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Electoral reform – or the lack of it

Indy front-page graphic The Indy produced this rather striking graphic today, along with an accompanying article telling us – once again – why we are in desperate need of electoral reform. They repeat once again the Mail claim which may well haunt Labour’s third term:

The Tories gained 50,000 more votes than Labour in England but got 92 fewer English seats.

As much as it’s talked up over the next few weeks, I highly doubt any major reforms of the electoral system will happen in this Parliament, not least because such reforms would seriously damage Labour’s chances of a fourth term. Or am I being too cynical?

The problem of electoral reform is a particularly tricky one, because I’m not aware of any suggestions that produce a truly fair and democratic electoral system. Having said that, I’m obviously not an expert in the field, and I may be missing something fairly obivous. But there’s no easy solution screaming out at me, like there is with so much other stuff that needs changing.

There was somewhere in particular that I intended to take this post, but it’s several hours since I started writing it (it’s been very much a bitty affair), and I’ve fogotten where that place was. I’m now faced with the decision of just giving up, or publishing this little bit. So I might as well just publish what I’ve written, even though there seems to be little point to it, and it doesn’t read very well. If you’ll forgive those points, I’ll consider writing something more sane tomorrow. But now I’m tired and have a killer headache.

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

Opinions on the election

There’s much more interesting stuff being written about this election now it’s done with.

Colombia’s El Tiempo (via Harry Hutton) has praised Britain’s tedious elections, observing that this probably indicates social well-being, and that we should be celebrating the dullness. I’m not sure that’s actually true, but it’s certainly a different take on things.

At the same time, the Sunday Herald has come over all Kevin: “THE MOST UNFAIR ELECTION IN BRITISH HISTORY”. They have some reasonable points, but am I supposed to take them seriously under that headline?

PressEsc accuses Jack Straw of meddling in the inquiry into Labour’s rigging of votes. I wouldn’t worry too much about that – the worst case scenario would be for Tony Blair to fire him, and rehire him a couple of months later. That’s the Labour definition of ‘taking responsiblity’.

The Daily Mail appears to have got to Nosemonkey, by pointing out that Labour got 60,000 fewer votes than the Conservatives in England. I haven’t seen the Mail in a while, but I’m feeling a burst of desperation following their effectively defeated campaign.

All of the newspapers, including The Observer, report the meaningless non-story that Tony Blair has announced he’s not going to quit. Meaningless mainly because it’s not really his decision to make, as much as he’d like to think it is.

The Times is happy with the outcome, claiming it to be a ‘Miracle of democracy’. What has happened to the Times? It’s quite depressing.

I’m sure I’ll come across lots more on the election in the coming days, so stay tuned.

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

A bit more on the election

Philip Cowley has an interesting take on the remaining Labour MPs over on the Guardian Election Blog – he points out that of the 356 Labour MPs remaining, 60 have rebel form from past votes – and Labour only has a 67 majority. It certainly will make for some interesting politics.

Andrew Brown also notes on the Helmintholog that the Guardian’s sale figures went up far more when reporting the death of an aging Pole than during the UK Election. Is this a mark of an over-reaction to the Pope’s death or a mark of a boring election campaign? Perhaps a touch of both.

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

Bits and Pieces

The interview between Jeremy Paxman and George Galloway which helped keep me awake for another couple of minutes back on Friday morning has made it onto the BBC website. It’s well worth watching, it you want to see someone who is clearly a prat demand to be congratulated on winning an electoral seat.

Also worth reading is The Friday Project‘s verdict on Michael Howard’s election strategy:

It’s been the political equivalent of the Shake and Vac adverts: artless and unsubtle, but even the biggest dunderhead can’t miss the point: do the Shake and Vac and put the freshness back. Or should that be ‘send ’em back’?

I don’t agree with their take, but nor do I agree with the BNP supporter also quoted in this week’s edition:

‘I’m tired of living this Orwellian nightmare. I’ll be damned if new labour [sic] are going to keep stamping on my face. Go get em [sic], BNP – Sue Croft, Spalding’

Orwellian nightmare? In Spalding, Lincolnshire? We checked the town’s website and it doesn’t look much like Airstrip One. We can only conclude that Sue is slightly prone to melodrama: ‘It’s like the film Zulu round here! By which I mean I once saw a black man innocuously walking down the road.’

But if I tell you all the best bits here, you won’t run off and subscribe, and then the Friday peeps won’t be happy with me. So run along and read their site, and subscribe to The Friday Thing.

You love your cat. You hate his litter tray. If only you could have one without the other.

Well actually, I don’t like cats or litter trays. But if you have a cat, you can now buy one of these. Joy of joys.

That’s a few loose ends cleared up for now…

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

So how wrong was I?

With two seats left to declare, let’s revisit my predictions

Labour: I said Tony would walk away with 370-380 seats. I was wrong. He’s only got 355. This may have been a mistake on my part, but it’s a mistake that cheers me a little. All I wanted was a party with a small majority, and Mr Blair has had his majority halved. I’d still have liked it a little lower, but you can’t have everything.

Conservative: I said 185-195. They’ve got 197. So I wasn’t exactly a million miles out. They’ve not done stunningly well in overall share, but they have gained an awful lot of seats, and it’ll be quite sad to see Mickey Howard go.

Lib Dem: I said 60-70. They’re on 62. I couldn’t have been much more right on that one, then. I’m disappointed that Charlie didn’t make bigger gains, but never mind.

Swing: The magic formula predicted a swing of 2.25% to the Conservatives, which I said was probably an underestimate. It’s come out at 3%. So the magic formula wasn’t exactly magic after all, but c’est la vie.

Looking at the results and their aftermath, a couple of things bother me:

Firstly, there was less than 3% between Labour and the Conservatives in the popular vote, and yet Labour have 158 more seats. That doesn’t seem right, and surely screams of an electoral system in desperate need of reform. The problem is exactly how to reform the system, but I’m sure someone much more intelligent than me can come up with a way.

Secondly, I can’t believe that Mr Blair has let David Blunkett back into the cabinet. Is there anyone in the cabinet who’s not formerly been disgraced? For a Prime Minister roundly criticised for not taking responsiblity for his actions, this seems like a deeply cynical move after just taking an electoral bashing. I’m also far from wild about the idea of John Reid as defence secretary – he can’t even speak to an interviewer without launching into a huge conflict – heaven help us if he talks to other nations.

The most disappointing thing for me is that my local MP has been re-elected, albeit with a reduced majority. We’ve never exactly seen eye-to-eye.

So, on the whole, a better result that I’d predicted, but not exactly what I was hoping for. At least, though, Labour’s majority was low enough to make the next few months interesting, as the questions begin to be asked about Mr Blair. And who will succeed Mr Howard? The election may be over, but the fun is just beginning.

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

Almost over, or just beginning?

Predictions have been made, campaigns have come to an end, and counting will shortly begin on the only poll that matters. Blogs about blogs are starting to pick up on the trends (though the one I’ve linked to is particularly fascinating, as it features a graph which colours TB yellow, MH blue, and CK red – a sign?) shown by blogs from around the country.

And all we can do is watch and wait with Dimbleby and Snow

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

The Final Swing Update

Today’s swing figure:

» 2.25% swing to the Conservatives «

It’s my final update! The graph on the right shows the swing figure as it has fluctuated over the past twenty-eight days. There are four new polls today: ICM/Guardian on 38/32, NOP/Independent on 36/33, Populus/Times 38/32, and YouGov/Telegraph on 37/32. They all agree that there is a Labour lead, but they are also rather more muted leads than we’ve seen published over the last few days, which has obivously given the Conservatives a bit of a boost in today’s figure. The Lib Dems are certainly flying high, which is a good thing.

Looking back, it’s quite incredible how badly the Conservative campaign has gone – right at the beginning, we looked like we were heading towards a hung Parliament, and as they have told us more about themselves, the polls have clearly plummetted – or, rather, the Labour vote has grown whilst the Tories have been pretty close to flat-lining.

The magic formula’s current swing figure is suggestive of a Labour majority of around 120ish. My official prediction, however, defies this…

I predict that around 370-380 seats will be won by Labour (a loss of about 30, majority of roughtly 100 to 110), 185 to 195 for the Tories (gain fo about 25), and 60-70 for the Lib Dems (gain of around 15).

That’s my prediction… Come back on Friday to laugh at how wrong I am!

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

Quote Unquote

The fact that parts of this game are so tricky epitomises why many people are disinterested in politics: Politicians, take note.

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

Swing Update

Today’s swing figure:

» 0.95% swing to the Conservatives «

With just 34 hours until the polls open, the Tory swing figure drops below one percent for the first time. That is a Bad Thing. And it’s mainly due to a MORI/FT poll, which has Labour leading 39/29. When I first created the magic formula, I added a little memo in it: “~6.5% = Hung Parliament” With just one final Swing Update to go, I don’t think that will be needed in this campaign. At this rate, Labour can look forward to a 146 majority, or thereabouts. Visit tomorrow for the final Swing Update, and on Thursday (before 10pm!) for my final prediction. Then you can visit on Friday and laugh at how wrong I was. You know you want to.

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

Swing Update

Today’s swing figure:

» 2.54% swing to the Conservatives «

One new poll for the magic formula today: YouGov/Torygraph has the standings at 36/33, exactly the same as the last YouGov poll. The Times tracker, which isn’t included in the magic formula, has them at 42/29, which is seriously disturbing, as it represents a swing of similar magnitude but to Labour, giving them a democratically unhealthy majority of 178. The Lib Dems are still doing quite well throughout poll land, so I’d be quite worried if I were Oliver Letwin. Only two more swing updates to go before the big day, so not much more to go. As a postal voter, I’ve already made my mark. I just hope that David Borrow doesn’t win my seat again, because he’s never responded positively to any of my requests, and he’s very much a career politician. That’s one very good reason to boot him out while we can. So, people of the South Ribble constituency, do what you must!

This post was filed under: Election 2005.

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