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Election 2010: The sillier options

Who's for the compulsory serving of asparagus at breakfast?

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What's that? Coming over the hill?

True silliness must therefore be left to the Monster Raving Loony Party (MRLP). Among policies likely to warm the heart of any incoming Home Secretary are proposals to outlaw the wearing of beards by terrorists (on the grounds it makes them look scary) and the institution of a separate terrorist passport for terrorists. We also liked their proposal for an official inquiry to find out if: "(a). Things are really that Bad and (b). They are out to get you."

Ironically, though, it is often in the fine print of the "silly" manifestoes that future policies – too radical to be contemplated by the mainstream - are to be found. The MRLP has blotted its copybook in the past by flying such outlandish ideas as passports for pets, lowering the voting age to 18 and all day pub opening. They were also instrumental in the demise of David Owen’s even sillier "continuity SDP" at the Bootle by-election in 1990.

For further information about what individual candidates believe, try out the Public Whip, which has attempted to grill candidates on your behalf.

As for what each party needs to do to win, a hung parliament remains favourite with the bookies. However, the vagaries of the first-past-the-post electoral system mean that the shape of the next parliament is still very difficult to call.

If you wish to play at being Jeremy Vine for the night, the BBC provides a handy do-it-yourself swingometer which will enable you to see what the outcome might be according to vote share. Don’t expect the actual outcome to be as clearcut as this model suggests, since individual constituency results are well able to buck the trend.

Bear in mind also that there have been boundary changes in England and Wales – but not Scotland – since the last election, which mostly favour the Tories. One credible analysis of the seats suggests that had the last election been fought on the current boundaries, Labour would still have won – but with an overall majority of just 36, as opposed to the 64 they actually managed.

If you wish to see how the result might have played out in your own constituency, a complete list is given by the Press Association and spreadsheeted here as well. ®

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