The next election could be on course to produce a dead heat, with no major party able to form a simple coalition, a YouGov forum heard today.
A panel including Harriet Harman and Chris Huhne heard that the most likely scenario in 2015 would see Ukip taking 10 seats, leaving the Conservatives and Labour with 284 seats each, and the Lib Dems with 30. This would mean neither Conservatives nor Labour could form a coalition Government with the Lib Dems.
Pollster Peter Kellner told the YouGov forum in Cambridge today that this was not a prediction but a scenario, though he did point out that predictions made by YouGov more than a year before the European elections were correct.
Kellner said that the "no simple coalition" scenario would be similar to the TV series Borgen, and any resultant Government would be based on complex personal relationships and shifting alliances.
Chris Huhne said that events could play out like they did during the 1910 election, when the Irish helped form a coalition - but this time the kingmakers could be the SNP. He said that Labour was now a white collar party, and Ukip was winning the support of blue collar workers and electoral "losers". "Clacton man" could pop up in some odd places from now on, he added.
"We are now in fruit machine politics," he said, meaning that the electorial mix could produce almost random results.
Huhne also believes that it would need an unusual set of circumstances for the next Parliament to run for a full term. If a Government that formed a coalition lost a vote of confidence, the Queen could ask the leader of the next largest party to form a new coalition.
Head of Cambridge POLIS David Runciman said it was possible that the party leadership could change if one coalition failed and a new coaltion formed a Government.
Writer and former MP Matthew Parris said the Ukip threat had to be taken more seriously by the party leaders if they were to stop the "Ukip madness gripping the nation". He said that the leaders of the main parties should tell voters why they could not bring the gates down on immigration - otherwise voters will see them as "rattled and on the run".
Harriet Harman said it was important to tell voters that their concerns are being listened to. She said it would be crucial that ways were found to bring the millions who have never been on the electoral register into the voting system.
"If you are on low income, in rented and black you are less likely to be on an electoral register," she said.Reuse content