The post election analysis suggests the Tories could dominate for the next decadeby Peter Kellner / May 15, 2015 / Leave a comment
With only a small amount of luck, and unless they behave stupidly, the Conservatives have not only won this year’s general election: they should win the next one, too.
Arithmetic underpins this analysis. Across England last week, there was a 1.4 per cent swing from Conservative to Labour—the latter performed well in its city strongholds of London, Manchester and Liverpool where it piled up votes. Had this swing been repeated in every seat, Labour should have gained 19 seats and lost none. Only in London did the party’s performance in Tory marginals match the national swing. Elsewhere, in the seats that mattered to Labour, there was a significant swing to the Conservatives. As a result, take away London, and the Tories gained more seats from Labour (eight) than they lost (six).
This was partly because of the “sophomore surge”, of which I have written before: Conservative MPs elected for the first time in 2010 did better than other Tory MPs. They enjoyed an average swing of 1.5 per cent to them. As they occupy almost every Tory seat that Labour was targeting, their success made the difference between a minority and majority Conservative government.
Looking forward, one consequence is that there are fewer marginal Conservative seats than normal. This will help the Tories next time: a small adverse swing will not lose them many seats. Indeed, one of the truths of the past two decades has been reversed. It used to be said that Britain’s political geography favoured Labour; if the two parties won the same number of votes, Labour would have more MPs.
Not so now. The Conservatives achieved a 6.6 per cent lead across Britain last week in the popular vote. A 3.3 per cent swing to Labour would bring the two parties to parity in votes, but leave the Tories with around 40 more MPs on the current boundaries. (Seat-parity would require Labour to regain every seat it lost to the SNP. Hands up all those who think that’s likely.)
That’s not the end of the Tories’ good-news arithmetic. David Cameron will now revive his plans to redraw parliamentary boundaries and reduce the total number…