My predictions for the general election in the UK (and the north-eastern bit of Ireland that the British stubbornly cling on to as a last reminder of their glory days, along with a few rocks in the South Atlantic and one big rock at the entrance to the Mediterranean)? Well truth be told the vote in Britain has now become more of a series of interconnected regional elections than a single national one, with the Scots and southern English pursuing very different concerns and in some cases voting for only nominally similar parties; despite the best efforts of Scottish Labour leader Jim “Crazy Eyes” Murphy to bully the domestic general public into thinking otherwise.
The polls are predicting a “hung parliament” as the establishment parties of the Conservatives and Labour remain more or less neck and neck, with the minor Lib Dems facing the prospect of a severe electoral mauling (though under the archaic, barely democratic electoral system used by the British that is not entirely a given). The metropolitan news media, and some international observers, are expecting an SNP landslide in Scotland, with the right- and left-wing press hyping up sensationalist predictions that Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish nationalists will take all 59 Westminster seats in the country. My own prediction is that the British unionists will claim to have “thwarted” the nationalist electoral advance of the SNP when it inevitably fails to entirely sweep the board north of the border. How credible that “Britnat” claim will be depends on just how many MPs the unionist parties – Tories, Labour and Lib Dems – retain. I suspect that the SNP are going to do very well indeed, with a heretofore unprecedented number of representatives. One way or another Jim Murphy seems a liability that the BLP will soon do without.
For Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru it seems more or less business as usual. They may gain an extra seat or two however unless the polls are badly under-representing her party it seems unlikely that the Welsh nationalists are going to make much of a breakthrough; or any breakthrough at all, really. Here’s hoping that Welsh voters look to their northern Celtic cousins and realise the benefits of a strong home-grown voice in Westminster, something that the big three parties (or worse, UKIP) clearly cannot provide. Talking of which, I doubt that the far right UKIP is going to make much of an impact at the polls, the system is loaded against it, (most of) the media hate it, and it may well have only two or three MPs by the weekend (and perhaps without its increasingly tired-looking leader Nigel Farage).
Meanwhile on this (partitioned) island nation the 18 seats in the north-east are probably going to be allocated along the usual communal lines, Irish nationalist versus British unionist-nationalist. This is especially true following the electoral pact between the far right DUP and slightly less right UUP (an agreement the Tories have implicitly agreed to by not contesting constituencies where joint DUP-UUP candidates are standing; playing the Orange Card and all that). If any changes do happen it will be in the following constituencies: Fermanagh South Tyrone, Upper Bann, East Belfast, North Belfast, South Belfast and South Antrim. Sinn Féin are unlikely to take any extra seats, though they may loose one (I’m not going to even try and predict the outcome of FST). The SDLP are very much becalmed in the electoral waters, having little to fear but not much to hope for either. The moderate unionists of the Alliance Party are probably going to loose their only MP, Naomi Long; and boy are that self-entitled would-be elite whining about it.
So overall, a hung parliament in Britain, the Conservatives and Labour on very similar numbers (the Tories maybe just in the lead), the Lib Dems more than halved, a handful of UKIP members, 35+ SNP MPs, 3+ Plaid Cymru, 1 Green Party, 1 Respect and then various unionist bits and bobs from the DUP-UUP alliance. Sinn Féin and the SDLP will probably be on the same numbers as before if the nationalist vote turns out – if not then there could be trouble in store for SF at least (of course, a full nationalist turn-out of 85%+ would probably yield an extra two seats for SF, even without a cross-party agreement with the SDLP). Dire outcome? A Tory-DUP-UUP-UKIP coalition or minority government. Equally dire outcome, a Labour DUP-UUP-supported minority government.