UK General Election 2010 YouGov Polls Graph Election 2015: how will seven party politics work?

Apart from a slight surge for Labour during the final weekend, the biggest thing in the picture is what we called #Cleggmania, where the Lib Dem leader highhandedly knocked seven percentage points off the Tories on the night of 21 April, in the first TV debate. In effect, the two party system never recovered from that moment.

Now let’s look at a polling graph for the last parliament:

UK opinion polling 2010 2015 1024x496 Election 2015: how will seven party politics work?

There are three signal events: the collapse of the Libdems, after Clegg reneged on his tuition fees promise; the rise of Ukip and the late surge of the Greens.

If we then mentally superimpose economic conditions over this graph, you can see why it’s sensible to conclude the old British political system is broken.

Labour surged early in the last parliament, when the Lib Dems collapsed. But when the economic recovery began it coincided with the historic surge of Ukip. And arguably at the peak of recovery, with interest rates close to zero and inflation zero, you get the Green surge (which has eased off as the election approaches).

Labour and the Conservatives have successfully made the economy the key battleground of the election. If you listen to the agenda they’ve set, night after night, it’s about how much more austerity we need, the size of the debt and deficit, and the state of public services. It’s as if the potential main parties of government are saying, nightly, “we’ll control the economy better.”

Yet in a way, it’s the economy that is controlling them, and shaping all politics.