I’m having a nice rest after the election, but a brief update to add the BBC’s projected national vote – CON 29%, LAB 31%, LD 13%, UKIP 17%.

So in relation to my previous comments on the local results, Labour’s lead is indeed only modest, very much in line with their position in the national polls. And rather than UKIP doing pretty much the same as they did in last year’s local elections, they’ve actually done significantly worse – 17% as opposed to the 23% they got last year.

I should also comment on what the Projected National Share is. It’s not a sum of actual votes cast, it’s a projection of what the results would be if the whole country was voting and the main *three* parties were contesting all seats (it doesn’t assume a UKIP candidate in every seat, though the process of taking only seats where Lab, Con and LD stood means that it does increase the effective level of UKIP contestation). As regular readers will know, there is a cycle of local elections and in some years the councils voting are more Toryish or more Labourish – so for example, last year’s locals were mostly in shire councils, this year’s elections were mostly in metropolitan councils. The PNS attempts to smooth out those differences so you can compare one election to the next – so even if there are some teething problems in accounting for a new party in the PNS, the year to year comparisons should be valid.

163 Responses to “BBC Projected National Share”

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  1. The PNS has always been useless at predicting actual GE votes.

  2. Nick – indeed. In fact, while I’m not sure the BBC do, Rallings and Thrasher also do their Equivalent National Vote (a similar concept) in general election years and it is significantly different to general election vote. People vote differently at local and general elections.

    However, that’s not its purpose. It purpose is to allow us to compare one year’s local election to another year’s local election.

  3. Good morning All.
    Anthony: Thank you, once again.

    Ed M was defending the results as being good. Tony Blair always argued against any complacency, even when the results were far better for Labour.

    Are there any equivalent results in 1996?

  4. @ Anthony Wells

    “However, that’s not its purpose. It purpose is to allow us to compare one year’s local election to another year’s local election.”

    Thanks for this. It makes sense. However, BBC projected seats from it. Even more Today’s FT that claims that Piketty mishandled his data, does the same.

  5. If UKIP has a high level of protest voters then there may also be a high level of split voting where local elections were held. I expect the protest vote for UKIP would be higher in the EU election than the locals.

    However, in the 2013 election, there was only one opportunity to raise a protest vote which helped the UKIP percentage.

    Overall I do not think there has been much change in UKIP support since 2013 but is becoming more geographically focussed which will help them achieve Westminster seats (although its still difficult for them).

  6. One thing I wondered was whether the LD local to GE principle might have changed in the current political climate.

    I’m sure it was Anthony who said the LD’s poll 1/3rd more at local elections than they do in a General Election which would put them on 8-9% at a GE. However given the current trend of retreating to their bases of power which was pretty well evidenced in this set of elections is it possible that this theory might now be different?

  7. Okay so I understand the PNS is not actual votes cast but a projection of how the parties would look like if the whole country was voting but is there anyway of knowing what the percentage each party won just for the elections on Thursday?

  8. So does anyone know what the *actual* voting shares were? I know these are useless in themselves for predicting the GE results, but I’d still be interested in them as a matter of historical record, and as a baseline to get some idea of how much adjustment has been made in the PNS. They might also be more useful than the PNS for predicting the Euro results.

  9. “Are there any equivalent results in 1996?”

    According to Wiki, the 1996 PNS was Lab 43%; Con 29%


    But imo the difference in messaging reflects very different times.

    In 1996 Blair was miles ahead and realy there were excellent grounds to be complacent about the likelihood of a GE Labour win. But Labour were scarred by the 1992 experience and terrified that their voters would take the victory for granted.

    Miliband clearly has a different problem in needing to stem the disappointing-result narrative and present Labour as potential winners – without, of course, seeming to be complacent about the implications of the rise of UKIP.

    “Overall I do not think there has been much change in UKIP support since 2013”

    There’s been a huge amount of change in their level of media support. Will be interesting to see if that affects their VI down the line.

  11. AW

    I take the point you make about UKIP doing worse than last year but isn’t that largely due to the London where they have done badly. Elswhere I suspect they are probably quite near last years 23%.

    The 2% Labour lead in the BBC’s projected national vote does seem to be very much in line with the reduced Labour lead that the polls have been showing recently. Clearly all to play for in 2015 for both Tories and Labour. Looking at the Lib Dem results I suspect that they will keep more seats in 2015 than looks probable now.

  12. “People vote differently at local and general elections.”

    As an anecdote, my parents are Labour voters nationally and hate the LibDems but locally hate Labour and are solid LibDems so fit this perfectly.

    And I suspect this fact, that people vote differently in different elections, will be ignored when the European results are released. And few will read Lord Ashcroft’s polling that shows a substantial percent of EU-UKIP voters intend to vote Con at the GE.

  13. TOH

    As London includes approximately 15% of the Electorate of the UK it would seem remiss not to include it in a figure for a National Vote Share.

    73 MP’s 30 Conservatives 7LD’s on the swing to Labour on the Swing last night would gain iro 15 of these.

  14. The PNS is also pretty useless at predicting the next year’s local results. So, what’s the point of it?

  15. @TOH

    Fair points. However you can’t simply dismiss London. In Nigel Farage’s own council – Bromley – UKIP won just 2 of 60 seats. Labour actually increased their seat total by more – to 7, and the Tories won 51 seats. Whereas in Hammersmith and Fulham, Merton, Barnet and elsewhere Labour took a string of seats directly from the Conservatives.

    To me that result is more reflective of the likely GE result next year. UKIP will not challenge the Tories in true blue areas. They may take some votes away from the Tories in marginal seats letting Labour in but this is unclear. What us clear is that Labour can win Tory seats. Whether this will happen in sufficient numbers for Labour to win the GE is unclear, but the Tories certainly have a new problem to worry about.

    As for the “Ed is toast” headlines, these were clearly pre-prepared. The media expected a UKIP landslide and it just didn’t happen. They did extremely well in terms of seats but lost over 25% of their votes. Equally the narrative that Labour is not doing well enough to take Tory seats was proven to be false. Now the narrative is – yes – Lab did well in London but not in the rest of the country. But even that is not that easy to sustain in that Labour did not really lose Councils even outside London.

  16. I’m sensing a change of mood today.

    Yesterday there was euphoria at UKIP achieving 17%. PNS from some but today there appears to be a rather muted response to the PNS!!

    Why is that?

  17. # Euphoria that UKIP only achieved 17% PNS I should add.

  18. “The PNS is also pretty useless at predicting the next year’s local results. So, what’s the point of it”

    To compare previous local election results?

    Also if you were in the job of modeling future local results, historical data would be fairly important.

  19. Most results now in, only waiting for two councils.

    Party Councils Seats

    Party Total Change +/- Total Change +/-

    lab 82 +6 2101 +338
    con 41 -11 1359 -231
    ld 6 -2 427 -307
    ukip 0 0 163 +161

  20. RAF

    “but the Tories certainly have a new problem to worry about.”

    UKIP is not a new problem for the Tories, that was clear last year. UKIP is also clearly a problem for Labour, as Steve Fisher makes clear in his blog at Electionsetc. The Ashcroft poll also shows that UKIP will lose 50 of its Euro voters come the General election and at a rate of 2:1 Tories to Labour.

  21. @TOH

    The new problem is Labour being able to take seats from the Tories.

  22. Interesting poll by Lord Ashcroft here:


    This shows only 51% of Euro UKIP voters plan to vote for them in the General Election next year. 21% plan to vote Tory and 11% for Labour. So if this 51% do go ahead and vote UKIP next year, I guess this would be in the region of 14% national share. I wonder if anywhere would be concentrated enough to actually obtain a seat.

  23. @Allan Christie I guess because people have calmed down and started to look at the facts! The UKIP results do not actually come anywhere near the media’s ‘breakthrough/landslide’ agenda

  24. I think Anthony sums up pretty well what the PNS is able to do and not able to do. I am skeptical at how accurate the numbers are though when there is 4th party (and even 5th with the Greens) involved

    The media, though, is using it differently

    At the end of the dayLabour were the leading party but with a lower PNS for a winner that I have seen before – despite that they still hoovered up a lot of seats

    London was probably the singular most interesting part of the poll as it shows that the economy ‘boom’ has not helped the Tories there.

    I keep making the point though that our national election is not fought on national share of the vote. It is done on number of seats won. As Labour has a more ‘efficient’ voter base and the lack of boundary changes we could see Labour winning a majority on 32-33% of voting share.

    I cannot really see how UKIP will win any seats from Labour or, more importantly, allow other parties to win on the back of their vote. What I could see though is UKIP damaging the Tory vote enough in the south to let Labour win some seats there. We have seen this effect yesterday in the South. How that will play next year is difficult to say but if UKIP poll >10% then it could be important

    This may be wrong but it is how I see it at the moment

    I am also hoping this is the case – a Labour win in 2015, and opting reform based on the even more obvious unfairness of FPTP

  25. Back to Bromley.

    I’ve being looking into the Ward by Ward breakdown of results. UKIP won its two seats in a single Ward – Cray Valley West. What is interesting is that this Ward had one of the lowest turnouts in the borough at under 35%. The turnout in Bromley overall appears to have been between. 40 and 45%

  26. can’t wait for the general…think labour will take it, and be just short of a majority…let’s see who’s right.

    the complacency of the tory media is astonishing: a labour gain of 300 plus seats and a tory loss of 200 seats is being spun as some kind of tory victory. takes skill to spin that line.

    the truth is, cumulatively, from last year’s results and this year, ukip have gained 350 councillors from a practically a zero base. Most of these (from last year and this year) have been won off the tories.

    Everyone knew that this year’s vote was concentrated more in labour areas, towns/cities etc., while last year’s was in tory areas. so it’s hardly surprising that ukip got a lower share of the vote this year than last. Matthew Parris is right. UKIP is a right wing insurgency party which can draw on old labour support.

  27. Ashcroft knows who has won the Euros:


    “In the 12 hours after the polls closed on Thursday night I surveyed over 4,000 people who took part in the Euro election. My poll doesn’t try to predict the result – that would be illegal before voting has finished in all European countries – but it helps explain why voters did what they did, and what they might do next.”

    So we just need a volunteer to get him drunk and look for facial expressions with a few leading statements like “your lordship- I reckon UKIP has won”.

  28. @ Morfsky

    You beat me to it!

  29. Thursday’s local elections were held in England and Northern Ireland. None in Scotland or Wales. Yet the BBC PNS implies that they are voting figures for the whole of the UK. Labour are stronger in Scotland and Wales than in England. So shouldn’t the Labour share be higher to reflect this? Anybody any thoughts on this?

  30. RAF

    Don’t for get that the election is not yesterday but in eleven months time. I would be amazed if Labour had not gained some seats from the Tories in this weeks Council elections at this stage in a parliament. Labour gained seats but not spectacularly so and certainly not enough to be confident of beating the Tories in 2015. The economy seems set to continue improving , EdM and EdB are not trusted to run the economy. Just look at the results of the Ashcroft Poll, it should give you pause for thought.

  31. “it doesn’t assume a UKIP candidate in every seat, though the process of taking only seats where Lab, Con and LD stood means that it does increase the effective level of UKIP contestation”

    So what does this mean for comparing the values? Will this effect be higher or lower for this election than last?

  32. 160+ gains for UKIP. But who exactly did they gain them from? The media hype ‘suggests’ it was gains from Lab cos they had such a disastrous day. Yeah of course they did.
    The raw stats say the gains came from Con or LD. I can’t find a breakdown anywhere but then again I suspect that most of the meeja don’t want to focus on this.

  33. In the previous thread I mentioned Lord Ashcroft’s poll. Although he did not state how people voted, because that would be against the rules, the figures he gave in the last table but one seem consistent with a UKIP vote of somewhat more than 30%. This is because 3% of the sample recalled voting UKIP at the General Election in 2010, while 10% of the UKIP voters on Thursday said they had done so.

    Also, in the last table, 51% of UKIP voters said they would vote for the party again at the next General Election, which on the basis of a vote in the low 30s is not a million miles from the 17% Projected National Share which the BBC attributed to them in the Local Elections, and which reflects real votes which had just been cast in the local elections. What people will really do next year, of course, is anybody’s guess.

    Commentary –


    Poll –


  34. TOH

    If the vote is based on the economy why did London go so heavily Labour?

    Labour won Redbridge and Croydon (not even Blair took them) and almost Barnet

    I know local event etc etc but surely if the economy was the main influence the Tories would have been much closer, and not lost such councils?

    I don’t think anyone, based on the 2010 result, will expect Labour to have a 97 type election. We are looking more at the 70s tight elections and the influence of LD, UKIP and Green voters in certain key constituencies will be key

    On seats I think yesterday would give Labour some confidence, on vote share it is a different story.

  35. It’s a hard question answer in some cases. For instance, on paper Stocksbridge & Upper Don and West Ecclesfield in Sheffield were UKIP gains from LD. But actually, the Lib Dems were basically waiting to be killed off there, it was merely a matter of who would do it. In that sense, they could be considered UKIP gains from Labour.

    There are a lot of seats where a UKIP gain was technically at the expense of the defending party but would in a normal year have been a Labour gain.

  36. The reason UKIP’s share has gone down is that these local elections have included London which is their weakest area. The rest of England they are hitting similar heights to the last local elections.

  37. labour won 338 seats. ukip won 160 odd. the tories lost 231 seats, the lib dems lost 307…

    a 10 year old can see that it’s very unlikely that ukip won most of its 160 seats of labour who gained 338 seats….

    the parties that gained seats, gained most of those seats off the parties that lost seats…i mean come on! really, it’s that simple…the level of intellectual clarity when the punditry opine on politics is pititfully low.

  38. Comparison of last year’s BBC Projected National Share with this:

    Con 2013 25%, 2014 29%, up 4%
    Lab 2013 29%, 2014 31%, up 2%
    LD 2013 14%, 2014 13%, down 1%
    UKIP 2013 23%, 2014 17%, down 6%

    Certainly it’s questionable as to why the BBC should have seen fit to just parrot the “Labour crisis” headlines of the right wing press this morning, something they seem increasingly in the habit of doing. Their own figures seem to tell a quite different story. I suspect that the “UKIP triumph at Labour’s expense” narrative was written a week or two ago and they’ve just taken the easy option and failed to adapt their planned reporting to reality.

  39. Perhaps the council elections are an indication of UKIP already concentrating their vote share (less votes, more councillors). If that’s the case, it matches Farage’s comments of ‘looking at where things are going well and then throw the kitchen sink at them’, or words to that effect.

    I think they think an MP or two are possible in 2015.

    If Ashcroft’s data is accurate and 20% of UKIP plan to go back to Con, and 10% to Lab, we could be looking at a dead heat, based on current polling. 2.7% added to Con and 1.35% added to Lab, based on UKIP national average at 13.5%.

    I have a sneaky suspicion that UKIP’s staying core will be regionally imbalanced, in that Eastern (region) UKIP folk will be more inclined to stay UKIP than other UKIP folk. If that’s so, the marginals are anyone’s guess.


    As was posted yesterday London is a cosmopolitan city these days with a high immigrant population. London was a bad result for the Tories this week but I dont expect it to be that bad in 2015.

    I agree the 2015 GE will be close, not least because of the boundaries problem that the Tories have. However on the basis of this weeks results I still think there will be a small Tory majority in 2015.

  41. @James Peel
    “a 10 year old can see that etc etc ”

    Agreed. I am just trying to tease out a breakdown in the hope that someone knows where to find one or can post a useful link! I don’t rate my chances much.

  42. On the projected national share, the Conservatives are the party who has made the most progress over the past year, followed by Labour, and UKIP are by far the party who has lost ground since 2013.

    Curiously, this is not how ANYBODY has summed up these locals.

  43. The Other Howard,

    I don’t see how you can (a) understand the Tories’ boundary issues and (b) think that they will win a majority. It’s like a boxing match where one boxer needs a knockout to get a draw: whatever you do, don’t expect him to win.


    The media spin is extraordinary. the picture hasn’t changed that much in the last 6 months or so, after the tory nadir last may. the scenario in which both parties get the same share of the vote in 2015 has been widely touted.

    In fact, Shadsy who sets odds for ladbrokes said this was the base assumption behind his odds.

    The problem with that for the Tories is that they end up about 40 seats down, while labour get 315+ or so…. that’s roughly where i see this thing ending up.

  45. @PH: “Certainly it’s questionable as to why the BBC should have seen fit to just parrot the “Labour crisis” headlines of the right wing press this morning, something they seem increasingly in the habit of doing.”

    To be fair this time it was the BBC that started it, or rather Nick Robinson, who announced a UKIP victory as soon as the first result arrived from Sunderland.

  46. We had previously established that UKIP voters were much more likely to turn out in the locals. So with a one third turnout in those, we should treat Ashcrofts ‘return to mother’ analysis of EP UKIP with some care.

  47. Roger H,

    (From other thread)

    “Maggie had a divided opposition rather than significantly more support.”

    More support than whom? Not much more than Major in 1992 or Blair in 1997 (the Labour % was high in 2001 but that was a very low turnout election) however she won more in the way of support than anyone else since the early 1970s, at least if you look at general election results.

    In terms of voter support rather than seats, the Tories run of >40% results from 1979-1992 is completely unchallenged by any party since the 1960s, and short of a massive shift in British politics, it is unlikely to occur again. Even the formation of the Coalition and the subsequent windfall to Labour, which might have revived two party politics, has not done so.

  48. I haven’t seen or listened to a second of the BBC programming on the locals. That was a good choice then, apparently, I’ll stick here with Anthony and you good people.

  49. (In fact, if anything the admirable progress in the Greens in the face of low publicity suggests that the underlying tendency in English politics is towards a FIVE party system… Maybe a SIX party system in Scotland and Wales?!)

  50. Howard,

    I can sum it up as Labour lost every one of its council seats, and Nigel Farage is being crowned King tomorrow.

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