An update on the boundary review. Back in September I published notional figures for the proposed boundaries in England & Wales. I’ve now updated those to include Scotland as well (this is partly because the Scottish boundary Commission published later, but it also took much longer to do – the Scottish Commission are much happier to split wards between constituencies, which probably leads to constituencies that better follow communities… but it makes it trickier to work out notional figures.)

Notional figures for new boundaries for England, Wales and Scotland

The partisan effects in Scotland are no great surprise. The SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in 2015, so it was inevitable that most of the losses will be SNP. That aside, on the new boundaries they will be even more dominant. Orkney & Shetland is a protected seat so the sole Liberal Democrat constituency is retained, but Labour and the Conservatives will both see their single Scottish constituency disappear on the new boundaries.

Edinburgh South, the lone Labour seat in Scotland, is split between the new Edinburgh East and Edinburgh South West & Central seats. Both will notionally have an SNP majority of over 4000 – Edinburgh East will be a SNP-Lab marginal, with a SNP majority of 7.9%, Edinburgh SW&C will be a three-way marginal with the SNP in first place, the Conservatives in second place and Labour close behind them.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, the lone Tory seat in Scotland, mostly goes into Clydesdale & Eskdale, with the rest of the seat split into several much smaller parts. The new Clydesdale & Eskdale seat will have a notional SNP majority of about 5000. On paper the best seat for the Tories will be the new Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk seat, with a notional SNP majority of only 1.3% (though that’s an increase from 2015).

Now we have notional figures for the whole of Great Britain we can work out national totals and what sort of swings would be needed for parties to win a general election on these boundaries.

The 2015 general election had results of CON 330, LAB 232, LDEM 8, SNP 56, Others 24.
On the proposed boundaries the 2015 general election would have been CON 319, LAB 203, LD 4, SNP 52, Others 22. The Conservatives lose 11 seats, Labour lose 29, the Lib Dems 4 and the SNP 4.
Note that on the boundaries proposed for the abandoned review in the last Parliament the results would have been Con 322, Lab 204, LD 4 and SNP 50 – so this new boundary review is actually marginally worse for the Tories than the one that was blocked before the election.

I should add my normal caveat that these notionals are an accounting exercise – projecting how people voted in each ward, moving them into their new seats and totting up the votes. It does not take into account that some people might have voted differently in 2015 if they’d lived in different seats, for that reason I suspect it may slightly underestimate the Liberal Democrats (and it’s possible that the Greens might actually have saved their seat).

We can also look at what difference the boundaries would make to the leads each party needs to win an election.

  • Currently the Conservatives need to have a lead of 5.7% to get an overall majority (hence the 6.5% lead they actually got translating into only a tiny majority). On the proposed boundaries the Tories would get an overall majority with a lead of only 1.9%.
  • In contrast Labour currently need a towering lead of 12.6% to win an overall majority, and the boundary changes would move that target even further away, requiring a lead of 13.5%. To even be the largest party Labour would need a lead over the Conservatives of 4.7% (up from 3.9% on the current boundaries).

(One might reasonably wonder why, if the review makes nearly all the seats the same size, it still leaves the Conservatives in a better position than Labour. This is because different seat sizes is only one part of how votes translate unevenly into seats. The crucial part in explaining the present Conservative advantage is the distribution of the vote and the impact of third parties. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the growth of the SNP and UKIP means the system now favours the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are primarily strong in areas that would otherwise be Tory… but now win very few seats, UKIP have largely taken votes from the Tories, but this has not translated into many seats. In contrast the SNP are now utterly dominant in an area that previously returned a large number of Labour MPs. What this means if that if there is a Lib Dem revival or a Labour revival in Scotland the skew towards the Conservatives will unwind.)

These are only provisional recommendations – the boundary commissions will revise them based on the consultation period, so much of the detail will be tweaked before the final recommendations. It’s also far from a certainty that they will actually be implemented when they are complete. Earlier this month Pat Glass MP had a Private Members Bill which if passed would tweak some of the rules of the review, requiring the Commissions to start the process again from scratch and therefore probably delaying it beyond the election. I doubt the Bill will go far – it is nigh on impossible to pass a Private Members Bill in the face of government opposition. However, second reading did highlight some opposition to the boundary changes. Firstly, the DUP spoke against the boundary changes – there had been some speculation around conference season that there had been some sort of deal and the DUP were onside. They are apparently not. Secondly two Conservative MPs (Peter Bone and Steve Double) voted in favour of the Bill. It doesn’t take many rebels to stop the boundary changes progressing…

295 Responses to “Boundary review update”

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  1. @Colin

    “Oh -I wasn’t suggesting that the country is filled with pessimists-just this place.”


    There are even people who moan about the moaners!! One can quite enjoy the irony…

  2. @Tancred

    Interesting idea about adjusting the pension. Don’t feel I’m sufficiently up on pension provision to evaluate and consider all the upsides and downsides… but there are others on here who may check it out!!…

  3. You can defer the state pension currently.

  4. Off topic (in a way) but consider the possibility of UKPR Law

    (Length of post) x (relevance to opinion polling) = constant

  5. Afternoon folks. Nice to see everyone’s playing nicely ;)

    @Dave – I think your post invalidates the law – maybe we should call it the Dave Curve and judge whether posts sit on, above or below the curve ;)

    On topic, thanks again to AW for going through the SBC proposals and coming up with notional results. I’ve seen these figures about Labour needing a 12% lead to have an overall majority (I think John Curtice may have mentioned this post-election, but please correct me if I’m wrong). The problem with this is that it assumes an otherwise static position with the other parties – in a real election with realistic churn, a 12% lead for Labour would almost certainly give them an enormous majority. That’s simply because, with that level of “swing” (a statistically abhorrent word), the assumption of uniform swing would be entirely garbage.

    Anyhow, getting to a 12% lead shouldn’t be the primary concern for Labour right now. They cannot simply assume that the polls are wrong, or that there’s a great big wad of potential vote for them. If anything, a frantic dive towards UKIP-lite policies on immigration could cost them as many votes as it gains. We’ve been constantly hearing about UKIP advances on Labour-held seats who voted Leave, what about Conservative-held areas in the South East who voted remain? And the big elephant in the room – was the Brexit vote motivated by a genuine desire to leave the EU, or was it frustration with immigration, or was it frustration with laws coming from Brussels, or was it merely frustration with the political process at Westminster? (I’m sure there was some polling on this….).

    Anyhow, I hope that my post is above Dave’s Curve….

  6. Mark Carney today warning of household debt. Saying we are in the early stage of ‘re-leveraging’ and that this is a concern.

    He says that while debt ratios are not at record levels, they remain historically high, and are going up.

  7. I am not entirely surprised at the lack of progress of Yes in the wake of Brexit, following an initial bounce. While politically it proves to many the SNP was right in 2014 to warn of the dangers of staying in the U.K., (that it would lead to a Tory majority government and Brexit) other factors are still in play:

    1- The sense of chaos around Brexit. While voters will rightly blame the Tories for the mess, the fear and insecurity it engenders don’t encourage waverers to vote for more uncertainty. Even a poor economic outlook caused by Brexit might in the early years cause voters to be fearful rather than optimistic about independence.
    2- The drip drip of bad fiscal news. The big falls in oil revenue are hardly good news and the longer this continues the weaker the case gets politically with waverers.
    3- A desire for a quiet life. Scots are constantly voting these days! The Brexit campaign was very low profile so we only woke up after it happened. But the desire for change is not exactly increased.
    4- The laws of gravity. The SNP remains exceptionally popular but eventually it is bound to lose some support. Normal politics will resume eventually.
    5- Demographics. While No voters from 2014 are dying a lot more often than Yes voters on account of their age, overall Scots are ageing and some Yes voters may reconsider as their personal circumstances change over time.

    For Yes optimists, there are some consolations.

    1- EU residents voted heavily No in 2014. In a snap referendum we might well expect that to change, although their ability to vote may be in question or removed after 2019.
    2- Yes starts with a high and persistent base compared with 3 years ago where polls had it on 25-30%. The Tories would have to lead the No campaign which should kill any solidarity arguments stone dead.
    3- Whatever Brexit deal is signed, there will be plenty of scope to create grievances.
    4- The SNP has the final say in deciding if there has been a material breach as per the 2016 manifesto
    5- There is a majority of MSPs in favour of Yes.

    The notion that Sturgeon needs a 60% Yes opinion poll is ludicrous. If she wants an opportunity, she will need to move in the next 3 years. Defeat might damage the SNP, but just being a regionalist party is not noble enough for the new membership.


  8. Also noticed in the poll RUK voters were massively over represented and had to be massively downweighted which doesn’t build confidence in the precision of the findings overall.

  9. SoCalLiberal

    What fascinating results in California!

    However, they remind me more of Scotland in 1997, when many Scots Tories voted for New Labour (equals Clintonism?) or SNP – or 2007 & 2011, when Labour collapsed at Holyrood, before hitting even lower depths in 2015 and 2016.

    It needs several electoral cycles to see serious change confirmed. That Republican donor base could easily switch back, if that party can distance itself somewhat from the far-right that currently seems to dominate it.

    I guess the real challenge for California is whether they are actually willing to exert the maximum amount of their sovereignty to protect the state and its citizens from the excesses about to be projected from the Washington sewer!

  10. Holyrood Result (based on YG poll)

    SNP 64 (+1) : 62 constituencies
    Con 32 (+1) : 7 constituencies
    Lab 17 (-7) : 0 constituencies
    Grn 11 (+5) : 0 constituencies
    LD 5 (nc) : 4 constituencies

    Seat predictors should always be taken with a pinch of salt!

    However, on that basis, the pro-indy majority at Holyrood rises by 2 – assuming that SLab continue to allow the Tories to remain the main Unionist party, and don’t split themselves into pro and anti-indy factions.

  11. “While No voters from 2014 are dying a lot more often than Yes voters on account of their age,…”

    Indeed. I know an elderly No voter who has died three three times since 2014 already.

  12. @oldnat and steve

    It will be interesting to see if the sudden fall in May ‘s rating is mirrored in the Tory Westminster VI ( do we know if YG asked that question?). It looks as though Ruffalo may have garnered a few more hardline British Nationalist votes but if UK Tory support in Scotland is falling in line with May’s rating her strategy of aligning herself strongly with May and Brexit (having fought the Holyrood election as virtually a non-Tory and the EU referendum as a strong Remainer) may be limiting.

  13. Barbazenzero
    “it’s a “scan” of a document so the actual text is not easily captured or searched.”

    Try this

  14. ECJ

    I think the ECJ point is overplayed:

    1.No side is submitting that A50 is revocable;Of course the court may self refer but to what end?.
    2.if the ECJ says A50 is revocable then the basis for the initial action fails and the government can ,presumably, proceed by RP;If it is irrevocable then the situation is as now and an act of Parliament is required which the government will win and trigger A50;
    3.Timing is the only issue;
    4.The devolved issues may be resolved by the supreme court.There may be nuances that i have not picked up on but i think that the supreme court will find against their central argument but i am not
    betting the farm on it.I am looking forward to the televised coverage.

    As i have not i hope upset the scottish posters this post may escape moderation.

  15. @Pete B

    Are you watching the chess?

    First rapid play decider just drawn.

  16. CMJ
    I’ll get on to it. Thanks for the reminder!


    The YouGov poll for The Times newspaper found backing for a Yes vote in a second ballot on the country’s constitutional future stands at 44 per cent, with No on 56 per cent.

    The YouGov poll also reveals that only 31 per cent of Scots want the Scottish Government to campaign for independence in the next two years. A further 56 per cent think it should not, while the rest do not know.

  18. Sky news reporting that Boris Johnson has privately told 4 EU ambassadors that he supports freedom of movement. Remarkable on many levels if true!


    Remarkable if what’s true, the fact that he actually said it or the fact that he supports it, and even then given Boris’s track record on playing fast & loose with the truth it’s difficult to believe anything he is reported as actually believing.

  20. Hireton

    If YG did ask about Westminster VI, then the Times have not published it – hence neither has YG.

    As to the indy question, the Times sub-editor seems to be doing the usual job of a subbie, and exaggerating in order to sell papers.

    To “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Scotland’s future”, I doubt that I would vote “Yes”.

    Any government having a referendum “tomorrow” on indy would be out of its collective mind, and quite as mad as the Tories were to hold the EUref! Since the SNP is perfectly sane, there is no referendum tomorrow, and whether there will be one within the next couple of years will very much depend on the circumstances that the Brexit process produces.

  21. CMJ Second rapidplay drawn! Carlsen should’ve won.

  22. The YouGov poll (commissioned by the strongly British nationalist paper the Times) shows no significant change in support for independence or for an early second referendum.

    It does find that there is a majority support (albeit within the margin of error) for Scotland seeking to remain in the European Union after the UK leaves and the subsequent question reveals that, by a massive 62%-22% margin, people understand that independence will be required to remain in the EU after Brexit.

  23. @Pete B

    Carlsen looks good in game 3.

    White is really boxed in.

  24. An article from Curtice on the YG/Times poll, but the analysis seems a little less robust than one might expect from the Prof.

    For example, “No less than 27% of those who voted for the party in last year’s UK general election now say they are backing the Conservatives [on the constituency vote]” makes no reference to the tactical voting which takes place in FPTP elections.

    Much more worrying for SLab is that only 50% of these 2015 SLab voters still intend to vote SLab on the Regional List (only 53% on constituency vote).

    That does suggest that in 2015, SLab received a lot of tactical votes from other Unionists, and they have lost that perceived place as the “natural” focus for anti-SNP votes.

    It seems unlikely that SLab got many anti-Tory tactical votes in 2015 (as they did in large numbers in the past), so the 9% of 2015 SLab voters now with an SNP VI for both constituency and list, is a further swing to the SNP from SLab (when some thought the SNP had gained all that they could from that source).

    YG really should update their categorisation of “Other parties” for the List. Greens are only 3 points behind SLab – and get almost double what the SLDs get.

  25. CMJ
    Carlsen wins game 3!

  26. He does seem to playing faster, with Karjakin under more time pressure.

    A win with the black pieces looks a tough ask vs Carlsen. He’ll have to take big risks and throw the kitchen sink at him.


    Thought this would happen. EU mainland citizens will look to obtain UK citizenship/residency rights.

    There has also been an increase in number of new arrivals since Brexit vote and net migration will show an increase.

  28. PETE B
    Try this

    There has been plenty of software that can “read” faxes and the like for the past 25 years, but none of it is entirely accurate.

    Feel free to use any current software, but the print quality of the PDF is not very clear and likely not to be easily backwards engineered.

  29. BZ
    I know they’re not entirely accurate, but they can be a help if you need to search for strings.

  30. Speaking of Boris Johnson, who seems to be finding his ministerial duties too onerous, and clearly wants a move to the back benches again:

    Boris Johnson has called for illegal immigrants to be granted the right to stay in Britain after Brexit, according to reports.

    One senior minister told the Sun: “It’s an insane idea and would make ordinary Brits furious.

    “A lot of us round the table couldn’t believe Boris is still going on about this. Privately, Boris is still the most pro-immigration member of the Cabinet.” …

    A Home Office spokesman said: “We are not looking afresh at an amnesty for illegal migrants, and will not be”.

  31. Any thoughts on tomorrow’s by election?

    “The party’s internal data, seen by the Guardian, predicts Olney will win 47.2% of the vote on Thursday, edging ahead of the former London mayoral candidate on 45.8%.”

  32. @MARK W

    “You can defer the state pension currently.

    You can – but you can’t take it earlier than the age decided by the government, even if you want to take it reduced.

  33. @CMJ
    Fantastic finish! Q sac to win the world championship by mate next move!


    The fall in support for independence makes me think that the Scots are finally seeing common sense. In my view the SNP should focus on becoming a true Scottish socialist party instead of beating the drum of independence. Dev-Max is a much more realistic objective for the Scottish Government and one that they should focus on, instead of the pressing the unwanted and divisive issue of sovereign independence.

  35. @Richard

    I’d be surprised if it isn’t pretty tight, as the Brexit issue is far more newsworthy than Heathrow and Goldsmith is at odds with his electors.

    But I’d be a little sceptical of LD claims. They are old hands at this. They know that creating the impression they can beat the Tories is the best way to lure tactical voters. It’s a strategy that always worked well for them in by-elections but I would trust the LD figures.

  36. @Tancred

    I don’t think the figures are stark enough to really call it a “fall” in support, but certainly there is a failure to increase support and that probably disappoints the SNP greatly.

    My gut instinct is that Scots are to some extent planning to vote with their pocket books, and see being on a different side of the customs union to England as a bigger threat to their livelihoods than leaving the EU.

  37. Richard
    I’d question Geldof’s involvement. Isn’t he a Southern Irish citizen? Is it legal for foreign nationals to campaign in UK elections? I’m sure one of our erudite members will be able to elucidate.

  38. @PETE B

    I’d question Geldof’s involvement. Isn’t he a Southern Irish citizen? Is it legal for foreign nationals to campaign in UK elections? I’m sure one of our erudite members will be able to elucidate.”

    I might be wrong but I reckon Geldof has dual nationality, like many Irish people.

  39. …found a big discussion on the by election here

    In summary, its a lot closer than that strange poll a few weeks ago, but the consensus seems to be that Zac will win based on these comments that seem the most balanced

    ” I have been on the ground in the Park campaigning for the Lib Dems. I’ll be honest, while it will be close I suspect Goldsmith will hold on by 5-7%”

    So I think I agree with Neil on this one…pity…would have been good to have some Brexit opposition…

  40. @HIRETON

    “Sky news reporting that Boris Johnson has privately told 4 EU ambassadors that he supports freedom of movement. Remarkable on many levels if true!”

    So the man has been converted on the road to Damascus! I wonder how well that will go with Fox and Davis, let alone madam Theresa.

  41. @NEIL A

    I agree with you – Scots are a canny and cautious bunch – they are generally risk averse. Having said that, there is probably a majority in favour of dev-max and I’m surprised that Sturgeon isn’t pressing for this instead of outright independence. Dev-max would give her tax raising powers and ‘de facto’ independence anyway.

    I think the only thing that is holding her back is that old chestnut the West Lothian question. It’s constitutionally dubious enough for there to be Scottish MPs at Westminster now, but under dev-max there would be no reason for them to be there at all. If dev-max happened in Scotland then it would make Scotland unique and privileged within the UK – a huge can of worms would be opened up. There would be similar demands from NI and Wales, and even perhaps England.

  42. @Tancred

    I don’t think there’s much support for it in Wales.

    Personally, I am in favour of Devon-Max, but that’s because I live here..

  43. There’s already demands for an English parliament, though the campaign has not yet gathered much momentum.

  44. Tancred @ NEIL A

    “Scots are a canny and cautious bunch – they are generally risk averse.”

    Sometimes, silly stereotypes like that do have a grain of truth in them – in that a portion of the population will have that characteristic.

    So, on the basis of your logic should we describe the English and Welsh as careless and incautious? It would seem a tad foolish to do so – despite many seemingly having that characteristic. :-)

    “there is probably a majority in favour of dev-max”

    There isn’t any “probably” about it!

    Surveys going back into last century show 60-70% of Scots preferring (or being willing to settle for) “Devo Max” – but the term means a proposed constitutional arrangement by which Scotland would be granted full economic independence from the rest of the United Kingdom but would still be subject to governance by the British Parliament in particular areas, such as defence or foreign policy:” (Oxford Dictionary)

    It is a much greater degree of sovereign autonomy than most outwith Scotland imagine.

    If Westminster was to offer actual “Devo-Max”, instead of grudgingly devolving some more powers when independence seems to threaten central control, it would be grabbed with both hands!

    “I’m surprised that Sturgeon isn’t pressing for this instead of outright independence.”

    By “outright independence” do you mean Scotland copying the E&W mood for leaving all Unions? There has never been much desire for that rather xenophobic attitude here.

    Most Scots are “Unionists”. We’re a small country with a big neighbour (who can do what the hell it likes at any time). A Union with it (and 27 other countries) makes a lot of sense, and we can debate whether the UK is necessary at all with the wider Union available.

    But, with E&W deciding to go off in a huff, and dragging us with them causes a real problem in Scotland.

    “A” Union with England (sorry Wales, though you matter just as much as Ireland and the other parts of these islands not in the UK – and that’s a lot)) matters (but not necessarily the current one).

    Scots (like everybody else) want the best of all possible worlds! – though we know that is impossible. So we have to wait and see what Brexit throws up – then we can decide the best strategy.

    Sadly, Devo Max is never likely to be on offer from Westminster, so unless it can be achieved via continues Single Market membership (or similar) then we are left with the binary choice that Cameron forced on Scotland in 2014 – stay in the UK, or leave it.

  45. The other Howard,
    “The public say that the Tories are not handling the Brexit negotiations well at the moment, as shown by the answers to polling questions on that issue, but it appears to have had no effect on support for the Tories”

    What would would such an answer mean? One might think that someone on the remain side would consider the conservtives are proceeding badly in taking Brexit forward. One might think someone on the leave side would consider conservatives proceeding badly in not having left yet. Are the conservatives as positive about the results of Brexit as were Leave? No.

    Yet do labour offer a better solution for those remain inclined in that they would stop Brexit? no. Do they offer a better solution to those Leave inclined in that they would go faster? No.

    Conservative voters are generally more pro Brexit, and presumably would have at least grudging support from brexiteers generally in that they are taking it forward. If you are a Remainista, the only party making noises your way is the lib dems. Logically, the only way for labour to improve their showing tight now is to come out firmly for remain.

    On the party cohesion and integrity front, labour remains a bit of a joke. Not that the conservatives are really much better, but at least they seems to like their leader.

    ” will the Tories necessarily get the blame after all all they are trying to do is implement the result of a referendum with a clear result.”

    Necessarily? No. But governments frequently get th blame when things turn bad, regardless of whether it is their fault. In this case there was not a clear result, in reality the conservatives chose to take a narrow win and run with it. No rsult which all the evidence suggests might have been reversed if repeated a week later can be regarded as ‘clear’.

  46. “While No voters from 2014 are dying a lot more often than Yes voters…”


    So voting can reduce your longevity too?? See this is what I mean, voting is bad for you…

  47. Rich,
    “when you are a one issue party, and that issue requires a referendum, which if you eventually win will be narrow, then havnt you already lost a lot of goodwill and political momentum when you have campaigned so vociferously against the legitimate outcome of a previous referendum”

    Personaly I always expected a second referendum in Scotland had the SNP won, before it might go through. On something as critical as this it seems essential to ensure you are carrying the public with you.

    You news does not surprise me as it is just more of the same. Not being an expert on the US but my impression is california is doing well and so the establishment is respected. Centrist Clinton is acceptable to many. Trump stands for those dissatisfied with the status quo. That is a traditional ‘left’ position, but he has captured it. It is exactly the same in the Uk, where for ‘California’ read ‘London’, which depending on how you define it, seems to have a population bigger than most US states. It is the richest part of the Uk and also goes left, opposed Brexit. Exactly mirrors the situation.

    “Maybe the Non-Corbyn Labourites and the Lib Dems should get together and unite into their own new party.”
    Not if they mean to survive politically. The libs were destroyed by centrist policies because they lost their ‘left’ support. It the corbyn type people they need to win back.

    “I’m beginning to think it inevitable that the ECJ will eventually have to rule on the constitutionality of A50,”
    I’m beginning to think the government always thought this was the case.

  48. I start to seriously wonder if the Government Barristers have been given instruction to provide only a perfunctory defence over Sewel derailing A50. Since this gives them a nice easy escape from the Brexit they do not want, while being able to blame it all on the Perfidious Scots. Sadly for Fox and Davis, this would make their positions redundant.

  49. I’m not convinced one should call foul play by the government over the legal proceedings. I still think it was necessary to get definitive rulings before proceeding. How would it play to give article 50 notice, and then in a years time have the European court declare it invalid? There may be more legal difficulties yet. I would guess the declared timetable had more to do with fitting the two year period inside this parliament than any belief it could be accomplished.

  50. @ Neil A

    ‘Personally, I am in favour of Devon-Max, but that’s because I live here..’

    Me too. At the moment they want us to be ruled by a Somerset mayor. Devolution 2016-style.

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