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The British Election result 2019

Written By: - Date published: 11:05 am, December 20th, 2019 - 21 comments
Categories: boris johnson, democratic participation, electoral systems, International, Jeremy Corbyn, MMP, Politics, uk politics - Tags: , , , , ,

The 2019 British election was held a week ago today. By now there has been considerable analysis of what happened and debates about what will happen next.

Having blogged throughout the election, I made a conscious decision not to make any comment in the initial days after. Sometimes a few days perspective can help give a clearer picture. It also means you can build on or critique the analysis of others.

A bit like a broken record, throughout this election I kept returning to the theme of the electoral system. I initially blogged about it a year ago. It remains in my view one of the more relevant elements of this and previous UK elections.

Looking at the 2019 election results and then compare these to voting numbers in previous elections, it paints a weird picture.

If we look firstly at Labour’s result. Labour has had its worst result in terms of seats in the House of Commons since the 1980s, getting only 202 MPs to the Conservatives 365. In terms of votes nationally this is how 2019 compares with the previous 4 elections:

Labour’s total national vote in 2019: 10,269,076

Labour’s total national vote in 2017: 12,878,460

Labour’s total national vote in 2015: 9,347,527

Labour’s total national vote in 20108,609,527

Labour’s total national vote in 2005: 9,552, 463 (Labour won a 3rd term in office this election)

So Labour, in terms of votes it received nationally had its second best election in 15 years last week. Yet the number of seats in the house of commons it won doesn’t reflect this.

Lets do the same exercise for the Conservative Party, who won this years election:

Conservatives total national vote in 2019: 13,966,565

Conservatives total national vote in 2017: 13,636,684

Conservatives total national vote in 2015: 11,334,226

Conservatives total national vote in 2010: 10,703,754

Conservatives total national vote in 2005: 8,784,915

The Conservative vote only increased by roughly 300,000 votes between 2017 and 2019, yet they gained 48 new MPs. More bizarrely, in the 2017 election the Conservatives Party increased support by over 2 million votes, yet lost their majority in the commons.

The Liberal Democrats didn’t shower themselves in glory this election, as I previously blogged. The Lib Dems won 3,696,423 votes nationally in this election, which equates to 11.6% of the vote. Yet in terms of MPs the Lib Dems now only have 11 out of 650 in the House of Commons. The Lib Dems vote increased by 4% since 2017, yet they return to parliament with fewer MPs. Contrast this the Scottish Nationalists, who won only 1,242,380 votes and 3.9%, but now have 48 MPs in the House of Commons.

The Conservative Party on 43.6% now have a strong majority in the House of Commons. In other words 56.4% of voters didn’t vote for this government, yet it has a whopping parliamentary majority. The Conservative Party got the most votes, and undoubtably won the election. But the large majority in the House of Commons they now enjoy does not reflect the true level of their support.

Votes per MP 2019
Poster produced by the UK Electoral Reform Society

But this is not a new phenomena in UK politics. In the 1997 general election Tony Blair’s Labour Government won 43.2% of the vote, yet got 418 MPs in the commons to the Conservatives 171 who in turn had won 30% of the vote nationally. In the following election in 2001 Labour’s lost 3 million votes, winning 10,724,953 votes compared with 13,518,167 votes four years earlier. However in the commons Labour had 413 MPs winning 40.7% of the vote to the Conservatives 166 and 31.7%.

Under proportional representation, it’s highly likely that Tony Blair’s Labour Government would have won the 1997 and 2001 General Elections, as likely would have Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government won in 2019. Point is, neither of these government deserve the majority the current voting system gave them. Further, it is difficult to morally justify a government having a strong majority when this majority does not truely reflect the votes it received.

Democracy is a precious thing, and not something that can be taken for granted. Having an electoral system where every vote matters is crucial to creating a decent society. It is time that the UK started seriously debating electoral reform and how to improve its democratic systems.

21 comments on “The British Election result 2019 ”

  1. Brian Tregaskin 1

    Thousands Of Misleading Facebook Ads did the trick–
    more so than negative MSM about Corbon

    more on how to do it here

  2. UncookedSelachimorpha 2

    Wow – that "votes per MP" graphic is amazing and tells a story!

  3. Freddo 3

    "It is time that the UK started seriously debating electoral reform and how to improve its democratic systems."

    Get Real. The UK did exactly that not very long ago, with a referendum in 2011, and decided to retain FPP by the whopping margin of 68% to 32%, and only 10 of the 440 local voting areas voted more than 50% Yes, for the proposed change. After that result there is virtually no chance of the UK changing its electoral system in the near or medium future.

    Interestingly, in that campaign, while most of the smaller progressive parties campaigned to change, Labour expressed no official preference either way, and the Communist party of Britain, the Socialist Workers Alliance, and the Northern Ireland Green Party all campaigned to retain FPP.

    • mac1 3.1

      Those last three minor parties obviously fancy their long-term chances. In 1916 in NZ the Labour Party was formed and took 19 further years to make it to the FPP government benches.

      In NZ, there had been for decades disgruntlement with FPP. Twice Labour polled more votes than National but gained fewer seats. (I don't believe that has happened in GB.) Parties like Social Credit at times gained considerable votes for little MP reward.(That is the case for GB).

      NZ now has locked in a form of representation that seems to be very coalition friendly; it's a far cry from the winner takes all approach that major parties seem to prefer under FPP.

      The game-breaker in NZ seemed to be the combination of Royal Commission followed by well-organised and passionate advocacy and finally two referenda.

      • DS 3.1.1

        UK Labour got more votes than the Tories, but lost the election in 1951. The Tories got more votes than Labour, but lost the election in February 1974.

        • mac1

          Thanks, DS. I am informed. The effect in NZ was to fuel a change in such an unjust system. Not enough for GB to do similarly, obviously.

          What else might there be that keeps GB away from a proportional representational system?

          For that matter, why does the US continue to have an archaic and unjust system of the electoral college for the presidency which produces similar results?

          • Andre

            A constitutional amendment would be required for the US to change away from the electoral college. To amend the constitution, first the proposed amendment must pass the House and the Senate by 2/3 supermajorities, then be ratified by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states (currently 38).

            Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Delaware (and Washington DC) all get 3 electors each when on a population basis they would only get one. Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island get 4 electors, but on a population basis would only get two. New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia get 5 electors, but would only get 3 on a population basis. Nevada, Utah, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Arkansas get 6 electors, whereas would get 4 on a population basis.

            That's an awful lot more than 12 states that have a way disproportionate influence in the electoral college compared to the influence they would have if it went on popular vote. There's no way they would give that up.

            • mac1

              Yes, it's the federal system.

              There is a similar system involved in the national AGM of a group I belong to whereby 70 odd associations each get two votes.

              Our association has nearly 6000 members, one tenth of the total national membership. We get two votes under this federal system. The smallest association has 20 members. It gets two votes.

              It is not fully democratic, and ends up with the small associations which don't pay the majority of the funding having the majority of the voting power as to how that money is used, along with all other decisions that AGMs make.

              When bad decisions are made, and incompetent, egotistical and irrational leaders are chosen, it is galling.

              And we are not one of the united states of a large and powerful country.

    • greywarshark 3.2

      That was 2011 Freddo. This is an age when a new computer is required to keep up with new technology and processes, each three years.

      And considering whether what I have observed is correct, that people are still placing all their ideas in a 20th century setting, there will be a number who would change their minds enough 8 years later, to produce different readings in 2019.

      One of the things that prevent people from seeing, adjusting and setting controls against excess in our ultra-modern reality is covered in this item about 'woke'ness.


      Divided by our race, gender and sexual orientation – it sounds like a bigoted society, but a controversial British author says it's what is advocated by tyrannical 'wokeness' where our differences are given higher priority than our sameness….

      Murray tells Kim Hill the book was an attempt to speak carefully and humanely but also honestly about some of the most divisive issues our time.

      “We’re not thinking about them very well. We’re getting into silos, we’re getting into factions. As a result, we’re in this strange position of pretending we know about things we don’t know about, and pretending to not know about things we all knew until yesterday.”

      • Freddo 3.2.1

        I'm certainly not suggesting the UK shouldn't change to something more proportional than FPP, I am just saying be realistic, it simply ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Eight years since a referendum on the matter, is far too short a period to try again, as it would have been even more so for a 2nd Brexit referendum now. Fifteen to twenty years is more like it perhaps.

        And my comment on a 2nd Brexit referendum doesn't indicate I am a Brexit supporter. I'm not, but referendum results on major constitutional issues, whether one likes the result or not, must be allowed stand for well longer than eight years, unless there is a truly extraordinary change of circumstances, which there is not around FPP in the UK, in my opinion.

  4. greywarshark 4

    This is another backward step for UK democracy.
    Voting: Could ID checks affect who participates in elections?



    Voter ID: Boris Johnson to make photo ID mandatory at polling …
    https://www.independent.co.uk › News › UK › UK Politics

    1 day ago – … to push through requirements for photo ID at polling stations – plans that … problem while ignoring more serious threats to British democracy,

  5. pat 5

    Votes UK election

    SNP 1.2 million

    Lib Dem 3.6 million

    Labour 10.2 million

    Conservative 13.9 million

    Didnt vote 15.6 million

    • greywarshark 5.1

      ID photos demanded at election booths would send that 15.6 million non-voters up exponentially.

  6. RedLogix 6

    Almost half the UK population, and a large majority of people under 40, still want to remain in the EU. Ireland will reunite, Scotland will exit; both will end up EU members. Johnson's Brexit in the meantime will be a catastrophic mess.

    This omnishambles has a long way to run. Mostly downhill.

  7. greywarshark 7

    The invitation by Chris Trotter – If you want to know why Clinton and Corbyn Lost watch this video.

    Bowalley Road might throw some extra light on the above.


  8. DS 8

    British Labour needs to embrace proportional representation for a much darker reason. As it becomes ever more the middle-class party of Remain, it will be facing a self-gerrymander under FPTP. Remember that Leave won 52-48, but won two-thirds of seats.

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