Over 100 seats haven’t changed hands for 100 years or more

Doug Cowan, Head of Digital

Posted on the 3rd June 2024

We often hear that politics is unpredictable, that anything can happen in the upcoming election – but the reality is that hundreds of seats across the country haven’t changed hands in decades. While the MP might change, the rosette colour stays the same. Hundreds of seats have even been in the same party’s hands for over a century.

Based on our new analysis, it is 45 years since the average constituency last changed hands. Incredibly, 247 seats have been held by the same party for 50 years or more. Of those, a shocking 111 seats have been held by the same party for 100 years or more.

Constituency boundaries do change, so where there have been changes over the years, we have sought to find previous constituencies that best match the area covered by the current constituency.

Find out when your seat last changed hands →

Welcome to drive-through country

This has a real impact on the attention paid to voters in these seats. As the general election campaign ramps up, you might think that all the parties will be trying to win your vote.

Elections should be about the whole country. But under Westminster’s rotten First Past the Post system the focus is reduced to the handful of ‘swing seats’ that change hands between parties.

But this year, as usual, the campaign buses will just drive straight through the seats that never change – more focused on voters that live in seats that are likely to change hands.

Our whole political system is based on the needs and desires of people that live in seats that parties think they might win – or could lose.

When huge parts of this country are effectively competition-free zones, these ‘safe’ seats leave voters demoralised and ignored time and again.

Millions of voters ignored

Millions of voters live in these one-party ‘fiefdoms’. More than a quarter of seats in Parliament, 179 (28%), have been held by one party since World War II and 247 (38%) have been held for 50 years or more.

The Conservatives hold  94 seats which have not changed hands for 100 years or more, whereas it’s 17 seats for Labour.

We shouldn’t have to settle for this, no party should be able to take their voters for granted.

An uphill battle to change your MP

In the South East of England, where it is now 75 years since the average seat changed hands, millions of people have not seen any change in representation in their lifetime. Of course, there have been big changes in how much support each party receives in that time, but Westminster’s First Past the Post system can see big changes in how people vote, but no change in their MP.

This is because the strength of parties in parliament is not based on how popular they are, just which one is in the lead in each constituency. Whether an MP wins with a majority of 30 or 30,000 it makes no difference in Westminster. Neither does it matter if that majority represents 25% of the voters or 75%.

With trust in politics in at rock bottom, it is imperative that we address the distrust and alienation being caused by the current unfair Westminster voting system.

The next government must bring in a fairer proportional voting system to ensure every that every vote counts and parliament accurately represents the way the whole country voted.

Look up your seat to find out when it last changed hands →

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