Bladon and its Permanent Resident

Bladon is a Cotswold village, a few miles north of Oxford, roughly halfway between Woodstock to the north and Hanborough to the south. Hanborough provides its local railway station; Woodstock having lost its own, it has to make do with a reputation for being home to the magnificent Blenheim Palace. Blenheim – which for some curious reason is home to the Duke of Marlborough, whose theoretical seat is some 10 miles south of Swindon and in a different county – squats proudly amongst a few thousand acres of landscaped countryside and provides a green belt between Bladon and Woodstock.

Bladon is a sweet place with pub, bus stop and church. It is not to be confused with Blaydon, which is in the North of England near Newcastle-upon-Tyne and is the sort of place where they have races, people get injured and much raucous singing is engaged in.

Bladon 1 JPG

The church is a handsome structure, sitting slightly up the hill from the main road in its churchyard. (There is also a chapel, which at the time of writing is advertising an upcoming performance of the musical Cats to be staged at the end of October/ beginning of November 2014.) The original work here was built in the 11th or 12th century – the official history likes to be specific on these matters, but the precise origin is fairly irrelevant as the building, however old it happened to be at the time, was flattened in 1802 to make way for the current late Georgian structure.

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To be fair, this structure does have the odd nice little bit of detailing (as well as the weathercock on the tower and the fairly accurate clock):

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It is also home to a variety of graves of varying ages and legibility – this one, for example, did have something written on this side of it but not in a way which the combination of low winter sun, ivy, lichen and a century or so of erosion have made terribly readable:

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This set is more conventional, although the person who carved the pair on the centre right must be complimented for their ability to produce complementary works:

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This handsomely-carved pair of crosses, surrounded by a beautiful fence, turn out upon examination to be the resting place of two boys whose brief stay in this world came in the 1850s – one died aged 15½ months in 1858 and the other followed at the age of 10 months in 1859.

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On the 30th of January 1965, a train pulled up at Hanborough station and its passenger was removed. His lack of enthusiasm to alight on his own was less owing to a desire to proceed to Ascott-under-Wychwood and more because he had been dead for six days. He had arrived, fresh from his state funeral in London, behind the locomotive named after him to spend the remainder of time at the parish church local to where he was born – at Blenheim Palace.

Bladon 7 JPG

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, who died 50 years ago today, was among other things Member of Parliament for Oldham, Manchester North West, Dundee, Epping and Woodford (not all at once). He held a wide variety of Government offices, variously being in charge of the Colonies, the Board of Trade, the Home Office, the Admiralty, the Duchy of Lancaster, Munitions, War, Air, the Exchequer, the House of Commons, Defence of the Realm and the workings of the county as a whole. During this time he went out on the street during riots to see what they looked like from the perspective of the law enforcement agencies and generally have an interesting evening, for which he was roundly condemned by political colleagues who did not wish to be obliged to go to look at riots, wars or the general progress of their policies themselves. His political opinions on various subjects, such as the possibility that the late Corporal Hitler was not merely the leader of a mildly disreputable fascist regime in a former failed state but also a megalomanical psychopathic murderer and one of the most evil people who ever lived, were frequently noted for proving to be broadly correct in general detail. This has obtained him much subsequent praise, particularly in historical tomes written by that noted 20th century historian Winston S. Churchill, but have been occasionally overshadowed by his periodic tendency to hyperbole (suggesting in 1945 that, if elected, the Labour Party would introduce their own version of Hitler’s Gestapo) and irregular disagreements with more iconic figures. For example, he regarded Mahatma Gandhi as a dangerous man bent on destroying the British establishment in India for his own ends and enquired during the 1943 Bengal Famine why it was that, if there was a famine, Gandhi had not died yet? Mr Gandhi reciprocated by encouraging his people to peacefully bow to Japanese invasion rather than help the British defend India, for which thought the British authorities had him imprisoned. While it is generally agreed that Sir Winston may have had a point on Hitler – and, indeed, the Japanese government of the time – it is not generally felt that this should necessarily translate into him having a point about Mr Gandhi, who lived to see India gain independence in 1947 before being assassinated in the ensuing fracas which, on a lower level and across a sub-continent divided on religious lines, occasionally flares up again today.

His political tenure was made more interesting by being in the governing party more often than the Conservative Party – which was a considerable achievement, seeing as about the only party in the world to spend more of the 20th Century in power than the Conservative Party was the Communist Party of Russia. (This is an intriguing statistic which should be considered by anyone pondering whether their policies and ideals will be better maintained long-term by a democracy or a dictatorship, given that the Communist Party is not likely to resume power in the near future whereas the Conservative Party is marking Churchill’s death by being in Government.) He achieved this by carefully-timed defections from the Tories to the Liberals, from there to a Constitution party of his own devising and thence back to the Tories. While other politicians remarked on how devious this was, he remarked on the “certain ingenuity” required to “re-rat”.

Churchill also wrote extensively, producing a historical magnum opus that his political opponent Clement Attlee suggested should be called Things in History that Interest Me. Amongst other things, it preferred not to dwell too much on social history or the Industrial Revolution, but is nonetheless a rather readable book. Churchill’s views on Attlee were expressed by remarks about “a modest man, with much to be modest about” and “an empty cab drew up outside No. 10, and Attlee got out” but he said this sort of thing about anyone given half a chance. He certainly managed (somehow) to share a Government with Attlee between 1940 and 1945; Attlee’s eventual loss of the 1951 election (on a constitutional technicality, as Attlee’s party got more votes than Churchill’s) should be seen in the context of 11 years of continuous high-stress government. Churchill ignored Attlee’s suggestion for a title of his book, did not get him to write the introduction and instead had it published between 1956 and 1958 in four volumes united beneath the title A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. (A 1970s subscription reissue made it up to seven larger and more complete volumes with additional content from other historians, plus a large picture of the original author in a garden chair.) People other than Attlee took occasional opportunity to say things about him, including the Australian Prime Minister who suggested (in better words) that Churchill never let the facts get in the way of a good speech and the British Field Marshal Alan Brooke who accused him of having “feet of clay” while simultaneously being the saviour of England. (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland would, of course, have all been able to look after themselves in the event of Nazi invasion. Occasional sarcastic comment suggests that a Nazi invasion would in fact have fallen on an inability of anyone to make sense of a Southern Railway timetable, which would be essential to get from the popular invasion point of Pevensey Beach to the seat of power in London. The image of Hitler ending up in the bomb-ravaged ruins of Plymouth after getting on the wrong express train at Brighton is too good not to have been made into a film yet.)

Amongst Churchill’s other books was a volume about his ancestor, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, who won various battles for Queen Anne and whose father was, in a spirit of minor irony, called Sir Winston Churchill.

His role in the Second World War was divided between morale-boosting speeches about how bad things were (“blood, toil, tears and sweat”), other morale-boosting speeches about how great the troops were (“so much owed by so many to so few”) and creating military strategy. In December 1943, at the age of 69, he contracted pneumonia and spent much of the winter on his deathbed. Of the four hundred top secret documents leaked through the British Embassy at Ankara to the Germans in the latter half of the war, it was those pertaining to this period of his life that attracted the most interest from the Nazis. The other papers were of minimal interest, being expositions on how the Germans were going to be defeated next and what would happen to them at the end.

In the event he recovered; while his Party was defeated at both the 1945 and 1950 General Elections he returned in 1951 to lead the Tories through four more years of Government before he retired to the back benches. His last four years were notable for little, except various decisions of doubtful repute, the accession of Queen Elizabeth II (he was her first Prime Minister; he had also tried to keep her uncle on the throne) and the fact that his eventual departure allowed the much delayed launch of Anthony Eden as Prime Minister. Eden proved utterly unsuited to the role and spent the end of his two-year tenure in hiding.

Churchill stepped down from Parliament at the 1964 election and died within a few months. The state funeral was attended by more foreign dignitaries than any other. He was then despatched from the formal occasion to the little gathering in Bladon by means of Waterloo station. It was suggested that Waterloo was a personal preference – apart from any operation implications involved in “his” locomotive being a Southern Railway one – because it would really annoy General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French and by then President of France, to have to wave off Churchill from a station named after the adjacent bridge which is, of course, named after the battle where French ambitions to rule the world were suppressed by the Duke of Wellington and his Germanic allies.

Bladon 8 JPG

He is buried behind the church at Bladon in an area set aside for Spencer-Churchills, who have a certain fondness for box plants on graves. After his wife’s death the grave was remodelled to accommodate her. He is not to be confused with any other Winston Churchills, be they American authors or merely younger relations.

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Below the church, by the side of the main road, is the village war memorial. Churchill is of course not mentioned. Instead it provides a monument to the people whom he sent to fight and who did not return. Having fought as a soldier in the Second Boer War – with occasional bouts of curiosity about the Whole Point – he will have had some idea what they were being let in for.

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Upcoming in 2015

Amongst various other odds and ends, at the beginning of May there will be a reminder that a week is a long time in politics but five years is not much at all.

The 2010 election was advertised as a major life-changing election – a once-in-a-lifetime election – an election which could go in any direction.

The Coalition has pretty much lasted the course and looks set to survive until the formal announcement of the election (and since someone needs to be Secretary of State for Business, in terms of Government roles it will probably remain in place until a new Government is formed).

Parliament is now winding up. The Conservatives have launched their poster. Labour are committed to their leader. The smaller parties are discussing if one of them could get onto the Leaders’ Debates and then let the others in through the studio’s fire escape just before the show starts. All is getting ready for the 7th of May 2015.

2010 will, it seems, be nothing compared to the General Election of 2015.

Considering Likely Results

At present it is not terribly easy to tell which way things will swing. The UK Polling Report offers a Poll of Polls which assumes that if people voted the way they claim they will then (at around 20:00 on the 3rd of January 2015) the results will be as follows:

  • Labour on 34% (enough for a majority);
  • Conservatives on 31%;
  • UK Independence Party on 15%;
  • Liberal Democrats on 8%;
  • Green Party on 5%;
  • Others/ Don’t Know therefore have around 7%.

(Anyone viewing their page a few days/ months/ years later may get different results.)

The problem is that these are the results of polls of the population. These polls are answered by people:

  1. who may not have decided to vote yet;
  2. who may not have been paying attention to current affairs;
  3. who may be thinking of a single issue (perhaps one which is high-profile at the time);
  4. who may be hoping the Government will read the poll and change their policies to be more popular;
  5. who may just give a random answer to get rid of the pollster;
  6. who may not know how many different parties they can vote for.

These points have various impacts on the result. People who have not decided to vote can be left out of the poll but on the morning of the election might decide it’s worth going out – whether because things look tight, because they heard something a random party leader said the night before which clicked with them (or upset them enough to rush out and vote for the other side), because they have nothing else on or because they are inclined towards a minor party which has started to look like it might win something. Some disillusioned Lib-Dem voters may decide, on reflection, as the election approaches and they have to decide if they can really face supporting Labour, the Greens or UKIP (by voting or by staying at home) that perhaps the Lib-Dems haven’t been that terrible after all in the general circumstances. Meanwhile people who haven’t been paying attention to current affairs might think that one party is run by a bunch of clots but upon seeing their policies decide they’re worth voting for.

Tory Poster 1a JPGOne never can be quite sure which policies will prove important, however much Ipsos MORI says national infrastructure is not a voter concern.

Polls also vary between asking people:

  • “who are you planning to vote for?”;
  • “if there was a general election tomorrow who would you vote for?”;
  • “if there was a general election tomorrow would you vote Conservative, Labour, Lib-Dem or someone else?”
  • “if there was a general election tomorrow would you vote Conservative, Labour, Lib-Dem, UKIP, Green, Scottish Nationalist, Plaid Cymru or for someone else?”

Of course, these four questions all raise slightly different answers. The first two aren’t that different, although the first gets more thoughts about May and the second more thoughts about immediate opinions, but skew towards familiar names; the third draws the answerer towards one of the three “classic” parties; the fourth broadens the field considerably and encourages responses for smaller parties. However, the third question reflects the fact that traditionally only two or three parties have been regarded as seriously likely to be in any way involved in Government after the election and so voters have traditionally returned to them for vote-casting.

One of the fun things about the 2015 election is that there is no guarantee that they will.

On top of the people who have not necessarily given full thought to their answers to the pollsters’ vague questions, there is also the small matter that the campaign has not started properly yet. The parties have not begun smothering the nation’s billboards:

Tories in Truro 2010

Nor have they begun running wall-to-wall Party Political Broadcasts (although there are still some about).

And we have these to look forward to – possibly on a rather larger and more awkward scale:

We have of course had some by-elections lately. These are always good fun for seeing who does truly badly, but are usually won by protest parties or (occasionally) the Opposition. The electorate know that a bad appearance by a governing party at a by-election will not normally precipitate anything serious. When Harold Wilson was forced to go to the polls in 1966 after by-elections had almost eliminated his 1964 majority of 4 he was returned with a majority of 96.

The political relevance of by-elections was broadly summarised in North Minehead:

(Also note how much more navigable the A38 was before all these European immigrants arrived.)

A rough rule of thumb is that come the actual election the leading Opposition party will drop by anything between 5 and 10 points, which will transfer to the Governing party as people look at the Opposition mob properly and decide not to have them in Government. This is complicated a little in 2015:

  • One of the minor protest parties has an unusually high level of support (UKIP on 15%) which may or may not stay with them come the actual vote;
  • There are two Governing parties (Conservative and Lib-Dem).

It would therefore be reasonable to expect a roughly 5% drop in Labour and UKIP support (each) which would approximately transfer to a 7.5% rise for the Tories and a 2.5% rise for the Whigs. (This is fairly optimistic for UKIP. The Social Democratic Party was supposed to steamroller everyone and sail to victory in 1983. Most of its members are now in the Lib-Dems – hence the Dems bit – while a rump of the party went on to come behind the Loonies in the first Bootle by-election of 1990.) This would change the figures above (rounded off a bit) to:

  • Conservative on 38%
  • Labour on 29%;
  • UK Independence Party on 10%;
  • Liberal Democrats on 10%;
  • Green Party on 5%;
  • Others/ Don’t Know around 8%.

Based on the BBC’s Election Seat Calculator for the 2010 election (proposals to substantially reorganise the seat boundaries fell in Parliament, so the same electoral geography will apply and make results directly comparable) this would give seats as follows:

  • Conservatives on 333 (majority of 16);
  • Labour on 264;
  • Liberal Democrats on 24;
  • Others on 29.

But equally the higher profile of smaller parties in the run-up to the election – as the Greens argue for at least equal billing with UKIP and the Lib-Dems try to avoid getting forgotten – may result in votes moving away from the three classic parties this time.

The problem for all sides is that swings are not consistent across the country – UKIP do better in certain geographical areas (largely the more deprived areas of each party’s sectors), the Greens benefit from electorates which are very concerned about the environment but otherwise peaceful left-wing and the nationalist Scottish and Welsh parties only stand in Scotland and Wales. Due to seat distribution, Labour also gets more seats than the Tories for a given percentage of the vote (the 34-31 in Labour’s favour gives them a majority of 72 in the BBC calculator, but if it were in the Tories’ favour Labour is 14 seats short of a majority and 27 seats ahead of the Tories). This mucks up our nice tidy swing.

The upshot is a result based on three voting approaches:

  1. Work out who is most likely to win and come second in the voter’s constituency under the First-Past-the-Post system and vote for one of them;
  2. Vote for whoever the voter wants to vote for on the basis that it looks quite possible that other people will too for a change.
  3. Vote for whoever the voter’s parents voted for because that’s what they always do and the others aren’t worth listening to.

Option 1 is still unlikely to result in a classic two-horse Parliament because the No. 2 party (or, quite often, the No. 1 party) is likely to not be Tory or Labour. Option 2 will result in a hung Parliament and show that First-Past-the-Post does not always achieve the clear result promised in the 2011 referendum on using Alternative Vote. Option 3, done nationwide, would get the usual overall majority for one party and is rather more the problem with democracy than the voting system First-Past-the-Post.

Option 3 is also why this election is so hard to call – so many people vote on that basis (ignore claims about Labour’s “client state” – half Labour’s voters would still vote for them if Labour took all their benefits away and wouldn’t vote Tory if the Tories doubled said benefits) that the number of “swing” voters who decide the election is usually in single figure percentages of the people who turn out and vote. All that single figure percentage has to do is not make up its mind who to vote for until the 1st of May and all polling before then becomes nonsense.

Kettering 3 JPGTypical suburban street in a Midlands marginal constituency. May be three-way, may be four, may be held easily by the current Member of Parliament.

Nonetheless, some guesses can be made as to what these polls will turn into on the day.

Likely Results

There are several of these, based on precisely how the votes fall:

Tory majority

  • Likelihood: Possible, but not guaranteed by any means. It is often claimed that parties can’t expect their majority to rise after initial election, but this nonetheless happened in 1959, 1966, 1974 (take 2) and 1983. Say about 15% chance.
  • Requires: Tory rise in the polls come election time. Party has to hold its nerve. Economy not to look like it’s about to collapse at any point in the next 4 months.
  • Political outcomes: Labour leader will be toasted by his party (the fiery way, not the way involving drinks round a table). Outcome for UKIP not easy to guess, but would be a body blow. Could entail losing one or both of the UKIP MPs.
  • Policies to implement: More of the same, as the Tories are the leading party in the current coalition. EU referendum in 2017, which unless a snap referendum were offered by another party is the soonest now reasonably possible.

Labour majority

  • Likelihood: Also possible and mathematically marginally more likely than the Tories, though hard to believe the news will ever say “The Prime Minister Ed Miliband…”. Governments also usually manage more than one term at a time (Heath and Callaghan both failed in this regard, but both also went and had elections after a winter of power cuts and strikes.) Still, say about 18% chance.
  • Requires: Labour to hold its nerve and suppress any Tory/ Scots Nats rise in the polls.
  • Political outcomes: No EU referendum, so awkward for any UKIP supporter in a marginal Tory/ Labour constituency who’s just done themselves out of a referendum. Tory leader will be toasted by his party; party will probably lurch to the right again. Labour leader will be congratulated on one of the most successful party comebacks of living memory.
  • Policies to implement: Hard to say what the current position on deficit cutting is. Tax increases looks likely. More nationalisation and state intervention (which has to be paid for).

Lib-Dem majority

This is not likely, even if all the other party leaders turn out to have been regularly attending parties thrown by bankers who own tabloid newspapers where children were ritually abused and then murdered as a cover-up.

Tory-Lib coalition

  • Likelihood: Numbers may still favour it with small rises in Tory and Lib-Dem polling on the day. Probably about 7%.
  • Requires: Similar result overall to last time – Tories largest party with Lib-Dems in a position to push them over the finishing line. Also Lib-Dems not vetoing another 5 years with the Tories; pulling the coalition agreement together will be much harder going than last time, particularly as there will be no rush to get the previous lot out before people start murmuring about more elections. Lib-Dem leadership trying to sound open to any coalition.
  • Political outcomes: May as well merge the parties – some high-profile members on both sides may favour this. Five more years of “unelected ConDem government”. Lib-Dems are however not currently expected to have enough MPs left to get a reasonable number of seats in the Cabinet or a worthwhile say in policy.
  • Policies to implement: More of the same, presuming that a second-term coalition stays the course. Lib-Dems may try to make the elimination of the EU referendum a deal-breaker, possibly in exchange for not promoting more constitutional reform.

Tory-UKIP coalition

  • Likelihood: Ummm… maybe 7%.
  • Requires: Tories to do well, but UKIP to be required to help them over the finishing line. UKIP to agree to some of the Tories’ policies. Farage has previously said that he’ll go in with anyone who’ll give him a referendum, although Cameron’s timetable may be too long for his liking (Cameron has recently suggested he’d be open to re-writing it).
  • Political outcomes: Long-term association of the Tories with UKIP. If UKIP agree to too many of the Tories’ demands then they will go the same way as the Lib-Dems. Labour leader will be both toast and made to watch as all his favoured policy positions are ignored.
  • Policies to implement: UKIP are opposed to immigration, non-hetrosexual relationships, High Speed 2 and of course the European Union. Expect a ban on speaking languages other than English (and possibly Welsh and Gaelic) on public transport.

Tory-Green coalition

  • Likelihood: Little (1%).
  • Requires: Greens to get enough seats to be a coalition partner. Both parties to find some sort of common ground – current Tory leader has been a bit Green-inclined in the past and both fancy EU referendums.
  • Political outcomes: Small political earthquake, as the Greens are rather to the left and hate the Tories. Labour to either implode, obtain most of the Green membership or both.
  • Policies to implement: Liberal end of the Tory spectrum plus argument over nationalisation until the coalition collapses.

Brighton 2 JPGBrighton, currently run by a minority Green council.

Tory “rainbow” coalition

“Rainbow” is the term for 3 or more parties forming a brightly-coloured coalition. There are two problems with this:

  1. the three parties have to be able to agree a political position;
  2. not enough other parties like the Tories.

Might allow 1% just so this article doesn’t look too stupid when this is announced on the 10th of May.

Tory-Labour coalition

This has happened twice – during the Second World War and as a result of the Great Depression (until the Labour Party voted to expel their leader for going into coalition with the Tories and retired to Opposition). Whatever some bestselling 1920s novellist (who became Governor-General of Canada) may have said about the differences between the parties – and however much Flanders and Swann may have sung on the subject (Bi-Party Line) – it cannot reasonably be expected to happen this time.

0%.

Labour-Lib-Dem coalition

  • Likelihood: Not very – maybe 7%.
  • Requires: Lib-Dems to fire Nick Clegg as leader (which they may take pleasure in). Lib-Dems to have enough seats to be left to be of help. Labour to want to go into coalition with the party formerly in Government, bearing in mind that Labour has spent the last four years pointing out how many voters they’ve picked up from the Lib-Dems who want the Lib-Dems to suffer.
  • Political outcomes: Current Lib-Dem and Tory leaders will both be toast. No UKIP policies to be met, so UKIP voters will face the same awkward fate as under a Labour majority.
  • Policies to implement: Similar to Labour majority, but with more constitutional reform.

Labour-Green coalition.

  • Likelihood: Not very – 7%.
  • Requires: Greens to get enough votes to make a worthwhile coalition partner. Labour to head for left-wing idealism arm and stop passing terrorism laws. As Greens on Brighton Council aren’t working under a party whip, may require Greens to either come to terms with Westminster expectations or Labour to work with a party which is constitutionally unsuited to a coalition with itself, let alone anyone else.
  • Political outcomes: Current Lib-Dem and Tory leaders will both be toast. No UKIP policies to be met, so UKIP voters will face the same awkward fate as under a Labour majority.
  • Policies to implement: Similar to Labour majority, but with more constitutional reform and added impetus to nationalisation. More wind turbines, more councils turning streetlights out and junior coalition partner pushing for less nuclear power.

Labour-UKIP coalition

  • Likelihood: Almost certainly not – 1%.
  • Requires: Labour leader so desperate to hear the words “the Prime Minister Ed Miliband” on the news that he accepts the idea of “the Deputy Prime Minister Nigel Farage”. Labour to agree to EU referendum.
  • Political outcomes: Another small political earthquake, but with the authoritarian wings of each party finding common ground in drafting anti-terrorism laws which are actually aimed at immigrants generally.
  • Policies to implement: Random, badly drafted bits of authoritarianism combined with periodic stupid remarks about each others’ voters followed within a few weeks by another election.

Labour-Nationalist coalition

  • Likelihood: The most likely of the coalition options. Let’s say 15%.
  • Requires: Labour to be largest party but the Scots Nats and Plaid to be required to get them over the finish line. Labour to be willing to go into coalition with the Scots Nats after the SNP have taken most of their Scottish seats. SNP to be willing to take Labour seats and then join them in coalition. Labour to agree to remove nuclear warheads and associated submarines from Scotland.
  • Political outcomes: Current Lib-Dem and Tory leaders will both be toast. Probably no EU referendum, but will be compensated for with constitutional reform (Barnett formula re-weighted to benefit Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and possibly another Scotland independence vote.
  • Policies to implement: Aside from the constitutional reform, probably a general socialist agenda of higher taxes and increased public spending. Moves by junior coalition partners towards nuclear disarmament – meanwhile Trident would ideally go to Milford Haven if Plaid will wear it (where closure of the oil refinery and associated job losses were announced a month ago) and the Plymouth/ Devonport/ Ernesettle naval bases and weapons dump if not. (The SNP wants it gone, together with the employment opportunities in Glasgow.)

Devonport 1 JPGDevonport. Useful place to put nuclear-warhead-carrying submarines, at small risk that the submarines will swap crashing into Skye with getting tangled up in the Torpoint chain ferry.

Coalition not involving Labour or the Tories

  • Likelihood: Not even in this election – 0%.
  • Requires: Vote share to become so divided that most seats are won by a non-classic party. These parties (none very centre-ground) to then bury the hatchet enough to form a coalition.
  • Political outcomes: Tory and Labour leaders will both be toast. Mass defections to new Government.
  • Policies to implement: Five years of argument over what sort of nationalisation looks best and if we really need an EU referendum to nationalise things.

“Confidence and Supply”

  • Likelihood: Probably the most likely option of the lot, but this isn’t saying much – 20%.
  • Requires: No party to be able to form an overall majority on their own, but no party able to reach a coalition agreement with another party to form a majority (either because nobody wants such an agreement, because key policies are so diverging or because no two parties other than the Tories and Labour can add their combined seat share up to get a majority). Given what happened to the Lib-Dems after 2010, there is no reason why anyone should want to form such an agreement (unless the Lib-Dems’ vote goes up from 2010 on the day, whereupon the precedent may look better).
  • Political outcomes: Largest party forms a Government and gets other parties to back the Budget plus other odds and ends in exchange for jam, not necessarily of well-advised flavours and possibly tomorrow. Leaders of the losing classic parties will be able to cling on (unless they lose their seats) to avoid destabilising the party with another election looming after a six-month political deadlock.
  • Policies to implement: None, as no party is sufficiently popular with the others to be able to carry anything without a formal guarantee of a quid pro quo, ideally at the same time as whatever was being carried in the first place.

Official Monster Raving Loony Party majority

  • Likelihood: None, as the Loonies don’t put up enough candidates (326 MPs required for a majority) so sadly 0%.
  • Requires: Everyone else to do so badly – and look so stupid by polling day – that the Loonies sail to victory, probably on a trifling vote share. OMRLP then to suspend its usual constitutional rule that anyone who wins an election isn’t a proper Loony and so will be ejected from the party.
  • Political outcomes: Complete political meltdown, as Loonies aren’t supposed to win elections.
  • Policies to implement: The policies that would otherwise have to wait until the classic parties pick up on them in a few years.

Something else

  • Likelihood: 1%
  • Requires: None of the above to come off.
  • Political outcomes: Small earthquake of hard-to-define proportions.
  • Policies to implement: Who knows? Not that it matters, as the above is all rather vague anyway.

Anyway, we will all find out what will happen on Election Night, or shortly after, if at all: