How much of the Left is left? Crunching the election numbers.


There could be more of an appetite for progressive leadership than you think – and stay at home voters could have swung the election. Here’s the maths.

Yesterday our writer Stuart Davies called for those on the left to set aside their despair. He claimed there is still a desire in the country for a coalition of progressive parties. He said that the Tory minority was as precarious as a little baby chick trying to cross the M25. A baby chick with a heart as black as tar, of course.

We wanted to follow that up with a look at the statistics.


Apathetic Labour voters could have skewed pre-election polls, says Ipsos MORI.

Preliminary number crunching of the available election statistics suggests the vote share for “parties of the right” was 50.9% at the GE. Parties on the left had a 48.6% share.*

Add those two numbers together and you may notice a 0.5% discrepancy – and that was shared among other much smaller parties and independents whose allegiances we can’t identify. None of the 0.5% won a seat.

In terms of parliamentary seats its more decisive with 343 parliamentary seats on the right vs 307 on the left.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that our Stuart was wrong.

Ideologically, are we saying that there is no appetite for progressive leadership just because the stats are neck and neck? Does that appetite magically dissipate at 49%? Does it disappear at 44.7% ( not coincidentally the vote share for Scotland’s Yes campaign)?

Well – no. More than half the electorate don’t prefer the government we have. 65% of the voting public put their cross in other boxes. More importantly, almost half of the electorate voted for parties to the left of the government we now have.

Lazy Labour

If those numbers still make you think that all is lost and the progressive left should roll over and go back to sleep for five years, Ipsos MORI published some interesting stats this week that might help change your mind.

Ipsos MORI predicted an overall turnout of 82% before the election – the actual turnout was 66%. That turnout translates to 16% fewer voting than the polls predicted – which is 6% outside the standard deviation for such polls. A huge anomaly.

An interesting thing happens when you revisit those polls. They were actually much closer to being right that you might have assumed.

The actual number of people who turned out to vote Green, Lib Dem, SNP – even Ukip – matched with what Ipsos MORI predicted (with a deviation of just 1.5%).

The problem was with their prediction of Labour and Conservative turnout.

3 million people who Ipsos MORI expected to vote Labour, didn’t. The polls predicted 11.3 million would turn out to vote Labour. Only 9.3 million did. The Conservatives had fewer voters too – but only 1.2 million fewer.

That means a potential 3 million people who could have voted Labour, stayed at home…


Lets play with the numbers a little more here, shall we? And, yes, this is a bit fast and loose -but it’s really only to show how close we were to getting a centre-left majority on Thursday the 7th of May, 2015.

15,630,269 people voted for parties of the right; Conservative, Ukip, DUP etc. 14,929,562 voted for parties of the left; Labour, Lib Dem, Green and so on. The divide, as we’ve seen before is 50.9% on the right to 48.6% on the left.

What happens if we add Ipsos MORI’s 4.2 million missing voters back in? The 3 million extra who said they’d vote Labour and the 1.2 million who said they’d vote Tory?

The percentage flips to 48.2% on the right and 51.3% on the left (again, allowing for a deviation of 0.5% to “others”).

If that’s the sort of thing that makes you think centre-left values are still worth fighting for – those figures are a bit more decisive.

Whichever way you look at it – we now have a country divided between a Southern right and a Northern left, and a government with a very precarious mandate set to deliver a series of policies that look more and more extreme with every announcement.

Lets hope the kids who stayed away from the polls treat this as a wake up call. Your vote does make a difference, whatever Russell Brand told you.