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If this was a graph of any market you'd be glued to it

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Paul Mason | 12:43 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010


The last five years summed up in a graphic.

There is only one poll that matters - and that is tomorrow. But as a journalist who lives in the world of graphicised information I thought I would share this with you.

It is a graph showing the results of all the opinion polls taken since the last election, with the results for the three main Westminster parties only (Source: UK Polling Report).

Note: The horizontal axis is not consistent - there are more polls towards the end, so time stretches towards the right of the graph.

I've picked out what look to me like turning points, in hindsight. Fortunately some of them were nights that had us skedaddling along corridors with mobile phones wedged under our chins and plastic earpieces protruding from our collars, so we actually spotted their significance at the time. Others maybe not.

Cameron takes charge of the Conservatives; Brown takes over Labour and there is a bounce; then - massively significant with hindsight - there is the "wobble" over the October 2007 "election that never was".

I remember standing in the Newsnight studio that night and saying "there's a wobble" - but you can only know how important things are much later.

The Lib Dems' fortunes turn after Ming Campbell resigns, but only gradually. Labour gets a rebound at the start of the financial crisis but then loses it all and more. The rock-bottom day for them was the day James Purnell resigned, on the eve of the Euro-elections, bringing to an end a Spring season of cabinet disarray, accompanied by cross-party angst over expenses.

But the seismic shift moment is clear. For a week after the election is called the polls barely move. Then the first televised leaders debate happens, 15 April 2010.

We will only know for sure whether any of this is relevant after tomorrow but if this was a graph of any market you'd be glued to it.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks to the distortion of seats and boundaries, I envisage a scenario where we may still be awaiting a decision in two weeks' time.

    The Conservatives, having polled the highest number of votes, won the highest number of seats. But even with the aid of the DUP they could not achieve a majority.

    As expected, the LibDems have been engaged in talks with Labour. But any coalition would require Plaid Cymru and SNP support and, while both parties naturally support this emerging axis, both want to play the longer game and be the last to declare - to exact the greatest price for their fealty.

    Labour is having to lick its wounds as the LibDems insist they will work with "anyone but Gordon". Brown still refuses to budge, Harman wants to step into a "caretaker" role, while the rest of their party devote themselves to intrigue over the selection of a new leader.

    Meanwhile the Conservatives are considering a legal case for re-balloting five constituencies where they suspect the result has been skewed by postal voting. Even with new results these seats would still not give them their coveted majority (after all Respect would be the beneficiary in one of the five), but restore the balance between the two competing alliances.

    Speculation perhaps - it won't be like this, but let's wait and see.

  • Comment number 2.

    ..if this was a graph of any market..

    you'd be buying libdems. selling labour

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't know Paul, any political party that's the equivalent of the Euro right now?

  • Comment number 4.

    I'd bet on the Lid Dems being vote squeezed a bit more. They suffer from the twin problem that they remian an unproved qunatity in the eyes of many people and also they never quite achieved enough momentum for people to really belive they could win. Of course, they are not helped by the electoral system which requires the Lib Dems to reach about 40% in the polls to gain a majority.

    The result of all this is that some traditional Tories who have defected to the Lib Dems will return to the Tories to avoid a Lab/Lib coalition and likewise some traditional Labour supporters will return to Labour as they will see it as the best way of keeping the Tories out. The numbers involved may be relatively small but my gut feeling is that they will be
    sufficient for the Tories to poll in the mid to high 30s and achieve a small overall majority.

  • Comment number 5.

    @2 jaunty

    If this was a market graph, I'd sell in May and stay away.

  • Comment number 6.

    everything is going me and get out now

  • Comment number 7.

    It is interesting that the first televised debate involving THREE parties gets the biggest reaction of all in the polls, bigger than near financial catastrophe, bigger than mutiny in the cabinet.

    Why is that?

    Could it be an indication that our democracy is not quite so democratic as it likes to portray?

    How well would the Lib dems have done if they had been given equal air time and media mogul support in the past?

    Does this show how much the electorate are kept in the dark by media bias?

    The lib dems surge is fading away again now, I am not surprised, it took the incumbents media machine by surprise and it has taken them a couple of weeks to adjust but they are back on form now.

    I have been genuinly shocked at the vitriolic un-democratic and disproportionate stories run by the media at large, from SKY TV's Cameron friendly editing and camera work to some of the newspaper stories would make Joseph Stalin blush such has been the reaction.

    I just hope it is too little too late and we do get a hung parliament which will, in part at least, be able to take away the massive influence leveraged media has by re-balancing the electoral system, not allowing political entities to govern with 38% of the popular vote, hence taking away the temptation from those whom would manipulate the weakness in that system.

    As the financial crisis moves to the next phase we will need a govenment that catches the majority will or we will risk a slide into a very divisive situation which will do us no good. It is going to be hard enough as it is without being governed exclusively by a party that only has amandate from 38 or 39% of the people.

    It would be nice if the media would come off thier high horse and realise that too for the good of the country.

    It is going to be close.

  • Comment number 8.

    its amazing - ***EVERY*** promise made by the Big 3£ they have broken, spectacularly - Labour promised to protect 'the poorest', yet it is upon the poorest their intended cuts will fall the most. (The rich can leave, you see). The Tories promised to hold a referendum on the EU, not only was that a straightforward lie to try to win votes (UKIP and the BNP seem genuine in comparison), but they then went on to join the extreme-right in the European Parliament. Clegg is a Tory, and will ignore the wishes of most of his Party by allying with, and maintaining in power a Conservative Govt, and despite the enormous public interest in PR, as well as it being a traditional LibDem policy, he will wheedle, blag, pose and posture on the issue until the next election, with absolutely NOTHING NOTHING changing.

    all of them talk about growth, but under their collective stewardship the only thing that has grown is unemployment, bankster wealth, corruption, and disillusionment with the Parliamentary system.

    and STILL the vast majority of the electorate, with the noble exceptions of rare constituencies, are going to 'choose' between them as to which we tug our fore-locks to, whilst they drive past in their luxurious limousines - or private jets!

    perhaps they are putting lemming-DNA in our milk these days? Or is the above the *reason* why the Big 3£ are not talking of putting restrictions on media ownership on the books?

  • Comment number 9.

    The LibDem graph is clearly a "bull flag".
    The Con graph is a "bear flag".
    Note I am not stating my political preference here - just looking at the charts...

    I am from the "continent" and I do have to say to our friends in the UK, who have almost no experience in forming a coalition government: Don't be afraid, it works and the world will not end nor will the markets collapse. If they do, it is for other reasons...

    ... anyway, this is why there may be another election not too far in the future, so we can think this further: If the LibDems succeed in getting Electoral Reform pushed through then you'd have to "buy" them because next time they will be a "real" player in the market.

    So, buy the bull flag !!

    But hedge your bet: A Con-Gvt (possibly with UUP support) that will keep the FPTP system is the game changer.

  • Comment number 10.

    There is many a slip. Remember 1992 election and stumbling into the daylight on the Friday morning in disbelief when John Major was returned. Kinnock quite simply blew it on the Wednesday night at his triumphal rally.

    'Well all right' it most certainly wasn't - at least not for Labour.

    With the election too close to call, I would not rule out someone dropping a real clanger out of sheer desperation.

  • Comment number 11.

    On the topic of voting trends and markets probably the best value out there at the moment is the conservatives getting 4 seats or less in scotland available at 8 to 13 (61% return).

    Seems pretty generous to me, there is no reason for them to vote conservative with a devolved government and a comparitively strong local party, even less so as DC pretty much embodies everything the scots dislike about the English.

    Everything else looks too uncertain to call now so i have taken my profits thus far (I only got one wrong) and put my faith in the Scottish not voting for an old etonian who would take away the favourable system for allocating central funds to scotland. at the moment the conservatives only hold 1 seat with a majority of 1,700.

    If it comes off a brand new I phone will be coming my way so I can plug into pauls ' I phone generation'.

    I am quite excited about it actually.

  • Comment number 12.

    just bit of fun, just a bit of fun but.... HARRIS poll for 2moro:


    = Tory 268 seats, Lib Dem 79 seats and LABOUR 274 seats!!!!

    GB still PM!!!


  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    @14 Ah - polling day special house rules, I do apologise.

    Holding my nose, the die was cast: to paraphrase Omar Khayyam:

    "The moving finger marks a cross, and, having writ, moves on..."

    And for those who have changed political affiliation in recent years, some Rupert Brooke:

    Now we've done our best and worst and parted,
    if to praise or blame you who can say?
    For who decries the loved, decries the lover,
    yet what man lauds the thing he's thrown away?

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Copyright Paul Mason?

    Are you having a laugh? My five year old daughter could have done that graph!

  • Comment number 18.

    Never mind the graphic, im glued to the DOW and greek TV at the moment, paul. decent rally on Wall St but jesus that was scary. was 1000 points down.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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