GE2019

Comparing #GE2019 and #GE2017

A lot of the the Python and R data skills work I’ve been doing over the last year or two have used the UK General Election 2017 dataset as a basis (I subset the data to include only English seats). When you are building your skills it’s good to use a dataset that you are very familiar with so you can easily spot when you have made mistakes.

So I have had quite sometime to look at this and although the outcome of #GE2019 is depressing (I’d been hoping for a hung parliament with moderates and pragmatists holding the balance of power), I have been prepared to see a Tory majority for quite sometime, and furthermore, it was fairly obvious to me where in particular the Tories were likely to break through (see the first table below).

The above visualisation shows four UK regions, three of which were significant battlegrounds. In contrast to London (where the Labour vote generally held up and where they even gained a seat from the Conservatives in Putney), the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East saw significant swings to the Conservatives. Just look at Yorkshire and Humberside and all those red dots on the right (2017) either turning blue or crashing into the sub 5k majority territory, and a similar but slightly less catastrophic picture in the NE (with almost all the seats that Labour did manage to retain, now firmly in the 5-10k range). In the West Midlands the picture is also very bleak for Labour, they lost many of their 2017 sub-10k majority seats, and are now staring up at large numbers of Conservative held seats where they would need to turn over 10k+ majorities to win. How easy will these seats be to win back at #GE2024?

Many of the new Tory seats are down on their luck post-industrial towns with lots of older white voters who were very keen on Brexit. My thinking is that the new Boris Johnson government is going to have to break hard with tradition when it comes to tax and spend (or sharply increased borrowing) to turn many of these places around. How his government manages this as the impact of #Brexit begins to impact negatively on the economy (see final table), is anyone’s guess. In the early days, they seem to be already scratching their heads, and talking about the north of England as if they have discovered some kind of lost tribe.

Here are the places the Labour party just about hung on in. A similar pattern here, largely post-industrial places that have largely been by-passed by the growth and prosperity of the pre-2008 phase of globalisation (ended by the global financial crash), and which have been doubly hammered by the impact of all the austerity measures imposed since.

My final thoughts are that it’s an interesting choice for the voters of many of the above seats to back the party that presided over such deep cuts to public spending (that hurt less prosperous parts of the UK proportionately more), and I also detect remarkably little curiosity as to the precise mechanisms by which GBD (‘Getting Brexit Done’) is going to improve the financial lot of ‘left behind’ places. All the evidence is that the parts of the UK that are best-placed to weather the effects of Brexit are London and the South-East, damaging though it will be for those areas too.

I’ll leave this here, but it’s clear that there’s a rough ride ahead for the UK.

Source: HoC Briefing Paper CBP-8451