THE FORTHCOMING General Election is likely to be one of the most unpredictable of all time according to a politics professor at Warwick University.
The latest opinion polls show Labour with the slenderest of leads nationally and Dr Alex Smith, assistant professor of sociology and senior research fellow at the university, told the Observer voters faced their toughest choice for decades.
Conservative MP Chris White won the Warwick and Leamington seat with a healthy 3,500 majority at the 2010 election, while fellow Tory Jeremy Wright took the newly created Kenilworth and Southam seat with a huge 12,500 majority.
But Dr Smith said there could effectively be a second tier of marginal seats in the 2015 election where even reasonably healthy Conservative leads could be vulnerable.
He said this was because UKIP would take votes away from the Conservatives, making some of their ‘safe’ seats potentially vulnerable.
Dr Smith said: “It is set to be one of the most unpredictable elections in recent years.
“Voters are being presented with a difficult choice between a Government which is now associated with austerity and Government cuts and an opposition whose leadership lacks credibility.
“I doubt we will see a lot of UKIP seats won, in fact I think they will have a tough enough time holding on to the two they have gained nationally in by-elections.
“But what will be interesting is to see the extent they effectively help Labour by taking votes away from the Conservatives.
“So in a number of the seats which may be considered ‘safe’, which includes some in the county, we may actually see the margin cut considerably.
“For that reason the Conservatives will have to make sure they make the effort beyond just marginal seats if they want to try and make sure seats are not stolen away from them.”
Dr Smith said voters should prepare themselves for a vociferous election campaign as each party geared up for a closely fought election.
But he said there was still a good chance a Conservative Government could be returned on May 7 and that it would be a mistake to write off David Cameron too soon.
“It is very difficult to call,” he continued. “I think the closer we get to the election the more likely people are to make their decision on something elementary, like how plausible the leaders of the respective parties are.
“For that reason I think it a Conservative Government is a reasonably likely outcome.
“Because of the unpredictability it’s very likely to be going to be a very loud election campaign.”