Monday, 28 September 2015

General Election 2015: General: (3): Some scenarios

Parliamentary MPs returned under FPTP

The winners

SNP:  1,454,436 votes / 56 seats / 49.87% popular vote / 25,972 votes per seat

Conservatives (inc. Speaker):  11,340,398 votes / 331 seats / 37.83% popular vote / 34,261 votes per seat

Labour:  9,331,617 votes / 232 seats / 31.13% popular vote / 40,222 votes/seat

Plaid Cymru:  181,704 votes / 3 seats / 12.13% popular vote / 60,568 votes/seat

Obviously the SNP and Plaid have a big advantage because they concentrate their efforts on seats in their respective countries and probably should be considered as a separate bloc.

The can't-really-complain brigade

LibDem:  2,415,862 votes / 8 seats / 8.06% popular vote / 301,983 votes/seat

Given that they were always going to be up against it after cosying up to the Tories, they did remarkably well, all things considered. If they hadn't spent the last thirty years shoring up their targets, they'd have been wiped out completely. 8 seats was a good result.

The losers set up to lose

Green:  1,150,809 votes / 1 seat / 3.84% popular vote / 1,150,809 votes/seat

UKIP:  3,862,740 votes / 1 seat / 12.86% popular vote / 3,862,740 votes/seat

The most striking thing here is that if Labour had backed the Lib Dems on the AV vote in 2012 (and won) then the Conservative party wouldn't have a majority of any description (nor would anyone else, but it does seem in retrospect a very poor decision on Labour's part).  It's impossible to tell how the election would have turned out under AV - as there isn't any data - but it couldn't have delivered a Conservative majority under any circumstances. You can pretend to know where the second, third, etc. choices would have gone, you can make a guess, but no more than that. Point is, it would have given a hung parliament.

FPTP is a great system for those in power as it artificially preserves the power base long after the support has in reality gone elsewhere. That's why Labour and the Conservatives like it...they get loads of votes from it for free.

Here's the FPTP vote:

This would have been the result under PR:

Doesn't say much really. Worse? Better?

I have other ways.

More later.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

General Election 2015: General: (2) - turnout


...I think I'm happy with my election results now (I know it's months since the election, but you know, stuff) having finally got all the figures for spoiled ballots, or at least as close as I think I can get. And I've not done Northern Ireland (where apparently 0.66% of votes cast were spoiled); this is just for the 632 English/Welsh/Scottish seats.

Anyway, just some quick general stats for now:

  • Potential electorate:  45,116,156
  • Total votes:  30,078,383 (66.67% of electorate)
  • Valid votes:  29,978,905 (66.45% of electorate)
  • Spoilt ballots:  99,478 (0.33% of votes cast)

Turnout and spoilt ballots by region:

Midlands - Valid turnout 65.17% (lower than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.38% (higher)

Eastern England - Valid turnout 67.56% (higher than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.37% (higher)

London - Valid turnout 65.39% (lower than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.33% (average)

NW - Valid turnout 64.32% (lower than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.39% (higher)

SE - Valid turnout 68.55% (higher than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.38% (higher)

SW - Valid turnout 69.51% (higher than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.31% (lower)

NE/Yorks - Valid turnout 62.78% (lower than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.35% (higher)

Scotland - Valid turnout 71.00% (higher than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.13% (lower)

Wales - Valid turnout 65.65% (lower than national average) - Spoiled ballots 0.21% (lower)

Very noticeable that Scotland had (as a region) both the highest % turnout and the lowest % of spoilt ballots, but nothing much else stands out until you really look at the details.

In terms of spoiled ballots, the real standout constituency is (of course) Buckingham, the Speaker's seat. This is always a mess...other main parties aren't supposed to stand as the Speaker is meant to be impartial, but they sometimes do (this time UKIP and the Greens stood candidates) and it all adds up to a lot of people in the constituency feeling as though they have no representation.

Notably high numbers of spoiled ballots:

Buckingham - 1,289 spoiled ballots
Leicester East - 533 spoiled ballots
Luton South - 431 spoiled ballots
Leicester South - 398 spoiled ballots
Tiverton and Honiton - 378 spoiled ballots
Blackburn - 325 spoiled ballots

For perspective, the average constituency had 157 spoiled ballots.

And, if they were to count, the total of 99,478 spoiled ballots would be equivalent to 2 seats under a system of proportional representation. That's not insignificant; if this many people are prepared to deliberately spoil their ballot paper rather than not voting at all (under the FPTP system these are the only two options available to people who feel they have no party to vote for), what if there was a "None of the Above" option on each ballot paper?

If there was the opportunity to vote NONE, it would give an extra option, so it should cut the number of spoiled ballots and stop so many people voting tactically. But most of all, it would ensure that these "protest" votes are counted and included in the totals (they are not at the moment) and so give a much more accurate reflection of the vote.

Well, something to think about.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Labour Leadership Race, pt. 6 and aftermath

The polls have closed, the votes have been counted...

...and Jeremy Corbyn wins on the first ballot by a country mile (59.5% in a four-horse race is almost unheard-of). Straight up.

Naturally I wanted to have a full breakdown of the voting, because I am a total nerd, but I couldn't quite get everything I wanted. Nevertheless, enough for some interesting stats.

Estimates of votes cast were way off, of some 540,272 eligible voters, 422,664 valid votes were cast, so a much higher turnout (78.2% rather than yesterday's 61% estimate - I thought at the time it sounded very low) than was thought.

First preference votes:

 Andy Burnham:  80,462 votes, 19.04%

Yvette Cooper:  71,928 votes, 17.02%

Jeremy Corbyn:  251,417 votes, 59.48%

Liz Kendall:  18,857 votes, 4.46%

Makes my 54% prediction (which was my most optimistic) on the first ballot look a bit pathetic really. But that's because I was still somehow convinced that some party apparatchiks would do something, to somehow stop this happening. But they didn't.

Needless to say, I'm quite excited. Plus, Tom Watson easily won the Deputy Leadership and although Jeremy's had 32 years of parliamentary experience, it's all been from the back benches, whereas Tom has been involved with the "party machine" extensively, so they should complement one another: I think they'll make a good team. That I happened to put £20 on Tom Watson at 6/4 a few months ago is immaterial here (actually, it is specifically material, in that it is a £30 profit).

Anyway, back to the Leadership election; the best thing of all is that Jeremy Corbyn won easily in all categories (full party members, affiliated members e.g. through a trade union and the much derided £3 "registered supporters"). I think that means that he's going to have to allowed a bit of time, so clear is his mandate from the party membership. The only people who he didn't get a clear majority from were the actual parliamentary Labour MPs, only 20 of whom voted for JC as first preference. Any immediate attempt by a disgrunted group of MPs to get rid of him would be greeted with outrage from the normal membership.

Here's a full breakdown of how all three groups voted:

Andy Burnham: Party members 55,698 (22.7%) - Affiliated members 18,604 (26.0%) - Registered supporters 6,160 (5.8%);

Yvette Cooper: Party members 54,470 (22.2%) - Affiliated members 9,043 (12.6%) - Registered supporters 8.415 (8.0%);

Jeremy Corbyn: Party members 121,751 (49.6%) - Affiliated members 41,217 (57.6%) - Registered supporters 88,449 (83.8%);

Liz Kendall: Party members 13,601 (5.5%) - Affiliated members 2,682 (3.8%) - Registered supporters 2,574 (2.4%).

I think the thing I was afraid of was that the naysayers would all be crowing "oh, he'd never have won without the three quid lot" but as the above figures show, all parts of the Labour Party membership overwhelming want him, except the Labour MPs themselves. However there is no possible way to fiddle the figures to make it look as though Jeremy didn't win easily. Half the party membership have given him their vote and it's a one member, one vote system. So, as Labour MPs now only count as normal members, they can't even fiddle it by giving their votes more weight.

Assuming the 20 MPs that gave JC their first preference is an accurate figure, I'll assume the other 210 voted 70 each Kendall, Burnham and Cooper, just for convenience. Even if their votes were worth 1000 times as much as everyone else's, he'd still have won with 43% overall (to actually defeat him, party MPs would have to make their votes worth 3,425 times as much as a normal vote, and not even they think they are that important).

Even odder is that members of the Shadow Cabinet started resigning even as Jeremy was giving his victory speech. This just seems petty. They didn't get what they wanted and now they're throwing their toys out of the pram. But why? JC has specifically spoken about unity and bringing all wings of the party together, so why - before he's made any sort of Shadow Cabinet decision - are they just saying "oh, we don't like you, we won't work with you"? Why restrict your options when you've absolutely no idea what he's got in mind? I suspect some of them may regret it.

He's going to get it from all barrels, from all sides, non-stop and he's not going to have an easy job. I just hope the parliamentary party will hold off with their vitriol for a bit (it's a forlorn hope, they're slagging him off already) so that he can at least be allowed to get some stuff done. But, knowing this Labour Party, they'll probably just vote against him out of spite irrespective of what they really think.

That's quite an interesting angle actually; as one of the most rebellious recent MPs, how will the whip system work? Will there be one? He's said that he wants everyone to be free to vote according to their conscience, so it would be a bit hypocritical for him to implement a whip system (unless it's a whip of gossamer). Nah, he'll get rid of it and good riddance. I've always thought it was anti-democratic and admired the MPs who defy the whip as a matter of conscience. (Actually, come to think of it, much more policy ideas are going to come from the membership rather than top-down from the top table, so there shouldn't be such a need for a whip anyway).

Oh I could go on about this all day but I wouldn't thank me. I'll come back soon though, I'm sure.


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Labour Leadership Race, pt. 5

Voting has closed...

And counting has begun! Polls and other random people are suggesting all sorts of things: an estimated 330,000-340,000 votes cast, so roughly a 61% turnout if the 550,000 total eligible members figure is accurate, low turnout from union members (so presumably a high turnout from the £3 supporters), a general consensus that Jeremy Corbyn will get most first preference votes but few are sticking their neck out to say how many, or whether it will be enough.

I might be repeating myself (not for the first time, I can't be arsed to go back and check) but I originally thought once the four candidates were finalised, Jeremy Corbyn would win the majority of the popular vote but the Labour machine would find a way somehow to not allow him to win.

Using the Ladbrokes odds (betting's still open), they have Corbyn at 1/7 (with the odds still shortening), Cooper 7/1, Burnham 12/1 and Kendall 100/1. This seems to be the general consensus of the other bookies (some have Corbyn 1/8, Cooper ranging 13/2 to 8/1, Burnham either 12/1 or 14/1 and Kendall - well, anything from 100/1 to 250/1 (i.e. no chance).

So the bookies - who react to money and aren't often wrong - make it something like:

Corbyn 96.8% chance of winning
Cooper 2% chance of winning
Burnham 1.1% chance of winning
Kendall 0.1% chance of winning

So even now I'm quite optimistic that Jeremy C. could take the thing on first nominations alone, so certain seem the bookies of his overall chances. I just have a feeling that if they thought that there was even the remotest chance of a scenario involving second or third preference votes (which could get very unpredictable indeed), they'd be hedging a bit more.

I think the result will be somewhere between:

Scenario 1

First preference votes - Corbyn 54%, Cooper 24%, Burnham 17%, Kendall 5%; automatic win for Jeremy Corbyn.

Scenario 2

First preference votes - Corbyn 46%, Cooper 27%, Burnham 22%, Kendall 5%

Kendall is eliminated and those voting for Kendall as 1st preference have their 2nd, 3rd and 4th preferences transferred to the other candidates. I don't really know where those would go but my guess would leave the next stage at:

Corbyn 46%, Cooper 31%, Burnham 23%, Burnham eliminated and lower preference votes reallocated as before. So, what proportion of Burnham supporters would have Corbyn as a second preference? I reckon that although the majority will have Cooper as their second choice, there'll be enough for Corbyn to see him over the line.

We'll find out Saturday morning, I guess. Whatever happens, it's going to be fun fun fun!

Except for Liz:


Saturday, 5 September 2015

How Politics Works

First of all...

It's Ken! Everyone loves Ken, don't they? He's one of the Tories that even Labour supporters could probably get on with.

Trouble is, Ken had recently been up in court in a case which a Ben Fellowes had accused him of groping him in a Parliamentary office during the course of a Cook Report investigation into Cash for Questions (or Bombs or whatever it was at the time). Fellowes was actually 19 at the time, but was pretending to be 15, which is presumably where the charge originated.

Then Ben Fellowes was acquitted of "perverting the course of justice", i.e. lying about it. So where does that leave us? And where does it leave Cuddly Ken?

Enter Lord Janner and a seemingly unrelated series of cases:

From the CPS report:

"The Crown Prosecution Service stated that the case met their evidential test for prosecution and they would have otherwise have prosecuted on 22 counts of indecent assaults and buggery, against nine persons which are alleged to have occurred between 1969 and 1988."

However, as Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009 and it has apparently progressed to such a point where his evidence could not be relied upon in court, all that can be done is a "trial of the facts", in which he will be undoubtedly found guilty.

Since the Ben Fellowes acquittal, another man has come forward claiming that he was molested by Ken Clarke when he was 14. You may not have heard much about this - not a lot of detail has been released - but mainly because...

Enter Harvey Proctor! (see last post).

Harvey Proctor: "not a paedophile"

And who's talking about Ken Clarke now? No-one.

If it needs to be kept SO secret... probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

And it would be a bit mad to bring new attention to it, wouldn't it, Harvey?

I think most people had completely forgotten about Harvey Proctor until the last couple of weeks. I dimly remember the case from the late 1980s; he was convicted for paying for sex from underage boys, but I had to look up the details of the case to fill in a lot of blanks.

He was convicted for sex with "17-20 year old male prostitutes" when the age of homosexual consent was 21. Now the age of consent is 16, that would not be a crime.

Point is, why is he holding press conferences to insist how he is not a paedophile? As far as I am aware, nobody was accusing him of such in why such a vehement public denial? He says "homosexual witch hunt" but that's just flim-flammery to try to cloud the issue if you ask me.

No, this seems more orchestrated; by holding his press conference and graphically describing the acts that the police have interviewed him about (note: not accused him of), he's trying to ensure that any future trial into whatever he's really been up to these last thirty years is compromised.

I can't see any other reason to put his own name out there with the inference - quite deliberately, I'm sure - that the police are trying to tie him in with the wider Parliamentary paedophile ring. He obviously knows that he's on solid ground refuting it, which is unsurprising - not everyone could have been part of it - but as far as I'm aware, nobody but he and the police knew that he was being interviewed in conjunction with it at all. Now, after his press conference, everyone knows.

It's all very confusing.