Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Corbyn’s 2017 Election “Victory” In Perspective (a bit late... but never mind)

A lot has been made by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn regarding his “astonishing” election result on June 8th 2017. Some voices claimed it as a “victory” and there was an immediate effort to push for another election or, via street protest, to force Theresa May’s Conservative government to resign.

Yet, if we take the longer view on Corbyn’s result at the 2017 election we can see it falls well below average.

The numbers below first list Labour MP totals at each election and then tabulate them into a list from most to least.

The other numbers relate to vote share and the percentage of the electorate that voted Labour. The latter figures give a better snap-shot of actual voter numbers because, of course, the voting population of the UK has increased quite considerably since 1945. 

The main basis for the claim by Corbyn supporters that the 2017 election result was a victory is based on a vote share of 40% and a vote number of 12,877,869. By my calculations - and my maths can be a little rusty so please send in any corrections - these 12,877,869 votes represented 27.5% of the entire electorate. (Of course, those who don’t vote don't have a say but the entire electorate number gives an indication of mobilisation of support). This puts a Corbyn-led Labour Party in 13th place out of the 20 elections held since/including 1945. This 27.5% was Labour’s best share of the electorate since 1997.  The 40% vote share in 2017 is the 11th best Labour showing since 1945 and is the best since 2001.

However, it should be clear from this list of election results that vote and electorate share matter little in terms of electoral victory - British elections are won by securing a majority in the House of Commons, not by large turnouts. 

This is borne out by the fact that out of their top ten vote share results since 1945 Labour only won a majority on 6 occasions and a proper working majority only 3 times. Even more stark is that of the top 7 Labour vote shares the party won clear cut majorities on only two occasions - both the 1950 and 1964 election wins led to new elections being called before a full term was completed. 

1951 was the high point for Labour in terms of both vote share and percentage of electorate who voted for them. 

Labour lost the 1951 election and the Tories then remained in power until 1964 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Are All Tories Evil?

This is quite a long story and is very personal, so bear with me… 

My very first day in rehab was May 11th 1992. 

The rehabilitation experience began with me being placed in the detox wing of an expensive privately-run hospital in the leafy depths of Tory Surrey. I was quite astonished to be there. I had no money and didn’t have anything like the kind of wealthy family to fund my treatment. I’d literally walked off the streets, with just the clothes on my back. I had no access to any other funds or savings of any kind to pay for the private primary care rehab costing upwards of £1500 a week. 

After completing my 24hours in detox - I’d already had weeks-long periods of “clean time”, punctuated by relapses, before entering rehab - to make sure I was drug-free, I was allowed into the main unit. The other residents were a mishmash of wealthy, poor and middle class. A cross-section. One guy had been through the poshest end of the public school system. Another was from the roughest of rough Peckham estates. The entire spectrum was present. 

I’d spent the weeks and months prior to arriving in rehab in a maelstrom of hard-drugs and alcohol. Blackouts, threats, associates being tortured for their stash. Going back years and I’d had close friends murdered, a long list of suicides and overdoses. Corpses, funerals, chaos. A familiar narrative to anyone associated with street drug use in London in the early 1990s. 

Homelessness was also a way of life. Sure, there were squats, floors and sofas to kip on but nothing permanent. At times I’d gone hungry for days, struggling to stay upright. Other times I’d awoken shivering on the floor of abandoned houses. 

Before I’d arrived back in the UK I’d lived in Norway since the mid-80s. There, social provision was far better, the safety net tighter. Sure, people fell through but you really had to work hard to achieve a complete collapse. I left Oslo because I could see my life just slipping away into a mire. The counter-culture, which had formed the bedrock of my life, wasn’t equipped to help me out of the swamp that was of my own making. I’d had enough. I felt I had to change or I’d die.

 My timeline before that involved coming out of a kids’ home into “supportive lodgings”. I was only 16. By 17 I had run off and was living in a vast punk rock squat with a large group of assorted miscreants. It was a great time. Nobody had a job. Nobody aspired to go to university. We lived on Thatcher’s dole. We put on gigs in squatted buildings, went on demos, rescued animals from fur-farms. We made punk bands up overnight, inflicting a terrible racket on as many people as possible. I became interested in anarchism, syndicalism, Situationism and flirted with street-based political violence. I read Class War and Black Flag and viewed the Trots with as much disdain as I did the Tories. 

  By 19 I had septicaemia - a long red line running the length of my arm completed by a weeping pus-filled sore at one end. The drugs had become heavier, the squats filthier. The chaos stopped being fun and started to become terrifying. I was looking for a way out. So, when I met some friendly people from Norway I decided I’d move there.

I woke up after my first night in Oslo with 1p to my name. I stayed for almost 6years. I worked in hospitals, bars, as a naked art model, on building sites. There were some good times and I had some kind of stability for periods. But, again, there was an inevitable downward trajectory. Things just got worse and worse. I knew from my time in a kids’ home that “help” helped. But only to a point. The kids homes of the 80s weren’t particularly safe spaces. The staff in my one were having sex with the kids. Not with me, I hasten to add. I was too stroppy and sharp. I’d have told them to fuck off. 

So, in May 1992, it was with complete astonishment that I found myself in a plush, private rehab in posh Surrey. I felt like an imposter. I’d been this angry, drug/drink addled punk rock street kid without a pot to piss in my entire life up until that point. Fuck the system was a mantra. Fuck the Tories was a given. 

By this point you’re probably wondering who paid for my stay in this private rehab? Well, it was the government. A Tory government. 

In 1990 Ken Clarke, the then Health Secretary, passed the National Health Service and Community Care Act (an assessment of the policy can be found here). In it was a provision to “ring fence” funding for drug and alcohol services with money available to pay for horrible, filthy street scum like me to access private rehabilitation. 

This act and the ring-fenced funding it contained pretty much saved my life. I’ve not taken any drugs or drink since I went into rehab over 25 years ago. I won’t list my achievements since then but given what went before my present life can feel like a miracle.

I need to return to the question at the top of this post - “Are All Tories Evil?” Clearly not. I'm pretty certain I would never vote for them but I owe a debt of sincere gratitude to the Tories who put ring-fenced funding in the 1990 National Health Service and Community Care Act. I have dozens of friends who went through rehab during this period - I believe the ring-fencing for drug and alcohol services was rescinded in 1993 - and we all owe our lives to this money being made available during that time.

Ultimately this experience taught me a valuable lesson. That government can act for the greater good and that the Tories weren’t all bastards. And if I ever meet Ken Clarke I’d shake him by the hand and thank him for helping to turn my life around. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Are UKIP supporters calling for use of force against the left?

UPDATE: It seems as though the twitter account of the UKIP member @lawrenceVB who issued the sinister threat to "deal with" the "scum" has been at least temporarily suspended. This might be have done voluntarily - nonetheless I screengrabbed it below.

A worrying tweet from somebody who seems to be a UKIP member appeared in response to a tweet posted by Nigel Farage, UKIP's leader. Farage's tweet commented on today's anti-UKIP protest in Edinburgh and the ensuing fracas which caused him to flee in a police van.

 The sinister tweet suggested that Farage could draw on the support of trained former-forces personel in UKIP's ranks "to deal with this".

The tweeter, known as BHAFCPatriot ‏@lawrenceVB, went on to repeatedly call UKIP opponents "scum" and "fascists". 

Will UKIP now be creating a threatening wing of the party, made up of ex-forces to deal with the "scum"? Let's hope Farage distances himself from these sort of extremists as soon as possible.

UKIP's 'national breakthrough' fantasy turns to ashes as police rescue Farage from Scottish protesters

Over the last couple of weeks I've maintained that UKIP's "national breakthrough" is a media-led fantasy that collapses when the numbers are crunched.

When the BBC stated after the May 2nd elections that UKIP were on 23%, I blogged that even in that election, they'd do well to reach 20%.

 In the days following the May 2nd election I blogged for the Fabians and came up with a best-case scenario figure of 14% for UKIP.

 Then when the Guardian released ICM figures that showed UKIP on 18% I countered again on Left Foot Forward and argued that UKIP's likely polling numbers would have to work very hard to reach that number.

YouGov then went with 14% and last night numbers released by Ipsos MORI have UKIP back down to 13% - a full 10% below the BBC's bogus 23% number from only two weeks ago - a staggering collapse.

Then today, we have Farage visiting Scotland. It didn't go well.

ITV reported that
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has been locked in an Edinburgh pub for "his own safety" as police escorted him through angry protests which had sprung up as he tried to launch his party's Scottish campaign.
So much for the "national breakthrough", eh?

Monday, 13 May 2013

UKIP on 18%? I don't buy this hype either - here's why

This piece originally appeared on Left Foot Forward.

Today YouGov released poll data that UKIP are on 14% - something that wasn't news to me as this is exactly the same as the calculations I made last week here.

YouGov's poll comes after data published by ICM in the Guardian which claims an 18% vote share.

So how could UKIP achieve this 18% of the national vote share? This figure, too, looks decidedly dodgy. 

If we take 31.5million or 66% of voters as a likely General Election turn out, UKIP would need 5,670,000 to reach 18%. Of that 31.5million, if UKIP polled a uniform 20% or 3,700,000 across the roughly 18.5million voters who might turn out from the UK’s shires, towns and small and medium cities and combined that with 12.5% or 1million from 8million voters in the major cities UKIP would then need 970,000 or 19.4% from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to reach 18% nationally. Given that UKIP just don’t exist in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a 19.4% vote share there is not only very unlikely it would be miraculous. 

Give UKIP a more likely and still very generous 7.5% in the major cities and 5% in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and they’d need 4,820,000 or 26% across the entire rest of the country to make 18% of the total vote share. Again, very unlikely.

Bring UKIP’s vote share down to the 4.16% they achieved in Bristol – the only major city they’ve recently competed for the vote in - for the urban vote, totalling 330,000, and down to the 0.5% or 25,000 vote share they took in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in 2012, UKIP would be left needing 5,312,000 or 28.7% in the rest of the UK, almost a full 1% above what they polled in Eastleigh, to make the figure up to 18%. 

It just doesn't stack up I'm afraid.

Analysing UKIP's vote - the 23% "national breakthrough" debunked down to 10%

This article first appeared at the Fabian Review website

On the day after the May 2nd 2013 council elections the BBC, as usual, posted a lead story on their news website about the previous day’s vote. Entitled, “As it happened: Vote 2013 results and reaction” it contained this line - “UKIP is the big story of the night, gaining 139 councillors and beating the Lib Dems into fourth place in projected vote share with 23%.”   

Elsewhere on BBC’s online coverage a blogpost was published by their Chief Political Correspondent, Nick Robinson, where he told his readers that “It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land” and “This is a more profound change than you might think.” (Robinson later backtracked on these claims and added a note at the bottom of his original article where he stated “They [UKIP] are not about to challenge for power.”)  

 By the start of the weekend of May 4th what had been an emerging narrative now seemed set in stone – the story of the election was UKIP’s 23% “national breakthrough” and commentators from across the spectrum began relentlessly analysing the potential shifts in the political paradigm for both left and right. 

Yet, something didn’t seem right. The BBC’s online figures contained little raw data regarding real, on-the-ground voting numbers and vote shares as percentages. Furthermore the BBC’s coverage repeated a key phrase – “if we look at UKIP’s vote share in the seats that they stood in” – as a benchmark from which to extrapolate UKIP’s exceptional national breakthrough.   

By Saturday morning 14 of the various areas and councils where the elections had taken place published their actual voting numbers and vote shares. These included parts of the country where UKIP had had their strongest showing such as Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Hampshire. 

On this blog, Moment of Crisis, I published those figures, made some preliminary calculations and arrived at a figure of 18.52% as the UKIP vote share based on those areas only. 

How then had the BBC arrived at 23% projected national vote share for UKIP when it appeared that their vote share was only marginally up on their best performance in the 2009 European Election of 16.5% - and this in the English shires where they were supposed to be at their strongest? How could UKIP’s vote be considered national when 10 of the 34 councils voting hadn’t returned any UKIP councillors at all and in Bristol, the only urban area involved in last Thursday’ elections, they only polled 4.16%? And when you factored in UKIP’s very poor showing in the 2012 & 2011 council elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where they managed a combined total of only two councillors across all three countries, the idea of national had suddenly been reduced to the regions of Southern and Eastern England.   

In the days since then I’ve dug further into what kind of numbers UKIP would need to a) reach a 23% PNVS and b) speculated on what kind of vote UKIP might get in a General Election. The following results are surprising and undermine the dominant and favoured narrative on UKIP that is now being widely circulated.   

If we assume there will be a 66% voter turn out at the next General Election that will give us 31.5million voters from 47.5million of the entire electorate. Therefore to secure a PNVS of 23% of 31.5million UKIP would need a grand total of 7.25million votes across the entire country. Of that 31.5million, roughly 5million will be from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the remaining 26.5million from England. Of that 26.5million roughly 8million would be from the major urban areas such London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield etc. This leaves 18.5million voters in the shires, towns and small to medium urban centres.  

 Given that in Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland UKIP don’t really have any base whatsoever – in the 2012 Scottish Council Elections UKIP secured 0.28% of first preference votes whilst in the 2012 Welsh Council Elections they secured 2 council seats in the entire country and in N. Ireland’s 2011 Council Elections they managed 0.4% vote share - it’s safe to say that it would be miraculous if UKIP polled 5% across these three constituent parts of the UK.   

But, just for arguments’ sake, let’s be extra-generous and give UKIP 7.5% or 375,000 General Election votes from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

 Now we can factor in a projected result from the 8million major English urban areas. If we take UKIP’s Bristol showing (4.16%) and their Greater London Assembly vote (4.5%), more than double it and give UKIP a uniform 12.5% across all the major urban centres that would equal 1million votes.   These very generous projected vote shares give us a grand combined total of 1,375,000 votes from the major urban centres, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These numbers would also mean that from the remaining 18.5million votes UKIP would need to secure 5,875,000 votes or a uniform 31.75% vote share across the board in the English shires, towns and small to medium urban centres in order to attain the 23% projected national vote share. Given that UKIP, even during the Eastleigh by-election only managed 27.8% the notion that they could sustain 31.75% across most of England seems implausible to say the very least. Bring those shares in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the cities down to a more realistic 5% (250,000) and 7.5% (600,000) respectively and UKIP would need to secure 6.4million or 34.6% of the remaining English vote to reach a 23% share.     

If you then reverse the equation and take a generous UKIP share of 23% or 4,255,000 of 18.5million voters in the shires, towns, small and medium urban centres plus 12.5% or 1million voters from the major cities UKIP would then need 2million or 40% of the vote in Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland to take it up to the 7.25million for a PNVS of 23%. Once again, the numbers just don’t add up and the BBC’s 23% figure must be greeted not only with scepticism but cynicism.   

So what would a more realistic UKIP vote share look like? If we agree that UKIP’s actual vote share was 20% last week – still a very decent number – and extrapolated that across the 18.5million voters in the shires, towns, small and medium urban centres we’d get 3.7million votes. Add in a more realistic 2.5%, or 125,000 votes, from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and 7.5%, or 600,000 votes, from the large cities and you’d get a combined national total of UKIP 4,425,000 votes.   As a share of 31.5million, and based on relatively generous numbers, 4,425,000 is 14.04%, far below the 23% projected national vote share concocted by the BBC. In fact, I would instinctively go further and state that due to differing voting patterns and a lack of adequate candidates UKIP would, at their very best, likely only just make 10% as PNVS in a General Election.   

At this stage these numbers represent preliminary investigations but they do assert a challenge to the emerging discourse on UKIP. They also underline questions regarding the BBC’s 23% as UKIP’s PNVS and lead this writer to believe the BBC’s number was spurious hyperbole. My view is that the BBC went with the largest polling number they could find in order to shore up their own sensationalist narrative of the “UKIP Breakthrough” story. Furthermore what is missing from the BBC’s coverage is an explanation of how they reached 23% as their PNVS. It would certainly be interesting to take a close look at the methodology behind and to see how could reach a 23% PNVS figure.  

 As way of conclusion as to what this all means for the Labour Party the first thing to point out is that to all intents and purposes UKIP are, in fact, just Tories by another name. Labour should be standing aloof, statespersonlike, as they watch Farage, Cameron et al tear each other to pieces, shaking their heads disapprovingly and putting out as much of a positive message as possible on getting the economy moving, jobs and homes. 

  Of course, for some, one reaction to UKIP would be for Labour to tack towards UKIP’s position in order to hold onto any possible switching voters. Caution should be urged regarding this strategy as it would likely have few benefits as the small number of UKIP voters who’d switch to Labour would almost certainly be offset by those Labour supporters who would find any rightward turn unpalatable and stay at home.  

 Does this mean that UKIP and its voters can be ignored or dismissed as cranks? No, of course not. But when most people talk of fear of immigration what they are really talking of is a fear that they won’t get their share of scarcer resources. For me Labour need to address the fears of UKIP voters and not pander to them. To do that Labour needs to create positive policy-led solutions to the problems at the root of those fears, not least creating affordable housing, decent, secure jobs and a sense of community engagement with the political process. Just wearing UKIP’s clothes reveals a lack of purpose, ideas and courage. It’s also likely to win Labour few, if any, extra votes.    

Saturday, 4 May 2013

BBC hyperbole and UKIP: Turning 18% into 23%

Follow me on twitter @andrewspoooner


Have checked on UKIP's results in Wales as well. I did a quick search and couldn't find vote share but did find UKIP secured 2 councillors - yes 2 - in the whole of Wales in the 2012 local council elections. That means, across both Wales and Scotland UKIP have a grand total of 2 councillors. Anyone claiming this week's vote is a national breakthrough for UKIP are putting us on. Unless, of course, they think 'national' means the South and East of England. 

Small update but just checked on UKIP's last vote outing in Scotland during 2012 council elections. They received 0.28% which is as good as nothing. Am now curious that if UKIP poll almost zero in Scotland what share would they need to get in England, Wales and N.Ireland to get their national share up to 23%? 28%ish?

I am now slowly collating all the County Council results and it appears that UKIP won about 18%-19%ish of the vote total - quite a sizeable chunk away from the BBC's "projected" 23% - a figure which is now being widely bandied about as a "result". 

I've found vote share figures for 14 of the 34 councils voting (in Hertfordshire I've given UKIP a generous guestimate of 17% as the site just said 19.4% for "others") including Lincolnshire (24.3%) and Norfolk (23.47%) where UKIP did very well and Bristol (4.16%) where they did badly.

The percentage share I've arrived at so for these initial 14 vote shares is 18.52%. I got that figure by adding together all the individual vote shares and dividing by the number of councils that I've found figures for.

If the final UKIP vote share is 18.52% or around that number it only represents a 2%-3%ish increase on their 2009 European Election result of 16.5%

Remember UKIP don't control any one council, came quite distant 2nds and 3rds in seat numbers in the councils they did best in, didn't win one single seat in 10 councils and in 12 others secured less than 5seats. That's 22 out of 34 councils where UKIP made no significant breakthrough. 

So why all the BBC hyperbole? It does seem that a "narrative" was established and once a newsroom starts to run with it it can often be hard to pull back. I don't think there is a "right wing conspiracy" in the BBC but I do think there is some very lazy journalism and a need to use to hyperbole in order to grab a headline. Also the BBC's former Young Conservative Chairman Nick Robinson's blog piece on the election results reached epic proportions of ludicrous hyperbole when he declared 

It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land.

something he immediately backtracked on a few hours later when he wrote 

No-one can know how durable his success will be.

I guess we shouldn't expect much more from Robinson, a man who can seem a bit swivel-eyed and hysterical when it comes to his beloved Tories.

Anyway, here's the numbers I have with links to the relavant websites. If anyone has links to any more vote share figures please post them in the comments and I'll add them to the list and update the total share percentage.

Bristol 4.16%

Cornwall 15%

Cumbria 11.7%

Derbyshire 18.7%

Devon 23%

Hampshire 24.61%

Hertfordshire 17%?

Lancashire 14.72%

Leicestershire 13.4%

Lincolnshire 24.3%

Norfolk 23.47%

Worcestershire 20.44%