General Election Prediction

Current Prediction: Conservative majority 78

Party2015 Votes2015 SeatsPred VotesPred Seats
CON 37.8%331 41.3%364
LAB 31.2%232 26.9%197
LIB 8.1%8 9.3%9
UKIP 12.9%1 12.5%1
Green 3.8%1 3.5%1
SNP 4.9%56 4.7%56
PlaidC 0.6%3 0.6%4
Minor 0.8%0 1.2%0
N.Ire 18 18

Prediction based on opinion polls from 04-Dec-2016 to 16-Dec-2016, sampling 6,719 people.

Probability of possible outcomes

Conservative majority
Con choice of Lib/Nat
Labour majority
Con/Nat coalition
Nat choice of Con/Lab
Lab/Nat coalition
Lab choice of Lib/Nat
No overall control

The future is never certain. But using our advanced modelling techniques, we can estimate the probability of the various possible outcomes at the next general election. ('Nat' means SNP+PlaidC)

New Year interactive feature

Vote on public figures' 2D positions

New for January is a feature allowing you to judge the 2D political position of public figures.

Simply drag and drop various people onto the 2D grid to vote according to how you perceive their positions both on the left/right axis and the international/national axis. Once you've voted, you will see the average vote for those people over the Electoral Calculus readership.

Public figures include current British politicians from the major parties, former Prime Ministers, and some guests from overseas.

Vote here.

Posted 5 January 2016

Liberal Leaver blog

A Quick and Simple Solution to Trade Negotiation

With the start of the new year, it is time to think seriously about Britain's trade after Brexit. Article 50 is likely to be triggered in the next few months, which will put Britain on the slip-road to leave the EU and make its own way in the world in 2019.

Diplomats and others have already warned of the Herculean-sized task not just to negotiate a new trade arrangement with the rump EU, but also to forge new trade relationships with the rest of the world. The British government, it is suggested, does not have the time or the skills to do all this work by 2019.

But this view is too pessimisitic. There is a way to cut through the diplomatic negotiation processes and quickly get to a working trade model for the next few years. This model will be great for the British economy, fantastic for British consumers, and provide a healthy competitive environment for British industry. In Sir Humphrey's famous phrase, the plan is quick, simple, popular and cheap.

We will come to the plan shortly, but first let us clear away some misconceptions about trade.

The biggest misconception is the "Mercantilist fallacy". Mercantilists, who were dominant in Europe around the 17th century believed that the point of trade was primarily to export goods. They would encourage exports and discourage imports through tariffs and regulations. This was in order to increase the state's power and was favoured by absolutist rulers such as Louis XIV of France.

Empty store shelves in Venezuelan store in November 2013
Bolivarian Mercantilism: Empty shelves in a Venezuelan shop, November 2013Photo: ZiaLater CC

Let's tackle mercantilism head on and see if it really makes sense. One way to do this is a thought experiment where we assume the mercantilism is 100pc successful. Suppose a country succeeds in exporting abosolutely everything it produces - food, goods, services, energy - and imports nothing at all. Is this good? The main benefit would be receipt of a large amount of paper money. But the country does not import anything and there are no goods in the shops (because they were all exported), so there is nothing to spend the money on. The population would be sitting on a large amount of useless paper, but would be deprived of food, electricity and everything else. The country is "rich" but dead. (This scenario is sadly not a mere satirical fantasy. North Korea's "self-reliance" policy came close to achieving the mercantilist dream and caused the death of around 330,000 people from starvation in the 1990s [1].)

In the interests of fairness, we could run the experiment the other way. Suppose a country exports nothing at all, and tries to import as much as possible from the rest of the world. Polarity is reversed and the shops are full of goods, both domestic and imported. Consumers have more choice and more goods. The material situation is very pleasant. Of course, it is not sustainable in the long term as the country would run out of money. In practice, the exchange rate would devalue before that happened and the stream of imports would slow. But of the two, the anti-mercantilist scenario looks a lot more pleasant.

The truth is that we need both imports and exports and we shouldn't try to reduce either of them.

Although absolute monarchs have faded from the democratic world, legacies of mercantilism still survive in industry lobby groups and trade unions who want to be subsidised by consumers by restricting competition. There is always a push from business and labour against imports. They dislike the extra competition which can depress their profits and wages. This is especially true when they have a comparative disadvantage. But their actions are hurting consumers more who are deprived of better goods at lower prices. Economic theory tells us that the "gains" from helping producers are smaller than the extra costs paid by consumers [2]. So the interests of the country require us to put consumers ahead of producers.

Now here is the plan. We can call it Full Free Trade, and in the economists' jargon it is called "unilateral trade liberalization". This is what it means. The idea is simple. We open Britain to trade with the world. In particular:

There are several important advantages to this approach. The first and most important is that it is do-able. It does not need diplomats, trade negtotiators, or even any trade negotiations. All it needs is for Britain to be outside the EU's protectionist customs union. It is also compatible both with and without membership of the EU single market. It is quick and simple to implement - it just needs an act of parliament. It is also cheap, and doesn't cost the taxpayer anything.

EU College Meeting in Strasbourg
It doesn't have to be like this: EU CommissionersPhoto: ©2014 EU

It is also economically great for the country. With Britian open for business, confidence will be maintained, and consumers (and the economy) will benefit from better choice and lower prices. British business will also benefit from the competition, even if not all businesses welcome that.

The third benefit is softer. Although the plan is designed to benefit Britain, it will also send a strong and positive signal to the rest of the world. It will improve Britain's image as globally engaged, which has inevitably been tarnished a little by the fact of Brexit, and encourage reciprocity. It will make Britain a beacon of free trade in the world, and be a model for other countries seeking to leave the EU. It could even develop into a free-trade club for ex-EU members and other countries around the world.

What other countries do is up to them. If they reciprocate and let in British imports, then their economies and consumers will be better off. If they don't then their economies and consumers will be worse off. That is their decision and their problem. We don't need to pander to or compromise with protectionists. We can say our piece and confidently leave the room. Free trade is "mic drop" diplomacy.

Italian sparkling Prosecco and rose Spumante wines on ice being chilled
Consumers over producers: British consumers should still be allowed to buy ProseccoPhoto: James Cridland CC

In terms of the famous Prosecco debate, the British position should not be about whether Italian producers are happy or not, but whether British consumers are happy. They should be able to continue to buy Prosecco without tariffs.

Now some will say that this plan is strange and a radical departure. But Brexit is a big decision and needs a bold response to implement it. We have to decide something, and we cannot duck taking a decision on trade.

On a practical note, it could be worth introducing full free trade for an initial period of, say, five years from 2019. That would re-assure the public, and allow time for trade negotiations with the EU and the rest of the world. In the course of the five years, we could decide whether we liked it or not. If not, we have time to negotiate an alternative.

And this solution is neither radical nor a departure. It is essentially a return to the free trade of the Victorian era, which Britain led against the protectionist instincts of continental europe. And in fact its roots are much deeper than the nineteenth century. The Magna Carta of 1215 has a ringing section, just after the guarantee of a fair trial:

"Omnes mercatores habeant salvum et securum exire de Anglia, et venire in Angliam, et morari, et ire per Angliam, tam per terram quam per aquam, ad emendum et vendendum, sine omnibus malis toltis, per antiquas et rectas consuetudines"

"All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs."
Magna Carta, Chapter 41 [3]

Free trade is in Britain's history and in its bones. It is the politically and economically right thing to do. And it can be done quickly and simply.


Posted 9 January 2017

Political Analysis

The hidden wiring behind modern politics and where it gives UKIP a chance to beat Labour

In a major new analysis, Electoral Calculus applies its pioneering 2D Political Mapping to every ward in Britain. This gives a unique picture of political attitudes at a detailed geographical level.

Important conclusions appear from these data — UKIP could capture large numbers of Labour seats in some parts of the north and midlands, as long as they trim their political position slightly left of centre.

This article earlier appeared in the Daily Telegraph online here on 28 December.

Posted 30 December 2016

New interactive feature

Plot My Position in the new politics

Using our groundbreaking new 2D Political Maps, you can now plot your own political position as well as seeing what your local neighbourhood, at the ward level, thinks as well.

Simply complete a quick (and anonymous) political questionnaire about your attitudes and beliefs, and your position will be plotted on the 2D Political Map, along with the average position of the other voters in your local council ward, as well as the supporters of the major national parties. See how you compare with your neighbours and party supporters.

The questions take less than 5 minutes to complete: start here.

Posted 22 December 2016

Political Analysis

2D Political Maps

In a new article, Electoral Calculus creates a whole new way of measuring, analysing and viewing political attitudes. Instead of relying solely on the tired labels of "left" and "right", it adds an entire new dimensional into the political landscape to create a two-dimensional map rather than a one-dimensional spectrum.

The old dimension of left-wing and right-wing is basically an economic axis with supporters of a large state, high tax and benefits at one end; and with small government and low taxation believers at the other. The new dimension is between internationalist and nationalists. Internationalists believe in globalism, and Nationalists believe in their own country first. The views of each group are summarised here:

Internationalist attitudesNationalist attitudes
Pro EU Single Market
Multicultural Britain
Treat all residents equally
Britain engaged abroad
Against immigration
Dislike EU freedom of movement
British means 'born here'
Put Britons first

This analysis builds on an important report and survey by the Social Market Foundation on British politics. Using their data and the new dimension, we can get 2D Political Maps of parties and other population groups.

Electoral Calculus 2D Political Map by Voting Intention
Chart : 2D Political Map by Voting IntentionSource: Opinium survey of 2,037 adults 12–18 August 2016

This chart gives a number of valuable insights beyond simple left-right questions, and it repays a bit of attention. Here are some key points:

We can see this gives much more information than the traditional left-right analysis in isolation. In simple left-right terms it would appear that UKIP was somewhere between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, but this doesn't really describe their political outlook.

Read the full story to see more 2D Political Maps, understand the EU Referendum, and get a unique understanding on modern politics.

Posted 7 December 2016