The two old parties have been fairly cynical and pathetic in their response to the fantastic Lib Dem surge. Both saying that if you vote Lib Dem its like voting for their opponent. All of this just shows how dysfunctional the first past the post (FPTP) system is. Let's use their logic here in Surrey. There are 11 constituencies in Surrey. All of them are currently Tory, yet in 3 of them, at the last election, if Labour voters had voted Lib Dem there would have been a Lib Dem MP! percentages were
Guildford Con 43.5 LD 43.3 Lab 9.9 .3% needed for LD majority.
Woking Con 47.4 LD 33.1 Lab 16.3 14.4% needed for LD majority.
Esher & Walton Con 45.7 LD 29.6 Lab 19.4 16.1% needed for LD majority.
Since then of course we have had the Labour collapse all over Surrey with there now being only 4 Labour Borough Councillors out of more than 500 and 1 County Councillor out of 80. Put the Clegg bounce on top of that and it is plausible that the Tories could lose 3 seats on May 6th.
When I canvass Labour voters I ask them to lend us their votes for 2 reasons, firstly it makes it less likely there will be a Tory majority and secondly, we really want voting reform, which means in the future a Labour vote in Surrey will be worth something.
The interesting thing is that in the 2009 County elections the Labour vote collapsed and there was in some key areas a swing from Tory to Lib Dem. For example in Woking the Lib Dems were only about 2000 behind the Tories. The change in Woking was worrying for the Tories. In Woking South the LD share of the vote increased from 36.8% to 46.7% (+9.9) and in Woking Central from 38.1 to 45.4% (+7.3). If there was any sort of shift like this in the GE then Rosie Sharpley would have a decent majority.
The other seat that looks interesting from the County election results is also the only seat in the County where the Labour Party came second. There were some, frankly ridiculous, swings in Spelthorne which indicate that the Lib Dems will easily come second if not win this seat. (Lets not forget the retiring Tory was one of the worst expenses offenders.) In Lower Sunbury the Lib Dem vote went up from 31.2% to 54% a rise of 22.8! Remember swings are normally measured by doubling the increase! In Sunbury Common the vote went from 40.7% to 52.8% (+12.1). If some of these swings take place, Spelthorne could be a huge upset. Interestingly another stupidity of the FPTP system could be, that if the vote split 3 ways, the MP (hopefully Lib Dem) could be elected with about 35% of the vote!
The collapse of the Labour vote in Surrey could also make a big difference in Surrey Heath and South West Surrey.
Fascinating stuff, and for a supporter of proportional representation a good dose of schadenfreude. Lets hope FPTP hands the Tories a few nasty shocks next week.