Comparing the Labour and Conservative “Surges”

There’s been a lot of talk about the “Labour surge” and I blogged about it yesterday. In an attempt to avoid a narrow view of the election I decided to look at this from the other side: the “Conservative surge”. Yes, there was one, and it has been lost in the chatter about the very impressive Labour surge.

First some facts. The Labour vote share went up an impressive 9.5 points. But what many people, especially Labour supporters miss is the Conservative vote share went up a not insignificant 5.5 points.

The most interesting thing to do is to compare the surges for each party. To do this I’ve produced two graphs of the top 50 surge seats for each party (I modified the Labour surge graph I did yesterday). Note both are to the same scale to make comparisons more meaningful. They are shown below.


02 lab surge seats


02 con surge seats


What do they tell us?

The top 50 Labour surge seats had a total of 579,000 extra votes whereas for the Conservatives the top 50 surge seats generated 421,000 extra votes which is more than a quarter fewer than the Labour surge generated.

Despite generating fewer surge votes, the Conservatives made them count more as they produced more gains for the party and they ate into more Labour majorities. Conversely, the Labour surge votes predominantly increased existing Labour majorities, made fewer gains and ate into fewer Conservative seats.

With fewer “surge” votes the Conservatives have made them achieve more.

The Conservative surge graph should be up on the wall at Labour high command as it shows the seats where the Conservatives have either won seats from Labour or made a major dent in the majorities.

The common factor with these seats is that they are nearly all “post industrial communities”. No doubt the Labour message enthused young people and those living in metropolitan cities but Labour need to ensure that they can enthuse the post industrial communities too.


Ravi Subramanian is a full-time trade union official for UNISON; amateur maths, physics and technology geek; and now retired soul/funk/jazz/hip-hop DJ. So you can perhaps, unsurprisingly, expect posts on trade unions, politics, maths, science, technology, data and music. And maybe a few other things too.

Ravi blogs at: More Known Than Proven


  1. Bob Smith says:

    They have been rumours of Conservative Facebook campaigns in marginal seats. Could this have been the difference in the ability to target their increase in votes –

    • Andy Howell says:

      Very possibly. If you want to know more about this read Tim Shipman’s book on the EU referendum — “All Out War” This is a fascinating book and should be required reading for leftie politicos. He deals in some depth and authority with the use of Facebook and new media campaigns. Fiona (whatsit) who worked for May left to work on the ref and then came back to work with May — until she had to resign!

      It doesn’t seem likely, but Shipman has written a really interesting book.

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