The 2015 general election takes place against a remarkable political background. Britain’s two-party system is dying; the ‘Conservative plus Labour’ vote has declined from over 97 per cent in 1955, to 65 per cent in 2010, and may plummet further in 2015. The Liberal Democrats look set to collapse in May. UKIP, the SNP, and the Greens are insurgents challenging the three “main” parties. Meanwhile, opinion polls suggest a growing regional fragmentation of the vote, with different voters in different parts of the country heading in different directions.
We are launching this blog to promote debate, discussion and analysis of these trends, as we countdown to election day on 7 May 2015. Although hosted at the LSE, the blog will provide a platform for social scientists and political commentators based anywhere in the UK or elsewhere in the world to present analysis, evidence and ideas. We aim to make the blog accessible to a broad audience, from professional political scientists, to political hacks and policy wonks, to students of politics in universities and schools, and to general punters with an interest in British elections and public opinion. Posts on the blog will combine academic rigour with a “plain English” writing style.
A new post will be published every day between now and the election. Some posts will come from regular contributors, including: up-to-date forecasts of the election outcome in each constituency, regular discussion of the election campaign in key marginal constituencies, and weekly round-ups of the best writing about the election. The site will run alongside a series of LSE election debates and panels, which we will cover in more detail throughout the campaign. Other posts will be written by occasional contributors, highlighting key trends that have been central to understanding the complexity of UK elections in the past. There will be video interviews with academics, pollsters and others whose expertise can cast light on likely voting trends and key election debates. As a taste of what is to come, we will ask (and hopefully answer) questions such as: Are polls good at predicting elections? What will happen in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland? How does the geography of the UK influence election outcomes? What role is there for religion in UK electoral politics? What role do voters’ emotions play in British elections? What is the likely gender balance of the next parliament? And, of course, who will win the election?
Although this project is funded and run by the LSE, we are particularly keen to host writing from a large number of academics working on UK electoral politics, regardless of their institutional affiliation. If you would like to contribute something, please get in touch with either Jack Blumenau or Joel Suss, who will be editing the blog.
In what promises to be one of the most dramatic and complex elections in the past fifty years, we hope that this blog will act as a public good, providing considered analysis and detailed discussion of the substance that lies behind the noise of a chaotic election campaign. While we are rightly proud of the academic excellence of UK social sciences, this blog will act as a forum to make this impressive body of work available beyond the confines of academia. We hope you are looking forward to it as much as we are!