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. Might be partisan to suggest that using the ER rather than Census favour the Tories and in general there are more unregistered voters in safe Labour seats (City Centres for example) and less in leafy shires.

    A technical objection is that Students can register in their home constituency and the place of study but only vote in GEs in one?

  2. Pete B

    The problem with basing it on the electoral roll is that some areas might have a low rate of registration at the time of making the boundaries. However a subsequent event encourages people in that area to register, perhaps doubling the electorate in that area. If this occurs in multiple constituencies you could end up with a very unfair distribution of votes.

    There really is any way to fix FPTP, its fundamentally broken.

  3. JIM JAM

    @”the SYRIZA strategy?”

    Yes-given time it could look like that.

    Demanding Debt Forgiveness from the IMF & refusing to implement spending reductions……………until they have to. At which point they fall 20 pts behind in the Polls & face losing power.

  4. Sorry

    There really ISN’T any way to fix FPTP, its fundamentally broken.

  5. @ Barny
    “As much as it should be, the Labour civil war isn’t over for those on the right of the party.”
    As I posted earlier, the civil war was recommenced vengefully in my GC by those on the ‘left’ of the party. I say ‘left’ because they are no more left wing than (for one) I am and many of them are in fact much more interested in power than politics.
    I also would argue that the civil war was kicked off by Corbyn not holding an olive branch to the wider PLP when the shadow cabinet was reshuffled. All rather depressing and exacerbated by losing some talents from a not especially talented front bench team.
    Round here Brexit is a massive issue and MPs’ single-markety lines on this certainly made a big contribution to our progress in the election (and don’t forget the youth vote, whilst often inspired by JC, seem to be strongly pro-remain.
    Personally, as is probably obvious, I think Brexit is a quite lunatic act of self harm and any attempts to mitigate its harm are welcome.

  6. @Chris Riley “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.”

    A switched-on conviction politician? Definitely not. He appears to be a vacillating airhead when it comes to Brexit, who is only looking for a political advantage for himself as a future Labour leader in the probable hope that the current Corbynista mania implodes IMO.

    See this piece from the Huffpost.

    Chuka Umunna: We Should Be Prepared To Sacrifice Single Market Membership To Axe Freedom Of Movement

    “If continuation of the free movement we have is the price of Single Market membership then clearly we couldn’t remain in the Single Market, but we are not at that point yet.”

  7. @FU (sorry, I’m lazy)

    “May is gone soon after Parliament rises, David Davis will be the next leader, Hammond will be off to the back benches replaced by Gove, Boris will stay at the Foreign office and Jacob Rees Mogg will be elevated to Brexit Secretary & before the summer is out we will have an outline of the populist manifesto the Tories will be working to with May, Hammond, Cameron and Osborne (especially) Osborne thrown under a whole procession of buses.”

    From a partisan POV, I hope you’re right: I think Mickey Mouse might make PM against that lot, never mind J Corbyn. From a patriotic POV, I’d despair at that.

  8. @CambridgeRachel

    Without getting into different electoral systems (because broadly I agree that ours is probably the worst of all the potential systems we could have) – a national ID card system, assuming it was compulsory for all over the age of 18, would at least mean that everyone with an ID card could automatically be included in the electoral roll and the boundaries could be redrawn based on equal numbers of eligible UK National ID card holders (which should then broadly match the census data)

    As long as you can get round the civil liberties issues, it really would be very convenient for government to deliver all sorts of policies and might even remove the need for the census.

  9. @Forever Unpolled “May was mad to hold an election before the reforms were in place and the Tories would be even more insane to left the realignment slip through their fingers now”

    I agree with this and banged on about it on here that May’s most sensible strategy would be to repeal the FTPA and then call a short notice election after the boundary reform in Autumn 2018 or even early 2019.

  10. JIM JAM

    A technical objection is that Students can register in their home constituency and the place of study but only vote in GEs in one?

    In seat allocation terms, that paradoxically helps the Conservatives[1]. Students are more likely to be more middle-class than others of their age-group[2] and live in middle-class areas. Normally they will vote where they study, but their unused registration at home helps boost the number of seats allocated to such areas, stereotypically Conservative strongholds.

    If students were only registered once, it would have to be at their place of study, where they spend more of the year. So their home constituencies would lose maybe a thousand voters or more from the rolls.

    [1] As does the rarely-mentioned other registration exception where holiday home owners can also be down to vote in two places.

    [2] Working-class students are also more likely to live at home and so only be registered once.


    Corbyn did let Owen Smith into his shadow cabinet, but I really don’t see why he should hand out an olive branch to lots of others. That is not how politics works.

    I would have liked to see Yvette Cooper brought in to replace Diane Abbott, but there is a good reason not to ask Chuka Ummuna which is that he is useless.

    You cannot take away your bat and ball like Yvette, then erroneously claim your leader has the wrong electoral strategy and then expect to be readmitted to the front line. Perhaps they need to do more junior roles first. Some in the PLP need to stop acting like over-entitled fools.

    The form of Brexit we get will be down to the Conservative Party because they are in government and Labour isn’t. All the pro-single market Labour MPs have done is make their preferred outcome marginally less likely as they have scared Conservative remainers from backing that option this time.

    As an aside, I have done some research into who thinks that Ummuna is the “British Obama”. They are:

    1: Chuka Ummuna
    2: Chuka Ummuna’s mum
    3: Chuke Ummuna’s girlfriend
    4: My mate Paul
    5: Er, that’s it.

  12. That should read Umunna of course. Apologies.

  13. The above post should read Umunna of course. Apologies.

  14. VoR

    Oddly for a libertarian I’m quite relaxed about ID cards, never really understood the fuss about them. Compared to things like the restricted access to legal aid and hence legal redress it seems a minor issue. I would prefer a different voting system though

  15. @ Hawthorn
    Well, you needn’t bother adding me to the list, I’m not a fan of Umunna’s either, however spelt :)
    See, I’m not convinced we’ll have Tory Brexit, or indeed any form of Brexit. The referendum was advisory and the majority vanishingly small, despite the Brexiters’ constant spin.
    I’ve never been the subtle type and therefore not much of a politician (mind you, hasn’t harmed JC!) so I’m a bit more interested in authenticity than tactics, and I’m dismayed by those who agree with me having surrendered without a fight. Not saying the Umunna job was a good tactic – not clever enough to judge.
    Of course it’s up to Corbyn who he has in his shadow team. I welcome Owen Smith being included. I’m a fan of his and it will be interesting to see how he gets on with the tricky brief of Norn Iron, but if he was interested in unity (or IMO, any kind of competent leader) he would bury the hatchet with some of those who are clearly talented but not of his tribe (and no, I don’t mean Chuka)

  16. Some reasons why FPTP is better than most versions of PR:

    1. We recently voted in a referendum by 2 to 1 NOT to have PR.

    2. All European countries with PR also have in their parliaments a far-right, racist, homophobic, misogynist party which uses parliamentary privilege to foster its revolting aims.

    3. You will never again have a Labour(or Conservative) government; instead you will have coalitions subject to the kind of horse-trading we have just seen between CON and DUP.

    4. It will not enable a ‘progressive majority government’ for the simple reason that the LIBDEMs are as likely to go in with the CONs as with LAB, and behave like CONs as well.

    Don’t go there, folks.


    Clearly I misinterpreted your position, for which I apologise.

    There are still gaps in the shadow front bench, in particular the Home Office briefs, but I can see why Corbyn would not trust some of the people on the backbenches.

    Those people coming in would also have to swallow their pride and work under people they may consider to be weaker than themselves such as Diane Abbott, but beggars can’t be choosers.

    I interpret the tactics of most Labour pro-remain MPs on Brexit as a tactical retreat. Had Labour gone in all guns blazing for Europe at the election, they would have been heavily defeated and the ghastly May Brexit would be full steam ahead. Being crafty is a necessity in politics sometimes.

  18. Good Afternoon all of you from sunny Bournemouth East, where Labour had a 13% increase in the vote from 2015-2017.
    Chuka Umunna made a tactical error. IMO, from a party point of view.

    The task K Starmer will be positing is that a Tory Brexit is damaging.

    The motion last night distracted from this message.

    HAWTHORN: I fully agree with you. Labour should read how Harold Wilson handled things, at great personal cost in terms of stress and being hurt by the damage done by Foot/Benn on one side and Jenkins on the other.

  19. @Tony Ebert

    1. We recently voted in a referendum by 2 to 1 NOT to have PR.


    We were offered AV, which is not a form of PR, and indeed can be more disproportionate than FPTP.

  20. Looks like Corbyn’s ‘permanent general election’ is certainly a thing….

    Wonder how this will play out. The aim seems to be to keep up the momentum (pun intended?) so that when the time comes for an election (which sources say, Corbyn believes privately will be this year – in my view this is unlikely), they’ll be on the front foot, so to speak.

    Hard to think that Labour’s ground game didn’t help them a lot at the election. But this could also potentially backfire and look a bit overly opportunistic? It may to some also seem a bit too student politics-esque, holding rallies and campaigning on the streets on random occasions.

    Not sure if enough British people could buy into that kind of ‘movement’-based politics for Labour’s VI to really reach much beyond the Conservatives. But, in this sense the party is much the same as it was months before the election, which managed to get 40% of voters to go Labour and even make a direct net CON -> LAB swing.

    So, who knows. I suspect it’s probably less about changing VIs at this point and more about motivating their base, recruiting more activists, i.e. building up the base for their movement further so they have an even bigger army come the next general election, whenever that may be. The power of their ground game may well end up being insurmountable.

    But putting that ground game into practice? I suspect they may be waiting for some time – the Tories will do anything to avoid an election. And in general, the Tories will go to great lengths and make great compromises to stay in power. I’m sure CCHQ is cooking up some alternative strategy to overcome their ground game and beat Labour properly next time.

  21. @Guymonde

    Clearly I misinterpreted your position for which I apologise.

    The critics of Corbyn would have to accept more junior positions than they would hope, perhaps working under people they do not rate (such as Diane Abbott). They will have to prove they can be trusted. That is just a fact of life and I would expect the same of any leader making appointments.

    As far as Brexit is concerned, I view the election as a tactical retreat. A heavy remain-based campaign at the election by Labour would have led to a massacre, with the Theresa May Brexit now going full steam ahead. Until there is a swing in the pro-Remain views of the public, there is little scope for a reversal. Compromise has to be the current approach.

  22. Sorry for the double postings; having IT issues (with my computer, not AW’s fault!)

  23. Cooper righty wont take a non shadow cabinet role and Jeremy wont insult her by offering one. I would like to have seen her back this time but understand tat some feel is too early and maybe she needs a period being of not being troublesome first.
    A way back may be to chair a policy review for Corbyn as a step towards reintegration; perhaps the impact of Brexit on security etc, I am sure she would be OK complementing Kier Stamer and his team’s work.

    I share other LP posters reservations about Umunna who is unelectable imo and more style than substance.

    I think you may be underestimating the elements of supply and demand in any future migration figures, and as the basis of Labour policy.
    All the serious studies, the Cambridge report that @Colin cited, UK Commission on Employment and Skills Working Future report,, EC Ageing Report (the latter two of which were previous to the EU referendum), are based on ONS/Treasury expectations of continued net migration at about 180,000 to 220,000 gradually diminishing to the second half of the century. Their basis is primarily that of the push of labour, and the pull of industrial demand, and that oflabur provision to the care sector,a demand which can be expected to continue virtually regardless of the detail of policy or regulation.
    My guess is that the objective of having access to the Single Market is a lynch pin for other expected associations which follow from a pragmatic acceptance of what is in all but name the free movement of labour.

  25. JIM JAM

    You are probably right about Yvette Cooper and you make a good suggestion.

  26. I think it’s likely that chuka has significantly delayed Cooper’s return to the shadow cabinet. The voices that are saying that the former rebels can’t be trusted will be strengthened while those who advocate reconciliation have been weakened.

  27. @John P
    I’m frankly not too worried about immigration, living an area which is already heavily immigrated (sorry) and largely positive about the experience. With decent housing policies it wouldn’t be an issue for the relatively few round here who are concerned, though of course the Brexit story in the Asian communities was all ‘less poles stealing your jobs, more Indian grannies’.
    I do accept that it’s a (real) issue in some Lab heartland areas as well as (a largely xenophobic issue in) some rural and coastal areas where the lesser spotted immigrant is rarely seen. In the former areas, not enough was done by successive governments to quell the concerns and I can see that it can be a really debilitating matter in a small town like Boston (?) where changes are extremely rapid.
    As I confessed, I’m not one to finesse tactics but I do understand the benefits of ‘crafty’. The Lab manifesto was a little bit crafty and many London MPs prospered on the back of that, then were honour bound to go along with the Chuka proposal.

  28. Toby Ebert – 4.28

    ‘Some reasons why FPTP is better than most versions of PR:

    1. We recently voted in a referendum by 2 to 1 NOT to have PR.’

    I think the logic is the wrong way round there. People voted for a thing because they thought it was better. The fact that people vote for a thing does not ‘make’ it ‘better’, still less ‘right’.

    I would offer the more recent referendum in which more people voted to leave the EU than to remain in it as proof that, just because more people vote for something does not make them or their cause correct, or better.


  29. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL “I think it’s likely that Chuka has significantly delayed Cooper’s return to the shadow cabinet. The voices that are saying that the former rebels can’t be trusted will be strengthened while those who advocate reconciliation have been weakened.”

    And that’s not all. It has demonstrated to any wavering remaining Tories that political expediency is better than trying to secure political points.

    Not that I had much doubt in the Tories being able to hold a pragmatic line – as their history has repeatedly shown (with a few exceptions!)

    Anyhow it will feel like Groundhog Day’s “I got you babe” to those who have witnessed the Labour chaos over the last couple of years.


    ‘I think it’s likely that chuka has significantly delayed Cooper’s return to the shadow cabinet. The voices that are saying that the former rebels can’t be trusted will be strengthened while those who advocate reconciliation have been weakened.’

    That, of course, might have been one of his intentions. According to word on the ground, there has been a considerable spat between Umunna and Cooper as to who should challenge Corbyn, in the now annual event.

  31. @John B “I would offer the more recent referendum in which more people voted to leave the EU than to remain in it as proof that, just because more people vote for something does not make them or their cause correct, or better.”

    I would offer the more recent referendum in which fewer people voted to remain in the EU than to leave it, as proof that just because fewer people vote for something does not make them or their cause wrong, or worse.

    Your statement works either way. It’s just the partisan spin that frames the difference.

  32. Tony Ebert:
    1) See reply by CMJ. No voted by the British public on PAR
    2) which Party is that in Scotland? Or Germany? Or Ireland? I could go on…
    3) if the majority of people want a Labour or Conservative government they will get one. But when you have PR the likely coalitions are generally signalled in advance and so are the “red lines” for smaller Parties. If smaller Parties break their promises they do badly next time, just like in Britain.
    4) see 3). People get what they vote for, unlike now. If they don’t want the Lib Dems it is obvious what to do..
    5) see Germany for how PR delivers stability and prosperity.. Countries that value that get what they want. Countries with a more rebellious streak, or corrupt politicians, do not..

  33. ChrisLane1945

    “The task K Starmer will be positing is that a Tory Brexit is damaging.”

    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!)

  34. @Tony Ebert

    Sigh. Just to reassure that at least one UKPR contributor can spot a joke.

  35. The Umunna amendment seemed to be more to do with the local campaigns of Labour MPS. They campaigned locally for single market and will use this vote to say they supported single market. Most the Labour mps supporting amendment are from remain areas. (London/Cambridge/Liverpool). Generally they voted reflecting the views of their constituents.

  36. JIM JAM

    The killer argument in against using the Electoral Roll for deciding the size of constituencies is that two constituencies worth of new registrations happened on the last day before registration closed for this election.

  37. Analyst

    “… Not sure if enough British people could buy into that kind of ‘movement’-based politics for Labour’s VI to really reach much beyond the Conservatives…”

    The last Survation poll had Labour on 46, Con on 41 I believe, so even before the summer of campaigning, Labour’s VI has gone beyond the Tories.

    Only one poll I know, but food for thought.

    Are we expecting another Survation tonight?

  38. We’ve been over this debate many times, but as some of the newer posters seem not to seen it before one argument for basing constituency size on the voters who are registered is that if people can’t be bothered to exercise their duty under our system, why should they expect to have the same representation as those who do register?

  39. PETE B

    That is known as “the argument from voter suppression” – and it is disreputable in the extreme. The reason for this is that those who do’t register have obstacles deliberately put in their way – such as online only registration, think about it – if you are poor enough to be using food banks internet connectivity is hardly going to be a priority now is it?

  40. Pete B

    Also it doesn’t take into account a sudden surge in enthusiasm like the one we just had in the last election

  41. TonyBTG

    I think that mass movement based campaign is only going to work if it targets the largest voting block…

    The non voters!!

  42. Paula Thomas
    I don’t see why it is disreputable. It seems a perfectly logical position. There are duties and responsibilities which come with being a citizen, as well as rights.

    Online registration isn’t compulsory

    And I think you’d be surprised at what some people consider to be a priority.

  43. Rachel
    I’ll concede that point, but if people filled their forms in at the time they received them there wouldn’t be any last minute surges.

  44. My boyfriend is taking the mickey, he’s singing

    Ohhhh chukaaa umammma

  45. PETE B

    I note that you don’t think voter suppression is disreputable.

  46. Paula Thomas
    I’m sorry I didn’t make my point clearly enough. I don’t think that having to register to vote IS ‘voter suppression’ as you call it.

    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?

  47. Even if somebody is not registered to vote, the MP where he/she lives is supposed to represent him or her.


    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?

    At least we know which end of an egg is which. What “membership” of the Single Market actually means (as distinct from membership of the EU or EEA) is much more problematic. What “access” means is just vague of course, but that reflects the position that the country is in – nobody knows anything. Choosing to make a thing about such tiny differences in semantics, suggests that the ‘moderates’ are no more interested in the UK’s position with the EU than they are in Labour unity. As already pointed out in this thread, Umunna seems quite happy to dismiss the Single Market when it suits

    Indeed the sole purpose of the Umunna amendment seems to have been to cause trouble for Corbyn. The reason why people “assume the worst” about the ‘moderates’ is that they’ve got form for this, making undermining Corbyn their main priority from before even his being formally elected and continuously since. This has been based on their belief that only they know the true route to electability, despite two leadership elections, two general elections and a referendum (or three arguably) proving otherwise.

    But when even hardcore Blairites like Chris Lane are saying you’re doing the wrong thing, then you would think that they might pause for a bit of self-reflection. They seem to have no support for their actions at all except from all their chums in the media.

    Now some of those who supported the amendment are probably just MPs furiously opposed to Brexit and trying to signal that in any way possible. It’s no coincidence that there were 21 London MPs among the 50 who voted for it and others such as Zeichner were from very strong Remain areas. Some had already signed the Guardian letter trailing this:

    and most of the extra names were London MPs or ‘usual suspects’ against Corbyn (or both). However I suspect even the sincere pro-EU votes may be realising that they made a tactical mistake in terms of their aims.

  49. PETE B

    Perhaps it was me who wasn’t sufficiently clear. When replacing a perfectly good system of voter registration, via the annual canvas with a distinctly dodgy one called ‘individual registration’ which still has serious problems for at least one class of people the government of the day (the coalition) it seems to me considered two things:

    1. How can we maximise the number of constituencies where AB voters live?

    2. How can we minimise the number of voters.

    It seems to me that the first was achieved by using the fact that quite a few AB voters have two or more homes, at one point my sister had 5 and she her husband and three kids were registered in all of them.

    The second is achieved by various means, one of which is to take advantage of people’s natural inertia – they don’t tend to do something until it is necessary to do it hence the two constituencies worth spike on the last day of registration.

    The ‘can’t be bothered’ argument is itself disingenuous because it assume motivation and takes no account of obstacles put in the way of potential voters.

  50. Of Chukka’s amendment.

    It seems to me that he has just destroyed any reputation as a shrewd operator he had before. He has emphasised what one of my lecturers referred to, in different circumstances, as a ‘distinction without a [practical] difference’.

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