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?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The BBC - increasingly unaccountable

Around the time of Margaret Thatcher's funeral I made two fairly innocuous Freedom of Information Act requests to the BBC.



The first request asked


1) The total number of times the BBC has broadcast the song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" either as part of the Wizard of Oz film or as a stand-alone item.
2) The total number of times the BBC has broadcast the 1939 version of the Wizard of Oz

The second asked


The full cost to the BBC for the production and broadcast of Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

Both these fairly innocent requests were refused as, according to the BBC


The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities. 

The BBC also refused my right to internal review stating


The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act.

I think it is quite clear that the BBC now view themselves as no longer having any accountability to the general public despite securing their funding being secured via a form of enforceable taxation.

But given that they allowed sexual predators like Jimmy Savile a free hand for decades is it any wonder that the BBC is nervous about the public scrutinising their affairs?




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 http://www.fabians.org.uk/ukip-breakthrough-in-perspective/


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

John Rentoul seems a bit confused... to say the very least

So poor old John Rentoul seems to have completely lost it.

He's taken it upon himself to compare the 2012 local election results with this week's.

Maybe John doesn't understand that these are different seats in different areas with different local issues and different demographics.



In the 2009 Local Elections, in roughly the same seats that went to the polls this week Labour polled 23% and the Lib Dems 28%.

Labour are now reportedly up to about 29% in these same seats - so that's a 6% improvement. The Lib Dem vote seems to have collapsed to about 15% and have lost almost 25% of the seats they previously held.

Yet somehow, for John, these Labour gains - all 291 councillor seats - didn't actually happen.

What actually happened on Planet Rentoul was that Labour lost votes to UKIP and it was some kind of debacle because he read a Lib Dem blog telling him so.

Did John even think for one minute that maybe, just maybe, his Lib Dem source might be trying to cover up the Lib Dems diabolical and complete failure in these elections not least finishing 7th - SEVENTH - in the South Shields by-election with the Independent Socialist Party candidate getting double the pitiful Lib Dem showing?

Perish the thought.




BBC hyperbole and UKIP: Turning 18% into 23%

Follow me on twitter @andrewspoooner

UPDATE 2

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. 

UPDATE
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%