Archive for the 'Boundary Reviews' Category


BONUS PB/Polling Matters podcast: What do the boundary commission proposals mean?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

On a bonus episode of the Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley is joined by Professor Ron Johnston from the University of Bristol to discuss the Boundary Commission’s proposals this week for reforming parliamentary constituencies in Westminster. Ron explains how it’s all done, the potential implications if the current proposals are adopted and what happens next.


The planned new boundaries give CON 40 more seats than LAB for the same national vote shares

Monday, July 30th, 2018

GB vote split C38/L38/LD10 on new boundaries: CON 40 seats ahead

This makes Corbyn’s task much harder

One of the big political developments that could have a huge impact on the outcome of the next general election will come in the next two or three months when the final report of the Boundaries Commission comes out.

Under what was agreed by Parliament seven years ago the number of MPs will be reduced from 650 to 600 and each constituency will be about the same size in terms of the number of voters.

For this to come into effect there needs to be a simple vote of the House of Commons and given that the DUP are not, as in earlier plans, going to be penalised then there must be a good chance that this will go through.

The above seat projections are by using the excellent calculator in Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus. They are based on what could happen if the country voted at the next election with Labour and the Conservatives on 38% each and the Lib Dems on 10%. I chose these numbers because they were the shares in the Ipsos and YouGov polls that came out at the end of last week.

    The critical thing here is that the Tories benefit so much more with a significant bias in its favour.

Even without the changes the Tories now benefit most from the system. Without the new boundaries the Baxter projection is that the Tories would be 21 seats ahead on the same 38% vote share as LAB.

About a month before Mrs May made her ill-fated decision to call the 2017 general election I wrote that there was little chance that she would go early because the benefits of the boundary changes were so favourable to the Conservatives that she would want to wait for these to be in force. Alas my prediction about there not being an early election proved to be wrong.

The big question now is whether Mrs May will seek to push the new boundaries through the Commons in the autumn and whether she will succeed. We cannot assume that all Conservative MPs will be happy with the proposal because of the reduction in the overall number and the fact that some might have to fight with neighbouring MPs in order to retain a place in the Commons.

But the gains for the blue team are so great and provide a very comfortable cushion against the prospect of a Labour victory.

Mike Smithson


UK Special Elections Super Thursday 1 : February 15th 2018

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Higham Ferrers on Northamptonshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,414 (57% -3% on last time), Lab 557 (22% +3% on last time), Lib Dem 336 (13% +2% on last time), UKIP 109 (4% -6% on last time), Green 81 (3%, no candidate last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 857 (35%) on a swing of 3% from Con to Lab

Higham Ferrers, Lancaster on East Northamptonshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 611 (56%), Lib Dem 244 (22%), Lab 189 (17%), Green 33 (3%), UKIP 22 (2%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 367 (34%), no swing due to unopposed return last time

Worstead on North Norfolk (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 509 (73% +40% on last time), Con 118 (17% -25% on last time), Lab 73 (10% -2% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -13%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 391 (56%) on a swing of 32.5% from Con to Lib Dem

St. Pauls on Tendring (UKIP defence)
Result: Con 378 (38% +11% on last time), Ind 160 (16%), Ind 134 (13%), Lab 114 (11% -2% on last time), Lib Dem 79 (8% no candidate last time), UKIP 71 (7% -30% on last time), Green 70 (7% no candidate last time)
Conservative GAIN from UKIP with a majority of 218 (22%)
Total Independent vote: 294 (29% +7% on last time)
Swing: 2% from Ind to Con (20.5% from UKIP to Con)

Ruxley on Epsom and Ewell (Residents defence)
Result: Residents 398 (37% -8% on last time), Con 340 (32% unchanged on last time), Lab 264 (25% +11% on last time), Lib Dem 67 (6% -3% on last time)
Residents HOLD with a majority of 58 (5%) on a swing of 4% from Residents to Con

Carterton South on West Oxfordshire (Con defence)
Result: Con 388 (63% +1% on last time), Lib Dem 146 (24% +18% on last time), Lab 83 (13% +2% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -15%, No Green candidate this time -6%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 242 (39%) on a swing of 8.5% from Con to Lib Dem (8% from UKIP to Con)

Chudleigh on Teignbridge (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 575 (41% +28% on last time), Con 564 (40% +7% on last time), Lab 262 (19% +4% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -15%, No Independent candidate this time -25%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 11 (1%) on a swing of 10.5% from Con to Lib Dem (26.5% from Ind to Lib Dem)

Dawlish Central and North East on Teignbridge (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 1,287 (71% +48% on last time), Con 535 (29% -1% on last time) (No Labour candidate this time -15%, No Green candidate this time -15%, No Independent candidate this time -17%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 752 (42%) on a swing of 24.5% from Con to Lib Dem

Grassmoor on North East Derbyshire (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 459 (49% -10% on last time), Con 368 (39% +22% on last time), Lib Dem 111 (12% no candidate last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -24%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 91 (10%) on a swing of 16% from Lab to Con (7% from UKIP to Lab)

Armthorpe on Doncaster (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 1,431 (75% +34% on last time), Ind 466 (25%, no candidate last time) (No Conservative candidate this time -22%, No UKIP candidate this time -29%, No Green candidate this time -9%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 965 (50%) on a notional swing of 4.5% from Ind to Lab (actual swing: 31.5% from UKIP to Lab)

Holgate on City of York (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 1,521 (50% +23% on last time), Lib Dem 982 (32% +19% on last time), Con 334 (11% -8% on last time), Green 203 (7% -9% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -12%, No Independent candidate this time -9%, no other party candidate this time -4%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 539 (18%) on a swing of 2% from Lib Dem to Lab (15.5% from Con to Lab)

Halton Castle on Halton (Lab defence)
Result: Lab 522 (70% unchanged on last time), Ind 133 (18% no candidate last time), Con 88 (12%, no candidate last time) (No Lib Dem candidate this time -8%, no UKIP candidate this time -17%, no other party candidate this time -5%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 389 (52%) on a notional swing of 9% from Lab to Ind (8.5% from UKIP to Lab)

Morecambe North on Lancashire (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,332 (49% -14% on last time), Lib Dem 809 (30% +22% on last time), Lab 580 (21% -1% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -7%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 523 (19%) on a swing of 18% from Con to Lib Dem (6.5% from Con to Lab)

Bonnybridge and Larbert on Falkirk (SNP defence)
First Preference Vote Count: Con 1,088 (32% +8% on last time), Lab 813 (24% +8% on last time), UKIP 35 (1% no candidate last time), Green 124 (4% unchanged on last time), SNP 1,295 (39% +5% on last time) (No Independent candidates this time -22%)
Swing: 1.5% from SNP to Con
SNP HOLD on the fifth count

Summary of votes cast, share, seats won and change on last time
Conservatives 7,558 (33% unchanged on last time) winning 5 seats (-2 seats on last time)
Labour 6,868 (30% +4% on last time) winning 4 seats (unchanged on last time)
Liberal Democrats 5,145 (22% +12% on last time) winning 3 seats (+3 seats on last time)
Scottish National Party 1,295 (6% +3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Independents 893 (4% unchanged on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Green Party 511 (2% -4% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Resident’s Association 398 (2% -3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
UKIP 237 (1% -10% on last time) winning 0 seats (-1 seat on last time)
Conservative lead of 690 (3%) on a swing of 2% from Con to Lab

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


What the proposed new boundaries would mean if Britain voted as in latest ICM poll

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The Electoral Calculus projection based on proposed boundaries

And the Electoral Calculus projection on current boundaries

Over the next couple of years the boundaries review is going to become a major issue. The final proposals are almost there and to show the effect of them I have taken a projection, based on yesterday’s ICM poll, from Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus based on the old boundaries and compared them with the new.

As can be seen the Conservatives do better with the new boundaries and will be closer to an overall majority. The big question is whether the House of Commons will approve the changes which come to it later on in the year.

A big issue is what was originally the Cameron plan to cut the number of seats by 50. This results in more potential losers amongst those sitting MPs who might worry about having to fight for a seat against neighbouring MP in areas where the number of seats are being cut back.

For many MPs this may be that their livelihoods could be at stake.

In the meantime the existing boundaries, the ones on which the 2010 General Election was fought, are increasingly becoming out of date.

What is interesting is that under both the new boundaries and old boundaries the Tories do better in terms of seats and on the same percentage vote than Labour.

As I have repeatedly highlighted here of late we have moved on from a situation where the boundaries favoured the red team to one where they favour the blue – something that is accentuated by the changes. The issue with Northern Ireland looks as though it has been resolved and the DUP remains the top party in the province.

Mike Smithson


Tories are aping DTrump when they claim the electoral system’s rigged against them

Friday, December 29th, 2017

The Telegraph’s making a fool of itself

I know it is the holiday season and all that with political news thin on the ground but the Telegraph should have looked at the basic numbers from GE2017 before inferring that somehow the electoral system is rigged against the Tories and for Labour.

This might have been true after GE2005 when Blair’s LAB won 55% of the seats with 35.2% of the votes but things have moved on since then. The basic fact from June 8th is that the Tories won 48.9% of MPs with 42.4% vote while LAB won 40.3% of MPs with 40% of vote. The LDs secured 1.8% of MPs with 7.4% of vote.

    Under the current boundaries the Tories would win 13 more seats (out of 650) than Labour if they both get 42% and there is a uniform swing. Under the proposed new boundaries, the gap increases to 37 seats out of 600.

Those basic numbers point to the opposite of what CON ministers and the paper is suggesting.

One of the political problems the Tories have got with this is that under the current proposal the DUP looks set to lose three seats to Sinn Fein becoming the second party in Northern Ireland.

TMay’s “supply and confidence” partners are not going to do anything that supports a plan that would negatively affect them. Without the DUP’s votes it will be a struggle getting this through the Commons.

So please no whinging. This is naked political self interest by the Tories.

Mike Smithson


DUP lose 3 seats in new boundary proposals to put it behind SF

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

This isn’t going to be popular with TMay’s supply & confidence partners

Well done to Martin Baxter for getting his boundaries projection out so fast. His figures showing what would happen if they’d been in force on June 8th have the Tories just into majority territory but with the DUP suffering in Northern Ireland.

It is for this reason perhaps more than any why this plan is unlikely to happen.

But the law reducing the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 is still in place and would require primary legislation to change it. Whether the Tories will do that is hard to say.

There are other big legislative fish that need to be fried at Westminster before the boundaries need to be dealt with.

Mike Smithson


To add to the febrile political mix – next week’s boundary changes cutting 50 MPs

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

One thing I think is for sure – there’ll be no move to remove the diminished TMay next week. MPs will be mostly focused on the position their own seats and the impact of revised boundary plans.

Although not implemented in 2015 the law reducing the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs is still in force and the Boundary Commission has been going through the process of redrawing the boundaries with the aim of bringing them up to date and implementing the reduction in the size of the Commons.

The plans drawn up for the 2015 election and not used have been outdated.

Inevitably there will be some winners – sitting MPs who’ll see their patch becoming even safer and some losers – those who could see their time in Parliament being terminated.

In these matters MPs tend to look first at their own individual situation rather than what’s best for their party or even the country.

A danger for Mrs.May is that it could create a group of disgruntled Tory MPs who might feel they have nothing to lose in helping to curtail her political career.

    An even bigger danger for the government is what is proposed for Northern Ireland. The earlier proposals had it that the DUP would end up with fewer MPs than Sinn Fein – something that might change their view of their support for the minority Tory government.

Wales is particularly hard hit by the changes losing a quarter of its 40 MPs.

The reduction in the number of MPs was enacted six years ago during the coalition but the original boundary changes were not implemented. The LDs blocked the move in retaliation for the backbench Tory rebellion on the progress of the House of Lords reform Bill that would have made it into an elected chamber.

It is possible that the final plans don’t get through the Commons or that the law is changed to keep the House at it current size.

Mike Smithson


As the DUP prepare to back CON on the Queen’s speech here’s the implied GE17 result under new boundaries

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Electoral Calculus

Will Team Arlene vote to make them Northern Ireland’s 2nd party

One of the issues likely to come up next year is the boundary review and the reduction of Commons seats from 650 to 600 MPs. Martibn Baxter of the Electoral Calculus has produced the above projection of the implied GE17 based on the latest proposals. I thought it timely to publish this given that the DUP will be voting with the Tories this evening ensuring the successful passage of the Queen’s Speech.

As can be seen Baxter’s implied result has the current top dogs in NI politics, the DUP slipping back to seven seats while Sinn Fein see an increase to nine.

Given the contentious nature of the boundary review which has to be approved by the Commons I wonder what the DUP will do.

Can’t see the DUP being very happy.

Mike Smithson