A reminder. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a To The Point post on the “real vote shares” achieved by the winning parties at general elections. Its point was that, if you count all registered voters and not just those who actually vote, support for the victors has almost halved over the past 60-odd years. In 1951, over 40 per cent of all registered voters backed the Conservative Party into government. In 2005, only 21.6 per cent did likewise for Labour. This is the consequence of declining turnout and less support for the two main parties.
An update. I’ve now updated the graph that I produced for that post to include last week’s results. You can see it above. It shows that the Conservatives won only 24.3 per cent of all registered voters to gain their majority. Around 15.7 million of these registered voters didn’t vote. 30.7 million did vote. And 11.3 million gave their votes to the Tories. Do the maths, and you arrive at that 24.3 per cent figure.
It’s worse in Scotland, obvs. 24.3 per cent is, of course, for the nation as a whole. If you perform similar calculations on the results from Scotland, only 10.6 per cent of registered voters support the Conservatives north of the border. This gap may be unsurprising, but it still ought to be sobering. In 1951, the equivalent number was 39.4 per cent.
Three-quarters to fight for. Why bother with non-voters when the final election count doesn’t? Because it better captures the public’s enthusiasm for those in power. As it stands, only about a quarter of all potential voters are sold on the Conservative government – and much lower in some regions. As Paul suggested yesterday, Britain may be conservative, but it isn’t necessarily Conservative. The fight continues.