Calls for tactical voting and electoral reform as study reveals 200 seats have not changed colour since WWII

PUBLISHED: 10:36 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:15 02 December 2019

Nearly 14 million voters are in seats that have not changed hands since the Second World War, a study has found. Photos: PA / Wikimedia

Nearly 14 million voters are in seats that have not changed hands since the Second World War, a study has found. Photos: PA / Wikimedia

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Nearly 14 million voters are in seats that have not changed hands since the Second World War, a study has found.

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Almost 200 constituencies in the Commons have not changed allegiance since 1945, with the average seat in the UK having been won by the same political party for 42 years, new analysis by the Electoral Reform Society shows.

The data highlights one in ten of the 650 seats in the Commons - 54 Conservative and 11 Labour - have not swapped colour since 1918, with some having not changed since the 19th century.

Just 70 seats, 11% of the total amount, transferred to a different party at the last general election in 2016, the PA reports.

YouGov's MRP projection predicts 58 seats will change hands in the upcoming vote on December 12.

The Electoral Reform Society's research shows across the last three general elections, an average of 99 seats changed hands each time, representing 15% of seats switching colour.

According to the analysis, 192 constituencies have not changed hands since 1945 or earlier, affecting 13.7 million potential voters in the upcoming election if the trend continues.

The research gives a fresh reminder about the importance of tactical voting in this election, which could see senior Conservatives lose their seat and is considered one of the best ways to prevent a Tory majority.

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Former prime minister Theresa May and ex-transport secretary Chris Grayling's seats in Maidenhead and Epsom and Ewell respectively have been held by the Tories since 1874.

The analysis also shows the Tories have held seats for the most amount of time on average at 47 years, with Labour close behind at 45 years.

Constituencies in the Labour heartlands of the north-east of England and the Conservative "safe seats" of the south-east were found to be the least likely to change hands, with the average transitions 63 and 76 years respectively.

The average number of years since Liberal Democrat seats changed hands was much lower at eight years.

Dr Jess Garland, director of policy and research for the Electoral Reform Society, said: "We've heard often that politics is volatile and anything could happen in the coming election but even so, hundreds of seats across the country haven't changed party hands for decades.

"Huge parts of this country are effectively competition-free zones, with 'safe' seats leaving voters demoralised and ignored time and again."

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said the 2019 general election should be the last to be conducted under the first past the post voting system.

He said: "Being trapped with the same representation for decades is not the hallmark of a responsive and functioning democracy.

"With trust in politics at rock bottom and people desperately wanting to be heard, it's vital we bring our democratic structures into the 21st century.

"This election should be the last ever conducted under the rotten first past the post system that has shut so many voices out."

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