Opposition cooperation in a minority of seats can remove Tories from power

New constituency-level analysis of polling across England reveals cooperation between opposition parties in a minority of English constituencies would be enough to remove the Conservatives from government at the next election.

The data shows that fielding unity candidates between Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens in 154 battleground constituencies in England would relegate the Conservatives to just 254 of 533 seats in England, making it impossible for them to form a government, and leaving them 40 seats short of a majority even if they were to hold their 20 Scottish and Welsh seats and gain the support of the DUP’s 8 MPs.

(Chart 1: Change in seat share in England between the 2019 UK General Election and our MRP analysis prediction for an election in which Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Greens work together)

Senior Conservatives at risk from alliance

The move would also result in high profile electoral casualties for the Conservative party. In this scenario Jacob Rees Mogg would see a dramatic reversal of fortune in North East Somerset, losing by 2 percentage points compared to his previous 26-point margin of victory, Iain Duncan Smith would lose Chingford and Woodgreen by 3 points after winning it by just 2 percentage points at the last election, and Dominic Raab’s 4-point victory in Esher and Walton is transformed into a 4-point defeat. A unity candidate would also make for a close race in the Prime Minister's own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip where his lead narrows to just 3 points compared to 15 in the last election.

Chance for fairer system

The Labour Party would only need to step back in 26 seats where the Liberal Democrats have greater support. Regardless of whether or not the Liberal Democrats withdraw, there are 15 seats where the Green Party standing aside flips the seat from a projected Conservative win to a Labour win, including Tony Blair’s former seat of Sedgefield. Whether or not they can be persuaded to do this will depend on Labour’s willingness to deliver a fairer voting system in government.

The polling also dispels claims that Lib Dem voters are as likely to back the Tories if they are left with a choice between Labour and the Conservatives. The data shows less than 20% of Lib Dem voters would back the Conservatives in the average English constituency with 40% going to Labour. Similarly, Labour voters are overwhelmingly likely to back Lib Dem or Green candidates where the choice is between them and the Tories.

Naomi Smith, Chief Executive of Best for Britain a campaign group for the election of a more internationalist government said:

“In 2017 and 2019, parties on the right chose not to fight each other in key marginals, and will likely to do so again. This polling shows that opposition parties must do the same as non-aggression pacts only won’t cut it and there is no other route to power.

“Refusal by Labour and the Lib Dem leadership to cooperate, form government, and deliver change is failing the people and communities these parties seek to represent.

“In 1997, Labour’s NEC and the Lib Dem higher-ups, chose not to stand against the anti-sleaze candidate Martin Bell who beat the Conservative MP embroiled in scandal. Sleaze and corruption are back with a vengeance and opposition party cooperation should be too.

“As the saying goes, you can’t fatten a calf on market day and work to coordinate this strategy needs to begin now.”

Previous polling from Best for Britain, published in May 2021 shows that around 63% of people want like-minded parties to work together at election-time, rising to 70% support among Labour voters.

Such cooperation would only be necessary for one election if a new government introduced voting reform for future general elections because first past the post structurally favours the Conservatives.

The poll

This constituency-level analysis is based on a Number Cruncher Politics online poll of 12,816 UK adults, fieldwork 2nd to 17th August 2021 and further multilevel regression and post stratification (MRP) analysis by Focaldata for Best for Britain Ltd. With further analysis by Best for Britain. The work is based on current constituency boundaries because the new boundaries have not yet been published.

Constituency results mentioned above can be viewed as a data tables here.