What is a marginal seat?
The UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system of electing its MPs. This means that a general election is really 650 local elections, all being held at the same time. The UK is divided into 650 ‘seats,’ or ‘constituencies.’ Each of these elects one Member of Parliament, the one who gets the highest number votes out of all the candidates standing in that constituency. Most constituencies stay with the same party, election after election. These are generally called ‘safe’ seats. Most of the people living in a safe seat have similar views to each other. They tend to vote the same way, decade after decade. Only a few seats tend to change hands in an election. These are the ones with a more balanced mix of viewpoints among the voters. In some of these seats, it only takes a shift of a few dozen votes for the seat to ‘fall’ – i.e. to change hands. These are called the ‘marginal seats.’ The parties put most of their time, effort and money into these seats, because these are the ones that can be easily won or lost.
Therefore, if you live in a marginal seat, politicians take much more notice of your views. For example, after the 2010 election the Conservative Party held the seat of Warwickshire North with a 53 vote majority over Labour. The Conservatives knew they could lose this seat very easily at the next election. Therefore, Conservative politicians tried very hard to please the people In Warwickshire North. Labour, too, wanted to woo these people, because only a few of them would have to change their allegiance for the next Labour candidate to win the seat. This website has been designed to help voters everywhere work out how marginal their constituency is, and which parties are most hotly contesting it. The database that feeds the information to this site was designed by us at justsolutions, from information obtained from the Electoral Commission. Use the links below to search the database and find out which seats are most likely to fall in the next election, and who the likely winners and losers will be.