UK Election Numbers

I have swiped some facts to digest from UK Twitter people I follow. I give RBCers four data points and invite any chewing over of them and the election more generally in the comments.

Fact one: Below the headlines, The Greens and Lib Dems increased the breadth of their appeal.

• Green vote rose in 389 seats and fell in 20

• Lib Dem vote rose in 568 seats and fell in 41

Image result for british voting

Fact two: the magnitude of the Tory win over Labour is understated by the seat count. Here are the constituencies in which the Tory vote went up by at least 5000:

Mansfield +8092; North Norfolk +8044; Thurrock +7915; Leicester East +6383; North Devon +5962; Bassetlaw +5463; Cannock Chase +5318; Dudley North +5066. In contrast there isn’t a constituency in the entire country where the Labour vote increased by at least 5000.

Here are the seats where Labour lost 9500 votes or more: Finchley & Golders Green –9595; Jarrow –9657; Falkirk –9786; South Cambridgeshire –9876; Barnsley E –9951; Doncaster N –9971; Leicester E –10026; Barnsley Central –10178; Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford –10971; Wentworth & Dearne –11805; Bassetlaw –13402. Again, this contrasts sharply with the Conservatives who had no seats with such a massive vote loss (Their worst was -5098 in Maidenhead).

Fact three: In 1997, the UK conservatives had a dreadful election, garnering only 30.7% of the vote. But they have increased their vote share every election for 6 elections in a row. Here is a trivia question for politics nerds: has any other party in the developed world had this kind of run in the past quarter century? I can’t think of one, but the hive mind may know what I don’t.

Fact four: 220 of the just elected MPs are women. This 34% female representation is the largest in British history.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

10 thoughts on “UK Election Numbers”

  1. From the school of real-men-in-diners journalism comes an unusually interesting report in the Guardian on Sedgefield, a Durham former mining constituency once held by Tony Blair with massive majorities and now taken by the Tories.

    The report confirms the pretty well-established fact that Corbyn’s personal unpopularity had a lot to do with it. More interestingly, the ex-miners singled out Corbyn’s quasi-pacifism. This isn’t absolute (not a position I share, but that deserves respect), but Corbyn has opposed pretty much every military intervention in his political life: the Falklands, Gulf War I, Kosovo, ISIS, along with the far more dubious Gulf War II, Libya and Syria. In short, he was perceived as unpatriotic. This should not be a real risk with any of the Democratic candidates for the US Presidency, though the GOP and Fox will make stuff up anyway, as with Dukakis.

    1. Not singing the national anthem would have gone down badly in much of the Midlands and the North. As in the US, there’s a notable split regarding national pride/patriotism between large cities and the rest of the country.

      1. Highly probable in 50 years … though the path from here to there is not clear. There may be twists in the narrative yet.

  2. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland former kingmakers the DUP were punished by losing 2 seats.
    From 11 Unionists & 7 Nationalists , NI now has 8 Unionists, 9 Nationalists & 1 Alliance (cross community). Of 4 Belfast seats, only 1 is Unionist. The DUP leader at Westminster Nigel Dodds lost his seat.

    Too much should not be read into it. Two of the Nationalists are moderates who will take up their seats, unlike Sinn Fein. It was a rebuke to the more extreme parties who have not maintained the power sharing institutions.

    All is not yet over as the DUP still call Johnson’s Agreement a Betrayal as he promised no Irish Sea border. It is still not clear as contradictory messages were heard during the campaign.

    The DUP can just join the list of Irish Parties let down by a British leader.

    1. I know you follow these things closely so I am curious: Do you think that 50 years from now, Ireland will be unified?

    2. The DUP asked for it. It was understandable, if negligent, in 2016 for English-based political parties and pundits not to foresee the trouble that Brexit would get into in Ireland because of the Good Friday agreement; but the Union is the central issue in Northern Irish politics for both Unionists and Nationalists. A little thought would have shown them that the status quo on Europe was by far the safest place to be. The DUP should have vetoed Theresa May’s Article 50 notification when they had the power instead of voting for it, trusting her assurances. She did not betray them, but her successor did, as was always a possibility.

      1. It was even worse … the DUP hailed Johnson as the better Unionist, and undermined May. And thet feted the main Tory Leavers .. though their own voters had chosen Remain. They took a billion pounds in investment and power in Westminister over the wishes of the NI electorate. It was perfect Hubris.

        On top of that, when the Tory majority shrank, Westminister extended gay marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland, something the DUP had been able to prevent for years.

  3. The UK has always been one of the most conservative countries in Western Europe, if not the most conservative. In many ways I think the Blair years were a bit of an outlier. The election result has not been that surprising.

    That the hard left political course that Labour chose under Corbyn wasn’t going to have mass appeal was also foreseeable; on top of that, I think the Labour leadership was still considered part of the London elites, also costing them votes on the left. Frankly, I wouldn’t have voted Labour if I could have, except strategically to avoid a Conservative win under Johnson.

    The state of the media in the UK is also pretty disastrous, but I don’t think that played a major role in this election. It is somewhat disheartening all the same. (I’m not just talking about partisanship; the bigger concern is probably their insularity and sometimes downright ignorance.)

    Scotland, as so often, turned out a bit different. The SNP has managed to establish itself as a credible center left party, moving into a place that Labour vacated. I wouldn’t read too much about a will for independence into these results; it’s simply that Scotland is significantly to the left of England. They’ve been able to keep both the Conservatives and Labour relatively small as a result, but I think that’s mostly because a majority of Scottish voters simply like center left politics.

    (Of course, the increasing political gap between Scotland and England is likely to continue to result in frictions.)

    1. Blair was a strange figure, now rejected by his own party, a party he led to three general election victories. Somehow Labour threw out the baby with the bath water & lost its electoral touch after his departure.

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