What are Labour’s options in May?

If Ed Miliband’s party falls short of a majority then what can Labour do to get into power?

It’s a bright May morning and the election results are in. Labour won the highest number of seats, as well as getting the most votes. However, the party remains negotiations away from getting back into power after five years on the opposition benches. Where next?

In order to get a majority a party needs 326/650 of the seats. In 2010, Labour managed to get 258 seats, 68 seat short of a majority.

Who should Ed Miliband look to to help get him into Downing Street?

If the Liberal Democrats’ vote share collapses then the party could lose about half it’s seats, meaning that Labour might need help from more than two parties.

Firstly, In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, who hold five seats in the House, do not take their seats, making getting to a majority slightly easier.

Then of course there’s the Liberal Democrats. Whether or not Nick Clegg’s party would want to enter into a formal coalition with Labour is up for debate, but they could work together on a number of issues to secure a Labour-led administration, for example on constitutional reform.

Then of course there’s the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon’s party are likely to do well in May, largely at the expense of Labour. It’s unlikely that the party would enter into a formal coalition with Labour, but they have said that they would rather work with a Labour led government than with a Tory led one. However, the SNP would want something in exchange for propping up Ed Miliband, most likely further powers for Scotland - devo-max. A deal could happen.

Additionally, there is of course the Greens. The party only has one MP and despite surges in the polls the party is unlikely to get more than a couple of MPs if lucky. Nonetheless, if the numbers fall in such a way that Ed Miliband needs all the help he can get then relying on the Greens could be necessary. But of course, Labour would need to make concessions.

Another option, is with UKIP. If UKIP do far better than expected and win say ten to twenty seats - mostly at expense of the Conservatives - then Ed Miliband might have to look to Nigel Farage for help. Labour have said that an EU referendum is unlikely under them, but if the numbers add up in such a way that UKIP can help Ed Miliband, then giving the UK a referendum (likely within a year) could be the best option. Ed Miliband is against a referendum, but if that’s what it takes for a Labour led government, with confidence and supply from UKIP, then the UK could be faced with an in/out referendum by May 2016.

This is all speculation of course, but if Labour do fall short of an overall majority then they have numerous parties to look to for some sort of support. Post-election talks could result in some unlikely alliances and surprising faces on the front benches.

There's just over three months to go. Anything could happen.


Labour and Lib Dems could work together on constitutional reform

Four reasons why a Labour-SNP coalition is unlikely

Greens should have high hopes for 2015

Have something to tell us about this article?