The election of a majority Conservative government means that the Parliamentary boundary review will presumably go ahead on the rules passed under the last government, but delayed by the Liberal Democrats (the review that was started in the last Parliament was abandoned before it was completed after the law was changed). There is no need for the government to pass any laws to implement this, it will start up automatically early next year once electorate numbers are available, though Parliament will still have to vote to implement the Boundary Commissions’ recommendations, and with a small majority that is not necessarily a given – last time round there were a couple of Tory MPs who said they were going to vote against the new boundaries, and the government doesn’t have much of a majority to begin with.

Anyway, a couple of people have asked me how this election would have looked had the revised boundaries proposed in the last Parliament gone through. I’ve done a rough rejig of my provisional boundary calculations using the result of this election, and had the new boundaries gone through the Conservatives would have won 322 seats, nine fewer than they did but enough to give them a healthy majority of 44 in a Commons of 600 MPs. Labour would have won 204 MPs (28 fewer), the SNP 50 seats (and would have pushed Labour out of Scotland entirely) and the Lib Dems just 4.

Of course, this is not necessarily a good guide to what the new review this Parliament will produce – electorate numbers will have changed since 2010 and given some of the discussion after the abandoned review I suspect the English Commission may be a little more open to splitting wards so the proposed changes are less disruptive (something that requires only a change of mindset, not a change of rules!), but we shall see.

1,050 Responses to “What the election would have looked like on the new boundaries”

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  1. AW

    The important question would be how many would be marginal. That is if we want a functioning democracy.

  2. @Hawthorn – Only because we have FPTP, bear in mind.

  3. Do you have a map that shows your guess at the likely boundaries?

  4. Thanks AW. That clears up part of yesterdays discussion as we were not sure if they could go ahead, many thought not.


    re your last post to me
    “The council figures are scary because they show the election was not just about ‘keeping out the SNP’ as some in Labour and the LibDems believe, perhaps self-comfortingly.”

    I totally agree, they are a further warning to both labour and LDs, if they needed one that they are in trouble. For the Tories it means more foot soldiers on the ground.

    Very many thanks., especially at this time when you have been so busy.

    On that matter, Matthew Parris writes about how a group of academic constitutionalists went home early from the BBC when it became clear that no discussion was needed about hung parliaments and government formation.

  6. Surely we must be due a poll tonight from someone (anyone!) showing the Tories and Labour level pegging on 33%?

  7. Personally I think moving to 600 MPs would be a mistake, especially if there isn’t going to be a parallel cut in the number of ministers. Already with 650 MPs have to split their time several different ways.

    Also, politically cutting numbers is likely to cause some unrest on the backbenches because it means incumbents competing with each other for the new seat.

    The cut was always a symbolic, post-expenses, thing at a time when MPs were hated. We’re over that now to an extent and whilst the Lords certainly needs to find a way to reduce numbers I don’t think the Commons does.

  8. I don’t seem to be able to find a web site that gives the gains for each party against each party in an easily followed way (so displaying a list of seats for each party that won or lost). Anyone have a link please?

  9. Not strictly on topic. And I’m sure this has already been discussed.

    But it seems to me that a majority of 12 should be plenty for Cameron to head off any right wing rebels from hos own side. Especially as Sinn Fein don’t vote. Am I correct in thinking that?

  10. TOH
    Many thanks for the local results on the last thread. Further, delighted to hear last week, your health has won an election. I am delighted, its all brilliant results at present.

  11. @MartinW

    Well, there were a lot more than six rebels during the last Parliament (all you need to be defeated with a a majority of 12). And the govt’s numbers are always down slightly because a few ministers are on overseas trips or doing other ministerial business.

    I expect we will see an end to the post-1992 trend for each Parliament to break the previous Parliament’s record of being the most rebellious on record. Rebels will probably save their fire for when they’re really angry, not participate in symbolic rebellions on things they slightly don’t like. And the soft rebels will probably be put off completely because it will be much more of a black mark with such a small majority. But there will be rebellions and the govt. will be defeated.

    Interestingly I expect they might have more trouble with rebels from the left of the party on things like leaving the European Convention on Human Rights and replacing it with a British Human Rights Act than they will on Europe. Europe will still be a sore point but I suspect they’ll just have to accept that some MPs will campaign to leave, regardless of the content of the renegotiation.

    The Woodcraft Folk weekly has published a poll that shows Miliband is now more popular than Cameron. A spokesperson said “now Ed cannot be PM people really like him”.

  13. The snooper’s charter could cause trouble from the libertarians.

  14. @ Jack Sheldon

    re. only needing 6 to vote against – I hadn’t thought of it that way!

    What about SNP MPs – do they usually attend and vote in Parliament?

    And presumably the DUP & UUP will normally support the government?

  15. @Hawthorn

    Indeed. Another where the party’s left could cause trouble. Though there is a decent chance LAB will back it, at least at second and third reading (they may want to amend it).

  16. I feel like I’m missing something – in a 600 seat chamber, surely 322 seats would offer a majority of 22?

    I am glad to see you are already working towards the Tory government’s demise, even before they start.

  18. @MartinW

    The SNP used to only vote on non-devolved issues. But, with propping up LAB in mind, they said they’d be extending that to anything with even a consequential impact on Scotland through the Barnett formula. That covers just about everything as long as Full Fiscal Autonomy doesn’t happen. So they will vote. Remember we’ll have English Votes for English Laws, though that isn’t quite as grand as it sounds the way the Tories are currently planning it (will just be an extra stage where English MPs have a veto).

    The DUP and UUP will be in oppo and vote how they want. But I expect they’ll support the govt. more often than not as the DUP did in the last Parliament. Especially on Europe, security, immigration – the things likely to cause rebellions of some sort.

  19. Labour could back it. I suspect quantum encryption will render it obsolete in due course anyway.

  20. Now the fun question – lots of comments everywhere on PR – but they would all be based on STV or similar – what if the ATV referendum had been won?

  21. Worden’s stages of departure?


  22. @ Neil A

    I was very pleased with the result of our little side bet we had in the small hours on who would become PM.

    Could you please tell me the name of the Charity again that you wished me to donate too if I lost? even though I won I would still like to donate, it was late and that bottle of Port had taken affect.

  23. ” Labour would have won 204 MPs (28 fewer), the SNP 50 seats (and would have pushed Labour out of Scotland entirely) and the Lib Dems just 4″

    Looks like the boundary review saved Scottish Labour and the Lib/Dems blushes!!

  24. @Roland Gatinoise

    None of these defeats will cause the govt. to resign but there may be some embarrassments. Of course the maths could change through by-elections and/or defections (hard to see a CON-LAB defection these days – amazing to think there was one as recently as 1999). They’ll be hoping the trend for only LAB MPs dying continues – only one Tory, Eric Forth in 2008, has died since May 2000 during which time 16 Labour MPs, 1 Lib Dem, 1 UUP and 1 Bleneau Gwent Voice have died!

  25. Looking at the seats the regional exit poll predicted produced some glaring problems. Telford for example was predicted to have been a Labour Hold by a margin but was Tory while Ealing was Labour Gain but Tory predicted on exit poll.
    What’s are Torries most marginal seat not held by Labour Last time. I think it’s Croydon central but not sure.

  26. Not sure too much should be read into the local elections at this point. In 1992 the Council elections took place about a month after the GE and saw the Tories make big gains. Did them very little good in the long run. Also, the exchange of seats is predominantly focused on Lib Dem losses and is indicative of decline suffered over the last parliament.

  27. Yes, locals are mostly seats last up in 2011 – so given GE result not surprising to see the Tories and UKIP gaining, LAB and LD going backwards.

    According to reports the LDs are accelerating their leadership election so should be finished by July. I wouldn’t be surprised if its uncontested with either Tim Farron or Norman Lamb given a clean run. Else they’ll be up against each other which would be interesting – Farron personally popular but I think his strand of the party is a minority, most Lib Dems are more keen on the coalition and would rather remain grounded in the centre than go back to the Ashdown/Kennedy era of trying to be an alternative left-wing opposition to Labour/

  28. One thing that struck me on Friday was how many Labour top brass were surprised at the result due to how many activists Labour were able to flood into areas they were contesting.

    It does not matter how many people you have to get out your message if the message is not very good to begin with.


    Well quite. Labour won Croydon Council last year and fat lot of good it did them there.

  30. @ Anthony Wells

    I don’t know how you got to your figures for the redrawn boundaries for England. As far as I know ward level data on general election votes are not available, so you couldn’t use that. And I assume you didn’t want to use the discredited UNS (or modified) model to get to this.

  31. What I mean is that I would have expected a lot more health warning.

  32. The final GB figures (not UK as reported on most websites) are here

    Compare with that Survation poll they decided not to release. They were pretty damn close.

  33. I did a little red hen as I still can’t find a decent summary (seats Con to Lab, seats LD to Con, etc etc,) and have temporarily concluded that Con and Lab went essentially nowhere significant (hardly any swing overall between them) and thus it was the SNP surge and LD collapse that tipped it for Cameron, almost by luck..
    In other words, no enthusiasm for E and W Con or E and W Labour, but absolute voter contempt for GB LD and SLab.

    A good performance by UKIP seems to have had hardly any influence and the Green vote was the same as Alec so confidently predicted.

    Indeed, as someone replied to my tongue in cheek query earlier, nothing changed while I was away.

  34. @bristolianhoward

    “I still can’t find a decent summary (seats Con to Lab, seats LD to Con, etc etc,)”


  35. With 322 seats in a 600 chamber house the Conservative seats needed an average of 35,202 each.

    Labour’s 204 seats would have averaged out at 45,820 each.

    Is this redistribution about fairness, or about helping the Tories?

    What is fair about changing the present boundaries, under which the Conservatives got their seats for 34,244 each while Labour needed 40,290 for each into one that is even more biased to the Tories.

  36. @Omni

    It may have been close but was it just that they lucked in with an outlier that corresponded with the result? Just as I assume Ashcroft, ICMP and Ipsos MORI with their respective big leads a couple of weeks out from polling day. Hard to think they had a magic method when it hadn’t shown up in any other poll, even the other ‘ballot paper’ polls they’d done. And IIRC the big lead polls didn’t have crossbreaks that picked up what actually made the night so different from the polls – CON doing remarkably well in Wales and the Midlands (swing towards them, not against), 2010 LDs splitting far more evenly than anticipated and UKIP hurting LAB more and CON less than anticipated.

  37. @bristolianhoward

    Sorry! That was the prediction.

    Real one is here:

    Scroll down

  38. @Killary45

    Boundaries aren’t about fair vote efficiency under FPTP, they are about having constituencies with as equal a number of electors as possible. To achieve this you need changes every decade or so. Of course changes should slightly reduce the bias.

  39. New Survation/MoS poll:

    CON 40 LAB 31 UKIP 12 LD 6 GRN 2

    ‘Shy Tories’ not so shy now :)

  40. @ Omnishambles

    Survation put up the tables. Compare it with the earlier. They had to think that it was an outlier (or edge of MoE). It was simply a coincidence.

    I got that Survation Poll by e mail.

    When will swing back start and cross over happen?

    Are the figures high for the Lib Dems?

  42. Judging from their earlier comment, it must be a telephone one, so all caveats apply.

  43. In terms of understanding when the polls went wrong, it is worth re-reading this article, which in retrospect got it spot on

    It mentions
    “For most of the last year, when any two Labour staffers were gathered together, concerned has turned to the number of voters who didn’t know who they would vote for at the general election, who voted Labour in the council or European elections, but who said that the economy is growing. To make matters worse, canvassers were picking up Labour voters from 2010 who were now expressing doubts about Ed Miliband. “My expectation was that, thanks to the short campaign, those voters would be moving into our column,” one party strategist reports. Instead, they are moving away.”

    Reading that, it seems Labour HQ at least thought the polls were wrong at least a week before election day and were redeploying people accordingly.

    ““The only way I can explain our promise,” said another, “is if there is barely any swing at all.”

    Well they got that right….

    So it looks like it had something to do with don’t knows, and it happened between the 2014 Euro elections and these elections.

  44. @bluebob

    “It does not matter how many people you have to get out your message if the message is not very good to begin with.”

    They probably thought the message was holding up because of the polls. It’s understandable.

  45. Having read @richard’s post, perhaps not!

  46. @BlueBob

    It was PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals).

    They provide free vet services to pet owners who can’t afford it themselves.

    If you check the CORE page on Justgiving you will see my £10 + GiftAid, with both our “UKPR” names attached for verification!

  47. The polling people now have zero credibility. The industry has a huge amount of work to do as it is now a joke. They will take years to recover from this debacle.

    Regards the GE, I am delighted that the Europeanisation of our politics has been destroyed. We don’t like coalitions in Blighty. FPTP is our way.

  48. The lack of parliamentary representation is already huge. Less MPs means less representation, although I say that from a perspective of one who is ruled from 500 miles away by 1 in 59.

  49. @Statgeek,

    Except that most of your life is ruled from Edinburgh, by a whole other group of members, a luxury which I (250 miles from London) don’t enjoy.

  50. @Omni

    Many thanks -good old FT

    — and good old Anthony – I am hoping he will give his further analysis when he’s had more time. This does not need to be rushed.

    To those who predicted a Con win, congrats but I do not in fact value those predictions. Only the polls count and it’s the challenge to get those right, not putting up blades of grass in the wind.

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