Forgive me for mining this seam to its very end. Because there is at least this one more interpretation to Adam Price’s contention that Plaid and the Lib Dems could form the next government: the Minority Administration.
It’s currently unthinkable that Labour would band together with the Conservatives to frustrate a potential Plaid-Lib Dem coalition – despite amusing reference to at least one local authority configuration as a ‘Nazi-Soviet pact’.
So in order to form a minority administration, the maths tells us that:
- Total seats under consideration = 60 – Conservatives
- And Plaid + Lib Dem = Labour +1
For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that the Conservatives gain an identical number of seats in 2016 as in 2011: 14. That’s unlikely, and we’ll examine the implications below. But were that the case, it would leave 46 seats up for grabs. And that would mean the Plaid-Lib Dem coalition would need 24 seats between them. Perhaps we’re starting to enter the realm of possibility rather than fantasy?
I’m going to make the same assumption as in the previous post for the Lib Dems, namely that they’ll bag six seats. That means that Plaid would need 18.
So the first task is to assume that all 18 would need to come from constituencies. That feat would see them ripping seats such as Swansea West, Wrexham, Cynon Valley and, yes, Rhondda, from Labour. Perhaps Plaid could more realistically expect seats such as Islwyn and Torfaen to fall than Wrexham and Clwyd South. And if we were to delve into the detail, we’d realise that Plaid would have to take seats almost exclusively from Labour, rather than the Conservatives in Clwyd West and Preseli Pembrokeshire. That’s the result of each seat lost by Conservatives ironically making it more difficult to form a minority administration, because according to the formula, the Conservative bloc reduces the number of seats required by Plaid-Lib Dem.
On that assumption, Plaid would need the following 18 constituencies:
- Ynys Môn – held with 42.3% majority
- Arfon – held with 30.5% majority
- Dwyfor Meirionnydd – held with 26.1% majority
- Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – held with 14.9% majority
- Ceredigion – held with 6.1% majority
- Llanelli – 0.3% behind 1st place
- Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire – 6.2% behind
- Caerphilly – 19.3% behind
- Aberconwy – 7.7% behind
- Neath – 26.8% behind
- Clwyd South – 23.8% behind
- Cardiff West – 27.1% behind
- Rhondda – 33.7% behind
- Cynon Valley – 34.8% behind
- Swansea West – 31.4% behind
- Islwyn – 36.2% behind
- Torfaen – 34.0% behind
- Pontypridd – 37.3% behind
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that in this scenario Plaid are scooping two constituencies each in South Wales East and South Wales West, which at a stretch could permit a regional seat in one or both. However, Plaid have also reduced the Conservatives’ constituencies by two, which means the total needed for the minority administration will be 25, which in turn brings one seat from the following into the mix: Montgomeryshire, Cardiff Central, Vale of Glamorgan, Gower, Ogmore or Penarth & Cardiff Central. Who said this was going to be easy?!
This minority administration is the only vaguely feasible scenario in which Labour will not be forming the next government. And ‘vaguely feasible’, in this analysis, has ignored the increasing likelihood of UKIP reaping list seats (five, according to Roger Scully). Although it’s too early to be making space for UKIP in these analyses, any new formula would look like this:
- Total seats under consideration = 60 – (Conservatives + UKIP)
- And Plaid + Lib Dem = Labour +1
The minority report for Adam Price and his team just got harder.