UK days away from tightest election in decades

Race between British parties heats up in final hours of election campaigning as opinion polls suggest main parties will fail to gain overall majority

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United Kingdom’s centre-right Conservatives and centre-left Labour are neck-and-neck as various opinion polls conducted around the country reveal neither of the main parties are likely to gain an overall majority in the parliament.

A YouGov opinion poll published on Monday showed the two parties tied at 33 percent, corresponding with results from a Populus poll carried out a week earlier. A BBC poll, on the other hand, put the Conservatives on 34 percent, a mere 1 percent ahead of Labour.  

The findings suggest the upcoming election on May 7 will be the tightest in the country in decades, as neither party is expected to achieve the 326-seats needed in the 650-seat parliament to secure a majority.

Both parties have seen waning support over the years as Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has emerged to become the third most popular party in the country with around 14 percent of support, above current coalition partner Liberal Democrats, which enjoys about 9 percent of support.

Urging support for his Conservative Party, which dominates the current coalition government, incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron cautioned Britons to avoid the “instability” that would ensue if one particular party did not receive a strong mandate.

"Back-room deals. Bribes. Ransom notes. Chaos. Not just for the week after the election. But for five long years," Cameron warned.

Meanwhile, opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband called on Britons to back him as he pledged to revive the country’s struggling National Health Service (NHS).

"In the final few days of this general election, the future of the NHS is at risk in the way it hasn't been for a generation," Miliband said.

In the likely event of another coalition government being formed, the secessionist Scottish National Party (SNP) and UKIP could play the role of “kingmaker” in the elections.

A rivalry is already brewing between the two parties, with UKIP’s Nigel Farage earlier this week accusing the SNP of being “openly racist” against the English.

In previous comments made to the Guardian newspaper, Farage also slammed mainstream British parties for promising to continue the “Barnett formula,” which sees 20 percent per capita more public spending in Scotland than in England, and accused the SNP of spreading “terror” in communities.

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight programme, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she would form an alliance with Ed Miliband’s Labour Party even if they come runner-up against Prime Minister Cameron’s Conservatives, but Labour has thus far rejected an alliance with the SNP.

Last September, the SNP organised a referendum for the independence of Scotland from the UK. While 44.7 percent voted “Yes,” 55.3 percent of Scots voted “No” and thus chose to stay in the United Kingdom.

Although the SNP currently only holds six seats in Westminster, the latest surveys suggest they are on the verge of winning the vast majority of the 59 seats located in Scotland.

TRTWorld and agencies