Today, we have five predictions from Jade Azim. Jade is my distinguished colleague at Anticipations and a friend of mine and blogs at jadeazim.wordpress.com. You can view her rantings on politics and TV by following her twitter @jadefrancesazim
1. Esher McVey will lose her seat
This is a traditional, ‘Portillio moment’ prediction to kick things off. It’s obvious there will be a few significant deaths in Scotland, so it’d be boring to go over them. So turn your heads to Wirral West, where co-architect of the most devastating welfare reforms in decades is about to take her final breath as MP.
2. The media will launch a joint smear campaign in the last days before polling day, as Miliband gains in popularity in the next few events
You don’t have to go back to the infamous 1992 smear campaign to see Murdoch and Dacre’s intent to alter election results. Remember Clegg’s Nazi slur? The true ‘establishment’ extends out to Fleet Street, and it is not prepared to be hospitable to Miliband, who is the first leader ever to attack Murdoch instead of cosying up to him. With the threat of Leveson, expect the attacks to become deeply vitriolic and coordinated among the main Tory papers. We’ve already seen it with the 100 business leaders’ letter, but I suspect the worst is yet to come. In the few days before polling day, the papers will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on Miliband. The true test will be to see if it’s as powerful and influential as it once was. Will social media counter it?
3. Cameron will squat even with less seats
Negotiations may take months, but expect Cameron to claim a right to 10 Downing Street even with less seats and without a functioning coalition choice, and for the media (above) to assist him. The Sun accused Brown of ‘squatting’, but they will be willing to defend Cameron’s legitimate entitlement to govern. Remember Cameron’s personal attacks on the steps of Number 10 during dissolution? It’ll happen again, especially if the parties are very close. Labour is currently consulting constitutional lawyers for this event.
4. The Tories will gain the largest number of seats
I predict the Tories will end on 280 seats, and Labour on 270. Labour will make substantial gains in English marginals, though the gains will be less than Ashcroft has previously predicted due to a late swingback, but it will be offset by the SNP to the North. I don’t think Crosby’s crossover will really take part in a substantive enough way to help Cameron get 326 seats in any situation. But have no doubt, the SNP gains will aid Cameron to being the largest party.
5. The SNP will initially call for a Lab pact, but calls of illegitimacy at Labour having less seats will give an upper-hand to the Tories, who will promise full fiscal autonomy and federalism in exchange for supporting the Queen’s Speech –Would the SNP accept?
Rafael Behr predicted a while back that a ‘progressive alliance’ would be called an alliance of losers by the press if Labour gets less seats than the Tories but enough to form a pact with the SNP. And considering the massive smears against the SNP (That Sturgeon/Salmond’s ‘trash talking’ of Ed seems to suggest is in the SNP’s interests), people will not like the idea of a Lab/SNP pact. But a Tory/SNP one? Well, that’ll be justified somehow. On both sides. For the Tories, by the press. For the SNP, it will be to get full fiscal autonomy. Can we trust Sturgeon to put ending austerity ahead of being closer to independence? I don’t think so. I doubt they would turn down autonomy if it was offered in a Tory Queen’s Speech. Having Tories in government even in the case of autonomy will help continue SNP attacks on ‘Westminster’, leading to greater demand for another Indy Ref. A Tory/SNP pact should still be considered an option, whatever the SNP say.