20 May 2024
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Conservatives retain banished Boris Johnson’s old Commons Seat

Malcolm Mackerras
1 August 2023

On Wednesday 5 July Switzer Daily published an article by me titled ‘Both Starmer and Sunak might well be happy about “Super Thursday”’ . The article was published with a photo of a smiling Sunak and this editorial description: “Peter Dutton will have a good night on Saturday 15 July when the Fadden result comes in. Five days later there will be British by-elections that will test both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer”.

I follow up that article beginning with giving the Fadden statistics over the three elections contested on the present boundaries. For both Australia and the United Kingdom, I am assuming readers accept my statistical methods, fully explained in my earlier article:

Fadden, May 2019

Stuart Robert (Liberal)                                 62,387 votes                     64.18%

Liz Stanton (Labor)                                      34,825 votes                     35.82%

Fadden, May 2022

Stuart Robert (Liberal)                                 64,126 votes                     60.63%

Letitia Del Fabbro (Labor)                           41,645 votes                     39.37%

Fadden, July 2023

Cameron Caldwell (Liberal)                        56,225 votes                     63.35%

Letitia Del Fabbro (Labor)                           32,523 votes                    36.65%

Before I proceed to the British by-elections, I thank correspondent Andreas 99 for his two corrections to my factual statements. My records (and Switzer Daily’s records) fully accept his corrections, together with my promise that this article has been fully fact-checked. Anyway, my predictions were as follows: Somerton and Frome, Liberal Democrat gain from Conservative, Uxbridge and Ruislip South, Labour gain from Conservative, Selby and Ainsty, Conservative retain. So, three Conservative seats were predicted by me to be given away by the voters on the basis one each to the three main English parties.

In my article I averred that Sunak would emerge from the event “reasonably happy” at knowing his party had retained one of its three seats. Towards the end I speculated that “if perchance” the Conservatives retained two seats “there would be great joy at Number 10 Downing Street.” So, here are the statistics:

Somerton and Frome, December 2019

David Warburton (Conservative)                    36,230 votes     68.04%

Adam Boyden (Liberal Democrats)                17,017 votes     31.96%

Conservative majority                                     19,213 votes

Somerton and Frome, July 2023

Sarah Dyke (Liberal Democrats)                    21,187 votes     67.55%

Faye Purbrick (Conservative)                         10,179 votes     32.45%

Liberal Democrats majority                            11,008 votes

So, the swing to the Liberal Democrats was 35.6% in Somerton and Frome. Note that a two-to-one conservative vote majority has been reversed to a two-to-one Liberal Democrats vote majority.

Selby and Ainsty, December 2019

Nigel Adams (Conservative)                          33,995 votes       71.04%

Malik Rofidi (Labour)                                    13,858 votes       28.96%

Conservative majority                                     20,137 votes

Selby and Ainsty, July 2023

Keir Mather (Labour)                                     16,456 votes          57.24%

Claire Holmes (Conservative)                        12,295 votes          42.76%

Labour majority                                                4,161 votes

So, the swing to Labour was 28.3% in Selby and Ainsty. Note that the biggest 2019 Conservative majority of the three seats has been over-turned.

Uxbridge and Ruislip South, December 2019

Boris Johnson (Conservative)                        25,351 votes           58.29%

Ali Milani (Labour)                                        18,141 votes           41.71%

Conservative majority                                      7,210 votes

Uxbridge and Ruislip South, July 2023

Steve Tuckwell (Conservative)                      13,965 votes           50.90%

Danny Beales (Labour)                                  13, 470 votes          49.10%

Conservative majority                                          495 votes

So, the swing to Labour in Boris Johnson’s old seat was only 7.4%. Of more interest to me, however, is that the average swing to Labour in the two constituencies of Conservative-Labour competition was 17.8%. Now, my readers will understand why I find that interesting – because when I write about Australian general elections, my predictions always rely on the Mackerras Pendulum with the caveat that “the deviations from uniform swing can be relied upon to cancel out.” Here is the perfect British case of it. If the swing to Labour had been uniform, I would then have correctly named all three wining candidates - but I now must content myself by saying that I was correct only in predicting that the Conservatives would retain one seat, while each of Labour and the Liberal Democrats would gain one formerly safe Conservative seat.

Super Thursday has turned out to be a far more interesting event than anyone expected. Rishi Sunak has not been in residence to see great joy descend upon Number 10 Downing Street, but he still wears a smile as broad as that of Peter Dutton – albeit undeserved in both cases, as I now explain.

In 2015, towards the end of his term as elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson brought in a scheme known as the “Ultra-low Emission Zone” or Ulez. It meant that vehicles were to be charged on the basis of their emissions. Initially it applied only during daytime hours and in central London. That was later updated to 24 hours a day and extended to a wider area. Then the current Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, decided to expand Ulez to the whole of Greater London from late August. Ulez is primarily an anti-pollution measure, designed to reduce the high number of deaths from vehicle emissions, though it should help combat climate change as well. Ulez has also proved highly lucrative and raised 224 million pounds in city revenue in 2022.

That was a gift to Conservative climate change deniers, who can always be relied upon to assert that Conservatives should not join the “climate change alarmism” of the left. Another hefty Labour-Greens tax on commuters and the poor down-trodden working class! If I had been 100% correct in my predictions, Sunak would have been on the defensive. Instead, it is Starmer. His reaction has been to criticise Sadiq Khan and to assert that “the Labour Party is doing something very wrong if its policies end up on each and every Tory leaflet”.

In my factual mistakes and reliance on “cancellation of deviations” to claim success I should, perhaps, shut up – but I have no intention to do so. Therefore, I predict that on Thursday 21 September, equinox day, there will be a by-election, in the Scottish SNP constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West which Labour will take from the Scottish National Party. I plan to write another detailed statistical article for Switzer Daily as that event approaches.

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