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. @Roger Mexico

    “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.”

    The problem with PR is that politicians are even less accountable than with FPTP. This is very visible across Europe. They do not directly represent constituents and there is no chance of booting them individually out of office. How many safe seats did Labour lose in Scotland in 2015? How many safe tory seats did they lose in June? There is no such thing as a 100% safe seat IMV. Events can make even the safest seat unsafe.

    With the current system even the MP in the safest seat is accountable and if they screw things up badly enough they can and are voted out of office. That never happens with PR it just results in a faceless mush where the electorate as a whole tend to feel even more disenfranchised and detached from politics.

  2. PETE.
    Good Morning to you from a windy and cool Bournemouth.
    I agree with you in saying that Labour is playing it smart over Brexit.

    Your phrase: it’s the Tories baby, let them hold it while it screams and kicks’ is very good advice, reminding me of the advice Jim C gave Harold W after the Feb 1974 GE.

    Starmer wrote in The Mirror today that he would oppose Hard Brexit and support long transitional arrangements is the right approach IMO for country and party.

  3. My preference of Electoral System is also Additional Member System as used in Germany, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand under which half to two-thirds of seats are determined by FPTP and the remainder by a regional top up method. Germany also has a 5% minimum threshold in regional top up seats to prevent extremist MPs with little support being elected which seems sensible to me.

    New Zealand had a referendum to bring in AMS and another one after it had been in operation a few times and ratified again.

    Finally No – you do not necessarily have to have 50%+ of votes to form a majority government as Alex Salmond proved in Scottish Election in 2011.

    However I fear we will not have any form of PR unless one of major parties realises it can never win outright again. Pure self interest sadly dominates.


    Agree completely.

    As has been observed in another perceptive post upthread, we demand that the horsetrading takes place before going to the Electorate. PR allows it to take place afterwards.

    In our system voters are in control. Under PR systems politicians are in control.


    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’m not really sure about that. There was widespread anger within and across Labour about Corbyn supporting it and there’s nothing to suggest that a future opposition leader would react the same way. It’s only with the hindsight of the campaign that it looks like a clever gamble rather than self-destructive vanity.

    What would have been an interesting tactic would have been to refuse the dissolution and immediately place a vote of no confidence and invite the Conservatives to abstain if they wanted an election (didn’t the SNP suggest this?). This might cause a small constitutional crisis as it could be suggested that a no confidence vote should be followed by the Queen asking Corbyn to form a government rather than May wait out the 14 days till the automatic election call. However as Labour had no reasonable chance of putting a majority together, you could say that the Palace had no need to do so.

  6. Roger Mexico “vote should be followed by the Queen asking Corbyn to form a government rather than May wait out the 14 days till the automatic election call. However as Labour had no reasonable chance of putting a majority together, you could say that the Palace had no need to do so.”

    This is not necessarily the case. As the Tories commanded a majority, TM could have advised the Queen to appoint another Tory who could have then lost a 2nd confidence vote through abstaining trigging the election but being in place. Of course the Queen can ignore the outgoing PM’s advice. The convention is that the Sovereign appoints a PM who has the possibility of commanding a majority. There is also the possibility that under the FTPA that the PM might not resign after the confidence vote and wait out the 14 days. At the stage either the Queen would let that stand or sack the PM. A difficult conundrum. The FTPA was not thought through properly. It has to go.

  7. An issue with FPTP is that the Governments are not representative the electorate and it further Polarises the country by its nature . The mix of seats each main party holds is less than it used to be.

    For example A Labour government would be mainly urban and sub urban with little representative of rural Labour.

    In contrast Conservative government mainly rural shire England and does not reflect urban concerns.

    A way round this would be to have 500 Constituencies and then have 150 MPS selection divided on PR basis into different regions.

  8. Colin 11.38

    ‘As has been observed in another perceptive post upthread, we demand that the horsetrading takes place before going to the Electorate. PR allows it to take place afterwards.
    In our system voters are in control. Under PR systems politicians are in control.’

    Not so! The ‘horsetrading’ before the vote means that most people never get a party to vote for with which they are in complete (or nearing complete) agreement, because all the major parties are already ‘coalitions’. Would it not be far more democratic to allow people to vote for the party with which they are in (getting on for) 100% agreement? In that way at least we have a clear idea of the strength of support for the various options offered to the electorate.

    Just a thought.

    The problem with PR is that politicians are even less accountable than with FPTP. This is very visible across Europe.

    You don’t have to look beyond the UK to find one full PR system and one partial PR system with which the electorate seem to have no problem in using and which are both reasonably fair.

    The STV system was initally imposed by HMG and is operated for all elections on the island of Ireland with the exception of voting for Westminster. In both the Dáil and Stormont every elector has a very good chance of helping to elect someone he or she does not despise and who can be approached on constituency matters.

    Both the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales use the AMS system, with plurality system elections for the constituency seats and d’Hondt for the regional ones. This retains a constituency member [albeit one you might not trust to sit the right way on a lavatory] but gives some representation to other parties and even individuals.

  10. “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 ?”


    Labour nationalising companies can often suit Tories. They get to privatise them, selling shares off cheap to the public and using the proceeds for tax cuts or whatever. Unless Labour figure out ways to stop the privatisations. (PPI was a rather controversial way of shooting this Tory fox, by handing things over to the private sector to begin with…)

  11. Hawthorn

    are you describing Chuka and co as ” Euro-Ian Paisleys “? If so, more of the same…

  12. @Colin

    In our system most voters have little control, just the illusion of control.

    We can all only vote for 1 member of parliament and not a party (despite MPs standing on a party platform) – if we don’t get the mp we voted for then our vote is wasted and counts nothing towards the result.

    Most of us live in safe seats where our vote can’t change the outcome.

    There are various methods of PR, some offer the potential for more strong government than others and lower likelihood of coalition. (Check out the Jenkins proposals)

    But on of the main advantage of PR methods is that every vote can count towards the result, not just the votes for the winning MP in each constituency.

    Other advantages, such as imoroving proportionality are variable dependent on the exact system chosen.

    FPTP is undemocratic, unrepresentative, disproportional, disenfranchises large swathes of the electorate from having a representative MP. If you were to pick an electoral system from scratch, looking at the pros and cons of all systems, it would probably be the last one you would pick.

    But other than that I’m on the fence about changing the electoral system. ;-)

  13. Hello from the start of a nice sunny day here in Texas don’t have a signal on sky at the moment how is that million strong march organised by Labour and the unions going in London today it was the 1st July or did I hear that wrong.

    Anyway if it goes ahead hope there isn’t any problems for the already overwork met.

    Have a nice day in true Texas fashion I’m off to my neighbours property to assist in the firing of his civil war cannon today when I say assist I mean standing well back with my tin hat on.

  14. FPTP vs PR

    Having lived in Germany I can assure you that their system does nothing to engage voters.

    Coalitions are inevitable, so manifestoes are fairly irrelevant. Deals are made in private between the leaders of the major parties (who, by the way, have never been elected by anyone – they are simply at the head of the list decided by party HQ).

    The small parties have far too much power under this system. For years after the war the liberal FDP, with around 5% of the vote would decide whether to create a CDU (conservative) or SPD (social democrat) government. Sometimes they would choose one, sometimes the other, depending on various Inducements (public, and secret?).

  15. @TonyEbert

    First point – there is no such thing as FPTP vs PR

    There are many, many potential systems of PR.

    FPTP is a specific electoral system.

    It’s like saying Carrots vs Vegetables

    in terms of your experiences in Germany:

    Coalitions are NOT inevitable in all forms of PR. (again – check out the Jenkins proposals)

    Small parties do NOT all inevitably have greater representation in every method of PR. (for example – minimum voting shares can prevent tiny parties getting top up seats)

    List systems are NOT inevitable in PR – there are plenty of other methods. And even lists systems are not necessarily the same, as there are big differences between open and closed list systems.

    How parties elect/choose their leader or representatives is not necessarily a consequence of the electoral system for the government, although you could legislate to force candidates to have been democratically elected, and not chosen by party leadership.

    Apart from those small points I agree with everything you said. :-)

  16. Toby Ebert

    Doesn’t seem to have done the Germans any harm, they do have that strong and stable reputation! Every system has it’s oddities and that interacts with the national personality. FPTP works very differently in Canada for example. The Scandinavian countries all seem to have a variant of the open list system and generally end up with stable and sensible govt. Italy has tried all sorts of systems but they all seem to end in chaos but that seems to work for them.

    I must admit I don’t like the German system, the other system invented by the British, the single transferable vote which is used in Ireland is fantastic for political junkies as watching where the transfers go is so interesting. Gives a real indication of core support and soft support.

    As a voter I don’t want to be constantly be voting for the least worse option or be told that I’m wasting my vote. As a citizen want to hear a range of political ideas, a free market in ideas! Instead of the sterile boredom of the new labour years, it was no wonder that folk voted for UKIP, at least it wasn’t boring.

  17. VoR

    “How parties elect/choose their leader or representatives is not necessarily a consequence of the electoral system for the government, although you could legislate to force candidates to have been democratically elected, and not chosen by party leadership”

    This is a very controversial idea in the labour party! The party establishment is fighting tooth and nail to prevent any democratic reforms, lol.

  18. Turk

    “how is that million strong march organised by Labour and the unions going in London today?”

    The march is going very well, thank you for asking:

  19. @CambridgeRachel

    “This is a very controversial idea in the labour party! The party establishment is fighting tooth and nail to prevent any democratic reforms, lol.”

    It’s understandable and it’s why getting reforms like that through as legislation is unlikely to ever happen. Party leaders / hierarchy want to have as much control as possible.

    It’s like trying to get reform of party funding or reform the electoral system. The status quo suits the main two parties so its likely to never happen.

  20. DUP and SF

    So that’s what it’s about?

    “What divides the two parties appears more symbolic than real. Sinn Féin is insisting on a free-standing Irish Language Act while the DUP wants to tag on other elements, including the status of Ulster Scots.
    The approach of the two parties to this issue is clearly about more than language. It is about each side trying to put one over on the other.”

  21. When will England cry. “enough”?

    “Sir, – It may be useful to look at the DUP-Tory deal in a historical context. In about 1920, just before partition, about 70 per cent of the industrial production of the island of Ireland came from the greater Belfast area, north Down, north Armagh and south Antrim. This in itself, and the fact that most of this production went to the British market, was a powerful justification for partition, even though most of the benefits from this productivity went largely to one side of the community. Since then, and particularly in the last 50 years, with the demise of heavy industry in the North and development in the South, these positions have been reversed, with the same area in the North now only producing about 15 per cent of the island’s output. These figures, I believe, demonstrate the utter failure of partition as an economic model. However, one of the main tenets of unionism was, and still is, that the North, or more accurately the northeast, is inherently more efficient and prosperous than the rest of the island. As economic activity and GDP figures no longer support this argument, it is imperative for unionism to preserve and perpetuate this myth by ensuring the continuing flow of large amounts of cash from London to Belfast, which per annum came to about £6,000 per man, woman and child, even before the latest deal. In these circumstances, why would unionists want to review their position? – Yours, etc,

  22. Opinium/Observer:

    CON 39 (-5)
    LAB 45 (+4)
    LD 5 (-3)
    UKIP 5 (+3)
    GRN 2 (=)
    SNP 3 (=)

    Ch vs result
    27-29 Jun

  23. CON in 30’s for first poll since February

  24. From Britain Elects:


    CON 39 (-5)
    LAB 45 (+4)
    LD 5 (-3)
    UKIP 5 (+3)
    GRN 2 (=)
    SNP 3 (=)

    Ch vs result
    27-29 Jun

  25. SAM
    a different kind of boundary post.

    Thanks for the Irish Times link. I’ve said from the time of the referendum that the DUP only pushed leave because they thought it would lose and give them an edge over the remain policy of their main rivals, the UUP. The difficulty for them would be if the Cons really do want leave leave the single market, in which case they’ll either have to bring the Con government down or really be risking everything in the six counties.

    Strictly speaking, Cliff Taylor is correct in saying remaining in EU customs union is only way to solve riddle of having no hard Border, although in practice that could be fudged if the UK remain in the EEA.

  26. Mixed messages today

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 41% (-)
    LAB: 40% (-4)
    LDEM: 7% (+1)
    UKIP: 2% (-)
    GRN: 1% (+1)

    (via @Survation, 28-30 Jun)
    Chgs w 17 Jun

  27. SAM

    I should have added that Brokenshire now probably has just a little more power over the DUP in that one of the options available to him is to call for new elections for Stormont and confirm the border situation.

    Given that those elections are STV , the both the UUP and Allliance would be in with a shout of getting early preferences from many current DUP voters, presumably excluding the UDA voters.

    SF would have no difficulty in negotiating a new power sharing arrangement with either or both of them.

  28. Various polls
    CON: 41% (-)
    LAB: 40% (-4)
    LDEM: 7% (+1)
    UKIP: 2% (-)
    GRN: 1% (+1)

    LAB: 45%
    CON: 39%
    LDEM: 5%
    UKIP: 5%
    GRN: 2%

    (via @OpiniumResearch / 27 – 29 Jun)

    EU Survation
    Remain 54%
    Leave 46%

  29. Approval / Disapproval ratings of…

    T. May: 31 / 51
    J. Corbyn: 42 / 38
    T. Farron: 12 / 44

    (via @OpiniumResearch)

  30. On holding a referendum approving/rejecting the proposed Brexit deal once negotiations are complete:

    Support: 46%
    Oppose: 47%


  31. Survation fieldwork later than Opinium , did they pick up Chukka being a pr*tt?
    Or did Opinium detect a pick up in UKIP that Survation missed? Who knows, might there be another one to split the difference?

  32. Barbazenzero

    Yes, I think there must also be a belief in eating the cake and having it.

    Although I find it difficult to judge what the UK government wishes to do, I do not think it will remain in the EEA though may use it as a transition out of the EU

  33. Would like to see what changes opinium have made to their methodology. I presume survation are sticking with what they had.

  34. Barbazenzero

    “Crucially, how much legitimacy does each possible border scenario have among the population? Would a significant proportion of the Northern Irish Protestant community find any border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland unacceptable? Would a hardened border between North and South suffer a similar legitimacy deficit among Northern Irish Catholics?

    Reflecting on how Northern Ireland citizens actually voted in the referendum provides a useful departure point for considering what to do about this problem. Examining data from the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election study, conducted close to the time of the referendum, it emerges that there was a very strong ethnonational basis to voting. It seems 85% of Catholics voted Remain, compared to only 40% of Protestants.

    The differences are even starker when one considers how the respondents described their own ideological position and identity. Of those who identified as nationalists, 88% voted Remain, compared to only 34% of those who described themselves as unionists. And 87% of “Irish” respondents voted Remain compared to only 37% of “British” respondents. That said, voting was not only ethnonational. Both Protestants and Catholics were split – though Protestants were much more polarised.”

  35. Also the EU theoretical Ref split by party

    Con 39
    Lab 80
    LibDem 70

    Con 61
    Lab 20
    Libdem 30
    UKIP 100

  36. If the results are correct re brexit Labour need possibly to fight for Customers union and single market access. If they dont they could alienate core support

  37. 3 weeks into the Brexit negotiations and already public opinion is starting to slide. Watch it slide further over the next year. 25% hard core brexiters wont change their minds but within a year Brexit will be dead

  38. Matt126

    Starmer said that Labour was willing to pay for the single market access.

  39. Think I may be moderated – not sure why – so I’ll pack it in

  40. I think it’s clear that survations numbers are off. There’s no way the conservatives now have the support of a majority of people in wales and have a lead over the snp in double figures. While it wouldn’t surprise me to see a drop in labours support after ummunas trouble-making these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt in my opinion.

  41. RJW – both within moe of a 2-3% labour lead so may well be just normal sample variation.

    CR – what is the question for the approval/disapproval please?

  42. SAM @ BZ
    Although I find it difficult to judge what the UK government wishes to do, I do not think it will remain in the EEA though may use it as a transition out of the EU

    I think HMG finds it difficult to judge what it should do!

    We do know that the DUP is adamant that there should not be a formal customs barrier between NI and GB and it also wants an invisible border with the RoI, like all the rest of the Stormont parties.

    What we don’t know is whether they’ll have to bring the Cons down in order to achieve it. It’s hard to see May doing it given her “precious union” spiel, but nobody knows whether she’ll be in office next week, let alone in 2019, when plenty of her potential successors might care more about E&W than the rest of the UK and not care about the DUP’s woes.

    If the party splits reported this evening by MATT126 are anything like correct, it looks as though Lab have much less to lose by the softest of exits.

    Of course it’s also possible that the DUP were promised the UK would remain in the customs union as an unpublished part of their agreement with the Cons.

    BTW, one reason for getting automodded is too many hyperlinks in a post [2 is safe] otherwise it can be naughty words hidden inside innocent ones.

  43. Neither of these polls look quite right to me. Survation showing just 1 voter for Plaid, which is a bit odd. Subsamples also very strange (Scotland has tories over 40% and lab on 17%), even more than margin of error might suggest. Also showing quite a small lead for lab in 18-34, and also a net swing from lab to tory as opposed to every other poll so far since the election. And then theres 54-46 to remain, which I don’t quite believe as someone who voted Remain (admittedly, I am someone who voted Remain but were the referendum held today I’d probably vote leave, so perhaps that’s my bias coming through). Even more surprising given the headline VI – if people were beginning to fall out of love with Brexit, why would you swing Tory?! But we should watch thie space…

    Then there’s the Opinium poll, which has UKIP on 5%, with quite a lot of 2017 tory voters going (back?) to them. Not sure I believe that either. Perhaps this is because the poll is online – online polls historically have given UKIP higher shares. But UKIP have been almost entirely out of the picture since the election, if anything I would’ve expected UKIP to fall further.

    Seems to be an emerging mode effect, with phone being more pro Tory and online being pro-labour. Very provisional at the moment, though.

    These results to me just don’t look like great sampling, and I think the survation poll would benefit from a higher sample size. As a poster above said, these results are largely consistent within the margin of error of a labour lead of 2-3 points. I suspect that’s where they are. There’s also the possibility that, having the fieldwork one day later, the divisions in Labour being exposed on the afternoon of the 29th were somewhat taken into account in Survation but not Opinium.

    I wish survation would put out a poll with 5000 sample size like Panelbase. That’ll really help us see what’s going on.

  44. In Roman days, when a general was given a triumph, a slave would whisper in their ear throughout, “Remember you are but dust.”

    I think the same should be true of modern politicians who wallow in a sense of triumph when they have not achieved anything. First Theresa May, and that did not turn out well. Now Jeremy Corbyn is in a position of unaccountable and sudden popularity on no actual achievement.

    I agree their Brexit plan is canny – if the aim is turn things round with plausible deniability.

  45. @Analyst
    Could it be that Kippers who were denied a candidate in the GE are fantasising they would have one if the GE was tomorrow?

  46. Britain Elects? @britainelects 24m24 minutes ago
    The latest polls:

    Survation: Con +1
    Opinium: Lab +6
    Panelbase: Lab +5

    Lab range: 40 – 46
    Con range: 39 – 41

  47. The Britain Elects tweet was cheating. The Panelbase is from 21 June!

  48. If the Tories [in turmoil] are polling around 40% then they are quite a long way from being “doomed”.


    [You can’t be prop’ly ‘umble if you insist on a F…………………………]

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