General Election Predictions

Final General Election Predictions: 1. Essex

27 Apr 2015 at 09:33

Back in January I predicted the outcome of the General Election, seat by seat. Since then, I have done more research and altered some of the predictions taking into account various issues including new updated constituency polls by Lord Ashcroft. Over the next ten days I will be revisiting each county and region giving my final predictions. I’d still welcome feedback, even at this late stage.

Note that the constituencies where the full text is in BOLD is one where my prediction has changed.


Seats: 18
Current Political Makeup: Con 16, LibDem 1, UKIP 1
Prediction in January: Con 14, UKIP 2, Lab 1, LibDem 1
Final Prediction: Con 14, UKIP 3, Lab 0, LibDem 1

1. Basildon & Billericay

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21922 (52.7%)
Labour: 9584 (23.1%)
Lib Dem: 6538 (15.7%)
BNP: 1934 (4.7%)
UKIP: 1591 (3.8%)
MAJORITY: 12338 (29.7%)

Sitting MP: John Baron (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative Hold

Assuming John Baron doesn’t defect to UKIP, this seems a safe Conservative hold. For Labour to win, the entire LibDem vote would need to go to Ed Miliband and UKIP would need to take a huge chunk of the Conservative vote.

2. Braintree

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25901 (52.6%)
Labour: 9780 (19.9%)
Lib Dem: 9247 (18.8%)
BNP: 1080 (2.2%)
Green: 718 (1.5%)
UKIP: 2477 (5%)
MAJORITY: 16121 (32.8%)

Sitting MP: Brooks Newmark (Con, standing down)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Despite Brooks Newmark’s fall from grace, it’s difficult to see this north Essex seat as anything other than a Tory hold. However, the LibDem vote is likely to at least halve, with Labour and UKIP being the main beneficiaries. Expect a healthy, but reduced Tory majority.

3. Brentwood & Ongar

2010 Result:
Conservative: 28793 (56.9%)
Labour: 4992 (9.9%)
Lib Dem: 11872 (23.5%)
BNP: 1447 (2.9%)
Green: 584 (1.2%)
UKIP: 2037 (4%)
English Dem: 491 (1%)
Independent: 263 (0.5%)
Others: 113 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 16921 (33.4%)

Sitting MP: Eric Pickles (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Eric Pickles has built a huge majority here and he may well increase it as the LibDem vote shrivels. No more comment necessary.

4. Castle Point

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19806 (44%)
Labour: 6609 (14.7%)
Lib Dem: 4232 (9.4%)
BNP: 2205 (4.9%)
Others: 12174 (27%)
MAJORITY: 7632 (17%)

Sitting MP: Rebecca Harris (Con)
Prediction: Conservative gain
Final Prediction: UKIP gain

One of the more interesting Essex seats due to its previous MP, Bob Spink. He succeeded Sir Bernard Braine in 1992 but then lost it in the 1997 Labour landslide, before regaining in four years later. He then briefly defected to UKIP before cutting ties with them. He is not standing this time, but the UKIP candidate, Jamie Huntsman, is the UKIP leader on Essex County Council. Canvey Island has the highest proportion of people in England who identified as “English” in the 2011 census. This is part of the reason why many think that behind Clacton and Thurrock, this is UKIP’s third best target seat in Essex. An upset could be on the cards here, but the most likely result is a Tory hold. UPDATE: UKIP are putting a huge amount of effort into this seat and the demographics are in their favour. The Ashcroft poll in February showed a significant swing to UKIP, putting them only one point behind Rebecca Harris. I’ve now moved to thinking a UKIP victory is slightly more likely than not.

5. Chelmsford
2010 Result:
Conservative: 25207 (46.2%)
Labour: 5980 (11%)
Lib Dem: 20097 (36.8%)
BNP: 899 (1.6%)
Green: 476 (0.9%)
UKIP: 1527 (2.8%)
English Dem: 254 (0.5%)
Others: 153 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 5110 (9.4%)

Sitting MP: Simon Burns (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative Hold

Chelmsford has been a LibDem target all through my adult life. Yet they’ve never quite managed to unseat either Norman St John Stevas or Simon Burns. Just when they looked as if they might, they were thwarted by boundary changes. Simon Burns will only be in danger if UKIP take a huge chunk of his vote away and the LibDem vote holds up.

6. Clacton

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22867 (53%)
Labour: 10799 (25%)
Lib Dem: 5577 (12.9%)
BNP: 1975 (4.6%)
Green: 535 (1.2%)
Independent: 292 (0.7%)
Others: 1078 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 12068 (28%)

By-Election Result (Oct 2014)
UKIP: 21113 (59.7%)
Conservative: 8709 (24.6%)
Labour: 3957 (11.2%)
Green: 688 (1.9%
Lib Dem: 483 (1.2%)
Others: 388 (1.2%)
BNP: 1975 (4.6%)
Green: 535 (1.2%)
Independent: 292 (0.7%)
Others: 1078 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 12068 (28%)

Sitting MP: Douglas Carswell (UKIP)
Prediction: UKIP hold

Douglas Carswell’s win at the by-election on 8 October was by a far larger margin than even he can have imagined. It’s likely that some of his supporters will return to the Tory fold at the general election, but a hell of a lot of them would have to do that for him to be in danger of being a very short-lived UKIP MP. He genuinely seems to have built up a very loyal personal following.

7. Colchester

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15169 (32.9%)
Labour: 5680 (12.3%)
Lib Dem: 22151 (48%)
BNP: 705 (1.5%)
Green: 694 (1.5%)
UKIP: 1350 (2.9%)
English Dem: 335 (0.7%)
Others: 55 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 6982 (15.1%)

Sitting MP: Sir Bob Russell (LibDem)
Prediction: Narrow LibDem hold

Sir Bob Russell is a popular local man who has seen off many a Tory challenge since he was first elected in 1997. His opponent is Will Quince, who fought the seat in 2010. Local election results since 2010 do not bode particularly well for the Tories, yet this is one of those seats where anything could happen depending on how much the LibDem vote declines and how well UKIP do. But Sir Bob is a doughty campaigner for Colchester and has had 15 years to build up a strong personal vote.

8. Epping Forest

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25148 (54%)
Labour: 6641 (14.3%)
Lib Dem: 10017 (21.5%)
BNP: 1982 (4.3%)
Green: 659 (1.4%)
UKIP: 1852 (4%)
English Dem: 285 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 15131 (32.5%)

Sitting MP: Eleanor Laing (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

No comment necessary. Anything other than a big majority for Eleanor Laing would be considered a political earthquake.

9. Harlow

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19691 (44.9%)
Labour: 14766 (33.7%)
Lib Dem: 5990 (13.7%)
BNP: 1739 (4%)
UKIP: 1591 (3.6%)
Christian: 101 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 4925 (11.2%)

Sitting MP: Robert Halfon (Con)
Prediction: Very narrow Labour gain
Final Prediction: Conservative hold

Robert Halfon’s majority in 2010 was far higher than he had ever dreamed, but this is a seat that goes with the prevailing political wind. Halfon has proved himself to be an adept political campaigner but can he really hold off the Labour challenge? He must be hoping that UKIP will chip away at the Labour vote, as well as recognising that he will also lose some white working class votes to Farage’s party too. There are 6,000 LibDem votes up for grabs here too, which will also make the Tories nervous about their chances of retaining this seat. They are right to be. UPDATE: UPDATE: Of all my predictions in January this one drew the most criticism. Even Labour supporters reckoned I had called it wrong. I’ve also talked to several people who live there and every single one of them reckons Rob Halfon will hold on. So I’m changing my mind on this one.

10. Harwich & North Essex

2010 Result:
Conservative: 23001 (46.9%)
Labour: 9774 (19.9%)
Lib Dem: 11554 (23.6%)
BNP: 1065 (2.2%)
Green: 909 (1.9%)
UKIP: 2527 (5.2%)
Independent: 170 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 11447 (23.4%)

Sitting MP: Bernard Jenkin (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Even if the LibDem fractures here, it’s hard to see Bernard Jenkin being under serious threat.

11. Maldon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 28661 (59.8%)
Labour: 6070 (12.7%)
Lib Dem: 9254 (19.3%)
BNP: 1464 (3.1%)
UKIP: 2446 (5.1%)
MAJORITY: 19407 (40.5%)

Sitting MP: John Whittingdale (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Unthinkable that this seat could return anything other than a Conservative.

12. Rayleigh & Wickford

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30257 (57.8%)
Labour: 7577 (14.5%)
Lib Dem: 7919 (15.1%)
BNP: 2160 (4.1%)
UKIP: 2211 (4.2%)
English Dem: 2219 (4.2%)
MAJORITY: 22338 (42.7%)

Sitting MP: Mark Francois (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

UKIP may make some inroads to the Tory vote here, but not enough to worry Mark Francois.

13. Rochford & Southend East

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19509 (46.9%)
Labour: 8459 (20.3%)
Lib Dem: 8084 (19.4%)
BNP: 1856 (4.5%)
Green: 707 (1.7%)
UKIP: 2405 (5.8%)
Independent: 611 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 11050 (26.5%)

Sitting MP: James Duddridge (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A split opposition here has enabled James Duddridge to maintain a very health majority. The only way it could be threatened is for the LibDem vote to collapse almost entirely to Labour and for UKIP to take 7-10,000 Tory votes. Highly unlikely.

14. Saffron Walden

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30155 (55.5%)
Labour: 5288 (9.7%)
Lib Dem: 14913 (27.4%)
BNP: 1050 (1.9%)
Green: 735 (1.4%)
UKIP: 2228 (4.1%)
MAJORITY: 15242 (28%)

Sitting MP: Sir Alan Haselhurst (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

This seat used to have a reasonable agricultural Labour vote, but that has virtually disappeared now. The LibDems, like in Chelmsford, have flattered to deceive here for years. Any decline in their vote will see Sir Alan Haselhurst increase his majority as UKIP are unlikely to do well here.

15. South Basildon & East Thurrock

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19624 (43.9%)
Labour: 13852 (31%)
Lib Dem: 5977 (13.4%)
BNP: 2518 (5.6%)
UKIP: 2639 (5.9%)
Others: 125 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 5772 (12.9%)

Sitting MP: Stephen Metcalfe (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

A difficult seat to call. Always regarded as a bellweather seat, if Ed Miliband is to win a majority he needs to win seats like this, and with a good majority. UKIP believes this is theirs to win but they have selected a completely inappropriate candidate (Kerry Smith). Their only hope is to take a large chunk of Tory votes, but this will depend on whether the Tory message of ‘Vote UKIP, Get Miliband’ resonates. The Labour candidate, the oddly named Mike Le-Surf, is local to the seat and is a Brentwood councillor. However, Stephen Metcalfe has done the legwork locally and much may depend on how big a personal vote he has managed to build up. Interestingly the Labour vote was 12,000 down on 1997, although it was under rather different boundaries. Much may depend on turnout. A high turnout may well bode well for Labour.

16. Southend West

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20086 (46.1%)
Labour: 5850 (13.4%)
Lib Dem: 12816 (29.4%)
BNP: 1333 (3.1%)
Green: 644 (1.5%)
UKIP: 1714 (3.9%)
English Dem: 546 (1.3%)
Independent: 617 (1.4%)
MAJORITY: 7270 (16.7%)

Sitting MP: David Amess (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

A safe Conservative seat which could have an increased majority if the LibDem vote collapses to Labour.

17. Thurrock

2010 Result:
Conservative: 16869 (36.8%)
Labour: 16777 (36.6%)
Lib Dem: 4901 (10.7%)
BNP: 3618 (7.9%)
UKIP: 3390 (7.4%)
Christian: 266 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 92 (0.2%)

Sitting MP: Jackie Doyle-Price (Con)
Prediction: Narrow UKIP gain

When former Ed Miliband aide Polly Billington was selected as Labour candidate for Thurrock she must have been as confident as she could be that she would be the next MP for Thurrock. Local UKIP candidate (and now MEP) Tim Aker has put a giant spanner in the works. If you look at all the local election results for this constituency you’d be very brave not to bet on him pulling off a major upset. This is the seat Nigel Farage should have fought, and he may well live to regret it. Doyle-Price has been a good local MP, but that may count for little. However, this is one of the few genuine three way marginals, and it may well be that each of the three parties ends up within a couple of percentage points of each other. But on balance, I’m calling this for UKIP.

18. Witham

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24448 (52.2%)
Labour: 8656 (18.5%)
Lib Dem: 9252 (19.8%)
Green: 1419 (3%)
UKIP: 3060 (6.5%)
MAJORITY: 15196 (32.4%)

Sitting MP: Priti Patel (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A split opposition means Priti Patel is safe, even if much of the LibDem vote goes to Labour. Patel parades her eurosceptism at every opportunity so it’s difficult to imagine UKIP making a massive impact in Witham, even though demographically they probably ought to.

To see the complete list of predictions click HERE


1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain talks to David Jason

Iain talks to David Jason about his autobiography.

Listen now

General Election Predictions

Final Seat by Seat General Election Predictions: The Complete List

27 Apr 2015 at 09:29

These are the links to my final election predictions, calculated at the end of April 2015. The figures in brackets denote the changes since the revised predictions in mid March. Click on the links for the seat by seat breakdown.

The final tally looks like this…

Conservative 276
Labour 267
Liberal Democrat 23
SNP 54
Plaid Cymru 4
Respect 1
Green 1
Sinn Fein 5
Independent 2

Bedfordshire (0 changes)
Berkshire (0 changes)
Birmingham (0 changes)
Bristol & Surrounds (2 changes)
Buckinghamshire (0 change)
Cambridgeshire (0 changes)
Cheshire (0 changes)
Cornwall (1 change)
County Durham (0 changes)
Cumbria (0 changes)
Derbyshire (0 changes)
Devon (1 change)
Dorset (0 changes)
East Sussex (1 change)
Essex (2 changes)
Gloucestershire (1 change)
Hampshire (1 change)
Hampshire (0 changes)
Herefordshire & Worcestershire (0 changes)
Hertfordshire (1 change)
Kent (0 changes)
Kent (0 changes)
Lancashire (0 changes)
Leicestershire (0 changes)
Lincolnshire (1 change)
London Central (0 changes)
London East (0 changes)
London North East (0 changes)
London North West (0 changes)
London South (0 changes)
London South East (0 changes)
London South West (0 changes)
London West (0 changes)
Manchester (2 changes)
Merseyside (1 change)
Norfolk (1 change)
Northamptonshire (0 changes)
Northern Ireland (0 changes)
Northumberland (0 changes)
Nottinghamshire (0 changes)
Oxfordshire (0 changes)
Scotland (12 changes)
Shropshire (0 changes)
Somerset (0 changes)
Staffordshire (0 changes)
Suffolk (0 changes)
Surrey (0 changes)
Teesside (1 change)
Tyne & Wear (0 changes)
Wales Clwyd (0 changes)
Wales Dyfed (1 change)
Wales Gwent (0 changes)
Wales Gwynedd & Powys (0 changes)
Wales Mid Glamorgan (1 change)
Wales South Glamorgan (1 change)
Wales West Glamorgan (0 changes)
Warwickshire (0 changes)
West Midlands (1 change)
West Sussex (0 changes)
Wiltshire (1 change)
Yorkshire East & Humberside (0 changes)
Yorkshire North (0 changes)
Yorkshire South (0 changes)
Yorkshire West (0 changes)



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Video: Iain interviews Brooks Newmark MP

18 Doughty Street: The Class of 2005

Listen now

UK Politics

Future Leaders Series 4: Who Will Succeed David Cameron?

25 Apr 2015 at 19:02

This is the fourth in a series looking at the runners and riders in post-election leadership contests. You can read my article about the runners and riders in a post election LibDem leadership contest HERE, UKIP HERE and Labour HERE

In the event of an election defeat, it’s usual for a party leader to fall on their sword more or less immediately. I don’t think this would be any different for David Cameron. In the unlikely event of a Labour majority, he would be gone by the end of Friday 8 May. I am not sure he would even be persuaded to stay on while the party elects a new leader. In that event it would be interesting to see who would become acting leader in the interim. There’s no formal process for deciding this. Could it be Ken Clarke’s last hurrah? The second scenario is that Cameron is persuaded to stand aside in the event of failing to win a majority, but with the Tories being the largest party. James Kirkup speculates in the Telegraph HERE that in this event Boris Johnson could be annointed leader with no election. This is both fanciful and preposterous and is obviously a Johnson inspired kite flying exercise. It’s widely believed that Boris Johnson, Theresa May and George Osborne are all set to stand, but there is likely to be at least a dozen candidates who are already considering putting their names forward. And believe me, those discussions are happening now.


Click HERE and scroll down


If David Cameron resigns after May 7th, these are the most likely leadership candidates…


Age: 51
Political Record: Mayor of London 2008-
Likely to Stand: 100%
For: Pizazz, charisma by the bucketload, ability to connect with young people and non Tories, ability to recognise his own deficiencies and appoint good people to his team
Against: Old Etonian, disorganised, lack of attention to detail, previous record as an MP, not known well among Tory MPs so might not get to 2nd round, said to be more skeletons
Verdict: Will be heavily promoted by the right wing media, but can he reach the party round of voting? If he does, he’ll win. Any MP who was in parliament from 2001-5 won’t vote for him, he hasn’t made a huge effort to get to know the 2010 intake and most of the 2015 intake won’t know him. His best hope is that they see him as a winner. There will be many Tories who resign from the party if he becomes leader.
Odds: 7/4


Age: 58
Political Record: Home Secretary 2010-
Likely to Stand: 90%
For: Competent, stylish, very good record as Home Secretary
Against: Lack of vocal supporters, seen as slightly stand-offish, the ‘nasty party’ remark is still remembered
Verdict: She could be the ‘Stop Boris’ candidate, but she hasn’t really defined her politics and apart from being seen as competent no one knows what ‘Mayism’ is. It’s also difficult to think who would run her leadership campaign. Could she be the Ann Widdecombe of 2015, by which I mean, she might not be able to find enough people to nominate her or run a campaign? I doubt it, but even having to ask the question says a lot.
Odds: 7/2


Age: 43
Political Record: Chancellor of the Exchequer 2010-
Likely to Stand: 70%
For: In terms of reputation he’s peaking at the right time, turned the economy round, personal image has improved
Against: If Cameron goes down he goes down with him, not popular with many Tory MPs, seen as having his spies all over the place.
Verdict: George Osborne’s best chance of succeeding David Cameron is if Cameron wins a majority and then stands down before 2020. If he stands after an election defeat he will still be a strong candidate, but it’s doubtful he would prevail against Boris.
Odds: 7/1


Age: 46
Political Record: Culture Secretary 2014-
Likely to Stand: 70%
For: Stratospheric rise, safe pair of hands, nailed his colours to the Thatcherite mast, could be the candidate of the right, popular with his own intake, great back story
Against: Lack of experience, slightly robotic media manner, always on message, seen as a bit of a cold fish
Verdict: Could be a good outside bet, but needs to up his profile and quick. Needs to harness the vote which in 2005 went to Liam Fox and David Davis.
Odds: 10/1


Age: 59
Political Record: Defence Secretary 2010-14, Foreign Secretary 2014-
Likely to Stand: 50%
For: Safe pair of hands, seen as a capable Defence Secretary, economically literate
Against: Comparisons to John Major are unfair, but he is seen as a little grey. Hasn’t really made his mark at the Foreign Office
Verdict: Would paint himself as the candidate of the right and therefore be fishing in the same pond as Sajid Javid.
Odds: 16/1


Age: 47
Political Record: Ecucation Secretary 2010-14, Chief Whip 2014-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: True radical, eloquent, transparently nice, hated by Labour
Against: Seen as divisive, questionable record as Chief Whip, has questioned himself whether he would be up to the job, Neocon foreign policy views
Verdict: Has ruled himself out of standing several times, but if he could be persuaded would be the strongest right of centre candidate.
Odds: 20/1


Age: 66
Political Record: Minister in the Major Government 1990-97, Shadow Home Secretary 2003-8, 2005 Leadership contender
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: Popular in the voluntary party, still has the ability to garner headlines, more youthful than his age suggests, ability to reach beyond the Tory Party
Against: Age, memories of the 2005 campaign, seen as a serial rebel, not popular among the 2010 intake
Verdict: More likely to play the role of ‘kingmaker’ than be a candidate himself
Odds: 33/1


Age: 53
Political Record: Defence Secretary 2010-11, 2005 leadership contender
Likely to Stand: 40%
For: Articulate, good on the media, has remained loyal since his resignation in 2011, popular on the right
Against: His resignation, questionmarks over judgement, has an established fanbase in Parliament
Verdict: Needs to come out of the traps quickly and establish himself as the candidate of the right, and see off Javid, Hammond and Gove
Odds: 33/1


Age: 39
Political Record: Defra Secretary 2014-
Likely to Stand: 30%
For: Relentlessly ambitious
Against: Relentlessly ambitious, failed to make her mark in Cabinet so far, speech tanked at 2014 Tory conference
Verdict: Will be desperate to stand, but it’s not clear where her support would lie
Odds: 40/1


Age: 52
Political Record: MP for Hereford since 2010
Likely to Stand: 30%
For: Clever, urbane, media friendly, looks like a prime minister, radical and original thinker, disliked by Cameron
Against: Old Etonian, failed to become a minister since 2010, inexperienced and untried at the top level
Verdict: Even though he’s disliked by Cameron, he could become the Cameroon candidate, although his inexperience may well doom him. Should stand to put a marker down.
Odds: 40/1


Age: 48
Political Record: Culture Secretary 2010-12, Health Secretary 2012-
Likely to Stand: 40%
For: Instantly likeable, ability to recover from a crisis, seen as having done a good job at Health, popular with 2010 intake
Against: Not political enough, more Cameroon than David Cameron, perhaps too nice (if that’s possible)
Verdict: Tougher than he looks, he could be the surprise package if he sets out his stall early enough. His support will come from the 2010 and 2015 intakes
Odds: 20/1


Age: 42
Political Record: Education Secretary 2014-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: Has neutralised education as a controversial issue to an extent, which was her remit, she possesses a core toughness which is not always obvious on the outside
Against: Her seat is very marginal, few know what kind of Tory she is and she needs to explain that quickly if she is to stand
Verdict: Popular among her intake, she could mount a good campaign which would stand her in good stead for the future. But she would do it knowing it was unlikely she would win.
Odds: 33/1


Age: 58
Political Record: Northern Ireland Secretary 2010-12, Defra Secretary 2012-14
Likely to Stand: 50%
For: Personable, a conviction politician, unfairly sacked from Defra, kept Northern Ireland quiet as an issue
Against: Seen as an IDS disciple, questionmarks over intellect from those on the left of the party
Verdict: Has carved out a niche as a friendly critic since his defenstration. If he’s to stand he will need to act quickly to become the standardbearer of the right.
Odds: 25/1


Age: 47
Political Record: Chairman of the 1922 Committee 2010-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: Bright, loyal, on the sensible right, terrifcally successful chair of the 1922 Committee, popular across the party, grammar school boy
Against: No ministerial experience
Verdict: Could be a surprise candidate and could do well if he runs he right sort of campaign. Watch him.
Odds: 50/1


Most leadership contests end up with a maximum of five serious candidates. I’ve listed fourteen here. I regard the prospect of a Boris coronation as preposterous and something which would lead to many people quitting the Tories for good. There’s no doubt that Boris is the candidate to beat, but beatable he is. Any Tory who believes that he is the answer to all Tory problems is deluding themselves. He’s done a very good job as Mayor of London, but leading a political party and being prime minister is something at a very different level. In the end, I wonder how many Tory MPs’ pens will hover over the ballot paper intending to put a cross in Boris’s box, but then moving to someone else when they come to their senses. Boris is a star. He’s mobbed wherever he goes. He reaches parts of the country that no other politician can reach, and yet is that really a qualification for running the country? Yes, he’s clever. He even has intellectual pretensions, but running the country?

That said, it’s a leadership contest that is his to lose. But as I well know from my experience working for David Davis is 2005, it’s rare that the frontrunner wins.

For what it’s worth I think the six most likely candidates to run, in the event of a Tory defeat, and appear on the ballot paper will be Boris Johnson, Theresa May, George Osborne, Sajid Javid, Owen Paterson and Liam Fox. I do wonder, though, whether George Osborne might decide that it might be better to sit this one out.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Video: Iain Interviews Jeffrey Archer

18 Doughty Street, One to One

Listen now

General Election Predictions

How David Cameron Unwittingly Promoted the Rise of the SNP

25 Apr 2015 at 09:00

It could have been so very different. This general election campaign has so far been dominated by one woman. No, not Margaret Thatcher or her legacy, but another Iron Lady, the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon. No one could have predicted it, few can explain it, but let me have a go.

When Scotland voted ‘no’ by a larger margin than expected we all thought that was it. Alex Salmond had been firmly put back in his box and he had quit the stage. The SNP would shut up, and all would be well with the union. Not a bit of it. The Prime Minister’s vow, announced hurriedly in Downing Street at 7am with the ink on the ballot papers hardly dry, saw to that. Would he deliver or would he welch on it? Labour politicians piled in accusing him of making a promise he wouldn’t deliver on. He then compounded his error by going further and suggesting even more fiscal powers, including more powers to control income tax north of the border, giving Scotland effective fiscal autonomy. Labour went berserk and over the time votes Labour had lost to the ‘yes’ campaign became permanently lost to the SNP. Not only that but even Labour voters who voted ‘no’ began to look at the SNP in a different light and consider switching their allegiances. Opinion polls started to reflect this phenomenon and pundits started talking about the SNP gaining a dozen seats, then two dozen, then three dozen. One or two commentators even predict they will gain four dozen, meaning they will win every single seat in Scotland.

I admit it, I was slow to pick up on what was and is happening north of the border and anyone who spotted this trend on could be in for a bumper payday. When I did my seat by seat predictions in January I predicted a total of 18 seats for the SNP. Looking at each seat individually (and I have done this for all 650, believe it or not, thereby proving my ultimate political geek credentials) I just couldn’t see how the SNP could overturn five figure Labour majorities. I can now. LibDem MP Jo Swinson, who has held the relatively marginal seat of East Dunbartonshire told me she has spent all her life fighting Labour, but they have now given up in her seat and she is now having to cope with fighting the SNP, who have recruited more than 1,000 new members there, many of them keen to take part in the campaign and defeat her. If she holds on it will be a miracle. My words, not hers. I don’t blame or its customers for not running on a market on that constituency.

This is a phenomenon on Canadian proportions. For the younger among you that is a reference to the Canadian general election of 1993 when governing Conservative leader Kim Campbell became the least successful Canadian politician of all time by reducing the number of Conservative held seats from 156 to just two.

David Cameron has played into the SNP hands at every point of this campaign. His strategy (if you can call it that) towards the TV debates has given Nicola Sturgeon a profile she can only dreamed about beforehand. Had he taken part in three three way debates like last time, Sturgeon wouldn’t have been seen in a debate south of Hadrian’s Wall. Instead she is thought by most people to have ‘won’ both the national debates. People may not have agreed with all she said, but boy did she say it well.

The Tory campaign has developed into one in which they have nothing to say apart from to warn of the dangers of a Labour-SNP tie-up after the election. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but not to the exclusion of everything else.

So what’s going to happen? In my latest predictions I have the SNP on 41 seats, Labour on 11, LibDems on 4 and the Tories on 3. However, this weekend I will be revising that. I now think the LibDems face almost total wipeout and will retain only Orkney & Shetland and possibly one other. I’m reducing the Tory total also, and they may even face total wipeout. I also think that if things continue as they are over the next two weeks a few more Labour seats may fall to the SNP pushing their total to nearer 50. I think the betting line on is about right at the moment: with over 50.5 rated at 2.35 (42.553%) and under 50.5 at 1.645 (60.784%). I see the overs shortening as events unfold in the next fortnight. I am told by that currently 58% of the volume of bets has been placed on under 50.5 seats for SNP and that under 50.5 seats has gone from 2.0 to 1.64 (50% likelihood to 60%).

Make no mistake, one way or another Scotland is going to be the big story of election night, and it means it is impossible for Labour to form a majority government. The best Ed Miliband can hope for is to lead a minority administration, dependant on the SNP and LibDems for support in important votes. I believe that is the most likely outcome of this election and would reluctantly back the 2.63 (38.022%) priced for this on This heralds a whole new, and possibly very dark era in the governance of the nation. You have been warned.

This article first appeared on



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Miranda Hart

Comedienne Miranda Hart talks about her new book, IS IT ME?

Listen now

UK Politics

WATCH: LBC's Election Call with Ed Miliband

24 Apr 2015 at 23:28

This is our election call, which I hosted today with Labour leader Ed Miliband. It lasts thirty minutes.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Iain talks to Julie in Basildon about bad parenting

An emotional call.

Listen now


ConHome Diary: Boris Gets on 'All Fours' With Theresa May

24 Apr 2015 at 13:46

I can’t pretend that I have read every newspaper every day, but it seems to me that there is one broadsheet that has trumped its rivals every single day, and that’s The Times. Its range and depth are simply unrivalled, and what with its star team of columnists it is unmissable. Its App is also so much easier to navigate than its main rivals too. And I love Ann Treneman. Sketchwriting can be a bit hit and miss, but she has a consistency which is difficult to match.
For hard working people #ArentWeAllDear

Readers may remember that I wrote about the death of Sir Anthony Garner in a recent column, who was director of the party’s organisation from 1976-1988. His son Christopher has asked if I can pass on details of his memorial service. It is to be held on Tuesday 12th May at 2.30pm at St Mary’s Church in Old Amersham. He is keen to keep track of numbers so if you plan on attending could you email
I was chatting to a former Conservative MP the other day about Sir Anthony Garner, who was bemoaning the state of the party organisation and the fact that many of his members had died in the last few years or had buggered off to UKIP. “The policy on gay marriage has had a bigger impact that Number Ten realises locally. They’ve even driven away our more useful bigots.” Surely a front runner for quote of the campaign?

It’s all part of our Long Term Economic Strategy #CourseItIsLove
Over the weekend I got yet another of the wretched press releases from CCHQ informing me that the Labour campaign was in chaos. Thanks for that insight. Having lost every single week of the campaign to Ed Miliband so far, if I were them I’d be looking in the mirror a little more. This election is slipping away from the Conservatives and no one seems to realise it. It’s all very well warning of the danger of an SNP-Labour arrangement, but to do it every hour of every day to the exclusion of almost everything else is ridiculous. Michael Forsyth has said that the effect if to big up the SNP and make Scottish independence ever more likely. He certainly has a point. Indeed, had David Cameron agreed to do a repeat of the three TV debates from last time the SNP wouldn’t have had sniff at the exposure they have had courtesy of the two TV debates so far. That’s not to say they wouldn’t still be way ahead in Scotland, but it comes to a pretty pass when you have people in England clamouring for SNP candidates to stand in England next time.

Only one party can guarantee you an EU referendum #YeahWeveHeardItAllBefore
I was having lunch with a senior newspaper group representative the other day and he showed me an email he had just received from one of the biggest media analysts in the business. These people are paid to provide independent advice to bog companies. He said to me I should read the final sentence. “We have discounted the possibility of a Conservative led government”. That’s quite something for anyone to predict at this stage, but the fact that a well-respected city firm Is now doing so ought to send a shiver down the back of any Conservative strategist.

Steve Riley is the LibDem candidate for Broadland. Let’s face it, he was never going to get my vote but having received his election address he most certainly won’t be now. It is illiterate, with numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes. He even manages to get him own phone number wrong, as it has three too many digits. I know the LibDems have leaked members in recent times, but it seems they don’t even have enough people to proof-read a leaflet. At one time the LibDems thought they could win Broadland as the Norman Lamb effect would ripple southwards from North Norfolk. They had always been strong on Broadland District Council. Their leader, the former blogger Nich Starling, resigned and quit the party and they’ve never been the same since. I predict a greatly increased Tory majority in Broadland on 7 May – not exactly my most controversial prediction.
Would you ever vote tactically to keep Labour, or in Scotland the SNP, out? It’s a question a lot of people are asking themselves in this election. For instance, if you live in Hornsey & Wood Green, would you lend your vote to Lynne Featherstone of the LibDems seeing as the Conservative candidate has no chance? If you live in Stirling would you vote Labour to keep the SNP out, or for Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire for the same reason? Sir Malcolm Rifkind told me on Tuesday that he understood anybody who would vote for a unionist party over the SNP. He hinted he would do so himself, if it really mattered. Quite an admission from a former Scottish Secretary.

We’ve got two weeks to save the NHS #ThatWorkedWellIn1992DidntIt
Quote of the week by Boris Johnson (who else?): “I’m on all fours with Theresa May”. I will leave it to your imagination to guess what the context was.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Benjamin Cohen about Social Media Addiction

What constitutes an addiction to social media? Iain Dale, Benjamin Cohen and Siobhan Benita discuss.

Listen now


Me & Jacqui Smith: Separated at Birth

24 Apr 2015 at 09:36

I woke up at 3am this morning. I just couldn’t sleep properly for some reason. Now I know why. I switched on my phone to find a Google Alert. It linked to an article on MailOnline by Richard Littlejohn. Can’t be good, I thought. I wasn’t far wrong. I clicked on it and a pic of me came up with a lot of hair. The rest you can see for yourself…

Most nights before I go to bed, I like to watch the paper review on Sky News.
On Wednesday it was the turn of former Home Secretary ‘Jackboots’ Jacqui Smith and the LBC radio presenter Iain Dale.
I had to do a double-take. They must have been separated at birth. If Dale had a Smith-style syrup, they’d be taken for identical twins.

Thank Christ I don’t to paper review with Paul Nuttall. As you can imagine, the sleep didn’t improve.

When I got up later I texted Jacqui. She hadn’t seen it.

I have to admit, though, I’d kill for her hair.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Mary Robinson

The former Irish President discusses her new memoirs.

Listen now

UK Politics

Attitude Column: Get Off Your Pert Little Arse/Big Fat Arse and Vote!

19 Apr 2015 at 18:51

If I stopped you in the street and asked you what you think of politicians, chances are you’d give me one or all of these replies: “They’re all the same”. “They’re only in it for themselves.” “They don’t represent people like me”. “What do they know about my life?” “They’re all lying, thieving scumbags”. And one in three of you would march away proclaiming “I don’t vote”, as if it was something to be proud of. That’s how bad things have got.

In all likelihood half of you reading this article won’t be bothered to get off your pert little arses and go down to the polling station on 7th May. And yet you are happy to take part in votes to decide who wins the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. This just goes to show what a challenge politicians have in encouraging the population in general, let alone the gay bit of it, to take part in what ought to be the biggest celebration of democracy ever.

If you were a gay Hungarian, you’d turnout in your hundreds of thousands to vote against the Jobbik Party which wants to criminalise homosexual behaviour. If you were a gay American you’d probably turn out to vote in state referendums asking you whether you were in favour of gay marriage. Yet in this country, on the face of it, most gay equality battles are won. Yes, there are many concerns about gay bashing, about bullying of homosexual kids in schools and discrimination at work, but none of these issues are going to get gay activists protesting the on streets and telling politicians that they won’t vote for them unless there is ‘action this day’! But just because battles over age of consent, adoption rules and marriage have largely been won, that doesn’t give the gay voter the excuse he or she may need to sit on his or backside and not take a trip down to the polling station on 7th May.

The fact is most gay men and women vote in exactly the same way as the rest of the population and this is a mark of the equality that has been won over the last forty years or so. All three traditional political parties can lay claim to promoting enacting various bits of equality legislation that has improved the lot of gay people. In this election, though, we have more than just the three main political parties to choose to vote for. In Scotland, the SNP is tipped to sweep the board. In England and Wales Nigel Farage’s UKIP will win some seats and influence the outcome in the others, while the Greens think they can do the latter, if not the former.

UKIP’s LGBT chair Tom resigned at the end of February complaining of a lack of a ‘gay friendly’ tone at the top of the party. It’s fair to say that UKIP haven’t made a huge effort to understand gay issues, although I remember Nigel Farage ringing me up with the equal marriage bill was first mooted to ask what I thought UKIP’s stance should be. I’m sorry to say he didn’t take my advice, although I think Farage’s own personal view is rather more libertarian than that of some of his more recidivist colleagues. We should also remember that UKIP have an openly gay MEP (David Coburn in Scotland) invited Kelly Maloney to address their spring conference at the end of February to explain transgender issues to their members, and she received a standing ovation. I haven’t seen that happen at any of the other party conferences. Perhaps as well as certain UKIP supporters needing to reassess their own prejudices regarding gay people, we also need to look beyond some our prejudices regarding UKIP.

Courting the so-called ‘gay vote’, if there is such a thing, could well mean the difference between winning and losing in some marginal constituencies. But political candidates shouldn’t patronise us by treating us as a special interest group. Just like straight people, we have mortgages, we use the health service, we pay the same taxes, we have views on Europe.
In this most unpredictable of elections, your vote really could make the difference as to who forms a government the next day. So make sure you get off your pert little/big fat arse, and put the X exactly where you want to.

This article first appeared in the April issue of Attitude Magazine



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Best of Iain's Mental Health Programmes

Half hour compilation of some of the most memorable moments of Iain's emotional discussions on mental health issues.

Listen now

UK Politics

Future Leaders Series 3: Who Will Succeed Ed Miliband?

18 Apr 2015 at 19:17

This is the third in a series looking at the runners and riders in post-election leadership contests. You can read my article about the runners and riders in a post election LibDem leadership contest HERE and UKIP HERE. I’ll be looking at the Conservatives before May 7th.

In the event of an election defeat, it’s usual for a party leader to fall on their sword more or less immediately. People close to Ed Miliband have already briefed that if he doesn’t win on May 7th he intends to stay put. Obviously the scale of the defeat might have a bearing on this, but whether it’s possible at all is very questionable. While there’s a possibility of entering Downing Street Ed Miliband won’t be going anywhere, but if, in the end, David Cameron stays for a second term, it’s difficult to think how Ed Miliband will be able to cling to his position. The ‘one more heave’ argument isn’t likely to cut too much ice.


Click HERE


If Ed Miliband resigns after May 7th, these are the most likely leadership candidates…


Age: 45
Political Record: MP for Leigh since 2001, Cabinet Minister 2007-10
Likely to Stand: 100%
For: Media friendly, pugnacious, good looking, popular with the unions
Against: Mid Staffs, only came fourth in the 2010 leadership election, can be chippy, arouses suspicion among Labour MPs, performed badly when he was Shadow Education Secretary
Verdict: Has skillfully promoted his prospects with CLPs and trade unions without appearing disloyal. He is undoubtedly one of the top three favourites but his move to the left may be his undoing.
Odds: 6/1


Age: 46
Political Record: MP since 1997, Cabinet Minister 2008-2010
Likely to Stand: 80%
For: Performed well as Shadow Home Secretary, seen as loyal, media friendly, not seen as right or left, good sense of humour
Against: Ed Balls, schoolmarmish tone in interviews, lack of a Labour party following
Verdict: If she wants it badly enough, she’ll be one of the favourites, but she needs to set out her stall early and define herself.
Odds: 6/1


Age: 36
Political Record: MP for Streatham since 2010, Shadow Business Secretary 2011-
Likely to Stand: 100%
For: Articulate, good looking, has defined himself on the social democratic right,
Against: Lack of experience, seen as too Blairite, perhaps a little too smooth at times, will he appeal to the union vote?
Verdict: Can market himself as a fresh start, but must avoid comparisons with Barack Obama. If he can appeal across the party, he could be a very strong contender.
Odds: 6/1


Age: 48
Political Record: MP since 2005, Cabinet Minister 2007-10, Shadow Chancellor 2011-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: One of the few big beasts on the Labour front bench, instills fear into Tories, much nicer than his reputation might suggest
Against: Reminds people of the Brown government, couldn’t stand against his wife, seen as too machiavellian
Verdict: Would probably be the best leader, but carries too much baggage and is likely to stand down in favour of Yvette Cooper
Odds: 33/1


Age: 64
Political Record: Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 2007-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: Ability to annoy Tories, solid record as deputy leader, would get union support, could pitch herself as interim candidate to allow younger candidates to get experience
Against: Age, too much political baggage
Verdict: Unlikely to stand, but could come under pressure. Question is, would she be tempted? I suspect she’d prefer a few months as acting leader, as in 2010.
Odds: 33/1


Age: 40
Political Record: MP for Stoke on Trent since 2010, Shadow Education Secretary since April 2013
Likely to Stand: 50%
For: Media friendly (although won’t be interviewed by me, it seems), can be an original thinker but seems constrained by his portfolio
Against: Indifferent record as Shadow Education Secretary, lack of experience, one or two gaffes, seen as a bit aloof by colleagues, unlikely to get the requisite nominations
Verdict: Competing for the same votes as Chuka Umunna, a competition he’s likely to lose.
Odds: 33/1


Age: 43
Political Record: MP for Leicester West since 2010, Shadow Health Minister since 2010
Likely to Stand: 50%
For: Bright, breezy, funny, good record as Shadow health minister, popular, would represent a break to a new generation
Against: Inexperience, untested outside her area of expertise in health, would struggle to get nominations, fishing in the same pond as Umunna and Hunt
Verdict: May put down a marker for the future, but unlikely to be one of the final three
Odds: 25/1


Age: 42
Political Record: MP for Barnsley since 2011, Shadow Minister since October 2011
Likely to Stand: 75%
For: Military background, track record outside politics, would represent a clean break with the Blair/Brown era
Against: Political virgin, no real Labour party or union constituency, could he get the nominations?
Verdict: If he can get 15% of MPs to nominate him, he could be a strong contender. Might well become a media darling, but does he have the political instincts to be a successful political leader
Odds: 16/1


Age: 49
Political Record: MP for South Shields 2001-10, Cabinet Minister 2006-10
Likely to Stand: 10%
For: Bright, articulate, hasn’t undermined Ed, retained his dignity
Against: Lacks the killer instinct, could one Miliband really succeed another? Would have to win a by-election, unions would do anything to defeat him
Verdict: Very unlikely to stand, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
Odds: 25/1


Age: 44
Political Record: MP for Pontypridd since 2010, Shadow Welsh Secretary since 2012.
Likely to Stand: 30%
For: Superb media performer, doesn’t sound like a politician
Against: Inexperience, would Labour elect a Welsh leader? Could he get the nominations?
Verdict: An unknown quantity to most, Smith is one of the most talented of the 2010 intake. Should stand to put a marker down and get a better job.
Odds: 50/1

UPDATE: Several people have asked why I haven’t included Rachel Reeves. It’s because she categorically ruled herself out of ever standing for leader on my radio show a few weeks ago. And she was so definitive, that I believe her!


This would be a very open contest. Assuming David Miliband decides it’s impossible for him to succeed his brother, the most likely top three are Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna and Andy Burnham. It’s very difficult to predict who would emerge as the winner from that triumvirate, but I’m assuming it would be Andy Burnham as he would get the majority of the union votes. However, if Labour has failed to win the election there may be an appetite for a complete break with the past. Chuka Umunna might therefore pull through, or even possibly Dan Jarvis. Jarvis has the perfect backstory for Labour but is he made for the cut and thrust and hurly burly of modern day political debate? He’s been tested under fire in a military battleground, but in politics he’s a bit of a virgin.

If it were me, I’d be going for Chuka Umunna or Dan Jarvis on the basis that they would represent a new beginning and present the Conservatives with a real problem. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper are very talented in many ways, but they both have big political downsides which would be gifts to the Conservatives.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Video: Iain Interviews Football Commentator Barry Davies About His Life

18 Doughty Street, Brought to Book

Listen now


It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 25: Breaking the Official Secrets Act & Protecting an Interviewee

18 Apr 2015 at 11:22

Back in November I wrote about a phone-in we did on the Vishal Mehrotra case. Vishal’s dismembered body was found in 1981 and he had been a victim of terrible sexual abuse. Towards the end of the hour our collective mouths were left gaping open when we had two calls from ex-policemen, who proceeded to tell us that they were part of investigations into child sex abuse in the 1970s and 1980s and both were inexplicably shut down.

On Wednesday we followed up those calls and talked to one of the police officers again. This sort of interview doesn’t just happen. It involved a lot of preparatory work by my producer Matt Harris and our senior reporter Tom Swarbrick. We decided to change his voice as both he and we knew that by doing the interview, and saying what he was about to say, he would be breaking the Official Secrets Act. In the interview John told us how an investigation he was involved in, which involved Cyril Smith, was shut down after orders came down from on high. He also said that it was well known in police circles that there were illegal activities going on in Dolphin Square. Fairly explosive stuff, although the media takeup on this was fairly minimal as the day was dominated by the news about Greville Janner.

We then interviewed Simon Danczuk and then took a series of calls. Please do have a listen to this forty minutes of explosive radio. Towards the end I took a call from Sarah in Twickenham (we changed her name) who told us how she had been gang raped by 18 men in the early 1970s. It became clear that the likely venue for this terrible event was the Elm Guest House in Barnes, although I didn’t say this on air. My producer talked to Sarah for some time after the interview and needless to say we will be following this up. It’s hours like this that remind me why I am so privileged to do the job I do.

Click HERE



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Best of 2012 (Part 2)

Bruno Tonioli, Sue Townsend, Clare Balding and Joan Rivers talk about their recently published books.

Listen now