UPDATED: The 91 seats where the Liberal Democrats came second in the general election (or The Sunday data workshop experiment continues…)

Thank you all for your excellent comments to my earlier post, pointing out the errors in my spreadsheet!

I see it as an experiment in community data creation!

My main problem is that I did not screen out seats with a large Nationalist element, mainly in Scotland.

So I have weeded all that out and I am now down to the generally accepted 91 seats.

This time, as suggested by Geoffrey Payne, I have ranked them by the (majority/total votes)/2 % to give the “swing needed”, with the smallest %age at the top.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in General Election.


  • Andrew Daer 27th Jan '20 - 8:17am

    Also of interest are the 33 seats where Labour came second, and our vote was greater than the Conservative margin of victory; had we (admittedly with the benefit of hindsight) stood down in those seats, the Conservative majority could have been much reduced.
    Under PR we would undoubtedly have a coalition government and Brexit would have been cancelled – which is the wish of the British people, according to polls. Fighting a FPTP election we each had the unenviable task of using our single vote to try to engineer enough Labour MPs to stop the Conservatives – but not too many, which would have given Corbyn an undeserved victory. As canvassers we had to try to influence voters to help us in this task, although in many cases we didn’t know ourselves what we were trying to achieve. In places like Cheltenham it was easy because we were either going to come a close second or win, and pro-EU Labour supporters had an easy choice (although too few got the message, and we came second).
    In places like Kingswood we were always going to be a distant third and Labour a pretty distant second, so encouraging Lib Dem supporters to vote Labour was pointless. Between those two extremes there were places where the choice was agonising; admit we stood no chance and help Labour, or cling on to a hope of winning. In many of the seats where our vote would have pushed Labour ahead we stood no chance ourselves. In Thornbury and Yate, which was a realistic target seat at the outset, we were too late switching our canvassing to nearby Cheltenham.
    However, although we can now see we got a lot wrong, gaming the FPTP system on the hoof is a nightmare, and is something people in a mature democracy shouldn’t have to do.

  • Andrew Daer 27th Jan '20 - 8:29am
  • It is often assumed that if the Liberal Democrats stood down their votes would go to Labour. Is there any evidence that this is what happens or would happen ? I do not think so but there is some evidence that many Labour voters switch to the Liberal Democrats if they have a much better chance of beating the Conservatives although Labour never withdraws its candidates.

  • Peter Hirst 27th Jan '20 - 5:10pm

    We will still need to hang on to those who came over to us from Labour and win over some soft Tories to win these Conservative seats under our present electoral system, not an easy task. An important question will be how important it will be to differentiate ourselves from Labour. This will differ according to the specific characteristics of that seat.

  • Richard Underhill. 4th Apr '20 - 4:36pm

    There are two major factors which will probably not be repeated next time.
    One) The incredible economic policies of Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow chancellor
    Two) The BREXIT issue
    Three) Boris Johnson’s promise to reduce higher rate income tax.
    Four) Labour have elected their leader and shadow leader. We should not have our leadership election until Labour have come to their senses, so let us do it now.

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