may be holding Labour back from being miles ahead. Another thing which may be holding Labour back is the awful approval ratings of Ed Miliband. Recent polling by YouGov suggests that his personal ratings may have sunk to an all time low, behind the politically poisonous Nick Clegg. Despite all this, however, Labour does retain a small lead in opinion polls, which in theory would give Ed Miliband a workable majority.
However, this is where Scotland comes in. Recent polling in Scotland shows that Labour may lose over half of its MPs there, as a result of a surge in Scottish Nationalist support following the independence referendum. This would be a dramatic blow to any chance of Ed Miliband winning the election. It is up to Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy to turn this dramatic reversal in fortunes for Labour around. To give you a sense of the kind of difference Scottish MPs would make to the election result, here is a prediction I made, using election prediction software, showing the difference between the result with no divergence in Scotland, and with the result shown if the collapse of Labour in Scotland is taken into account.
As you can see, without taking Scottish polling into account, Labour looks to be heading for a majority. But, watch what happens when I take Scotland polling into account (Currently Labour is on around 29% and the SNP are on 43%, according to opinion polling) and the result changes quite dramatically.
As you can see, the distance between both Labour and the Conservatives narrows, and the number of “Other seats” increases quite dramatically, due to massive gains from Labour and the Lib Dems. Although the Labour party does marginally better as a whole across England, as a result of its poor polling in Scotland being taken into account, and makes 10 extra gains from the conservatives, these are overshadowed by its losses in its Scottish citadels. The major worry for Ed Miliband would be if Labour slip back further in the English and Welsh marginals, in which case Scottish losses may prove a decisive blow to Miliband and his hopes of becoming the next prime minister. David Cameron, at the moment, has little to cheer, but he has time to turn this around, and Nick Clegg must be horrified at the projected number of Lib Dem losses on a uniform national swing. So, to sum up, whilst the position of the Labour Party does remain vulnerable, Ed Miliband does indeed have a good chance of becoming the next PM.