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. Umanna lacks warmth. He always comes across as a cold fish. Within a month of the election he has managed to take a little heat off May and open up Labour wounds and for what exactly?

    Starmer has been shrewd and kept Labour’s Brexit plans ambiguous but difficult to attack. Umanna could learn a lot from his subtlety

  2. Re the Electoral boundary
    Isle of wight Proposed 2 MPS. This is my far the biggest Electorate. However dividing it in 2 makes it one of the lowest. Why is some of it not merged with Hampshire. It does create a risk of bias if one party is strong in constituencies with Natural boundaries.

    Also some of the biggest from 2015 Votes tend to be London favouring Labour if given bigger share. Also Wales have all the smallest constituencies. So bad for Labour.

    It as been argued here that inner cities have less registered to vote. Is this actually the case because a lot of the bigger constituencies are Inner Ciiy areas. For example Hackney North up from 74,780 to 88,153 in 5 years,

    .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Kingdom_Parliament_constituencies

  3. PETE B

    The only alternative that I’ve seen proposed on here is to use the census. That has many difficulties, including the fact that many people will move during the lifetime of a census. One obvious group is students. Suppose they are 17 or 18 at the time of a census, then they go off to university. Not many return to live with their parents in my experience, yet the census data would still have them at their parents’ address and they would have to return to cast their vote. Wouldn’t that be a form of voter suppression?

    There are good arguments against and around using the census (including what census number you use) but that isn’t one of them. Although the individual students who are included in the census will change considerably, the total number will be much more stable and it is that number that is used to calculate and locate constituencies. And no one is suggesting that people should return to vote where they were at the last census[1], just that numbers from that provide a good guide to where people are living now.

    Obviously you can argue that using the electoral register gives you the ability to do boundary revisions more often. But whether it is worth the effort of every five years is another matter. Anthony once said that when tried in the 50s it turned out to be fussy with lots of small changes which were then reversed the next time round. Of course if you are having demographic changes big enough to make large differences over five years, you probably ought to be having five-yearly censuses anyway as Ireland and the Isle of Man do.

    [1] Though ironically that’s similar to the basis on which expats’ votes are counted (where they last lived in the UK), a system that the Conservatives want to extend indefinitely after leaving.

  4. ROGER MEXICO
    Yes. My point, and in my 455 post, is that Umunna is indeed straining at a gnat, in that the strategy which appears to be being pursued by the Labour leadership is not to push, impossibly in terms of domestic politics, for membership,, since that would mean acceptance of a dominantly EU based and governed free movement of labour, but rather to go for an economy driven level and selectivity of migration, including from the EU (most valuable player) but also from the rest of the world, governed by the UK. The runes suggest this squares with migration policy development in the EU, which will increasingly seek to limit and govern it by means of external borders within countries of transit, while stepping up economic development and security/peace keeping within both countries of origin and countries of transit, in programmes in which the UK is de factor already engaged in its DFID agenda. I suspect there is some deep pragmatism going on which Chuka and his fifty thieves are not privy to.

  5. some interesting changes in London constituencies, All very safe Labour seats

    1) West Ham 90640.Labour Majority 36754
    2) East Ham 87382 Labour Majority 39883
    3) Ilford South 91987 Labour Majority 31647
    4) Hackney North 88153 Labour Majority 35139

    So is it actually true that there is a problem with those registered to vote in inner city areas regarding the boundary changes

  6. Does anyone know when this fabled Survation poll is coming out?

  7. Matt,

    As I see it, it comes down to Pete B’s view that if you can’t be bothered registering you should not be taken in to account when constituency sizes are calculated; alternatively all citizens are equal and registration can be difficult for some people who move around a lot so Census is better.
    It was clear when the change was made that this would favour the conservatives and it still will even if in the future when a more up to date register with the surge additions included reduces that a touch.

  8. Debora Orr (Guardian) “Years of apathy mean that Grenfell is not just a tragedy but an atrocity.”
    The reason this is so is because laissez faire in permitting investment in property as capital rather than as housing and its consequent price inflation have a direct effect not only on the availability of social housing but also on the relative affordability of safety standards in building regulations and in the behaviour of landlords and of municipal authorities (a) in monitoring and safeguarding the safety of building practice in social housing, and (b) in giving a voice to tenants as participants in the safeguard process. The fact that the tenants at Grenfell had exercised a need to make their voices heard from outside the system,and had failed to do so, with tragic consequences, is precisely the context in which the Grenfell fire is an atrocity, and calls not just for resignations but for prosecutions.

  9. I had heard Umunna was more into selfies than politics – which would seem to be the case. His blunders will be welcome news on the Tory benches though.

    Quite why he’d oppose a leader who just secured him a huge majority is hard to fathom. But if history is anything to go by, it would seem Labour has an unique problem securing party loyalty.

  10. There are annual ONS population estimates which are based on the census. Although these would not be to constituency level (I think), they could be used to apply factors to adjust the population figures for constituencies in between census years.

    So it could be done. It would be more accurate than using the vote register.

  11. Roger Mexico
    ” And no one is suggesting that people should return to vote where they were at the last census[1], just that numbers from that provide a good guide to where people are living now.”

    Ok, I take the point that people moving may not matter that much to the constituency size, but how would anyone decide exactly where someone who has moved should vote if you are using census records? Oh, I know, we could have a postal or on-line form that people could fill in to say where they are living. We could call it say, what, a voter registration form.

    G’night all.

  12. @ Hawthorn

    “There are annual ONS population estimates which are based on the census. Although these would not be to constituency level (I think), they could be used to apply factors to adjust the population figures for constituencies in between census years.”

    I think these go down to district council ward level.

  13. Exileinyorks

    Problem solved then. No practical reason not to use the population.

  14. @ Hawthorne

    This is a set from North Yorkshire County Council – it is based on ONS data, but produced by the council itself. It actually goes down to parish level.

    https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/north-yorkshire-population-information

  15. Chuka Umunna has been a great unifier. Everyone seems to think he has been a prat.

  16. Matt

    West Ham had a doubling of the total number of voters from 2005 to 2017. Which is incredible

  17. Exileinyorks

    I expect they were composed by aggregating super output areas (the main published aggregates seem to only go to local authority level).

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates

    Scroll down the page.

  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ONS_coding_system#Current_GSS_coding_system

    Full list of current ONS geocodes, which includes Westminster constituencies. Of course, they would be different if they were redrawn on population, so more granular data would be needed (and is available).

  19. Pete B in the morning,

    The Census would determine constituency boundaries but the ER still determines where one votes.

  20. Pete B

    You seem to be conflating two quite distinct issues:

    1. How to decide on constituency boundaries.

    2. How to decide where any individual will vote.

    These are quite distinct. Your objection that people move from census to census seems spurious as people move between voter rolls as well and in any case most of the time movement has a broadly neutral effect as people move both into and out of constituencies.

    Perhaps I can ask how often you think boundaries should be re-drawn? If it is more than every five years, and I would suggest given he difficulty we have recently had where we are likely to go into the next election on 2010 boundaries that doing it every parliament is impractical.

    Certainly doing it for every new voter roll, ie every year would be fraught with difficulty.

    It seems to me that if the a set of boundaries are to last for more than one Parliament, and it seems impractical and expensive if they don’t, then the census is the way forward. The electoral roll is far too unreliable a register to use for this vital task. After all do we want to effectively disenfranchise some communities because they only register to vote when there is an election in the offiing? Or to inflate the representation of others because they happen to be rich enough to own multiple properties?

  21. Evening all
    Since SF are likely to have 9 seats in the North of Ireland, with DUP on 7 according to the projections, I think DUP may not vote for the new boundaries if there is a vote.

    On another matter the BBCNews website is reporting on tensions between David Davis and the current PM over her ‘red lines’ such as the ECJ.

  22. PAULA THOMAS

    After all do we want to effectively disenfranchise some communities because they only register to vote when there is an election in the offiing? Or to inflate the representation of others because they happen to be rich enough to own multiple properties?

    You should only register at more than one address if you spend similar amounts of time at both:

    http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/faq/voting-and-registration/i-have-two-homes.-can-i-register-to-vote-at-both-addresses

    though of course that doesn’t mean that some people may not register at several anyway – there doesn’t seem to be any checking and it would be difficult to convict of fraud (though possibly not if multiple voting occurred).

    Your first point is very important though. A lot of people don’t register till an election is due, not because of laziness, but because they move around a lot. It’s less a matter of ‘communities’ than of lifestyle – short-term private rented accommodation; short-term jobs with periods of unemployment between; casual and zero-hours contract work[1]. It’s not a chosen lifestyle, but one in which increasing numbers of people find themselves trapped. Why bother to register when you may have to do so twice before the next chance to vote comes round?

    [1] Of course these are the very people who are ‘getting on their bikes’, moving around and looking for work. Strange how unsympathetic so many Conservatives seem to be about it.

  23. Chrislane

    If the intention of the 600 seats proposal was to stuff Labour (and let’s face it, it was) it continues to backfire. It could be that a 2022 election could still be on 2010 boundaries thanks to Cameron.

  24. The poll is late, promised at 00.01

  25. @Andrew111 “Yes, I agree his position is made harder every time a few more voters realise that Keir Starmer has exactly the same implausible “cake and eat it” aims as the Tories on Brexit! (Although Corbyn probably has different aims as to what to do afterwards!)”

    100% agree with this. Labour’s official position is ludicrously implausible.

    Leave the single market and customs union and control freedom of movement but retain the exact same benefits of the single market and customs union.

    That should raise a few eyebrows in the EU Council & The Commission.

  26. SEA CHANGE
    “…. Labour’s official position is ludicrously implausible”

    See my 9.31 post. “Access” obviously has to be negotiated, but would included, I think,, membership of the Customs Union, no barriers to the movement of goods and services, continued citizenship rights of EU residents in the UK and vice versa. On movement of labour thedifference from membership of the SM and adherence to its restrictions would – again a matter of negotiation – include restriction of movement to people with jobs to go to or studentships or research or similar associations, and it is the rights of familes and conditions of long-term residence that has to be negotiated; also the retention of recognition of the EU of the rights of the EU to have these same rights in trade labour movement with the rest of the world. Not possible? Let’s see

  27. sorry – rights of the UK to have these rights

  28. @JOHN PILGRIM “Not possible? Let’s see”

    Well all statements by the Council and Commission have stated that it is not possible or desirable,

  29. I am a great believer in the magic cake tree, which grows on the Portia principle that the quality of supply and demand is not kind but falleth like the gentle rain from heaven.

  30. “On another matter the BBCNews website is reporting on tensions between David Davis and the current PM over her ‘red lines’ such as the ECJ.”

    It’s a load of rot.

    The actual quote comes from James Chapman who did work in the Brexit department and ‘left’ at the election.

    He’s now a lobbyist.

  31. Neil Wilson
    Rot or not, it’s at the top of the BBC Radio4 news.

  32. “Some reasons why FPTP is better than most versions of PR”

    The reason we have FPTP is that our constitution requires the coalitions to form *before* the election, so that people know what they are voting for.

    PR and all that is about handing excessive amounts of power to politicians and minority groupings that have not learned how to compromise ahead of time.

    The third parties in our system are used as signally device to tell the main parties that things are changing and they need to change their consensus position.

    Occasionally – as in Scotland and with the Liberals in the 1920s – they don’t listen and the incumbents are completely replaced.

    What this decade has shown is that the UK democratic system and constitution is very robust, very flexible and can adapt rapidly to changing social situations when it needs to.

    Contrast that with Greece and even the moribund USA.

    Sometimes organic systems that have grown up over the centuries are just better than those designed by wonks in ivory towers. Because those wonks miss the subtleties that history has imparted on the existing structure.

  33. Neil Wilson
    How about the ‘German System’, FPTP with a Regional proportional list to ameliorate the ‘unfairness ‘ of FPTP. It’s even got the blessing of History,as it was imposed by the 1945 Labour Govt on the Germans.

  34. RJW @ NEIL WILSON

    It was also imposed by the 1997 Blair Govt on the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, despite the AV+ recommendation of the Jenkins Commission.

  35. BZ
    Dare I say that TB didn’t make a b’lls of absolutely everything then?

  36. RJW
    BARBAZENZERO

    The ‘German system’ has led to a series of results recently in Germany whereby voting at all has been pretty pointless. You’ve basically had national governments, coalitions of the two largest parties (Con/Lab pacts if you will)

    There is some hope that this might finally change at the next election.

  37. Labour are being smart over leaving the EU. Being as ambiguous as they are means when Brexit comes a tumbling down (very likely) they can blame much of it on the Tories.
    Where Labour aren’t being as smart is looking for another election. It’s madness wanting to be in charge of the Brexit negotiations. It’s the Tories baby, let them hold it while it screams and kicks.

  38. @Neil Wilson

    Agree with you on the utility of constitutional conventions that have formed over centuries. It’s also why I am implacably opposed to the FTPA.

  39. David Colby
    The Germans have done pretty well by their electoral system since the late 1940s have they not?
    Pete
    Politicians love power, it might not be ‘sensible’ for Labour to grab the steering wheel off the Tories, but that is what they will try to do ASAP and may well succeed!

  40. RJW @ BZ
    Dare I say that TB didn’t make a b’lls of absolutely everything then?

    I’d go further than that and say that his first term was pretty successful. A pity, though, that he allowed so little devolution on fiscal matters. His troubles started in the 2nd term, when he cosied up to Bush Jr, to put it mildly.

    DAVID COLBY @ RJW/BZ
    You’ve basically had national governments, coalitions of the two largest parties (Con/Lab pacts if you will)

    That’s what the German electorate voted for, and seems to have worked out reasonably well. Why do you regard it as a problem?

  41. RJW @ BZ
    Dare I say that TB didn’t make a b’lls of absolutely everything then?

    I’d go further than that and say that his first term was pretty successful. A pity, though, that he allowed so little devolution on fiscal matters. His troubles started in the 2nd term, when he cosied up to Bush Jr, to put it mildly.

    DAVID COLBY @ RJW/BZ
    You’ve basically had national governments, coalitions of the two largest parties (Con/Lab pacts if you will)

    That’s what the German electorate voted for, and seems to have worked out reasonably well. Why do you regard it as a problem?

  42. PETE
    It’s madness wanting to be in charge of the Brexit negotiations. It’s the Tories baby, let them hold it while it screams and kicks.

    Agreed, and that seems to be the Corbyn/Starmer plan which Umunna is trying to derail.

    SEA CHANGE @ NEIL WILSON
    It’s also why I am implacably opposed to the FTPA.

    Why should a government which has less than 50% of the popular vote have carte blanche to call an early general election at a time of its choosing?

    In any event, under the FTPA, any government has the option of voting no confidence in itself and an early general election will occur if nobody else can command a majority in the HoC.

  43. Does the FTPA really make any difference ?

    As was recently evidenced, if the party in Government wants an early election, the main opposition party is very unlikely to stop it happening.

    I would like to see proportional representation where we get used to coalition Governments where parties can agree deals. If no deals are agreed, then the party with most MP’s can form the minority Government. Parliament is then much more involved in deciding on the legislation and budgets, which are more likely in my opinion to represent a majority in the country. The problem with FPTP, is that you can get a majority Government doing what they wanted, having won less than 50% of votes cast. I don’t think that can be justifed any longer.

  44. BZ – agree re Blair and domestically imo he ran out of steam half way through the second term of office.

    Better he had stood down when he initially said he would in 03/04 and who knows Brown may have been better had he been PM earlier. I think he would have won in 2005 still as the Cons were not viable.

    We will never know of course and the fundamentals of the 07/08 crash would have been unaffected with whoever was in power at the time being blamed as is the way.

  45. Lots of ad hominem attacks here on Chuka Umunna, while at the same time arguments that “…. Labour’s official position is ludicrously implausible” (SEA CHANGE – for once i agree with you!) I have no idea whether Chuka is a ‘prat’ or ‘addicted to selfies’, and frankly I don’t think any of those posting here do either, but I’m pleased he is articulating a more coherent approach to a soft Brexit. Perhaps he’s just saying what he believes ? Like his Party Leader used to.

    Either way, for political consequences it’s too early to tell.

  46. NEIL WILSON

    The reason we have FPTP is that our constitution requires the coalitions to form *before* the election, so that people know what they are voting for.

    Gosh! You’d better tell Theresa and Arlene – they seem to have just made a terrible mistake. And undoing everything that Dave and Nick did as illegal is going to be quite a task.

    Of course, in the famous words of John Griffith: “The British constitution is what happens”. It may be constrained by statute law, but those laws are made, changed and revoked in the same way as any other law. The unwritten conventions that are supposed to fill in the gaps are “Not worth the paper they’re written on” and usually neither particularly old or logical. And naturally they get ignored when it suits.

    The truth is that FPTP survives because it suits politicians. It creates safe seats where MPs can do as little as they can get away with, while convincing themselves that they are there because their electorate loves them and elects them personally (Party descriptions only appeared on ballot papers in 1970). And it excludes smaller Parties and minority voices from the current duopoly, though it hasn’t really been that successful at recently even.

  47. @ Hawthorne on Chuka.

    Very funny.
    Yes. I would assme these splits would damage Lab’s poll prospects: only I just observed a GE in which the most divided Lab party since 1931 — one in which 2/3rds of the PLP were not on speaking terms with the leader! — increased its vote share, election-to-election, by the greatest margin gained by any major party in modern times. Moreover, in doing so, Lab broke a second sacred rule: that GE campaigns have little effect on outcomes: which are more or less decided at the start.

  48. An update on the delayed Survation poll – the analysts didn’t fancy an all-nighter so we have to wait till later today.

    “Damian Lyons Lowe? @DamianSurvation · 1h1 hour ago

    Morning, we have new polling data out today for Westminster VI Brexit & other qs. Delay as f/w finished 9pm Fri so w/be out post QC checks.”

  49. PATRICKBRIAN

    I and others took apart Chuka Umunna actions earlier in the thread. Repeating the conclusion (words to the effect that he acted unwisely and counter-productively) is not ad hominem in that context.

    I think it is notable that Yvette Cooper did not vote for his amendment.

    If you asked anyone what specifically soft Brexit meant, every person would give a different answer. I for example would consider a Swiss arrangement to be soft Brexit, but they are not a full member of the single market. Going for that arrangement with a transitional period would be consistent with the Starmer position.

    The whole issue is extremely complicated and nuanced. Unfortunately, it seems to be too much so for many politicians and journalists. The final situation will have to satisfy the majority of the remainers and leavers or this will be a never ending issue that brings the country down. We cannot afford to have a load of Euro-Ian Paisleys on either side.

  50. Is DD attempting a coup? Aided by BBC Radio 4 ? Week in Westminster on at the moment! Now that would be a very British coup.

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