EU Election – Context

Now we’ve just had a ridiculous EU election in UK electing 73 MEPS to go back to Brussels (approx cost £150m). 35% turnout is pathetic but not surprising given state of politics.

Result Brexit party formed 6 weeks ago with 32%. Lib Dems (Pro remain) in 2nd with 20%

Lots of rubbish combining variations of votes to show that overall the country believes their own opinion based on zero fact.

No one knows why someone voted a particular way.

Labour, the official opposition lost ground. The Conservatives (allegedly the government) lost even more. The Greens increase (they are remain but for Green)

In reality not all Greens are Remain, not all Conservatives are leave. Labour are all over the place and even the former director of comms for Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell stated he voted Lib Dem because he was remain and he did not know what his own party was for.

UKIP was destroyed (by Brexit party it is presumed)

Scotland voted SNP

Northern Ireland hvoted along sectarian line with some gain for the middle ground Alliance Party but not enough to win a seat. Wales voted Brexit number 1 party

In parliament we’ll have a new Prime Minister soon. The rest of the arithmetic stays the same. Impasse. Next deadline 31st Oct

I have no idea what will happen.

I believe it was the lack of reform, the ever closer union agenda, and the underlying corruption that drove the UK to vote out in the first place.

Remainers continue to claim that immigration was the reason and perhaps it was for some but they miss the point.

The rise of the Greens also reflects society’s concern with real big picture stuff i.e. the fate of the planet. Big increase in Germany and UK from 2014. This has been claimed by Remain as support for that cause. I believe it is wider than that.

The Netherlands appears to have bucked the trend for movement left and right after several recent elections where the right appeared to be gaining, whereas Italy and Spain showed the same hollowing out as UK.

I also compared this EU election with 2009. Nearly all comparisons have been made with 2014. The movement for Lib Dems can then be seen in context.

In 2014 the Lib Dems were badly hurt (as they were in the 2015 General Election) by association with the coalition government and in particular the internal to UK position on Tuition fees. They won 13.3% then and 20.3% this time – a 7% increase. In the 2010 General election they won 22% and the 2015 Gen Election only 7.9% – more a recovery to normality in the longer term.

Brexit did not exit then let alone a party that has just won 32% of the vote. The then exit party UKIP won 16%. Labour in Government under Gordon Brown in 2009 won 15.2% compared to 14.1% this time. Conservatives now in Government (just) won 27.4% compared to 9.1% now. The Greens won 7.8% in 2009 up to 12.1% this time.
Turnout then was 34% and this time 37%

Not quite the sea change being described by Remain (for Lib Dems) or Brexit.

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Post Election

I’ve put off commentating on the UK General Election for a few weeks. Firstly, because I was on holiday when the results were being counted and secondly, because I wanted time to collect my thoughts. I have written before, about the Scottish Referendum, and my thoughts on how this impacted democracy and now we have another set of results to ponder.

Let’s skip over the compete inability of the professional commentators and pollsters failure to predict results. There is a collective ignorance across much of mainstream media about how voters interact with pollsters and focus groups. You get this in all sorts of surveys and its hidden in the small print (not in this blog) when they say 8 out of 10 WHO RESPONDED, liked so and so. Political pollsters use their already collected results to distribute the don’t know and go away responses across the existing results i.e. if 35% is the rating for party x then they assume that 35% of the don’t knows or won’t tells will vote that way. In other words the extrapolate the results based on current and past numbers and therefore confirm their own prediction. Me I bet money on the result, for non-Conservative supporters, sorry yes I did bet on a Conservative win. Even I did not expect an overall majority via the first past the post system. Of course what the pollsters wanted was 650 surveys featuring a high number of respondents. They had to wait for the actual election to get an accurate forecast. Even the exit polls were incorrect. Now it is believed that the split in the don’t knows and won’t tells was actually heavily in favour (in England anyway) of the Conservatives. Who knows? The don’t knows and won’t tells will get another chance in five years for the general election. By which time we will have had another referendum, euro-elections, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections and numerous local elections. All of which will give the pollsters something to discuss.

Meanwhile I can turn my attention to the major democratic deficiencies highlighted by the election. Lets start with facts. I’ll use the BBC’s results page for ease of look up, I’m not dismissing NI and Wales but concentrating on England and Scotland and I’ll gloss over the fact that only 66% bothered to vote at all

  • Con 331 seats from 36.9% of the vote
  • Lab 232 from 30.4%
  • SNP 56 from 4.7%
  • LibDem 8 from 7.9%
  • Green 1 from 3.8%
  • UKIP 1 from 12.6%

So democracy in action meant that with 37% of the people who voted for UKIP, the SNP ended up with 56 times the number of MPs. The Labour comparison is also interesting 6.5 times the number of votes for only 4.1 times the number of seats. The Conservatives won an outright majority with 36.9% of 66.1% or 24% of the possible voting public. Before the other parties get on their high horses only 20% voted for Labour and 3% for the SNP. We can then argue about combinations voting against i.e. which is a nice way of saying no outright majority voted for anybody. Yes I know SNP had 50% of the vote but that is actually 50% of the 71.1% that voted i.e. 35.5% of the eligible voters.

Aren’t numbers great! percentages are even better allowing all sorts of conclusions to be drawn or statistics manipulated depending on what headline the writer wants to create.

What is clear is that two parties are massively underrepresented in the UK Parliament UKIP and the Greens on shares of the vote they should have 81.9 and 24.7 MPs respectively. The Lib Dems should have 51 and the SNP 30.55. If we limited SNP to Scotland they should only have 50% of 59 i.e. 24.5.

Various proportional representation systems would have produced various different results. If single transferable votes were used then who knows where it would end up. Lists (like the Euro elections) would get a different outcome again.

What does this mean? If you don’t vote you can’t complain. If you do vote you can complain all you want but we had a referendum on changing the system from first past the post and barely anybody (OK 41%) bothered to vote and 67.9% voted to keep the current system. Can’t complain about that either.

Of course in this dirge I haven’t tried to answer why the vote went the way it did. To quote the Bill Clinton 1992 US Presidential campaign “The economy stupid”