The campaign for the May 2015 general elections is officially under way now in the United Kingdom. And barring a huge swing between now and the election, the results are going to be chaos.
Below are the March 30th projections from The Guardian’s election center (updated daily at the link)
Labour are campaigning hard against the SNP (to try to regain marginally SNP-leaning constituencies in Scotland), but that will make it harder to work together after the election. Which is an important consideration, seeing as they’re basically the only two parties that will collectively have anywhere near a majority.
And the Lib Dems seem pretty averse to working with Labour and the SNP, but they can’t easily go back to the Conservatives either.
The Conservatives may well finish first but (under current polling) have basically no shot of leading a government anyway, even with UKIP and the Lib Dems and the DUP. I mean…unless they’re planning to go into coalition with Labour or the SNP, which is beyond unlikely.
So that means…a big swing in favor of either Labour or the Conservatives is probably the only thing now that can prevent a totally bananas outcome or an irredeemably hung parliament.
In a further sign that the typically marginal Northern Ireland members of the United Kingdom parliament might increasingly play a “coalition kingmaker” role after the breakdown of the three-party system in London, the UK Labour Party is relaxing its policy against competing in Northern Ireland constituencies.
That policy was originally adopted back when the party wanted to remain a neutral mediator in the Northern Ireland conflict over British/unionist or Irish/independence alignment (and forcing people to identify with a UK party based in Britain would inherently not be neutral). Now, an official satellite party (like Scottish Labour) will formally open in Northern Ireland, but with the extra wrinkle that it will also be a satellite of the Irish Labour Party, from neighboring Ireland.
The aim of this complex, multi-country fusion is probably eventually to help Labour in overall UK elections while still not demanding unionist allegiance from members. In the past, Labour’s general economic views have been represented in Westminster for Northern Ireland voters most closely by the tiny SDLP, but the SDLP was not part of Labour governments. Membership in UK Labour wasn’t even opened in Northern Ireland until 2004.
Map of UK general election results in Northern Ireland by constituency for 2005 and 2010 (via Wikipedia). NI Sinn Féin does not occupy its seats under current policy, due to opposition to the union’s control of Northern Ireland.
UK Labour’s counterpart party from the Republic of Ireland (a completely independent nation-state, of course), Irish Labour, is a rather small party in the Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) but very often serves as a junior coalition partner and is currently actually the second largest by representation.