What a difference a year makes! Who would have thought this time last year that:
- David Cameron would not be Prime Minister (or even an MP).
- George Osbourne would be an editor of a newspaper and shortly wouldn't even be an MP.
- The UK would vote to leave the EU.
- And of course, a certain former TV host would be the President of the United States of America.
We're in a new era of politics, and this could be shaken up more with the outcome of the forthcoming French Presidential Elections. The announcement of an unexpected General Election by the Prime Minister for June 8th will undoubtedly lead to significant change with the after effects of the Brexit vote still very much in people's minds.
This blog will briefly review the 2015 General Election, the Brexit vote and Opinion Polls to provide some narrative around the upcoming Election and point to key battlegrounds for all parties.
** Health Warning - I have had a keen interest in politics since my school days, however that does not make me a political expert. This blog post will be based primarily on the data I have identified as being useful, snippets from genuine political experts and also some opinions from me. It will also focus on the mainland U.K. constituencies as our N.I. politics is a bit different to what they have on offer. **
2015 General Election
The best place to start is briefly reviewing the 2015 General Election. In terms of vote share the Labour Party actually outperformed the Conservative Party, (1.5% increase vs 0.8% increase), however the first past the post system does not take vote share into consideration. So, in terms of seats, the Conservatives made a net gain of 24 whilst Labour lost 26 seats, primarily due to the significant growth of the Scottish National Party who, made a net gain of 50 seats (40 from Labour). Apart from Labour, the biggest losers of the election were the Liberal Democrats who lost 49 seats, likely due to their role in the previous coalition government.
The below shows the swing from the main respective parties for each Constituency; you can sort by the swing amount or constitutency by simply clicking the column header. If you sort the Labour to SNP column you'll see a series of unprecedented swings, a massive 39.3 in Glasgow North East as an example
2016 eu referendum
As part of the Conservative Party's manifesto in the 2015 General Election a referendum was proposed on the United Kingdom's membership with the European Union. As we all know Vote Leave won, David Cameron fell on his sword and the outcome has effectively brought the next General Election forward by 3 years. The below chart shows the leave % per constituency.
2017 General election
We're weeks away from the General Election and based on the unpredictability of recent polls it's obviously difficult to say with absolute certainty that the next government will be another Conservative one. However, a recent YouGov poll (20th April) suggested that the Conservative's have a 24 point lead which is clearly significant 7 weeks before the election.
An article on 20th April suggested that all sitting MP's for Labour with less than a 5,000 majority would be at risk of losing their seat. Looking at the seats that fall into this criteria and comparing the Brexit Vote Leave % it is interesting to see the seats that they are at risk of losing.
Looking at the above there are 42 constituencies that voted Labour in 2015 and also voted Leave (greater than 50% for Leave) and these are seats that may be under threat from the Conservatives. Conversely, there are also seats that have a small Labour majority and voted to largely Remain. Due to an unclear position on Brexit from the Labour leadership these seats may be attainable targets for the Liberal Democrats who have performed well in recent local by-elections.
The YouGov survey, mentioned above, reinforces the above analysis, with 13% of those who voted Labour in 2015 saying they would vote in 2017 for the Conservatives and an additional 13% saying they would now vote for the Liberal Democrats. The most significant change from 2015 is that 42% of people who voted for UKIP in 2015 said they would vote for the Conservatives in 2017; compared to just 7% who would now vote for Labour. This suggests that:
- A lot of people see UKIP as a one policy party (i.e. Vote Leave won now let another party deliver it).
- The Conservative vote share in 2015 was impacted by UKIP.
- Labour are in BIG trouble.
Another indicator of what the general election outcome may be is to look at the opinion polls, (although they haven't been as reliable in recent years). These paint another bleak picture for Labour. You can see below that in 2015 (prior to the last General Election) the 2 main parties were neck and neck but since then the gap has been getting wider and wider. You can click into individual years to see the annual trend.
So with my political hat on and finger in the air these are my predictions (for what they are worth)
- Conservatives - 43%
- Labour - 26%
- Liberal Democrats - 13%
- Green Party - 5%
- UKIP - 4%
- SNP - 5%
- Others - 4%
Number of Seats
- Conservatives - 382
- Labour - 175
- Liberal Democrats - 23
- Green Party - 2
- UKIP - 0
- SNP - 47
- Others - 3
As a data junkie I'm certainly looking forward to the election, although for the sake of the public's sanity, a couple of years without a significant election would probably be advisable after this one.
- Vote Leave % EU Ref Data - https://medium.com/@chrishanretty/the-eu-referendum-how-did-westminster-constituencies-vote-283c85cd20e1
- 2015 General Election Results - http://www.data.parliament.uk/dataset/general-election-2015