Seats where the Conservative share fell
There were 75 seats where the Conservative share of the vote fell. Their biggest falls were Westmorland and Lonsdale (the effect of Tim Farron building up a mountainous personal vote), Bromsgrove (presumably the result of Julie Kirkbride’s expenses – though there were two other cases of ethnic minority Conservative candidates inheriting safe seats and receiving a lower share of vote), Sheffield Hallam (the Clegg factor no doubt), Folkestone and Hythe (probably the loss of Michael Howard’s personal vote as leader), Castle Point (where the former Conservative MP Bob Spink split their vote).

Biggest Conservative increases
The biggest Conservative increase was 16% in Hartlepool, taking second place from the Liberal Democrats (probably the by-election factor slowly unwinding), followed by Montgomeryshire (where Lembit Opik fell), Esher and Walton, Crewe and Nantwich (the by-election effect), Cardiff Central (a strange one there, the Conservatives are in third place), Camborne and Redruth (unseating Julia Goldsworthy from third place).

Seats where the Labour vote rose
There were 80 seats where Labour increased their share of the vote – over half of these were in Scotland, many others were seats with a large Muslim population where the Iraq war effect in 2005 seemed to reverse somewhat. The biggest increases in Labour’s vote were Blaenau Gwent, where they reclaimed the seat from the Independent MP, East Ham and West Ham (where Respect performed well in 2005 but did not stand in 2010), Glenrothes (after the successful by-election defence), Dunbartonshire West, Edinburgh West (where they took second place from the Conservatives) and Bethnal Green and Bow (another of the three Labour Gains).

Biggest Labour falls
The biggest drop in the Labour vote was 24% in Barnsley East, a seat so safe they probably barely felt it. The main beneficiary there was a new BNP candidate. This was followed by Hemel Hempstead (putting them into 3rd place in a seat they held till 2005), Redcar, Don Valley (making Caroline Flint’s seat a marginal – the votes went to new BNP, UKIP and English Democrat candidates), Norfolk North West (where their candidate went spectacularly off message in the days before the election), Cannock Chase (the “safest” Labour seat that was won by the Conservatives) and Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper’s seat).

Biggest Lib Dem increases
Three seats stand out with huge increases in their vote – most notably the incredible performance in Redcar, Mo Mowlam’s old seat, which fell on a 21.8% swing, wiping out a 31% majority – presumably on the back of the mothballing of the Corus steelworks. Almost as large was the increase in the Lib Dem vote in Ashfield, Geoff Hoon’s old seat inherited by Gloria de Piero, which the Lib Dems only narrowly missed out on. Less remarked upon was a 17% increase in the Lib Dem vote in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. After that the best performances were Dunfermline and Fife (by-election factor, though not enough to hold the seat), Westmoreland and Lonsdale (the Tim Farron effect), Ceredigion, Maidstone and the Weald, Brent Central (Sarah Teather gambling on going for the difficult option when her seat was abolished… and making the right choice).

Worst Lib Dem peformances
The biggest drop was Orpington, where they lost whatever following their candidate Chris Maines had built up after fighting the seat hard at multiple elections. Following that their worst performances were Edinburgh West, Hartlepool (fading by-election effect), Montgomeryshire (Lembit Opik) and Haltemprice and Howden.

Biggest swings from Lab => Conservative
36 seats had a swing from Labour to Conservative of over 10%. The biggest were Hemel Hempstead (CON HOLD – 14.4%), Cannock Chase (CON GAIN – 14%), Barnsley East (LAB HOLD – 13.9%), Crewe and Nantwich (CON “GAIN” – 13.7%), Norwich North (CON “GAIN” – 12.9%), Hartlepool (LAB HOLD – 12.8%), Sittingbourne and Sheppey (CON “HOLD” – 12.7%). The biggest swings in the other direction were Blaenau Gwent (-7.7) and East Ham (-7.7).

Biggest swings from Lab => LD
There were 29 seats with a swing from Labour to Lib Dem. The biggest were Redcar (LD GAIN – 21.8), Ashfield (LAB HOLD – 17.2), Merthyr Tydfil (LAB HOLD – 16.9), Barnsley East (LAB HOLD – 14), St Albans (CON HOLD – 13.8), Bosworth (CON HOLD – 13.8), Norfolk North West (CON HOLD – 13.3). Note some of those movements beneath the surface where the Conservative MPs vote remained pretty unchanged but the Lib Dems overtook Labour and took a strong second place on large Lab=>LD swings. The biggest swings in the other direction were mostly in Scotland, the largest were Edinburgh West (-11.3), Orpington (-9.5) and Paisley and Renfrewshire North (-8).

Biggest swings between Con and LD
The largest swings from LD to Con were Hartlepool, Montgomeryshire, Orpington, St Ives and Cardiff Central. The biggest swings in the other direction were Redcar, Westmoreland and Lonsdale, Ashfield and Dunfermline and Fife.

Highest shares and lost deposits
The Conservatives won 125 seats with over 50% of the vote. The highest were Richmond Yorkshire (62.8%), Beaconsfield (61.1%) and Windsor (60.9%). They lost their deposit in two seats, Glasgow East (4.5%) and Na h-Eileanan an Iar (4.4%).
Labour won 76 seats with over 50% of the vote. The highest were Liverpool Walton (72%), Knowsley (70.9%), East Ham (70.4%). They lost their deposit in 5 seats, all tight LD-v-Con marginals: Eastbourne (4.8%), Somerton and Frome (4.4%), Newbury (4.3%), Cornwall North (4.2%), Westmorland and Lonsdale (2.3%).
The Liberal Democrats won 12 seats with over 50% of the vote. The highest were Orkney and Shetland (62%), Westmorland and Lonsdale (60%), Bath (56.7%). They managed to save all their deposits, with their lowest share of the vote being Glasgow East (5%).

Minor parties and Independents
The BNP saved 72 deposits. Their strongest performances were Barking, Dagenham and Rotherham. UKIP saved 98 deposits, their strongest performances were Buckingham, Boston and Skegness and Christchurch. The Green party saved 7 deposits – their best performance was obviously Brighton Pavilion, followed by Norwich South.
The English Democrats put up 107 candidates and saved 1 deposit in Doncaster North (5.2%). The Christian party put up 70 candidates, and lost all their deposits. Their highest vote was 1.8% in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
The highest votes for Independents and others were obviously Buckingham, Wyre Forest, Castle Point (where Bob Spink did surprisingly well for a former MP standing as an Independent) and Blaenau Gwent. Less obvious strong performances came in Makerfield, Mansfield, Hemsworth, West Ham, Dewsbury and Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Safest seats, closest marginals
The safest seats are Liverpool Walton (Lab, 57.7%), Knowsley (Lab, 57.5%), Liverpool West Derby (Lab, 56.2%). The safest Lib Dem seat in Orkney and Shetland (51.3%). The safest Conservative seat is Richmond Yorkshire (43.7%). There are 40 seats with majorities under 1000, including 5 with majorities under 100 – Thurrock (92), Bolton West (92), Camborne and Redruth (66), Warwickshire North (54), Hampstead and Kilburn (42). All the figures on this post are based only on Great Britain – in Northern Ireland we had the narrowest majority of all, 4 votes in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

185 Responses to “Some stats from the general election”

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  1. Tony Dean

    Is MacMillan’s autobiography a good read?

  2. @Dave K,

    That’s also possible, but I think a government with 59% of the popular vote can weather the effects of shrinking the public sector. The LibDem influence will ensure that more of the deficit is absorbed by tax rises than would have been the case under a majority Tory government.

    Either way, I can’t see a further general election going well for Labour. And if a minority or coalition government fails then it will damage enthusiasm for PR, and probably for the LibDems.

    The LibDems have most to lose of course. But then, being the Powerbrokers-In-Chief, which is their political strategy, is inherently risky as if they are always in power they always have to take their share of the blame.

  3. I seem to remember an interview on Straight Talk with the UKIP leader, where he said their objective was to get enough votes to prevent the Tories winning an overall majority. Did UKIP do what they set out to do or what?!

    Interesting to note that the Tories are 20 seats short of an overall majority, and the number of additional seats the Tories would have taken if one adds the UKIP vote to the Tory vote, is……20!

  4. @Christopher,

    What’s the matter, old chap, my dream giving you nightmares? ;)

  5. @ Neil A

    There is no “Tory hierarchy”.

    Is there not ?
    I once heard of a “1922 committee”
    Is it still in existence ?
    I’m sure there still are ‘grassroots’ Conservatives.

    Anyway, if what you’re saying is true, then there’s nothing to stop Cameron agreeing to a referendum on PR.
    Let the Tory party in-fighting commence.
    I can’t wait !

  6. Christopher

    I doubt that Conservatives supporters are deluded or convinced that a LibDem / Con pact will definitively work. Of course Cons would have preferred an outright majority. But the fact is they didn’t get it – and the only approach is for the largest party to approach a minority and see what can be worked out. And if a coalition is formed there is a chance it could work – that is what Labour fears.

  7. @ Billy Bob: Is MacMillan’s autobiography a good read?

    I have his autobiography and his book “The Past Masters”. They are not the same book, as Past Masters is largely about very interesting characters during his political lifetime rather than himself. “Past Masters” is considerably more interesting than his autobiography. Well worth getting.

  8. @Christopher,

    Well I was posting here hoping for a ConLib coalition with PR over a week ago. I do honestly think it will work but I absolutely accept there is no enthusiasm for it amongst LibDems. But hey, if they wanted to be part of a permanent LibLab pact they should get on and form one.

  9. Tony Dean

    Thanks for the information – I had a feeling that you would have read both.

  10. @ Andrew Holden

    The 1922 Committee does indeed still exist – the Chairman was Sir Michael Spicer at the dissolution. Their role will be vital in keeping any Coalition afloat. The 1922 committee of Conservative Backbenchers was created in that year to discuss how to destroy the Coaliton with the Lloyd-George Liberals from within against the wishes of many of their own Conservative Ministers serving in the Coalition.

  11. There will be no formal coalition or pact IMO.
    The LibDems will allow the Queen’s speech and emergency budget (after some influence) through.

    But Cameron knows full well the LibDems would pull away as the s**t starts to hit the fan.

    So he will go to the country again in Nov.
    Labour and the Libs have no money, and on a cold, wet Autumn day, turnout is back nearer 55%.

  12. @Tony,

    The 1922 committee is a pressure group for Tory backbenchers. It has no direct authority over the actions of the leader, nor any official sanction over the leadership beyond the individual actions backbenchers can take. The Tories are not like the LibDems. We don’t have a committee of grandees that need to give their blessing.

    There will certainly be plenty of Tory MPs who’d rather stay in opposition than join a LibCon coalition but their options are very limited. They won’t scare Cameron.

  13. A most illuminating thread.

    I mainain, however, that we are seeing a lot of smoke and mirrors, as an “arrangement” has already been made, albeit well short of a coalition, in the terms set out by Shirley Williams prior to the GE. That is:

    1 – No formal coalition;

    2 – LD to abstain on Queen’s Speech and budget; and

    3 – LD to support/reject other policies/votes on a case-by-case basis.

    Also, as has already been said, the PR issue is a red herring. If Clegg wants PR, all he has to do is table a PR bill in parliament. Assuming Labour support (SNP, PC, Green, Alliance will all agree), the vote will pass. Why does he need a formal coalition with Cameron to do this?

  14. @yakobs – i’m using the same political spectrum that referred Labour as maxist or even socialist. LOL

  15. The 1922 committee is composed of all tory MPs. Not particularly elitist.

    There will be no Tory in fighting. The Tories have just had their best electoral performance in 80 years. Labour have just lost the most seats in an election since basically ever. there have been hardly any straight transfers between one govt with a working majority to a different one with a working majority. This is not tory failure it is a great tory success, one which would have been even bigger but for UKIP.

    Robert in France makes all the good points.

    It has been suggested that Labour have saved for another election. They perhaps knew of this situation arising.

  17. @ Tony Dean

    Thanks for that.
    Would be interesting to know what their opinions are, and how much influence they would have on any ‘deal’.

  18. @RAF .

    “If Clegg wants PR, all he has to do is table a PR bill in parliament. Assuming Labour support (SNP, PC, Green, Alliance will all agree), the vote will pass. Why does he need a formal coalition with Cameron to do this?”

    There’s a big risk that he will lose it, surely. Not all Lab MPs would support it; quite possibly enough to defeat it. Certainly in a PR rather than AV form.

  19. @ Neil A

    Agreed. As I was once a bag carrier for John Major I know how limited the 1922 Committee room for manouevre is “if” it is divided over having a coaliton or not. Its great triumph in 1922 was that it was united against carrying on with L-G. However, if a majority of the 1922 Committee (eg all backbenchers) make it plain that the terms now are not a runner for them in the division lobbies, Cameron’s wiggle-room on what he can offer Clegg is limited. There is no point Cameron offering Clegg something that the backbenchers simply will not deliver in votes in the House.

  20. Christopher

    Understood. In fact I rather liked the good ideological ding dongs of the (showing my age) olden days.

  21. “Committee” is a misnomer. The 1922 committee is all-inclusive. The Tory MPs as a body have the power to force a leadership election, but that is nothing to do with the 1922 committee. The option for the MPs is to try and ditch Cameron (or threaten to). They won’t do that.

  22. ASH

    I hope for their sakes that is true.
    Although I am sceptical of the effect of leaflets and posters etc. anyway.
    Ashcroft’s millions didn’t have THAT much effect – television and to a lesser extent the internet etc. will have far more influence on the outcome in future.

  23. @Tony,

    Bag carrier for Major? How very interesting! I’m sure you know far more than I about the machinations of the Tory party in that case. But I think we are basically both agreed that there is no “management” option available to rebellious Tories. They can’t force Cameron to change course by some procedural device, only by threatening “nuclear options”.

    Ultimately if there aren’t enough Tory votes to pass a Queen’s Speech then we’re back to a fresh election anyway. There is a chance Tory MPs will go for that but I seriously doubt it. Many of them have only just arrived. They’re not going to let party infighting get in the way of doing the job they came to do.

  24. @Glyn

    I agree. But even if he agrees to a coalition he will have the same problem. There would have to be primary legislation, it would have to pass and then a referendum. There is simply no benefit to the LDs in a formal coalition.

  25. Pure PR will not come out of this Parliament. AV will not come out of this Parliament (for what it is worth – and that appears to be not much in terms of seats for the LDs – its brown and Hain’s big Red-Herring actually…look at the results folks!). The LibDems know this before they negotiate anything.
    Their best hope is a Conservative adoption of the minority Conservative report in the Jenkins Commission. Jenkins proposed AV+ at 85%AV and 15% top-up. The Conservative minority report proposed FPTP+ at roughly 85%FPTP and 15% top-up……..this is the only likely way forward on this topic. If there is any way forward at all.

  26. @RAF:

    A formal coalition would allow Lib Dems to hold Cabinet positions. That would give them credibility and media profile, which would help the party. And, cynically, it would give the individuals money and perks and a taste of power. That wouldn’t help the party, but it would help the individuals making the decisions…

    Who knows.

  27. The point of coalition isn’t to secure a referendum on PR. It’s more than that. It’s to WIN a referendum on PR. Nothing is more likely to win over the electorate than a couple of years of stable coalition government, with LibDems in prominent positions “Making consensus politics work”. Nothing is more likely to make the electorate vote “no” to PR than party political maneovring, point scoring and chaos.

  28. @Neil A, Tony

    You obviously know the Tory party better than I do, but I really cannot believe any Tory MPs are discussing ditching Cameron, or not supporting his Queen’s Speech.

    Cameron’s hand is far stronger that Clegg’s. Clegg will have to take what is being offered, or nothing at all. And even if Clegg rejects the morsels on offer, he still won’t oppose the Queen’s Speech or budget.

    Too me this talk of coalitions is just politics. Both party leaders want to appear pragmatic and statemanlike, But nothing substantial will actually come of it.

  29. @RAF

    You wrote: There is simply no benefit to the LDs in a formal coalition.

    I disagree: The LibDems were shocked to the core at their performance after Clegg mania. Even their long-term working-up and targetting failed to yield results. They know they need after 40 years of slow growth through community politics etc. that they have to be seen as playing in the big league as Ministers of the Crown for their party to make the next leap of credibility in the public mind – otherwise they will remain in the public consciousness as a well-meaning pressure-group of awfully nice people who shy away from real power when offered it. They cannot funk it any longer if they are going to be seen as a “Principal Party of State” rather than eternally “fluffy”.

  30. @RAF.

    “There is simply no benefit to the LDs in a formal coalition.” Indeed. Unless a very clever PR deal is offered that satisfies both LDs and Tories. That would have to be very clever indeed!
    I do agree that the informal ‘supply and confidence’ route seems most likely. It keeps LDs rhetoric and integrity intact; shows them putting country before ideology and keeps them [relatively] untainted from being part of a govt. putting a very unpalatable budget forward. That said there has to be something specific and postive in there about Electoral and political reform for LDs to accept such an arrangement. Something that is palatable to both LDs and Tories.

    Ironically we have two ‘novices’ who are suddenly thrust into a position of having to be statesmen!

  31. @ Neil A

    “The point of coalition isn’t to secure a referendum on PR. It’s more than that It’s to WIN a referendum on PR. Nothing is more likely to win over the electorate than a couple of years of stable coalition government, with LibDems in prominent positions “Making consensus politics work”. Nothing is more likely to make the electorate vote “no” to PR than party political maneovring, point scoring and chaos”

    I could see the logic of your argument in principle were the Tories prepared to offer PR in order to get the LDs on board. But the Tories simply can’t offer this. So there is zero chance of a formal coalition.

    Also, the absence of a formal coalition needn’t lead to maneovering or choas. The LDs will form a constuctive opposition and not seek to bring the Tories down at every turn. Cameron just has to be sensible in proposing bills he can pass.

  32. @RAF,

    I suspect you will see an offer of a referendum on PR. You are right that without that there is less purpose in joining a coalition, although there is still some purpose to it. If Clegg goes back into opposition he will be very much in the shadow of whoever takes over from Brown. If he is in government he will have the visibility that actual policymaking brings.

  33. are we all agreed that labour have no way back?


  34. PeterBell
    Eons ago you asked me why the results could be used to justify FPTP.

    There were, as I read it now (analysis needed in all calm), many vast variations from UNS this time around as opposed to 2005.

    This probably has a lot to do with incumbency issues, expenses, etc, but could reasonably used to support the ability of voters to oust poor MP’s or to give new attractive candidates (Zak in Richmond) a chance.

    My point is that all these actions are perfectly possible under STV, but PR proponents need to be marshaling arguments now, in preparation for the referendum.

    In fact even the list system, with which I am familiar, can offer the same facility.
    The Dutch VVD decided that one of their MPs was getting too old and was somewhat a maverick, so placed him down the bottom of their list. The Dutch law allows people to overcome this disadvantage by getting 250000 personal votes. He got them with room to spare.

    Theo Joekes was an Anglophile and worked for the BBC -a very interesting man (see Wikpedia entry)

  35. Would put the rocketing of the Conservative share in Cardiff Central down to the radical and dramatic improvement in the organisation of the constituency party over the last 18 months and the selection of the highly effective and capable candidate, Karen Robson.

    The low share in 2005 was the result of the squeeze exacted in the more Conservative areas by the LibDem Jenny Willott, which has certainly started to unwind. The increased popularity of the Conservatives under David Cameron amongst students will certainly have made a difference in this seat also (students = 25+% of population).

    Hats off to Karen Robson, her agent Mike Wallbank, campaign director Mike Flynn and activist (and Pontypridd candidate) Lee Gonzalez for doing such an excellent job at arresting the Conservative decline in Cardiff Central, really could be the start of something rather good.

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