Boundary update

This is largely for the sake of completeness, since as things stand I doubt the boundary changes will take place, nevertheless I thought I should really update the notional figures for the provisional boundary review.

Calculating how the votes cast at the 2017 election would have translated into seats using the proposed boundaries the Conservatives would have won 298 seats (19 less than currently), Labour would have won 244 (18 less than currently), the Lib Dems would have won 8 (4 less than currently), the SNP 30 (five less than currently), Plaid 2 (2 less than currently). As you can see, the Conservatives and Labour would lose about the same number of seats, but the Conservatives would have been nearer to an overall majority and once you’ve taken away Sinn Fein MPs, may have been able to avoid doing a deal with the DUP.

Regular readers will recall that before the election it looked as if the boundary reviews would have favoured the Tories more – I suspect this change is largely because the 2017 election happened to produce a lot of very marginal seats, and that small boundary changes have flipped some of these in Labour’s favour. If you look at how it affects the swings the two parties would need to win a majority it’s clear that the boundary changes would still help the Tories:

  • On the the new boundaries the Conservatives would need a lead of 2.8 to get an overall majority, compared to 3.4 currently
  • On the new boundaries Labour would need to be 3.6 points ahead to become the largest party, compared to 0.8 currently
  • On the new boundaries Labour would need a lead of 7.8 points to get an overall majority, compared to 7.4 currently

Some of you may be wondering why, if the boundary changes are about evening out the size of constituencies the result is still a system that seems to favour the Conservatives over Labour. This is not a sign of something being afoot – the four boundary commissions are genuinely independent – rather it’s because differently sized constituencies (“malapportionment”) is only one of several factors that can produce a skew in the electoral system, and the current Conservative advantage comes not from seat size, but from the impact of third parties and the Tory vote being more efficiently distributed. For example, when it comes to translating votes into seats huge majorities in safe seats are “wasted” votes. At the 2017 election there were 89 Conservative seats where they got over 60% of the vote, but 115 Labour seats where they got over 60% (and 37 seats where Labour got over 70%). None of this is set in stone of course – up until 2015 the system tended to favour Labour – if a party outperforms in marginal seats it can do better than uniform swing suggests, if it gains votes in safe or unwinnable seats then it would do worse.

The new boundaries are rather irrelevant if they never come into force – when the Boundary Commissions report in Autumn 2018 there then needs to be a vote in both the Commons and the Lords to implement their recommendations. That would have been challenge enough with a majority given that there is every chance of a few Conservative rebels. Without a majority it’s going to be very difficult indeed, especially since the DUP have so far opposed the changes (at the provisional stage the changes were thought to hurt the DUP and benefit Sinn Fein).

Nevertheless, for anyone who wants them notional figures for the 2017 on the provisional boundary recommendations are here.


269 Responses to “Boundary update”

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  1. Any calculations for how the boundaries would play out in NI?

  2. Graham

    Just going back to the last thread. Corbyn sacked three Shadow ministers and one resigned

  3. I note that Boris loses his ‘safe’ seat in Uxbridge. Amber Rudd retains her seat with a 346 majority. And Ian Duncan Smith joins Boris in his new adventures outside of parliament.

  4. I guess there will have to be a review at some time using the new (or later) ER and probably for 650 seats?

  5. Jim jam

    I was going to ask the same question

  6. Also looks like David Davis loses?

    I can’t find his seat of Haltemprice and Howden

    But there is this one
    Kingston upon Hull West and Haltemprice BC

    And that is Labour.

    Seems clear why the review won’t go ahead..the main May replacements are not sure retaining their seats.

  7. “Seems clear why the review won’t go ahead..the main May replacements are not sure retaining their seats.”

    ———

    Well that might be quiet attractive to May?….

  8. Can someone please explain to me why MPs vote on their own boundary changes? This seems like an incredible conflict of interest. Surely no one is going to vote for something that disadvantages them? Why are the changes not just imposed following a ruling by the independent body in charge of equalising consitituencies?

  9. While the new boundaries do look somewhat more tempting from a Tory POV than I’d realised, the concern would have to be that a Lib Dem revival might flip them in favour of Labour again.

    Regardless, I have little expectation of them being enacted in this parliament.

  10. In terms of how good is this for democracy?

    I calculate 35% of seats have majorities of 30% or more under current boundaries

    Under new boundaries, 38% of seats have majorities of 30% or more.

    Any seat with a majority of 30% is in my view not democratic. Every voter should be able to go to the polls and have a chance to change the government with their vote.

    Seems like we are slipping further into a dictatorship – who decides who gets selected as MP in all these safe seats? Back room shadowy deals that decide who makes up 38% of our parliament. Zimbabwe politics.

  11. Not sure what the point of the Chuka amendment was. It was never going to pass…what has it acheived or might it have achieved? (I say this as someone who agrees with the Customs Union and Single Market). Wally.

    Chapeau to Stella Creasy though, top work.

  12. @ Richard

    I wouldn’t say corruption and nepotism were quite at the level of Zimbabwe yet :-)

    The system won’t change unless both main parties want it to for their mutual benefit. And I can’t see that happening – unless it collapses. Which I also can’t see happening.

  13. @Richard
    “Any seat with a majority of 30% is in my view not democratic.”
    Suppose they all did, with about half to each main party?

  14. Hawthorn

    Very much my view re Umanna. Mischief-making and very unhelpful for his own party.

  15. Here’s a few figures on voting ‘efficiency’, based on total votes in a GE divided by the number of seats:

    2017 Con 42,979 Lab 49,141

    Most efficient since the war 25,968 by Labour in 2001.

    Most efficient by Con since the war 32,777 in 1983.

    Most efficient by LibDems and antecedents since the war 92,583 in 2001.

    2017 was the least efficient by Labour since the war.
    Least efficient by Tories was 58,188 in 1997.
    Least efficient by LibDems etc was 432,823 in 1974 (Feb)

    Of course these pale into insignificance compared to UKIP’s 4m votes for 1 seat in 2015.

    I need to update my system because atm I only keep Con, Lab, LibDem and ‘Others’ which could do with refining.

    I’m not too sure what this tells us, but it reinforces the idea that the system is unfair to parties outside the big two. It’s also interesting that Labour’s best and worst are both better than the Tory equivalents, which suggests that it is a bit of a myth that Labour waste votes by piling up massive majorities in inner cities etc.

  16. Pete B

    Think you may find Labour’s supposedly brilliant efficiency in 2001 was far more to do with voter turnout being astonishingly low. Also 2017 marked a tack back to 2-party politics, so although Labour’s vote this time around may seem the most inefficient on paper, I’d say 2015 was far worse for them, in the sense that they went backwards in key marginals etc. Meaning that according to UNS, Labour would have needed a blair-like landslide in vote share just to win a majority, according to the 2015 distribution. Now they need a 7 point lead and significantly less if they can gain back Scotland.

    If Labour got scotland back (30+ seats there) then the boundaries would be roughly equal in terms of benefitting Tory and Lab equally.

  17. Mike Pearce
    ‘Corbyn sacked three Shadow ministers and one resigned’
    Indeed so – but they were not members of the Shadow Cabinet.

  18. Analyst

    “If Labour got scotland back”

    While I know what you mean, your choice of words is somewhat insensitive! :-)

    You make it sound like a bit of the Low Countries being horse-traded by the Habsburgs and Bourbons.

  19. The list of labour rebels seems to be fairly evenly divided between the awkward squad that can be expected to give Corbyn a bloody nose at every opportunity and folk that had genuine strong feelings about the SM. I’m sure Syzygy will correct me if I’m wrong about that.

    Of the shadow ministers that resigned/sacked I only know one. Daniel resigned before the vote, I know that he is very pro Europe and represents one of the most pro Europe constituencies in the country. He’s not one of the awkward squad, he’s not a “true believer” but he has stayed loyal to the party throughout the past year. He listened to the membership in his constituency and stepped up and did what needed to be done as a shadow minister even though I’m not sure he was entirely comfortable with it.

  20. Sam S

    According to http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/bdy2018_emids_summary.html the NI situation is rather interesting. Under the new boundaries Sinn Fein becomes the largest party with 10 seats, DUP 7 and Lady Harmon 1.

    Hawthorn

    I suspect Chuka is still operating under the illusion that the Blairites are in charge of the party. He still hasn’t learnt the lesson of the last election.

    I agree re Stella Creasy. If JC wants to reach out (assuming she wasn’t so stupid as to vote for Chuka’s amendment) he could do worse than give her a front bench job.

  21. @CR

    “He’s not one of the awkward squad,”

    I think that applies to quite a few of those who voted for it. Stella Creasy is another who pretty much says things as she sees them. As stated by Tom Watson, the amendment was “unhelpful” (i.e. plain stupid) and probably wasn’t even effective as a means of probing Labour MP loyalties.

  22. @ CR

    ‘The list of labour rebels seems to be fairly evenly divided between the awkward squad that can be expected to give Corbyn a bloody nose at every opportunity and folk that had genuine strong feelings about the SM.’
    —————————————————————————–

    IMO it is more like 27 who can be expected to give Corbyn a bloody nose at every opportunity, with another 10 who are fellow travellers. I should think that only about 12 have genuine strong feelings (and I would count Daniel Zeichner into that group).

    It is profoundly depressing to see a resumption of hostilities after such a short period and with such a futile gesture. Splits in the LP will almost certainly knock Stella Creasy’s win and the Conservative U-turn on a U-turn off the front pages.

    It also does make me wonder if Tony Blair’s SDP2 might be back on the cards again. I doubt that Chuka would have led this rebellion had his offer to serve in the shadow cabinet been accepted.

  23. @Robin “As stated by Tom Watson, the amendment was “unhelpful”

    I’d say it was very helpful, in showing how split Labour really are on Brexit.

  24. Syzygy

    I agree it’s totally depressing, the work, commitment and money of the membership seems to mean nothing to them

    Would the public go for a SDP2? I can’t see it being popular because people want change and know what happens when labour splits. I could see a splinter Tory party being popular with the public but that’s never going to happen without PR

  25. Am I right in thinking the original decision to reduce the number to 600 M.P.’s was decided by the Government and most opposition parties voted against it?
    It seemed an arbitrary number to me and when you consider the ever icreasing size of the House of Lrds the wrong target.
    There is a good argument for equalising boudaries but conflating it with reducing the size of the commons can give the impression of it being done fr political advantage. They should have just stuck with the current 650 M.P.’s
    Either way in view of the large numbers of voters who have joined the electoral roll since 2015 with the E.U. vote and the Gneral election and in theory atleast we have another 5 years before the next election a new review would be required.

  26. SEA CHANGE

    One of the points I made on the last thread, whereas the Tories showed fine discipline and voted against staying in the single market and the customes Union, twice.

    Labour shot itself in the foot and ruined the effect of the good piece of work done by Stella Creasy IMO.

  27. THE OTHER HOWARD

    Labour shot itself in the foot and ruined the effect of the good piece of work done by Stella Creasy IMO.

    Agree with that, but on the wider issue it is clear the Government will be at the mercy of every group who wants a ”little more” out of them.

    Whatever people think of Corbyn he has moved the centre ground of politics more to the left and or less austerity, It will be very hard for the Government not to cave in on similar issues as the current abortion climb down in the future.

  28. I never believed boundaries would get through even when Tories had a majority. Reducing the number of MPs to 600 and then expecting MPs to vote for this was effectively asking turkeys to vote for Xmas . … Always tricky

  29. Sea Change: “I’d say it … [Ummuna’s amendment] … was very helpful, in showing how split Labour really are on Brexit.”

    On a tactical level of the headlines in today’s papers, it was unhelpful.

    Strategically, there is more at stake than a day’s headlines. It is quite clear to me not only that the Emperor has no clothes, but also that most of Parliament believes the same, despite not acting that way.

    If the strategic objective is to remain in the single market, there will probably always be tactical reasons not to make a stand on any particular day.

  30. SEA CHANGE
    “I’d say it was very helpful, in showing how split Labour really are on Brexit.”

    The split being between those advocating “membership” of the Single Market and “access” to the Single Market”, Big-enders and little-enders? Jonathan Swift where art thou at our hour of need?

  31. Graham

    Fair enough. I understand the distinction you have correctly pointed out

  32. @johnPilgrim
    Labour clearly the only show in town as far as both varieties of non Tory Brexit are concerned. Machiavelli thou shouldst be living at this hour.

  33. @Monochrome October “If the strategic objective is to remain in the single market, there will probably always be tactical reasons not to make a stand on any particular day.”

    Are we really going to have a situation whereby half of the Labour party and half of the Tories are secretly plotting to break ranks with their Leaderships, and join the SNP/LibDems in subverting the Referendum and the two main parties’ Manifestos?

    That would be popcorn blockbuster entertainment indeed, followed by metaphorical pitchforks and torches from outside of London/SE and Scotland.

    I think that idea is good for political intrigue but highly unlikely.There’s a thumping majority of MPs sitting in Brexit voting constituencies and turkey’s don’t usually vote for Christmas.

    @TOH – Yes not only did it ruin a smart move from Stella Creasy, it showed what a fractious hold JC has over the PLP that he had to fire 3 of his frontbenchers and lost another one to resignation.

  34. Monochrome October

    Ummuna’s amendment does the opposite of helping keep the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union as there is now an explicit vote against staying in.

    You also have to ask why MPs such as Ken Clarke did not vote for it.

    It is just inept on the part of Ummuna. It should be no surprise that Corbyn is Labour leader when some of his opponents are so politically useless. It is a damn shame as I would prefer a soft left leader myself.

  35. @Monochrome

    It is quite clear to me not only that the Emperor has no clothes, but also that most of Parliament believes the same, despite not acting that way.

    Do you mean ‘Brexit’ can’t really be Brexit’ or ‘Labour actually has no policy’ or …

    Could you explain? (Genuine question)

  36. Monochrome October

    I am a pro-European who detests Brexit, but it ought to be obvious that Labour going all-in to a hard pro-Europe position would have led to the Party getting creamed at the last general election.

    There will be a chance to push back on Brexit if the public see more negative effects, but it is too soon now. If the public end up tolerating the negative effects, well that’s democracy.

  37. The Corbyn sackings lend support to what, it seems fairly clear to me, is the underlying political situation.

    Corbyn remains fundamentally anti-EU membership and sees Brexit as a necessary condition for the unfettered achievement of socialism (or his approximation to it) in Britain. Tactically, it makes sense to allow the Tories to do the dirty work on this and receive the nation’s opprobrium when it all goes horribly wrong. Corbyn then wins the next election, with a mandate to rescue newly Brexited Britain with his socialist solutions. Job done.

    In this scenario, the ardent Brexiters are Corbyn’s useful fools. As are the voters led to support him by his lack of gung-ho support for Brexit.

    Any policy which attracts Labour left-wingers and Tory right-wingers should be viewed with grave suspicion. But ’twas ever thus: Molotov and Ribbentrop come to mind.

    However, the fly in Corbyn’s ointment may be a dawning realisation amongst the public of how they’re being led by the nose, not just by the popular press but both main parties. As ever, polling will be key.

  38. Just going back to Richard’s of 11.14 yesterday evening, a quick glance through the Scottish seats seems to me to indicated that there are very few proposed seats which would not, under the recent election, have been very marginal (majorities of say, 3,000 or less) – sometimes three way. Certainly you’d be hard put to find any majorities getting anywhere near 30% of the vote as cited in yesterday evening’s discussion concerning English seats.

    That begs the question, of course, as to how those thinking tactically would have voted if the boundaries had been as proposed and not as they were.

    Certainly north of the Border we seem to live in a very different political world from those of you who live in the south. But you knew that already……

    Have a good day

    :-)

  39. As to Labour divisions, the main topic at our GC just now was anger about lack of Corbymania in our campaign. Despite or because of this (and with some help from Momentum members from around and about, as well as ‘mainstream’ members from no-hope constituencies) we had an astonishingly good result (which also owed plenty to anti-Brexit sentiment)

  40. @Somerjohn

    “Corbyn remains fundamentally anti-EU membership and sees Brexit as a necessary condition for the unfettered achievement of socialism (or his approximation to it) in Britain. Tactically, it makes sense to allow the Tories to do the dirty work on this and receive the nation’s opprobrium when it all goes horribly wrong. Corbyn then wins the next election, with a mandate to rescue newly Brexited Britain with his socialist solutions. Job done.”

    I concur with the latter but not necessarily with the former. Labour did not vote against the Single Market amendment, they abstained; in line with their Manifesto committment against freedom of movement as currently constituted within that Single Market. This gives Labour full flexibility in being able to oppose any weaknesses in the Tories handling of the Brexit negotiations.

    However, I certainly agree that a full exit from all EU institutions would make Corbyn’s Labour’s social democracy platform easier to achieve.

  41. This is Labours dilemma in a nutshell. A lot of the young voters who flocked to Corbyn want to at least remain in the Single Market. Unless Corbyn finds a way to square that circle or unless his support really is a personality cult, he personally has a problem. Of course they could not have bothered but if not now, when?

    I think it is important for Labour to signal that they are prepared to consider SM membership under the right circumstances, or that energised vote will melt away. It sounds like Corbyn is currently making the classic Tory mistake of not actually checking why he did so well in June.

    It’s also depressing to see Labour supporters immediately assume the worst. Umunna is very switched on to economic issues and has hardly been silent about his views on single market membership. But hey, he’s a baddie, isn’t he.

    I’m with Somerjohn.

  42. Sea Change,
    “Are we really going to have a situation whereby half of the Labour party and half of the Tories are secretly plotting to break ranks with their Leaderships, and join the SNP/LibDems in subverting the Referendum and the two main parties’ Manifestos.”

    if you put it like that, yes.

    This was really just the latest escalation in votes against Brexit within parliament, and likely there will be more with bigger numbers opposing. The labour official policy is to carry on negotiating and see what results, so Corbyn is perfectly on message disciplining these MPs. But that does not mean he is pro Brexit, it means he is sticking to a winning electoral formula which might be called back into action at any moment.

  43. CHRIS RILEY

    @”Unless Corbyn finds a way to square that circle or unless his support really is a personality cult, he personally has a problem. ”

    I think it is-and therefore he doesn’t have a problem.

  44. Chris Riley: “Im with Somerjohn”

    Hey, you’ve made my day!

    No more from me for a while as I’m off for a morning driving the old folks’ minibus, followed by my Spanish conversation group this afternoon. What exciting lives we wishy-washy centrists lead!

  45. DANNY

    @”But that does not mean he is pro Brexit,”

    I think he is.

    The last thing JC wants is a lot of EU bureaucrats sticking their noses in Alternative Economic Strategy Mk.2 , insisting on stuff like competition & open markets , and trying to limit State control & monopoly.

  46. The point that is being missed about whether Corbyn is personally a hard Brexiter or not is that Labour is not a dictatorship. Regardless of how Corbyn feels about the issue, the Labour manifesto committed to “access” to the single market and customs union – not membership. So Umunna’s amendment was contrary to Labour Party policy; the leadership had no real choice but to refuse to back it.

  47. The boundary changes are dead in the water. I wonder if the government will try to introduce a more conciliatory proposal to review the boundaries based on 650 seats in order to keep the DUP on board and still get the boundaries updated?

    In terms of the other news, I suspect the Umunna amendment may have the opposite effect to the one he intended. Seems to be a lot of anger already being expressed across the Labour Party at the tabling of such an amendment, even from people who agree with the principle of the amendment.

    All he has likely done is to strengthen Corbyn further in the eyes of the Labour membership and made himself, and (by association) any other Corbyn critics, look as self-indulgent as the old ‘loony left’ backbench critics.

    Corbyn’s swift sackings demonstrate his newfound strength and confidence after the surprise election result. It will be interesting to see what further actions he takes within the party to bolster his position and limit the capability of the ‘raving right’ to cause trouble.

  48. The boundary changes are dead in the water. I wonder if the government will try to introduce a more conciliatory proposal to review the boundaries based on 650 seats in order to keep the DUP on board and still get the boundaries updated?

    In terms of the other news, I suspect the Umunna amendment may have the opposite effect to the one he intended. Seems to be a lot of anger already being expressed across the Labour Party at the tabling of such an amendment, even from people who agree with the principle of the amendment.

    All he has likely done is to strengthen Corbyn further in the eyes of the Labour membership and made himself, and (by association) any other Corbyn critics, look as self-indulgent as the old ‘loony left’ backbench critics.

    Corbyn’s swift sackings demonstrate his newfound strength and confidence after the surprise election result. It will be interesting to see what further actions he takes within the party to bolster his position and limit the capability of the ‘raving right’ to cause trouble.

  49. @Colin

    Agree that JC and JM probably favour Brexit now, because they see the EU as interfering in countries choosing to nationalise companies. As it is unlikely the EU would change rules, then staying in the single market and customs union would not be an option. Outside of these EU arrangements, but having tariff free access, would allow any UK government to choose how they organised their economy.

    When you think about it, should most Tories favour EU membership, because it stops a future Labour government from nationalising companies and following policies which they would be against ? Brexit is therefore more of a risk to the Tories, than any benefits they perceive it might have ?

  50. @R Huckle

    “When you think about it, should most Tories favour EU membership, because it stops a future Labour government from nationalising companies and following policies which they would be against ? Brexit is therefore more of a risk to the Tories, than any benefits they perceive it might have ?”

    Yes that’s a point I’ve been emphasising for a while. Being a member of the EU locked the UK into having a free market economy and limited the role of the state somewhat. All bets are off once we are out. Suddenly the 1983 Labour manifesto is doable again (albeit having to get the approval of the electorate first!).

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