The Rentoul Questions

John Rentoul has put together a very helpful flow-chart intended to help us navigate the thickets of post-electoral coalition formation.

In it, he asks a number of questions about different configurations of parties. I thought I’d try and indicate what the probabilities of these different configurations are, according to the forecasts from

Q1: Have the Conservatives plus DUP and UKIP won 323 seats or more?

Very unlikely. The probability of these parties winning 323 seats or more is just 3%.

Q2: Have the Conservatives plus LibDems, DUP and UKIP won 323 seats or more?

Moderately unlikely. The probability of these parties winning 323 seats or more is almost one-third (32%).

Q3: Are the four parties on 321 or 322?

Very unlikely on its own (5%), although obviously this number can be added to the above number.

Q4: Have Labour plus the LibDems and SDLP won 323 seats or more?

Unlikely. The probability of these parties winning 323 seats or more is a little over 12%.

If you follow the most likely outcome at each branching point, these probabilities imply a minority Labour government, with a second election described as “possible”.

3 thoughts on “The Rentoul Questions

  1. Rentoul’s image is a work of wonder but it ignores the much lower number of seats needed for a working majority for Labour and partners if the SNP is assumed to abstain – under 300. If the SNP has to go into the same lobby as the Tories to defeat a Labour government then Miliband could look surprisingly secure. I wrote about this in the blog.

  2. Daniel Sandoval

    Foreign UEA alumni here. Just to give my two pennies’ worth
    Constituency polls and national trend point to a swing of 39 seats at most to Lab from LD and Con in E&W, to add to the 217 they hold, meaning 256 MP. Plus 9 from PC(3) + Green(Lucas) + Respect(Galloway) + SDLP (3) + Ind (Hermon) to reach 265. Scot Lab most likely would only add 1 to this total so you get 266.
    At this is the point SNP can sum their 56 MP to reach 322. Close, but no cigar. And this assuming that Lab do not loss any current E&W seat (victims of tactical voting)

    What about LD? Routted in SCO (1 MP only, loss of 10) and barely able to defend 27 seats in E&W (swing of 11 to Con and 9 to Lab).

    Cons start with 303, minus 30 losses to Lab and 2 to UKIP, plus 11 pickups fron LD for a total of 282. Add 9
    from DUP and 28 from LD to reach 319. Enter UKIP 4 and they get to the magic 323 figure.

    Wafer thin, depending in LD desire to stay in government and keep SNP out.

    So, from my perspective either the outcome 1 or 3 of the flow chart (DC still PM) seems the result of this election. Because current polls trends make a higher number of Lab MP very unlikely and probably this figure could be lower.

  3. Daniel Sandoval

    I notice that Rentoul flow chart miss a small detail. If the 4 parties get 322 MP, it means the opposition could only get 322 MP (if SF 5 MP do not take their seats). 322+322+5 = 649.

    The remaining MP in this scenario is the Speaker and, as far as i know, in confidence votes he or she, by parlament rules, has to side with the current government.
    So 322 MP could be what Dave Cameron needs to keep him in No. 10, so Rentoul’s flow chart could use a little correction (replace 323 with 322 in the initial 2 questions)

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