Dead Cats and Bogy Men: The National Campaign

  • Philip Cowley
  • Dennis Kavanagh


Launching Labour’s election campaign at Olympic Park on 27 March, Ed Miliband declared: ‘Like so many races here during the Olympics, it will go to the wire. Neck and neck.’1 This was not just the sort of thing that has to be said by any politician running for office; it was what the parties, behind the scenes, all genuinely thought. Throughout the campaign, the polls consistently appeared to indicate that no one party would win a majority in the House of Commons. There would be an occasional flutter of interest caused by a poll indicating a small shift in the parties’ standing (although such a shift was almost never larger than the margin of error inherent in polling), only for everyone to calm down again when the next poll showed that everything had returned to normal. Later, after the results were declared, Miliband and most of those around him came to believe that Labour were probably behind throughout the whole of the short campaign. But at the time, he and his campaign team believed the race was neck-and-neck — as did those in the other parties. Even though the Conservative campaign team had higher predictions for the number of seats they might gain than those predicted by the public polling (see p. 250), not a single Conservative strategist’s predictions during the campaign were for an outright majority. By the end of the campaign, every strategist in every party was expecting a hung parliament.


Prime Minister Party Leader National Campaign Closing Statement Launch Event 
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  1. 48.
    Iain Watson, Five Million Conversations. Luath Press, 2015, p. 149.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Cowley
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolUK

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