Boundaries update

The final section of the revised boundary recommendations, those from Wales, are now out. Most of the changes from the interim recommendations are shuffling about of a ward here or there – the biggest changes are around Cardiff and the valleys: the rather odd Heads of the Valleys seat has been abandoned and the salamandery Newport West and Sirhowy Valley has gone. Meanwhile a recognisable Cardiff Central has been resurrected. The return of Cardiff Central means the revised boundaries have one more Lib Dem seat and one less Labour seat. The changes now go out for a new round of consultation, after which the Commissions may make some final changes (from past reviews, these are quite rare and often minor tweaks or name changes) or confirm these as their final recommendations.

Adding all the revised boundaries together gives us notional totals for what the seats at the 2010 election would have been if counted on the new boundaries of CON 302 (down 4), LAB 222 (down 36), LDEM 51 (down 6), Others 25 (down 4). As ever, it is important to remember that there are (a) notional results for the last election, not what would happen now and (b) what seats would have been won if people’s votes had been counted on the new boundaries, NOT if they had voted on the new boundaries. Some people would have actually voted differently had the new boundaries been in force, particularly wards moving into Lib Dem marginals. For this reason I suspect notional calculations underestimate how well the Liberal Democrats would actually have done on these boundaries.

On current boundaries the Conservatives need a lead of 11.1% to win an overall majority on a uniform swing. They need a lead of 4.1% to be the largest party. Labour need a lead of 2.9% to get an overall majority. If the two main parties had equal shares of the vote Labour would have 53 seats more than the Conservatives.

On the revised boundaries the Conservatives need a lead of 7% to win an overall majority, they would need a lead of 1.4% to be the biggest party. Labour would need a lead of 4.7% to win an overall majority. If the two main parties had equal shares of the vote Labour would have 16 seats more than the Conservatives.

Note that all these targets are on a uniform swing between Conservative and Labour, they aren’t the same under all circumstances. Most notably, if Liberal Democrat support falls the sort of leads the parties need to get an overall majority get smaller. Given that the Liberal Democrats aren’t very likely to get 24% at the next election based on current polling, I’ve also given some illustrations on what the picture would be if the Lib Dems were on 12%.

On current boundaries, if the Lib Dems fell to 12% then the Conservatives would need a lead of 5.9% to get an overall majority, the Conservatives would need a lead of 3% to be the biggest party, Labour would need a lead of 0.4% for an overall majority. If the two main parties had equal shares of the vote Labour would have 41 seats more than the Conservatives.

On the revised boundaries, if the Lib Dems fell to 12% the Conservatives would need a lead of 2.7% to get an overall majority. Labour would need a lead 0.4% to be the biggest party and a lead of 3.8% to get an overall majority. If the two main parties had equal shares of the vote the Conservatives would have 3 seats more than Labour.

Of course, to some extent this all academic as currently the boundaries look unlikely to go through, with the Liberal Democrats repeatedly stating they will not do a deal on the boundaries. However, there was slight movement on another front yesterday. It is broadly assumed that the Conservatives could strike a deal with the DUP to support the changes, as well as the SNP, who do very well out of the boundary changes themselves (they are the only party who wouldn’t lose any seats at all). However, this would be not be enough to get them through. Yesterday, however, Plaid Cymru said they were also open to a deal to support the boundary changes in exchange for greater devolution to Wales.

On paper the Conservatives, SNP, DUP and Plaid together have a de facto majority in the Commons and could push through changes. In practice it still looks dubious, even if some deal could be struck (which is far from certain!), as it would require no Conservative abstentions or rebellions, and at least one Conservative MP has publically said he’ll vote against it. My expectation is still that the boundary changes will not happen.

Full notional figures for the revised boundaries for England, Wales and Scotland are now available as a google spreadsheet here (note that I have not done separate notional figures for UKIP in Scotland or the BNP in Wales, they are lumped in with Others).

113 Responses to “Boundaries update”

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  1. @ Alec

    I agree- if they go too far into celebratory mode they could end up with a hostage to fortune like ‘no more boom and bust’. I can already see the ‘where is the more good news you were talking about’ in 3 months time. Plus it you see green shoots too often and it doesn’t happen then if you say it 6 months before the election it becomes less believable.

    Good figures though- anything above what people were expecting is and makes a strong case that we are out of recession rather than being technical.

    I honestly do not expect these figures to last judging by the global economy and the more recent PMI surveys.

  2. BBC on the green shoot :-

    “The level of GDP in the third quarter of 2012 was almost exactly the same as it had been in the third quarter of 2011.”

  3. ONS men ( aren’t statisticians funny people ?) studiously avoided quantifying special effects at their Press Conference.
    Since this was the only thing journalists wanted to know-it didn’t last long :-)

    A quick trawl through the ONS release -I can only find one number re special effects. It is in the subsidiary paper on OLympic EFfect ( which is mostly uninformative waffle):-

    Olympic Ticket sales -0.2% effect in 2012 Q3

    Since everything else seems totally opaque, & looking at two quarters together in order to cancel out inter quarter effects , we get +0.4% for the last two quarters, excluding OLympoic ticket sales-ie annual rate of +0.8% pa.

    Thinking about 2012 Q4, which is even more critical than these numbers ( because momentum & direction is what matters) , we might say that if Q3 is on an improving path from Q2 , then that annual rate of + 0.8% might be understated.
    Conversely, I don’t like the look of ONS’ notes on the September numbers. These are included on the most incomplete basis of all the Q3 numbers-and they appear to be turning down.

    So-who knows? Not the ONS -not yet anyway. Why do we release GDP numbers so soon after the Quarter end, when we know they are so iffy & will be revised later?

    I hope DC/GO & the rest of them play this very cautiously in terms of specifics & next quarter/next year.

    But they are entitled to a little bit of what they have been straining at the leash to get for so long-an opportunity to respond to Ball’s mantra & the suggestion that his ideas are wrong & outdated.

    ….but it’s all a bit tenuous just yet !

  4. @Colin

    “ONS men ( aren’t statisticians funny people ?) studiously avoided quantifying special effects at their Press Conference.”

    What, no detailed analysis of how that freak storm at 4pm on 18th Aug knocked 0.5% off GDP all on its own?

    Previous announcements seem to have been stacked with special pleadings. Since plainly the ONS is completely independent of government, and no-one could possibly have leaned on them to omit mention of such things, one can only assume that 2012Q3 was one of the most ordinary and average quarters on record.

  5. ROBIN

    @”one can only assume that 2012Q3 was one of the most ordinary and average quarters on record.”

    One most certainly cannot-well not if you listened to the grey men in suits, or read their Q3 report.

    As they explained , in some detail, there is a fistfull of special & inter quarter effects.

    They just don’t have what they described as “robust” data with which to quantify it.

    So my question is-so why not wait until you do?

    These preliminary GDP estimates are too quick & too inaccurate. THe Spectator has a great table showing the scale of revisions.


  6. I suppose to get excited about growth figures one would have to be a party activist. It might encourage some people to go and deliver leaflets in Corby, despite the rain.

    I received a plumber’s C.H. repair bill for £720 odd this morning (including £120 VAT) so my contribution to both economy and deficit reduction is huge.

    Do I feel better off though, well yes, as I am warm again!

    So it is the answer to the ‘FGF’ confidence question that YouGov poses that tells us if the voters think we have ‘growth’.

  7. @PaulCroft

    I don’t understand why you are pestered with captcha codes. I don’t have those irritations at all, (since ages ago).

  8. @NickP,

    “I think Colin is right though, if 1% growth doesn’t claw back some support for the Tories they might be in trouble!

    Of course then there is a real hostage to fortune with the next growth figures (January?). If VI fluctuates with GDP it might be a rollercoaster.

    The one thing that might (might) get the Tories up to that magic 40% support mark it is a period of sustained economic growth. But what makes that unlikely (apart from austerity) is the economic outlook elsewhere in the world.

    We should all be pleased if things improve…but I don’t think there will be an immediate upswing for the Tories if growth is reported today. But if we get growth all next year and things begin to feel better, then we just might.”

    I don’t think the short-term effect that GDP figures have on the polls are as important to the Tories as how they are seen by the general public in areas of economic competency. If they can build up a decent lead over Labour on ‘who do you trust more to run the economy’ it may well stand them in good stead for the GE in 2015.

  9. Isn’t it interesting that all your comments re the Boundary Review focused on the balance of (party) political advantage ? Shouldn’t the fundamental point – that a periodic independent review is necessary to preserve (as best possible) the principle of all voters being treated equally – be the main issue and command support from all who call themselves democrats ?

  10. 1% is pretty poor given the depths of the recession. If there are special factors at work such as the Olympics, then there is no real sign that there is pent up demand in the economy at all. After a recession of this depth and duration we should be seeing a V shaped recovery – according to the experts who pronounce about these things – but if not, it could be a U, or an L.

    Also what about investment figures? Have they improved at all? Transport costs?

    You can’t trust commodity prices as an indicator of upturn nowadays with so much loose capital around blowing up bubbles. They are still at boom prices, just because so much capital is defying gravity with taxpayer help.

  11. I think @Colin’s caution is well founded, and a refreshing bit on non partisan and honest comment. I would certainly agree that the indications have been that the September data is turning down, and as these are the least accurate parts of the quarterly first estimate, there has to be a chance that the first estimate if revised downwards. Since the crash, the average error in the first estimate numbers is 0.8%, so we could be anywhere from 0.2% to 1.8% growth.

    In terms of political impact, I think the government has been very unlucky today with the announcement of the Ford closure. This is everything you don’t want on a day of good economic figures – big job losses in key constituencies at iconic manufacturing and export plants.

    Underlying the figures are some really worrying numbers. The combined impact of increased government spending and the finance sector was to add 0.7% growth. This means that the private non financial sectors combined could only scrape 0.3% growth impact. Very worrying.

  12. SOCAL:

    Thank you!

  13. AW
    Am I allowed to repeat my previous post here, and to add a point?
    How does your caveat on the influence of statistical error on supposed swings in polled VI apply to the statistical basis of GDP? If it did, the 0.3?s and 0.4s upward or downward swings, which supposedly signal movement into and out of recession, represent in reality 100.3 or 100.4 rather than 99.7 or 99.6 as against the widely (in this blog) accepted 100 remaining fish in the North Sea, and don’t count for diddle.
    If the economy is static, it is because of factors which are extraneous to the domestic economy and some traditional levers of government and money management. In these circumstances effective policy making will be in structural reform, including reform of the linked educational and skills training systems and employment. This is where I imagine EM will flesh out pre-distributional policies (Idiot!) and provide specifics; the 1980 creation of Training and Enterprise Centres, under KC I think, might be worth revisiting.

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