With it now being odds-on that we have a hung parliament next year, some are now speculating on the chances of another election having to be called pretty swiftly.
It last happened after the indecisive result of the February 1974 election, the only time since 1910 that there have been two in the same calendar year. So, it’s not very common in UK politics, but the chances of a very messy outcome in next May are increasing by the day. If we take the mid-point of Ladbrokes’ current seat totals betting, the parliament that would emerge would look something like this:
There would really only be one stable option here to get to a majority of 326; a Lab/Lib coalition (currently a 5/1 shot with Ladbrokes).
But, let’s imagine a scenario where UKIP and the SNP do a bit better than our betting currently suggests, which many people think they will, and the Tories get a lot closer to Labour:
What happens now? Con+LD+UKIP gets to 325, but that doesn’t seem all that plausible or stable an arrangement. Lab+LD+SNP gives 329 seats, although if the SNP continue to abstain on English only issues at Westminster, that might not work either for a lot of legislation. Maybe some Northern Irish MPs and Plaid Cymru can be persuaded to prop up such a government, but it wouldn’t be a smooth ride. Anything close to this sort of result could easily lead to a fresh election, although Steve Richards thinks that the Fixed Term Parliament Act makes it unlikely, however complicated the maths is.