Archive for the 'UK Elections – others' Category

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There could be hope for CHUK yet because of being top of the ballot

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Never ignore the alphabetical bonus of being top

Above is a photograph of my ballot paper in Eastern region for Thursday’s election and looking at it there are some issues that might help or hinder the various parties.

I was with some old election hands in the pub at the weekend and we were discussing how ballot form order and and placing can actually have an impact on the final result. At the locals earlier in the month where I live there was a clear alphabetical benefit for those whose names in the local elections last week caused them to be nearer the top of the ballot.

We have many two-member wards in Bedford with the main parties each putting up 2 candidates. What was striking that in just about all cases the CON/LAB/LD/GRN candidate whose name appeared first secured more votes than the ones that appeared second.

This is a well-known electoral effect and might apply even more so on Thursday with the Euros. One of my drinking colleagues was making the case for CHUK simply because of its placing.

In the Euros we vote for party lists and not individual MEPs so the ballot paper is the list of official party names in alphabetical order.

If Farage’s party name had omitted the “THE” it would have been top.

Mike Smithson




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Putting Thursday into context – A look back at previous UK Euro elections

Monday, May 20th, 2019

From Sunil Prasannan

Well, just a few months ago, it seemed certain that, with a scheduled 29th March 2019 date for Brexit, the UK was done with EU elections for good. But, it looks like that we are in the EU for at least a few months more, so here we are! On the other hand, we are a political betting site, so what’s wrong with a full-blown nation-wide poll in 2019? The recent Local Elections (given that many cities and council areas didn’t vote in them) were but an appetiser for the coming battle!

Recent EU elections have actually been a poor guide to the winning party’s fortunes at the subsequent general election. In their regally purple heyday, UKIP under their ex-leader Nigel Farage won the largest share of the vote and the most seats at the most recent EU election in 2014, but their vote halved at the GE the following year, winning only one MP. By contrast, the Tories under David Cameron won the previous 2009 EU election, whilst they were in opposition, and then went on to become largest party at the 2010 GE, and the larger party in the ensuing Con-LibDem coalition. And in 2014, the Tories came a poor third, behind UKIP and Labour, but then went on to win an outright majority at GE 2015. However, Labour were the first governing party to come third in a EU election, in 2009, trailing the Tories and UKIP on vote-share, but equalling UKIP on seats.

The EU has only had a directly elected parliament since 1979, the inaugural election occurring just a few weeks after Margaret Thatcher’s Tories triumphed at the GE that year. In the EU election, the Tories won a record 48% of the vote, and then went on to win the 1983 general election, and a similar feat was achieved at the 1984 EU election, albeit on a reduced 39% vote-share, but they still won the 1987 election. Then in 1989, Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party obtained their first EU election victory, whilst in opposition, also on 39% vote-share, but fell below even their own expectations at the 1992 GE, losing to John Major’s Tories. Into the 1990s, with Labour still in opposition, but with Margaret Beckett as an interim leader in the wake of John Smith’s untimely death, they won the 1994 EU election, and then under Tony Blair’s leadership easily trounced Major’s Tories at GE1997.

But Labour to date have never won an EU election whilst in Government (unlike the Tories). In a rare moment of triumph for Major’s successor, William Hague, the Tories won the 1999 EU election, whilst in opposition, but in a near-repeat of 1997, lost heavily at the subsequent 2001 GE. 1999 was also the first year that proportional representation of the d’Hondt persuasion was used on mainland Great Britain. Two leaders on, under Michael Howard, the Tories also won the 2004 EU election, but then went on to lose to Tony Blair for the third GE in a row the following year.

So out of the eight EU elections we’ve had in the UK, the Tories have won five, two of those victories whilst in government, and three times whilst in opposition. Labour have won twice, both times in opposition, with UKIP winning the eighth, the first time ever for a party neither in government, nor the largest opposition party. Other fun facts include the Greens putting on their best show at an EU election in 1989, winning just under 15% of the vote (nearly double their 2014 score, for example), and on all eight occasions the LibDems scoring a lower vote-share than at each subsequent GE. Average UK turnout for Euro elections thus far is 33.8%, but there was a big blip in 1999, when turnout was only 24.0%, a record low for any EU member until 2009, when both Lithuania and Slovakia had lower participation (20.5% and 19.6% respectively).

As for 2019? Well, it seems from recent opinion polling that it’s nailed-on that Farage’s new Brexit Party will enable him to follow on from his victory leading his former party UKIP in 2014. It may well see the LibDems achieve their first ever runner’s up spot, as the electorate become ever more polarised. But it will be interesting to see how the big two (Labour and the Tories) will fare in Thursday’s battle, and all that augurs for future elections, and the future of their respective leaders.

 

Sunil Prasannan



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The locals – how the forecasters did

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

The actual was CON -1334, LAB -83, LD +703

The above table was produced by Oxford Professor, Stephen Fisher, and published on his site on the day before the locals. Now we know the results it’s very useful to see how conventional forecasting methods compared against what actually happened and is a good reference for the future.

The first two columns are by Stephen Fisher himself. It should be noted that Steven is one of the country’s leading political scientists and key member of the team behind the general election exit polls that have proved so accurate in recent elections.

The big message from this, I would suggest, is it put into context  Labour’s poor performance in the elections. All the expectation were that the party would make gains possibly quite substantial. Not even Fisher’s range embraces going into negative territory which is what happened.

To come out with seat losses at this stage in the Parliament against all the predictions and the polling raise a lot of questions about how Corbyn’s team is actually doing at the moment. Even Lord Hayward, the Conservative’s polling expert, had LAB gaining at 300.

I get a sense that the activist base is finding it hard to cope with the direction of the party under Corbyn and the knowledge that he’s here to stay for as long as he likes almost irrespective of how LAB performs at elections.

One point from Fisher is that the areas covered by this year’s local elections voted Leave by 56% to 44% at the referendum.

Mike Smithson


 



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All the signs are that turnout is down markedly

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

My quickie Twitter survey

Earlier this evening I tweeted to ask is people had any sense of what turnout has been like in the locals. My feeling from telling in Bedford is that it is down by quite a bit.

These are some of the replies:-



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What better front pages for TMay on the day of the big local elections

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

She  comes over as decisive firm and tough

The conventional wisdom is that you don’t want negative stories about your party to be making the headlines on the day of any elections. Everything is about turnout, particularly with the locals, and all efforts should be made to ensure that your base and your activists are out there enthusiastically going to the polls and getting out the vote.

So I just wonder whether the very public sacking Gavin Williamson yesterday evening was part of a Number 10 plan to present the Prime Minister in a much more positive light.

There’s little doubt that over the last few weeks ahead of the elections that CON canvassers have been hearing a very similar message from their supporters on the doorstep. The process of trying to get the Brexit deal through Parliament has led to Theresa appearing indecisive and weak. What better way of countering that than to have her seem to be acting in a such forthright manner when the victim is not someone who is universally popular (remember the Private Pike jokes).

One thing we know about Theresa May is that she is very keen on local government. She is a former councillor herself and even as PM is known to regularly do door-to-door canvassing for local elections in her constituency. She must have been very aware that a very poor result tonight could be a trigger for a move against her.

My guess is that the Tories are still going to have a bad set of your local elections today but the scale of the seat losses that have been predicted might not come about. It doesn’t take much in low turnout elections for a little bit of extra enthusiasm from party voters and supporters to make a big difference.

Tomorrow morning I might be proved right that public sacking of Gavin Williamson was a master stroke.

Mike Smithson


 



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Four weeks to go to the Euros and the polling has it very tight

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

What is extraordinary about the coming Euro elections on May 23rd is just how many different parties will be on the ballot papers. The Wikipedia polling table above seeks to include all of them and I don’t think there has been a previous election like this in modern times.

The one thing that makes the coming election different from 2014 is that there will be no simultaneous local elections on the same day. This is the first time this has happened since 2004. Quite what the impact of this is hard to say but looking over there records suggest that having other elections taking place does help turnout.

This election, of course, will be the voting debut for Change UK and of course Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.

A big issue for Labour is what stance it will have on things lie Brexit and the possible second referendum. Will Team Corbyn/Milne manage to hold their pro-Brexit position when the vast majority of party voters are against?

Mike Smithson


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With the first LE2018 postal votes being cast the signs are not good for the Tories

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

The first of next month’s two electoral challenges for the Tories

While everybody seems to be getting excited about the May 23rd Euro elections there has been little focus on the big hurdle that the Tories have to surmount three weeks before that. These are the local elections in England which cover almost all of the country excluding London and just one or two counties.

Each year during a four years cycle a different set of local elections takes place and it is a particular challenge for the Tories at this difficult time that the group of council elections up on May 2nd are the ones where the party traditionally does very well.  Indeed back in 2015, when, most  were last fought, the Tories won more than 4000 which was in excess of half the overall number of contests.

Four years ago, of course, was on the day of GE2015  when the Tories did far better than had been predicted and secured a Commons majority.  This success was seen in the locals as well so it was always going to be the case even without the Brexit turmoil that May 2nd 2019 was going to be hard because there are so many seats to defend.

In his annual media presentation on the coming local elections the week before last the Tory elections analyst, Lord Hayward, observed that the one thing that could help his party between then and the May 2nd election day was the Brexit deal being approved. For there’s little doubt that the events of the past months have made life on the doorstep for Tory campaigners quite challenging and there’ll be a sense of relief once Brexit is settled. Alas that is not going to happen.

Reports from the ground suggest that the Tory vote is weak. It is not that there will be much switching to other parties but a concern that traditional CON voters simply won’t turnout. The thing about local elections is that turnout is everything. The national average is in the mid 30s which puts a premium on local parties ability to get their vote out.

This was a PB comment yesterday from ex-LAB MP, Nick Palmer on his experience:

Interesting 3 hours on the doorstep this afternoon (and no, people don’t mind being canvassed at Easter) in deepest Surrey. I think the Lib Dems are going to do well – I’m used to their voters showing up as don’t knows till the last minute, but there’s some definite enthusiasm out there. Labour’s core vote seems solid but not especially enthusiastic – it’s mostly about fighting the Tories. The Tory vote is crumbling at the edges – unusual number of former Tory voters going out of their way to say they wouldn’t ever vote Labour but definitely not Tory any more either – even met some Brexiteers voting LibDem ias an anti-big party protest. But the Tories too have a core vote which is loyal – I don’t expect a real metldown.”

All of this fits with the reports I have been getting and it is possible that the number of Tory losses could be in the hundreds which will reinforce the negative narrative for the party in the lead up to May 23rd.

Normally by this stage before the May locals we have had projections on likely party gain and losses based on what’s been happening in local by-elections. In the past these have set expectations but I don’t think we will be seeing numbers this year.

My guess is that the Lib Dems will do better than at any set of local elections since going into coalition with the Tories in May 2010. They should make a significant increase in their councillor numbers and that will be the backcloth for Vince Cable to announce his resignation as leader thus triggering off a leadership contest.

Mike Smithson




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LAB’s huge post-Corbyn increase in members has had almost no impact on the number of council seats being contested

Monday, April 8th, 2019

LAB’s fighting 77% of the seats compared with the Tories’ 96%

One of the things that Corbynistas always take great pride in is the number of members who have been attracted to the party since Corbyn’s victory in the 2015 leadership election. With a reported 500k+ the red team is four or five times bigger than the blue one.

One the face of it you would assume that this would reflect itself at election time particularly local ones where turnout is about half general election levels and where so much is dependent on having capable ground troops to get the vote out.

One measure is how many seats are being contested and here LAB lags a fair degree behind the Tories.

The LDs are on a contestation level of 56% which is a fair bit higher than in 2015.

The figures have been collated by the Conservative election analyst Lord Hayward who presented them at a special session in London this lunchtime.

Hayward also noted how in local by-elections this year that Corbyn’s party has been struggling to maintain its vote share.

The map above shows where elections are taking place locally on May 2nd and as can be seen there is a vast swathe of blue. The Tories have most to defend and look set to make some losses though mostly to the LDs

A big issue is the absence of UKIP from many wards compared with 2015 when these seats were last decided. In a few local authority areas Nigel Farage’s Brexit party has put up candidates.

Mike Smithson