British psephology; Newly created seats

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The latest Guardian poll shows the Conservatives ahead of Labor by a 40 percent to 30 margin, with 22 percent for the Liberal Democrats. British politics is back to normal: From the 1960s to the 1990s the party in power trailed in the polls most of the time, as I have previously noted. Here's one prediction...

British psephology

The latest Guardian poll shows the Conservatives ahead of Labor by a 40 percent to 30 margin, with 22 percent for the Liberal Democrats. British politics is back to normal: From the 1960s to the 1990s the party in power trailed in the polls most of the time, as I have previously noted. Here's one prediction of how the seats would break if the popular vote were the same as the results of the Guardian poll. Conservatives would have 345 seats, an absolute majority, Labor 218, and Liberal Democrats 55, a gain of 131 for Conservatives and a loss of 129 for Labor and 5 for Liberal Democrats. Here's the map of the results. Note that southeastern England outside of metro London is almost entirely Conservative blue-as it was after the Thatcher and Major victories in 1983, 1987, and 1992. This is the part of the country where people accumulate wealth: Median housing values in most of this area are well over £200,000, or more than $400,000 American. (I explored this divide in these 2002 pieces on British politics.) Wales and Scotland are mostly Labor, as is the north of England. In these regions government accounts for something like 40percent of GDP. Northern Ireland is not included; it has its own separate parties, running along sectarian (Protestant/Catholic) lines. But note that British elections are almost never won by a 10percent popular vote margin; the New Labor victories by nearly that margin in 1997 and 2001 were very much the exception. If you allot the parties the average percentage they won in July 6-August 20 polls (Conservatives 37.18 percent, Labor 32.59 percent, Lib Dems 20.86 percent), Labor wins 290 seats to Conservatives' 278, with 50 for Lib Dems.

This election prediction website also has a feature on the 2006 boundary changes of constituencies. In Britain the boundaries are set by a commission, which hears arguments from all parties; in the past Labor has done a much better job of gaming the commission than have the Conservatives. But demography takes its toll: Old industrial Britain is losing population; affluent southern England is gaining. As a result, the website estimates that if this plan had been in effect in the May 2005 general election, Conservatives would have won 16 more seats and Labor 9 fewer, with 2 fewer for Liberal Democrats and 1 fewer for the Welsh Nationalists. The redistricting creates 12 new seats with no incumbent. Watch who the leading party picks in those seats: Tony Blair won a newly created safe Labor seat in 1983, when he was the last Labor candidate to be selected. History might have turned out very differently if Blair had not won a motion to place him on the short list by a vote of, as I recall, 20 to 18.

Newly created seats

This list of 12 newly created seats provides a rare opportunity for prospective parliamentary candidates to get selected for a winnable seat that has no incumbent.

New seat Party Implied Majority Region
Wyre and Preston North Con 7,684 Lancashire
Derbyshire Mid Con 77 East Midlands
Kenilworth and Southam Con 5,835 East Midlands
Broadland Con 5,686 East Anglia
Northamptonshire South Con 8,641 East Anglia
Witham Con 6,116 Essex
Filton and Bradley Stoke Lab 2,471 West
Chippenham Con 5,795 West
Chelsea and Fulham Con 7,121 North London
St. Austell and Newquay Lib 5,039 South West
Devon Central Con 1,206 South West
Meon Valley Con 5 South