Would 600 equal seats have helped the Tories most?

Would 600 equal seats have helped the Tories most?


Country/area Before After Change
England 533 503 -30
Scotland 59 52 -7
Wales 40 30 -10
Northern Ireland 18 15 -3
UK total 650 600 -50
English regions
Greater London 73 70 -3
South West 55 53 -2
West Midlands 59 54 -5
North West 75 68 -7
North East 29 26 -3
Yorkshire and Humber 54 50 -4
East Midlands 46 44 -2
East of England 58 57 -1
South East 84 81 -3

But would it be more fair than the status quo?

BBC2’s Newsnight is carrying a feature tonight on the impact of the coalition proposal to reduce the number of Westminster seats from 650 to 600 and to make them of equal size.

The main conclusion is that if the 2010 elections had taken place with these changes in force then the outcome would have been that the Tories would have been six seats short rather than the nineteen.

The LD would have lost 12% of seats – seven of 57. Labour would have lost 10% – 25 of 258, and the Tories 4% – 13 of 307, the estimates show.

The study was carried out by a body called Democratic Audit and the reports that we’ve got only give limited information about their methodology.

In May, of course, the Tories ended with a 7.1% margin over Labour and fell nineteen seats short of a majority. Five years earlier Labour had a margin of just three points and finished with an overall majority of more than sixty seats.

The central issue, surely, is that if the current system is retained then Labour could win a majority with a 2.7% vote lead while the Tories require 11.2%. What will be the new split?

It would be interesting to see if the Democratic Audit approach is applied to other previous elections apart from just May 2010.

UPDATE: I got my sums wrong when I first wrote this and have now corrected it.

Mike Smithson

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