167 -Judgment Day Pt 2, the election

There is, a weekend after the election, a lot of rage at the number of votes required nationally to gain a seat in Parliament. The figures bandied about are often fundamentally wrong, since you cannot count votes for a party in constituencies where they did not stand. The SNP is the most obvious candidate. Constituencies vary in size around a median value of around 70,000 voters. See here. The SNP gained 56 seats out of 59, collecting 1454436 votes on a 71.1% turnout   

It has taken significant time to rearrange the results to allow me to discover what I want to know. I assume that those producing results have an intended structure for their results. I found the results in a spreadsheet but it is not quite in a form I can use; three days of pounding the keyboard later...

Here we go:

What I call the Apathy Party, all the people that did not vote, had majorities in 346 of the 650 constituencies. I noticed. in putting in the data, that generally UKIP came 2nd or 3rd and the Greens and LibDems were 4th and 5th. The typical result has an Independent 6th.

National turnout was 66%, i.e. 30698210 out of 46444321. maximum 81.9% (Renfrewshire East) minimum 46.1% (Manchester Central) StDev 5.6%. Total voting was:
15746111 people cast no vote, a mean of 24225 per constituency.
11334505 Con contested 647, so a mean 17518 per constituency and 34243 per seat won
9347326   Lab  contested 632, mean 14790 /const, 40290 / seat won
2413229   LibDem contested 632, mean  3818/const, 301654 / seat won
6867293   UKIP contested 631,  mean  10883/const, 6867293/ seat won
1454436   SNP contested 59, mean 24651 /const, 25972 / seat won (lowest)
1149810   Green contested 570, mean  2017/const, 1149810/ seat won

If we were to look at votes per seat. then that must count votes cast in seats that were contested, so the SNP can only be counted in seats across Scotland among Scottish voters.

Wales: voters 2282297 voted 1498433 [65.65%] seats 40:       votes & seats by party follow
Con   votes 783864 seats 11 contested 40   71,260 /seat 
Lab    votes 408213 seats 25 contested 40  16,328 /seat
Plaid  votes 177080 seats 3   contested 40  59,027 /seat
Green  votes 38344 seats 0   contested 35
UKIP votes 204360  seats 0   contested 40
LibD    votes 97783  seats 1   contested 40
Wales elected the Labour party, 62.55 seats, 37% vote.

Northern Ireland is from habit quite different, politically.

Voters 1236683, voted 718103 for 18 seats. 12/18 had under 60% turnout, 5 under 55%, only one over 61%. This tells us something about politics in Ulster (I’m not sure what, but something). Labour and the Liberal Democrats contested no seats here.

Didn’t vote won 17 of 18 seats (not Fermanagh, UUP. 72.6% turnout).
DUP         votes 180913  gained 8 seats contesting 16, 25.2% of the Ulster vote
Sinn Fein votes 176232  gained 4 seats contesting 18, 24.5%
SDLP       votes   99809  gained 3 seats contesting 18, 13.9%
UUP         votes 118282  gained 2 seats contesting 15, 16.5%
UKIP        votes   18324  gained 0 seats contesting 10, 2.6%
Con          votes     8640  gained 0 seats contesting 15, 1.2%
Green       votes     6822  gained 0 seats contesting  5, 1%
Alliance    votes   61556  gained 0 seats contesting 18, 8.6%
Others      votes   47110  gained 0 seats contesting 13  around 6%

This is a good example of what 1st past the post does; the DUP gained four seats more than Sinn Fein with around 1% more of the national vote. The Alliance party gained no seats at all. The region elected the DUP, 44% of the seats on 25% of the vote

Scotland had, as we all now know, almost a whitewash, with 56/59 seats to SNP. Voters 4094784, voted 2910465 for 59 seats. Turnout was 71%, where  2 had under 57% turnout, 9 over 75%, one over 80%.

SNP       votes 1454436  gained 56 seats, contesting 59
Con        votes   434097  gained 1 seat, contesting 59    - Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale
Lab         votes  707147   gained 1 seat, contesting 59     - Edinburgh South
LibDem   votes  219675   gained 1 seat, contesting 59     - Orkney & Shetland
UKIP       votes    47078   gained 0 seats, contesting 59
Green     votes    47086   gained 0 seats, contesting 28
Others     votes     9009   gained 0 seats, contesting 37
Didn’t vote       783864; Not voting ‘won’ only 7 seats in Scotland.

The first past the post system favours a two-party system and is sensitive to small changes in the middle ground. The SNP gained 50% of the vote (the votes cast) and 35.5% of the electorate - as if those who voted for independence voted SNP while the rest voted for something else. Under all proportional representation systems this would still give an absolute majority in Scotland to the SNP. Nationally, the vote was 24% Labour, 15% Conservative, 7.5% LibDem and 3% split between UKIP and Greens.

Dividing England into its 9 regions, as uk.gov does, I note that these are uneven in size. The North-East is half the size of Eastern and a third of the SouthEast. ‘Eastern’ is a label inconsistent with the others.

East Midlands  Voters 3350769   voted 230402     for 46 seats. Turnout 66%: 3 under 60%, 7 over 71%
Con   votes    969379 won 32/46 seats,43.5% vote
Lab    votes    705676 won 14/46 seats, 31.6% vote
Lib     votes    124039  won 0/46 seats, 5.6% vote
UKIP  votes    351777 won 0/46 seats, 15.8% vote
Green votes     66239 won 0/39 seats, 3% vote
Other  votes       9968 won 0/24 seats.
Didn’t  vote   1120367 which  ‘won’ 21/46 seats

Eastern            Voters  4364656  voted 2948622   for  58  seats. Turnout 68%:
Con   votes  1445946 won 52/58 seats, 49% vote
Lab    votes   649320 won 4/58., 22% vote
Lib     votes   243191 won 1/58., 8.2% vote
UKIP  votes   473600 won 1/57, 16.1% vote
Green votes   116274 won 0/54, 3.9% vote
Other  votes     15201 won no seats, contesting 48.
Didn’t  vote   1416034 which ‘won' 21/58 seats

London            Voters  5401616  voted  3536291   for 73 seats. Turnout 66%:
Con   votes  1233378 won 27/73 seats, 34.9% vote
Lab    votes  1545110 won 45/73 seats, 43.7% vote
Lib     votes    272544 won 1/73 seats, 7.7% vote
UKIP   votes   286981 won 0/73 seats, 8.1% vote
Green votes   171652 won 0/73 seats, 4.9% vote
Other  votes     26268 won 0/56 seats.
Didn’t vote   1865325 ‘won' 31/73 seats

North East       Voters 1941841   voted  1188183   for 29 seats. Turnout 61%:
Con   votes  300883  won 3/29 seats, 25.3% vote
Lab    votes  557100  won 26/29 seats, 46.9% vote
Lib     votes    77125  won 0/29 seats, 6.5 vote
UKIP  votes  198823  won 0/29 seats, 16.7% vote
Green votes   43051  won 0/28 seats, 3.6% vote
Other votes    11201  won 0/15 seats
Didn’t vote   756658 ‘won' 18/29 seats

North West       Voters 5259569   voted  3364055   for 75 seats. Turnout 664:
Con   votes  1050124  won 22/75 seats and 31.2% of the regional vote
Lab    votes  1502047  won 51/75 seats, 44.6% vote
Lib     votes    217338  won 2/75 seats, 6.5% vote
UKIP   votes   459071 won 0/75 seats, 13.6% vote
Green votes   107889 won 0/75 seats, 3.2% vote
Other votes      24926 won 0/75 seats
Didn’t vote   1895514 ‘won' 18/75 seats

South East       Voters 6419548   voted 4394357    for 84 seats. Turnout 68%:
Con   votes  2268973 won 79/84 seats including the Speaker, with 51.6% of the regional vote
Lab    votes    804774  won 4/84 seats, 18.3% vote
Lib     votes    413587  won 0/84 seats, 9.4% vote
UKIP  votes    646959  won 0/84 seats, 14.7% vote
Green votes    226381  won 1/82 seats  - Caroline Lucas at Brighton Pavilion, on 5.2% of the vote
Other votes       32179  won 0/52 seats
Didn’t  vote  2025191   ‘won' 22/84 seats

South West      Voters 4076494  voted  2836213    for 55 seats. Turnout 70%: one over 75% 4 under 65%. Good turnout reduced the apathy vote to 19/55 seats. Like Midlands below, divided only between the two major parties, 64.2% of votes.
Con   votes  1319987 won 51/55 seats, with 46.5% of the regional vote
Lab    votes    501684  won 4/55 seats 17.7% vote
Lib     votes    428873 won 0/55 seats 15.1% vote
UKIP  votes   384546 won 0/55 seats 13.6% vote
Green votes   168130 won 0/54 5.9% vote seats but close in Bristol West
Other  votes     32871 won 0/35 seats, but Independent 3rd in Devon East.
Didn’t  votes 1240281 won 19/55 seats

West Midlands  Voters 4140587  voted  2628943   for 59 seats. Turnout 63%: 5 under 55%, 5 over 71%. Con & Lab polled 74.6% of the vote.
Con   votes  1098113 won 34/59 seats, 41.8% of regional vote
Lab    votes    865067  won 25/59 seats 32.9% of regional vote
Lib     votes    145009 won 0/59 seats  5.5% vote
UKIP  votes    412770 won 0/59 seats 15.7% vote
Green votes     85653 won 0/59 seats  3.3% vote
Other  votes     22331  won 0/32 seats
Didn’t vote   1511644 ‘won' 40/59 seats

Yorkshire & Humberside Voters 3875477 voted 2444143 for 54 seats. Turnout 63%: 2 under 55%, 6 over 70% (Nick Clegg’s LibDem seat topped this region at 75%). Didn’t vote won 42/54 seats
Con   votes  796792  won  19/54 seats, 32.6% vote
Lab    votes  956837  won  33/54 seats 39.1% vote
Lib     votes  174065   won  2/54 seats 7.1% vote
UKIP votes   382995   won  0/53 seats15.7% vote
Green votes   86471   won  0/47 seats
Other votes     38055   won  0/54 seats
Didn’t vote  1431334 ‘won’ 42/54 seats

Across England we elected the Conservatives with 41% of the vote against 31% Labour, 14% UKIP, 8% Lib Dem, 4% Green; not red&blue vote amounted to 28%.

What is not discussed here and which perhaps should be is the failure of referenda to produce results. Personally I blame the question posed every time. I do not understand why there must be only one question.

For example, on voting systems: do you want the system changed? Of the several possible Proportional Representation systems, do you have a preference? Would you like to indicate that preference 1,2,3,,, (of course it would have to apply some PR, wouldn’t it?).

On Europe: do you want the UK out of the EU? Do you want the UK to use the Euro? Do you agree with the stated objective of steadily increasing harmonisation? Do you want the UK to have the right to set some law in disagreement with EU government? and so on.

Just because these results would have some internal inconsistency does not make the questioning invalid. By asking more questions we, the general public, get to express more of an opinion. I am sick of the way an answer is spun to say something the answer did not say and I would like for those spun answers to have been specifically dealt with. If that means we have to have focus groups establishing what the questions should be, then I’m all for it. Let’s move politics into the 21st century and have people participating in an informed (not, please, an uninformed) way. That means that among the questions there are checks that the respondent is aware what they’re doing. That is heading to census material - well now,  there’s an idea not properly used. This is, I see, beset with political correctness - and that must be dealt with, too.

DJS    first draft published 20150512

the anniversary of an earthquake in Chengdu, 2008.

Following me posting this, the Guardian came up with this on 31st May. I imply a connection only accidentally. Connected, also, is a report form the Electoral Reform Society published today. Points made include a lot of repetition:

•   This was the most disproportionate result in our election history  
•    5 million votes for Green & UKIP resulted in two seats gained.
•    Labour vote share increased but lost loads of seats
•    Conservative majority on minority vote (well, the system is supposed to do that)
•    Lib Dem 8% of vote and eight seats retained
•    SNP 50% vote, damn near whitewash
•   FPTP is exaggerating the political differences of the different regions and nations of the UK, leaving many citizens unrepresented. 

The electoral reform society report is clearly biased towards change and must be read with that bias in mind.

The reformers want a system that produces seats in proportion to the national vote or to the regional vote. In a climate of multiple parties this is fair and just. It makes no guarantee that any MP behaves well at a local level.

I read a lot of complaint that the FPTP system has failed but nothing pointing to its strengths, nor to the weaknesses of the possible alternatives. The 2011 referendum asked us to support AV over FPTP when it could have asked whether we want reform. I continue to fail to understand why only one question is posed, as if the electorate is criminally stupid.

We may have returned to single party government for this Parliament but this does not mean a return to stability. Although it is early days, the government may well struggle to pass all its legislation with such a small majority and the Fixed Term Parliaments Act could leave it in the strange position of being unable to pass its legislative programme and yet prevented from calling another election.

The report agrees with my figures (of course it does, they’re figures). Some presentations are different, such as:

The number of MPs elected on less than 40% of votes doubled between 2005 and 2010 (55 to 111). In this election that trend went into reverse, with a mere 50 candidates elected on less than 40% of the vote. Yet some 331 of 650 MPs were elected without an absolute majority. Eight MPs won on less than 35% of votes cast, and one broke the record for the lowest winning share of the vote in UK electoral history, with 24.5%.

Worth reading is the result if cast under other voting systems, namely STV, List PR, AV and AV+. None of the tables download properly, not even if I download the pdf. You may be able to read these, but I can’t.

 I may need to write about different voting systems.

http://electionresources.org/uk/house.php?election=2015  summary results

I built my excel table and generated my figures from this source: http://electionresources.org/uk/2015.html United Kingdom 2015 General Election Constituency Results Data File (830 KB).

Email: David@Scoins.net      © David Scoins 2018