article date 15/12/19

It may sound an odd suggestion. There have been a lot of suggestions that the failure of tactical voting by opponents enabled the Conservatives to win, but what do the figures from past elections tell us?


In fact  anti- conservative tactical voting worked better than it has done in almost any past election.  In the past between 4 and 8 thousand people have voted Green or Labour. When the combined vote for these two parties has gone down to four thousand then the Liberal-Democrats have always won in the past.

There will always be people who will find the Lib-Dems impossible to vote for under any circumstances and if their favoured parties did not stand, would probably not vote at all.  Figures from past elections suggest that the Lib-Dems were as successful as they possibly could be this time in persuading people to vote tactically.

Certainly, from the number of leaflets they put round they cannot be accused of not trying hard.

But they still lost.  Why?

The last time the Labour and Green vote was this low in 2010, the Lib Dems got 26 thousand votes.  So where did the other 2,000 go?.

It could be that these votes were personal to Norman Baker, who was a high profile figure.

But it is also interesting that the combined Conservative/Ukip vote has gone up, from 17 thousand in 2005, 20 thousand in 2010, to 24 thousand in 2015, to 27 thousand in 2017, falling only a little bit in 2019.

However the Lib Dem vote has never since matched the heights of 2010.

The number of people eligible to vote between 2005 and 2017 went up by five thousand, so it is possible that a large number of right wing people have moved into the constituency.

But it is also possible that a significant number of  people who had voted Lib-Dem ceased to do so once Brexit became an issue, because they were in favour of Brexit and the Lib-Dems were not.

In future

It is almost certain that the government will adopt the recommendations of the boundary commission to separate the northern half of the constituency, including Lewes and Ringmer, and put it in with Uckfield.  Seaford and Newhaven would go in with other constituencies.  (Kemp town in the case of Newhaven)

So this looks to be the last election for this constituency. It is rumoured that Nus Ghani would be the Conservative candidate for Lewes-Uckfield and the Maria Caulfield would fight Kemp Town.



Conservative 26 thousand

Lib-Dem         24 thousand

Labour and Greens 4 thousand


In 2017 the Greens stood down to give the Lib-Dems a clear run, but Kelly-Marie Blundell was unable to win the seat for them. Ukip also stood down. Here is the voting:

Conservatives          27 thousand

Lib-Dems                   21 thousand

Labour                       6 thousand

Labour did not campaign in this election. They only stood a candidate because Labour rules require each constituency to stand a candidate. This is expected to be the case in any election this year.


In 2015 sitting Lib-Dem MP Norman Baker lost his seat.

Here are the voting figures

Conservatives 19 thousand

Lib-Dems       18 thousand

Ukip                5 thousand

Labour and Greens 8 thousand

The Conservative vote hardly increased compared with the previous election, but the Lib-Dem vote fell by 16%, probably because the Lib-Dems had entered into a coalition with the Conservatives.


Voting figures in the 2010 general election

Lib-Dem         26 thousand

Conservative            18 thousand

Labour and Greens 4 thousand

Ukip                2 thousand

It is widely believed that there was substantial tactical voting by voters who might otherwise have voted Green or Labour

Both Greens and Labour campaigned actively in this election.

You can see full details of all the results here




Voting figures in the 2005 general election

Lib-Dem         24 thousand

Conservative 16 thousand

UKIP               1 thousand

Labour and Green 5 thousand

Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand

Results for all recent parliamentary elections in Lewes can be found here

article date 15/12/19