The United Kingdom is holding a parliamentary election on May 6th. And like John Major’s second election in 1997, this contest has long seemed predestined to mark the end of Labour’s long run of power — the question was, how steep would the fall be?
But the polls have tightened considerably over recent months. And polls out this weekend show a striking surge of support for the Liberal-Democrats, Britain’s perennial third party, which hasn’t headed a government since its predecessor (the Liberals) did almost exactly a century ago. Indeed, a composite of this weekend’s polls appears to put the Lib-Dems in second behind the Tories, though all three parties are basically clumped together at just over or under 30%.
Now, just as is the case in the US, the Brits vote by local constituencies in ‘first past the post’ elections. So national opinion is only a very imperfect barometer of who is actually going come out with the most seats in parliament. The BBC projects that if this were election day these poll numbers were give Labour 279 seats, the Tories 239 seats and the Lib Dems 103 seats.
When it comes to UK politics I have that most dangerous of things, just enough knowledge to wade in too deep and get in over my head. TPM has a lot of UK readers and probably even more Anglophile readers here in the US. So since we’re under a month before the big day, it’s time for to really start watching this thing. If you’re already on top of things, let us know what you think, how it looks to you, what you think is going to happen.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.