Here’s a final post on the proposed boundary changes for the time being, I’ve had a chance to look at the marginality of seats. Now, as I said in an earlier post, on the levels of support at the 2010 election the proposed English boundaries would have given the Conservatives 5 fewer seats, Labour 18 fewer seats and the Liberal Democrats 7 fewer seats. That’s a gain of 13 seats for the Conservatives relative to Labour.

However, it doesn’t follow that there would be the same impact if levels of support had been different. What if, for example, Labour notionally lost lots of seats at 2010 levels of support, but the new boundaries produced lots of seats that could be won on a very small swing – it could be that the new boundaries were better for Labour than the current boundaries in a scenario where the Conservatives had slightly less support.

Hence the table below shows what the distribution of seats would be with various uniform swings between Labour and Conservative.

These suggest that while the proposed boundaries are beneficial to the Conservatives under 2010 levels of support, they would be much less beneficial to them compared to the current boundaries if there was a swing to the Conservatives (with a 2 point swing to the Tories – the equivalent of an 11 point GB lead – these boundaries would only see the Conservatives gain 3 seats relative to Labour). On the other hand, in a scenario where there was a swing towards Labour these proposed boundaries would be much better for the Tories. If there was a three point swing to Labour (putting the parties roughly neck and neck in GB support) then the Conservatives would win 2 more seats than on the current boundaries, Labour 26 less – a relative gain of 28 seats.

That particular level of support is most advantageous to the Tories, their gain declines again on bigger Labour swings. The point is, however, that in terms of marginality seats are not evenly distributed, so a particular set of boundaries that is good for a party when they are x% ahead in polls may not be good for them when they are y% behind.

The headline figures of gains and losses at 2010 levels of support can be somewhat misleading, given it ignores whether more seats become winnable marginals or safe seats. The best measure will probably be what percentage leads the two main parties need in order to get a majority on the new boundaries. Currently the Conservatives need about an 11 point lead, Labour about a 3 point lead.

We can’t tell exactly what leads they’ll need on the new boundaries until we see Scotland and Wales, but the Conservatives will need at most a lead of 9 points (since on these boundaries, that size swing would give over 300 seats in England alone) and I expect it will be a bit less unless the Welsh boundaries are truly horrific for them. On the old boundaries Labour could win an overall majority with a lead over the Tories of 3%, but given they win far more seats in Scotland and Wales than the Tories do, we really will need to wait for the other Commissions’ reports before we can make any estimates about how their target will change.

With all that done, below is a spreadsheet of the notional figures for all the proposed seats, carried out the same way – ready for people to crunch and experiment with in their own way.

Notional results for Provisional English Boundaries (excel) (csv)

I’ll add the caveat I provided last time I did this, these notionals are just the product of estimating how general election support is distributed throughout each seat, based up which are the stronger and weaker wards for each party in local elections, and then reallocating the wards to their new seats. There is little or no human judgement here – if just how the numbers stack up once they are all pumped into the spreadsheet, so if it is an area you know well you may very well have a better idea of how the party support in your area actually stacks up. It’s not a perfect system of projecting notional results, and sometimes later election results suggest individual seats were off, but one the whole it performs pretty well. That said, if you spot anything spectactularly odd do mention it – it may be an error.

273 Responses to “Full notional results for the provisional boundaries”

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  1. chouenlai @ HENRY

    “I very much hope that the majority of Tories will accept and enjoy the drum banging and mild insults at your conference. All pre arranged with the basics run past Dave I dare say.”

    Undoubtedly, and the Conservatives will provide the mirror image.

    Heir to Blair. PR man in charge. Everything in order.

  2. Henry @ OldNat

    “It would cost a significant sum to correct the anomaly of Scottish MPs voting on English only matters. However, if the other Scottish MPs demonstrated the integrity of the SNP MPs, there would not be an issue and no need for an expensive reform.”

    In the last parliament the Scottish Conservative didn’t vote on English matters. I don’t know if he still doesn’t now he is on the Government side.

  3. oldnat

    I don’t think your thesis stands up.

    I thought you would say that for the obvious reason of your leader. However, my thesis is difficult to prove or disprove. You only have to read some of the posts, say about NC. While posters are relatively kind and sympathetic to us LDs, they are vitriolic towards are fine leader.

  4. The problem for Labour is that a lot of the Lib marginals in England can only realistically be won by the Tories – especially under the changed provisional boundaries. A poll about a month ago (on UKPR) suggested that the Tories may, in many ways, benefit more from the Lib Dem collapse than Labour. Also, if you see look at regional breakdowns, for instance, Ed Miliband (and Labour) don’t seem to be making that much progress in the southern half of Britain – certainly not as much as the UNS would seem to suggest!

    I still stand by what I have said previously, that a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party, is the most likely scenario in 2015. However, I think their chances of getting a majority (or even being the largest party) will take a big hit if these boundary changes are implemented. Before the chances, I thought it was 90-10 in Labour’s favour, now I’d say it’s about 65-35.

  5. Henry

    “I thought you would say that for the obvious reason of your leader.”

    But since the thesis doesn’t stand up in Scotland, I’m not sure why it would in GB, where all the GB party leaders are considered pretty rank.

    Tavish Scott has also been pretty vitriolic towards your “fine leader”!

  6. oldnat & John B Dick

    “The SNP are the vehicle most likely to deliver the autonomy for Scotland that I want.”

    They are the only party in Scotland able to muster enough competent ministers to form a government even in coalition with any other party.

    (There are good and bad in all parties).

    If there are dishonest or lazy MSP’s in the SNP, and their colleagues perceive them to be putting the independence project at risk, then they will get no second chance. The SNP havn’t got to this point to let independence slip from their grasp because one of their people is falling short.

    After independence, it may well be different.


    Agreed on all points. Incidentally, the SNP’s demands on councillors to be politically active, long precede the current stooshie in Glasgow Labour, where some of their councillors are so incensed that their long hibernation is being questioned.

  8. @ Old Nat

    You should be able to envisage how (depending on the parliamentary arithmetic) they might be used to disrupt the governance of England.

    That’s not how the SNP would want to operate, but most parliamentary tactics are perfectly reasonable in the face of opposition to what Scots vote for – which was the point I was making.
    Yes, I can envisage it being attempted; but I don’t believe it would do the SNP any good. If the SNP did it simply to cause trouble, it could backfire on them. I don’t think they’d risk it.

  9. oldnat @ Henry

    “Tavish Scott has also been pretty vitriolic towards your “fine leader”!”

    Tavish Scott “gets it”.
    Murdo Fraser “gets it”.
    Malcolm Chisholm “gets it”.

    The two (or more?) SNP MSP’s who didn’t think they any real chance of getting elected “get it” – now.

    The voters are in control, and they don’t like anything much that has come from Westminster in recent decades so the SNP are coasting towards independence with their cunning plan to differentiate on the basis of competence.

    Such a refreshing change.

  10. AmbivalentSupporter,
    Yes, I did a calculation using AW’s notionals, using proportionate national swing, if the LD support falls to 75% of what they obtained in 2010 (given current polls that looks a likely minimum), then if the Tories don’t lose support they will get over 300 seats in England alone, even if Labour were to increase their vote to 106% of their 2010 levels in every constituency in England. If, otoh Labour can manage to increase their vote to 110% of 2010 levels, they might deny the Tories an overall majority, even if Tory support doesn’t fall and LD support does fall to 75% of 2010 levels.
    And playing about with different degrees of lost support for the LDs, if it is just 2010 LD supporters staying at home, then it is quite simple: the more support the LDs lose, the more seats the Tories win: there is no level when it starts converting into significant numbers of Labour gains, without Labour improving on their 2010 level of support.

  11. AmberStar @ Old Nat

    You should be able to envisage how (depending on the parliamentary arithmetic) they might be used to disrupt the governance of England.

    Disrupt is not a word the Italian Mafia would use if they were offering to help you address the competition.

    I am sure the SNP would be open to offers from either side in a hung parliament if the price was high enough.

    If that is where we are, they will know what sort of a priice would command their interest.

    Labour, in exchange for a return to government (in the sincere belief that it was in the national interest, of course) might be willing to do what I said above the LibDem leadership has done.

    Conservatives or Con-Lib-Dems might be willing to see Scottish Labour MP’s disappear entirely (also in the sincere belief that it was in the national interest of course).

    Whatever the price is, it will be what the market can bear. The Libdems have set a precedent

  12. @Ben Foley,

    Yes, and I suppose even regional apportionment will be of little use because I suspect the swing from the Libs to Labour will be particularly exaggerated in many of the wealth, well-to-do seats. Simply put, if a vulnerable/semi-vulnerable Lib seat is in a wealthy southern constituency, I’d expect it (in most cases) to go blue in 2015.

  13. John B Dick

    The positive case for the Union has now been described

    Though maybe there is some dubiety in it.

  14. OldNat

    I thought the poster Clootie summed up the dynamics very well, though it may take more than one push.

    In living things, in business, and in organisations of many sorts, you may go up, you may go down but there is a point where you can’t recover even though you existed below it on your way up.

    I don’t see any hope for Labour or the LibDems. The Cons have been offered a last chance by Murdo Fraser. They may not take it, and it may be too late anyway.

    The Greens have a long way to go. It took the SNP half a century to come from there. Maybe the Greens can do it in half the time but I won’t be there to see it.

    clootie 2011-09-19 07:00

    The key issue is the tipping points.

    a) Once you reach the stage where people believe you have a chance in the seat the swing speeds up.

    b) Once you have exceeded 50% of the vote you demoralise the opponents and the central (London) led parties don’t release the funds. (They focus on winnable seats)

    Neither do you have the local activists essential for a win.

    One more push. We can do it!”

  15. There must be a positive case for the Union but it would be a case for a Union of Nations each of which have a parliament modelled on the Scottish Parliament and a Federal parliament bespoke for a mature European democracy in the 21st century.

    That could provide an option prefereable to Scottish Independence.

    That isn’t what is on offer.

    The Union we are offered is with a parliamentary system which is the result of acretions and alterations over centuries, driven by political advantage or too-little, too late modernisation and with the complication of asymetric devolution.

    People in modernised versions of court dress and obscure titles carry out traditional roles.

    It meets in a building designed on the plan of a medieval cathedral where public school and Oxbridge debating games are played. Each “House” team gets it’s chance at batting and the system depends on the opponents getting their turn. Unlike the boat race the captain of the losing team is traditionally thrown overboard.

    Loyalty to the team is prized, even (perhaps especially) if the leader is wrong.

    Donald Dewar assured me that a Home Rule parliament would have Principles, and the means of enssuring that it adhered to them; that they would sit in a semicircle because that way people would be more likely to give their true opinions rather than what they were expected to say; that backbenchers would have “a proper job” in pre-legislative scrutiny and there would be no need for a second, revising chamber; that petitions would be dealt with responsibly; that legislators would have adequate office facilities, hours that allowed work in the constituency and family life; that smaller parties could thrive with PR, help from parliamentary staff on information, sensible allowances for support staff an above all the list; that a consensual approach would be the norm and that a when a majority of legislators which passed a bill they would have commanded the support of a majority of the electorate in an election; that there were advantages in minority government and coalition and the choice itself.

    A Union on the basis of equality with another country which had a parliament like that would have advantages that indepndence does not. Donald’s plan was that the Home Rule parliament should be the model for Westminster.

    If it had been, there would be no case for independence.

    The UK parliament has had its chance to reform and become an functional modern parliament in a fair Union.

    They wasted that chance and there is no sign of regret, far less reform.

    Scotland is on its way to Independence.

    It’s not because the SNP have a compelling case with which they have persuaded the electorate.

    We are lucky that it’s the SNP and not some unsavoury extremists that are benefiting from disaffection with the Westminster playground

  16. Stuart Dickson
    So, the SLDs were considering “declaring independence” were they?

    I agree the position of those SLDs is very strange. As Tuition fees were abolished they should have benefited. If they did not then perhaps they should look at their own strategy and tactics in Scotland which are clearly flawed and could let down a number of excellent members who are currently MPs in Scotland.

    As far as England is concerned I think most of us realise what a mistaken and basically wrong tactic was employed under pressure from a few party zealots pre election which has damaged the English LDs who now have to act responsibly in Govt.

  17. OLDNAT
    “I thought you would say that for the obvious reason of your leader.” But since the thesis doesn’t stand up in Scotland, I’m not sure why it would in GB, where all the GB party leaders are considered pretty rank.

    My thesis did not apply to Scotland rather than did not stand up. Clearly in a country where devolution, independence, or union is key the voters view things differently.

    If I or anyone else suggested what happens in England, or even English dominated UK, would apply to Scotland, you would give us short shift, and rightly so.

  18. Henry @ OLDNAT

    “Clearly in a country where devolution, independence, or union is key the voters view things differently.”

    The differences interact with each other and create more differences. For example, having marked a ballot paper for the candidate of your choice, and even if you were thinking of it as supporting a party rather than a candidate, you are then faced with a choice of party for the list, So is it “Second vote Green”, or vote for the Margo?

    The voter must wonder “Why am I being asked the same question twice?” and it is a short step from that to wonder whether the party you vote for for the UK parliament needs to be the same one as you favour for the SP constituency, the list, the council, or Europe.

    That encourages UK/SP splitting, churn, and politicians have to try a bit harder to win votes from people who voted for them previously.

    Scotland has always been different, but the differences were suppressed in the days of class war and deference. With devolution and NewLabour’s move to the right aiming to appeal to Middle England, the Scottish left and the Butskillite majority have drifted to the SNP which, rather than being tied to a political faith nes to represent, and so aims to mirror, Middle Scotland.

    According to Scottish Voting compass, the SNP have got that spot on target.

    If Murdo Fraser’s new party had been formed at dvolution to appeal to the Christian Democrat voters who used to form a Conservative majority of the popular vote, or if Tommy Sheridan hadn’t given up politics to spend more time with prisoners then the SNP wouldn’t have had such a pushover.

    These were missed opportunities, and the SNP are lucky in their opponents. SLAB are a missed opportunity of a different kind: for satire in the manner of WS Gilbert.

    There are many differences. A fair and federal system, could accommodate them. There is no question of that. It works in Germany and America. We do not have anything like that. We have a mish-mash of paliamentary democracy and an executive exercisng modified royal authority with assymetric devolution.

    It is true what the nationalists say, that in Scotland soverignty rests with the people, esoteric point though that may seem.

    So, yes, Scotland is different (though from where I sit it is England that is different) and as you may be aware, some folk think it would be sensible to govern it as a separate country.

    Scotland will soon leave the Union. It didn’t need to be that way, but the ignorance and arrogance of generations of London focused governments has allowed matters to get to such a stage that the game is up.

    The SNP are persuading nobody and they do not need to.

    SLAB urged voters to vote for them in 2011 to “send a message to Westminster”. We did just that, but we reckoned that the SNP could articulate that message far better. The electorate needs the SNP to do that job, and they do it well.

    Some years ago, a SNP candidate asked me if I did not agree that the Union was “broke”. I said yes, but not broke enough to justify the upheaval of independence.

    Well, it is now.

    Do not credit the SNP with responsibility for the change in opinion by the use of knavish tricks. It is nothing to do with them.

    The people responsible are:

    Thatcher + Ingham
    Blair + Campbell + Mandelson
    Free market fundamentalists with simplistic, bizarrely inappropriate and irrelevant solutions.
    The LibDem Generals
    Milliband and assorted authoritarian followers and attack dogs.

    Ignorant bunglers all.

  19. Henry @ Stuart Dickson

    “I agree the position of those SLDs is very strange. ………perhaps they should look at their own strategy and tactics in Scotland which are clearly flawed and could let down a number of excellent members who are currently MPs in Scotland.”

    Before we get to that point in the cycle there are council elections. Councillors are even more distanced than MSP’s from events at Westminster, and the hurricane should blow over their heads, but will it?

    Will the party workers be too demoralised to fight? Will long serving hard working Libdem councillors suffer for the sins of party colleagues in a parliament far away in what is increasingly a dfferent country?

    In a fair world they would not. Perhaps incumbency will save them, but retiring councillors should not expect to pass on any part of their incumbency or personal vote. For long serving councillors that’s significant.

    Labour are in trouble too in the West central belt with accusations of sleaze and the trough as well as complacency.

    If the SNP win, they win a little.
    If the SNP lose, they win big time.

    If the churn is sufficient for the SNP to win outright, there will be a clear out, Labour can regroup and recover and be ready for the UK and SP elections.

    Much more likely, that won’t happen but the majorities will be hollowed out (my iceberg analogy). Labour will see that not many councillors have been lost and carry on as before self-deluding with the comforting thought that nothing much has changed, nothing needs to be changed, and resolving to try harder next time to get the voe out, knowing that with more years of Tory government “our people” will come back us where it really counts.

    The biggest danger for Labour is complacency. If the vote is destabilised and it just needs a wee shoogle next time, for it all to come crashing down all at once.

    It’s the long term trend in vote share that matters (ask Murdo Fraser) not marginal losses of candidates elected from one election to the next.

    We don’t have a two terms and the other side gets in to bat system. It’s much more fluid now.

  20. Does anyone know if this voter registration issue applies to Scotland?

  21. @John B Dick

    ‘Scotland will soon leave the Union. It didn’t need to be that way, but the ignorance and arrogance of generations of London focused governments has allowed matters to get to such a stage that the game is up. ‘

    Careful, John, that arrogant/stuck up attitude will lose us the independence referendum!

  22. Thanks very much Anthony. I have been much delayed in replying because I have been too busy downloading the proposed new seats ward by ward so I can carry out my own analysis, while dealing with a family death.

    Just to agree quickly with Pete Whitehead that Electoral Calculus is a waste of space, and that these figures provide a good start to consider the electoral implications of the proposed boundary changes.

    To repeat the limitations of notional results:
    (a) They estimate how the actual votes were cast at the last election on the new boundaries. They therefore take no account of any factors which would have led to different votes being cast if the electoral situation was different. The example for Brighton & Hove is a good one.
    (b) They are based on local election results. If you have a situation where local results are significantly different from voting behaviour nationally, then notionals will be incorrect. You need local knowledge for this. For example you may have 2 wards where the LDs are dug in and win over 50% of the vote while finishing third in the constituency. the standard methodology then overestimates the LD general election vote in those wards and underestimates it elsewhere.
    (c) Independents (both local and general) make a particular mess. There were a number of constituenecies at the last general election where there was a significant independent vote. There are odd wards all over the country held by independents whose vote cannot be redistributed properly. And there are some rural areas with no party competition and unopposed seats.
    (d) Dealing with local elections from different years with different turnouts and multiple candidates simply adds to the problem

    Nonetheless the notionals make a great start.

    The big surprise with the boundary review is that the Boundary Commission has stuck with ward bouyndaries throughout England – not a single ward has been split anywhere. I had thought this impossible in the major cities because of ward size. The result is some very strange looking seats in Birmingham and Leeds. I am full of admiration for the Commission in achieving this feat, but this doesn’t mean that it should have been done. The giant wards in Birmingham often themselves violate local community boundaries (Nechells, South Yardley and Perry Barr are particularly egregious examples). Much better seats could be produced by crossing ward boundaries and Birmingham could have the 9 seats it is entitled to (with 1 joint with Solihull and 1 joint with the Black Country. Instead we have 2 seats with 4 (smaller) Birmingham wards and 1 ward added (Erdington being particularly absurd as Castle Bromwich is on the wrong side of the biggest natural boundary in Birmingham (M6, River Tame, main line railway), plus 4 wards chipped off to add to seats outside Birmingham. All 6 of these seats are at the upper end of the permissible range which allows the Commission to have 7 seats all at the lower end of the permissible range containing 4 Birmingham wards each.

    I’m sure there’s something similar in Leeds which I am less familiar with.

    The extra problem with this is that it is next to impossible to recommend any alternatives or changes, since the feat of getting the right number of seats in the right range is so difficult in the first place with the ward boundary restriction.

    And yes to the eartlier poster, Meriden becomes a marginal as Labour Shard End replaces Tory Knowle

  23. I think the Margate and Ramsgate constituency is a lot closer than this notional result would suggest.

    The Conservatives did very well in the old Thanet South constituency with a significant swing at the 2010 General Election.

    In the 2011 local election, though, there was a significant swing towards Labour in Ramsgate, Margate combined with Labour beginning to break through in Broadstairs.

    Therefore, while the notional winner of this constituency could be the Conservatives, the change in the boundaries makes this an interesting one to watch.

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