Leave EU Facebook Overspending and the Brexit Result

Last week an Independent article claimed

Brexit: Leave ‘very likely’ won EU referendum due to illegal overspending, says Oxford professor’s evidence to High Court

The article began

It is “very likely” that the UK voted for Brexit because of illegal overspending by the Vote Leave campaign, according to an Oxford professor’s evidence to the High Court.

Professor Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute, at the university, said: “My professional opinion is that it is very likely that the excessive spending by Vote Leave altered the result of the referendum.
“A swing of just 634,751 people would have been enough to secure victory for Remain.
“Given the scale of the online advertising achieved with the excess spending, combined with conservative estimates on voter modelling, I estimate that Vote Leave converted the voting intentions of over 800,000 voters in the final days of the campaign as a result of the overspend.”

Is the estimate conservative? Anthony Masters, a Statistical Ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society, questions the statistics in the Spectator. The 800,000 was based upon 80 million Facebook users, 10% of whom clicked in on the advert. Of those clicking, 10% changed their minds.

Masters gave some amplification on in a follow-up blog post Did Vote Leave’s overspending cause their victory?
The reasons for doubting the “conservative” figures are multiple, including
– There were not 80 million voters on Facebook. Of the 46 million voters, at most only 25.6 million had Facebook accounts.
– Click through rate for ads is far less than 10%. In UK in 2016 it was estimated at 0.5%.
– Advertising is not the source of campaigning. It is not even viewed as the primary source, merely bolstering other parts of a campaign through awareness and presence.
– 10% of those reading the advert changing their minds is unlikely. Evidence is far less.
Anthony Masters concludes the Spectator piece by using Professor Howard’s own published criteria.

Prof Howard’s 2005 book, New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen, also argues that we should apply a different calculation to that submitted to the High Court. His book says to apply a one per cent click-through rate, where 10 per cent “believe” what they read; and of that 10 per cent act. This ‘belief’ stage appears to have been omitted in the High Court submission’s final calculation. Using these rates, this calculation turns 25.6 million people into 2,560 changed votes – hardly enough to have swung the referendum for Leave, given that their margin of victory was over a million votes. If we share a belief in accuracy, this erroneous claim should have limited reach.

There is further evidence that runs contrary to Prof Howard’s claims.

1. The Polls
To evaluate the statistical evidence for a conjecture – particularly for a contentious and opinionated issue like Brexit – I believe one needs to look at the wider context. If a Facebook campaign swung the Referendum campaign in the final few days from Remain to Leave, then there should be evidence of a swing in the polls. In the blog article Masters raised three graphs based on the polls that contradict this swing. It would appear that through the four weeks of the official campaign the Remain / Leave split was fairly consistent on a poll of polls basis. From analysis by pollster YouGov, the Leave share peaked on 13th June – ten days before the referendum. The third graphic, from a statistical analysis from the LSE, provides the clearest evidence.

The peak was just three days before the murder of MP Jo Cox by Tommy Mair. Jo Cox was a Remain campaigner, whilst it was reported that the attacker shouted slogans like “Britain First”. The shift in the polls could have been influenced by the glowing tributes to the murdered MP, alongside the speculation of the vile motives a clear Vote Leave supporter. That Jo Cox’s murder should have had no influence, especially when campaigning was suspended as a result of the murder, does not seem credible.

On Twitter, Anthony Masters also pointed to a question in Lord Ashcroft’s poll carried out on the day of the referendum – How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why to a graphic that looked at when people had decided which way to vote. At most 16% of leave voters made up their minds in the last few days, slightly less than the 18% who voted remain.

The same poll looked at the demographics.


This clearly shows the split by age group. The younger a voter the more likely they were to vote Remain. It is not a minor relationship. 73% of 18-24s voted for Remain, whilst 40% of the 65% voted. Similarly, the younger a person the greater the time spent on social media such as Facebook.

2. Voting by area
Another, aspect is to look at the geographical analysis. Using Chris Hanretty’s estimates of the EU referendum results by constituency, I concluded that the most pro-Remain areas were the centre of major cities and in the University Cities of Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol. This is where the most vocal people reside.

The most pro-Leave areas were in the minor towns such are Stoke and Boston. Greater Manchester provided a good snapshot of the National picture. Of the 22 constituencies is estimated that just 3 has a majority remain vote. The central to the City of Manchester. The constituencies on the periphery voted to Leave, the strongest being on the east of Manchester and a few miles from the city centre. Manchester Central contains many of the modern flats and converted warehouses of Manchester. Manchester Withington has a preponderance of media types working at Media City for the BBC and ITV, along with education sector professionals.

These are the people who are not just geographically marginalised, but often feel politically marginalised as well.

Concluding comments

Overall, Professor Howard’s claims of late Facebook posts swinging the Referendum result are not credible at all. They are about as crackpot (and contradict) as the claims of Russian influence on the Brexit result.
To really understand the issues one needs to look at the data from different perspectives and the wider context. But the more dogmatic Remainers appear to be using their power and influence – backed by scanty assertions -to thrust their dogmas onto everyone else. This is undermining academic credibility, and the democratic process. By using the courts to pursue their dogmas, it also threatens to pull the legal system into the fray, potentially undermining the respect for the rule of law for those on the periphery.

Kevin Marshall

Did Brexit Influence the General Election 2017 Result?

In the year following the EU Referendum, I wrote a number of posts utilizing Chris Hanretty’s estimates of the vote split by constituency for England and Wales. Hanretty estimates that 421 of the 573 constituencies in England and Wales voted to leave. These estimates were necessary as the vote was counted by different – and mostly larger – areas than the parliamentary constituencies.

Politically, my major conclusion was that it was the Labour Party who could potentially suffer more from Brexit. There are two major reasons for this situation.

First, is that the Labour constituencies had a far greater spread of views than the Conservative constituencies. This is in both the divergence between regions and the disproportionate numbers of constituencies that are were either extreme Remain or extreme Leave in the referendum. Figure 1 is for the result for constituencies with Conservative MPs in 2016, and Figure 2 for constituencies with Labour MPs.

Figure 1: Constituencies in England and Wales with Conservative MPs in 2016, by estimated Leave or Remain Band. 

Figure 2: Constituencies in England and Wales with Labour Party MPs in 2016, by estimated Leave or Remain Band. 

In particular, London, where much of the current Labour Leadership are based, has views on the EU diametrically opposed views to the regions where most of the traditional Labour vote resides. Further analysis, from July 2016, is here.

Second, is the profile of the Leave supports. Based on an extensive poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft on EU Referendum day, Leave support was especially strong on those retired on a State Pension, council and housing association tenants, those whose formal education did not progress beyond secondary school, and the C2DEs. That is, groups that traditionally disproportionately vote Labour. Further details, from May 2017, are here.

Yet, the results of the snap General Election in June 2017 suggest that it was the Conservatives that suffered from Brexit. Despite their share of the popular vote increasing by over 5%, to the highest share in 25 years, they had a net loss of 13 seats and lost their majority. Labour increased their share of the vote by 10%, but only had a net gain of 30 seats.

Do the positions on Brexit appear to have had an influence? The Conservatives were seeking a stronger mandate for the Brexit negotiations, whilst Labour strongly avoided taken a firm position one way or the other. Chris Hanretty has revised his estimates, with the number of Leave-majority constituencies in England and Wales reduced from 421 to 401. The general picture is unchanged from the previous analysis. I have taken these revised figures, put them into the eight bands used previously and compared to the full election results available from the House of Commons Library.

The main seat results are in Figure 3.

Main points from Figure 3 (for England and Wales) are

  • Conservatives had a net loss of 25 seats, 14 of which likely voted Remain in the EU Referendum and 11 likely voted Leave. Remain seats reduced by 18% and Leave seats by 4%.
  • All 6 gains from Labour were in strongly Remain constituencies. This includes Copeland, which was gained in a by-election in early 2017 and retained in the General Election.
  • Labour had a net gain of 24 seats, 13 of which likely voted Remain in the EU Referendum and 11 likely voted Leave. Remain seats increased by 16% and Leave seats by 7%.

Figure 4 is the average percentage change in the constituency vote from 2015 to 2017 for the Conservative Party.

Main point from Figure 4 for the Conservative Party is

  • The estimated Referendum vote is a strong predictor of change in Conservative Party vote share from 2015 to 2017 General Election.

Figure 5 is the average percentage change in the constituency vote from 2015 to 2017 for the Labour Party.

Main points from Figure 5 for the Labour Party are

  • Overall average constituency vote share increased by 10% on the 2015 General Election.
  • In the 6 seats lost to the Conservatives, Labour’s share of the vote increased.
  • In every area, Labour increased its share of the constituency vote with one exception. In the 6 seats that the Liberal Democrats gained from the Conservatives, the Labour share of the vote was on average unchanged. This suggests some tactical voting.
  • In Conservative “hold” seats Labour’s increase in vote share did not have a “Remain” bias.
  • In Labour “hold” seats Labour’s increase in vote share had a strong “Remain” bias.

In summary, it would appear that the Conservatives in implementing Brexit have mostly suffered at the ballot in Remain areas. Labour, in being the Party of Opposition and avoiding taking a clear position on Brexit, benefited from the Remain support without being deserted by the Leave vote. I will leave it for another day – and for others – to draw out further conclusions.

Kevin Marshall

Update 23rd May

Whilst writing the above, I was unaware of a report produced by political pundit Prof John Curtice last December Has Brexit Reshaped British Politics?

Key findings

In the 2017 election the Conservatives gained support amongst Leave voters but fell back amongst Remain supporters. Labour, in contrast, advanced more strongly amongst Remain than amongst Leave voters.

That is pretty much my own findings by a different method. Both methods can produce different insights. My own approach can give regional analysis.

SNP Government’s Out-Sourced Propaganda on Food Waste

In the previous post I promised to provide some clear illustrations of the climate of this policy nonsense in Britain. The United Kingdom has a rather strange constitution, where three of the four countries have devolved assemblies, but largest with 83% of the population does not. The most vocal by far is the Scottish Assembly lead by Scottish Nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The United Kingdom has the world’s most strident Climate legislation in the form of the Climate Change Act 2008. The Scottish Nationalists seek to differentiate themselves from the English by usurping the British role of leading the world on Climate Change. Scotland is therefore a useful place to look for the most extreme examples.

Zero Waste Scotland, a Stirling-based company Limited by Guarantee, almost entirely funded by the Scottish Government, exists to promote environmentalist propaganda. In their words .

Zero Waste Scotland exists to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. 

Take the page on Food Waste

Your food does its job best when it’s on a plate ready to be enjoyed. Saving food saves money and helps to slow down global warming and deforestation. Reducing the amount of food that ends up in the bin also means you can say goodbye to unnecessary packaging waste. If we all make a few small changes and start using up the food we buy, together we can make a big difference.

Look at the “we” part in relation to making a big difference to slowing global warming. It is a Scottish-based website, promoting Scottish Government policy. The context to consider this claim is

  1. Note all the Scottish people will take up the call from the website. Indeed, very few will likely visit the webpage, particularly those who are not already .
  2. Domestic food waste is less than the total food waste. There is waste in farming, food processing, restaurants, schools and retailing.
  3. Food Waste is a only a small part of total Scottish emissions. Zero Waste Scotland estimates 1.5 millions tonnes of 75 millions tonnes.
  4. Scottish emissions of 75 MtCO2E are a small part of global greenhouse emissions of 54000 MtCO2.

The slow-down if all readers of the website and reduce food waste to zero in slowing global warming (assuming the link between warming and GHG less) is much less than 0.0028% of the total.
Will people save money and reduce packaging waste by eliminating food waste? I believe that a cheap healthy diet for a family. I always tried to provide fruit and fresh vegetables for my growing children, as against cakes and ice-cream. With growing children, getting them to eat vegetables was a problem. Cabbage, leaks and mange tout were least successful. Corn on the cob was successful for a while. But we rarely had tinned of baked beans, which were popular. With fruit, some got left depending on the mood, and other foods eaten. Peels and cores added to the waste, along with the unsightly bits of cheaper potatoes and residue of roast chicken, leg of lamb and pork shoulder. (We are not keen on the fat, nor soup made from the stock). We could have saved waste by spending more on quality, or reduced waste by careful planning. For hard-working families there are other considerations. On a weekly shop it is a case of chucking some things in the trolley that will provide quick meals. Detailed planning of meals and careful preparation is sacrificed for family time, relaxation and sleeping. In terms of focusing on food waste could cause other harms, like failing to provide a varied diet to children and maybe spending more. The loss of leisure and family time are potential non-monetary costs.

Zero Waste Scotland gets a 10% reduction from the 5.5 million people in Scotland, that is just 0.00028%, But the people reading are individuals, and maybe decision-makers for the families. A family going from average to zero food waste might reduce global emissions by 0.000000001%.

Imagine is a business making such a grossly misleading claims in the benefits, and hiding of potential harmful side-effects in promoting say, vitamins. They would be prosecuted. But this is not a business selling a product but environmentalist propaganda.

However, there are benefits to the Scottish Government.

First, by having fancy websites, along with signage all over the place, they can claim they are combating climate change. This enables First Minister Sturgeon being able to dream of being making serious speeches to the UN and being photographed next to other world leaders.

Further, this messaging changes peoples perceptions, meaning that anybody who perceives the absurdity is met by incomprehension and a string of half-learnt mantras. Without imposing censorship, in the name of “saving the planet” this promotes a progressive consensus that cannot be challenged.

Third, there are British Government and EU targets to reduce food waste and other environmental concerns. When persuasion does not work, there is greater justification in providing incentives to promote “better” behaviour, as with banning smoking in public places, minimum price for alcohol and a awkward charging for plastic bags. Alternatively by taking some of the decision-making powers about what people eat and how they live their lives out of their hands and placing under the guidance of those who know better. They Scottish Government already tried this with the named person child protection scheme.

Fourth, by out-sourcing (or privatizing) political propaganda, the SNP can avoid the claim of using the Scottish Government website for promoting a political hegemony.

Kevin Marshall

 

 

General Election 2017 is a victory for the Alpha Trolls over Serving One’s Country

My General Election forecast made less than 12 hours before the polls opened yesterday morning was rubbish. I forecast a comfortable majority of 76 for the Conservatives, when it now looks like there will be a hung Parliament. That my central estimate was the same as both Lord Ashcroft‘s and Cerburus at Conservative Women is no excuse. In fact it is precisely not following general opinion, but understanding the real world, that I write this blog. What I have learnt is that the social media was driving a totally different campaign that was being reported in the other media. The opinion polls started to pick this up, and all sensible people did not believe it. Personally I was partly blind to the reality, as I cannot understand why large numbers of people should vote in numbers for an extreme left political activist who has over many years has sided with terrorists. Or a prospective Home Secretary who once voiced support for terrorism, and is unrepentant about that support. But then, in Paris 2015 leaders of the Western World voted for a Climate Agreement to cut global emissions, when that very Agreement stated it would do no such thing. The assessment of achievement was in the enthusiasm of the applause for the world leaders, rather than comparing objectives with results. That means comparing the real data with what is said.

Similarly in this election, we had all parties saying that they would spend more on things that have very marginal benefit compared to the cost. This included improving the NHS by giving staff a pay rise, or increasing the numbers of police “in every ward” to combat terrorism. It also includes trying to retain the structures of the European Union when we are leaving it, without defining recognizing the issues of a half-way house or the real benefits of those institutions There was also the gross hypocrisy of blaming problems caused, in part or in full, of past policies on something or someone else. This includes

  • Blaming austerity on the Tory Government, when the current structural deficit is a legacy of Gordon Brown’s Golden Rule. Given that Gordon Brown is a Scottish Progressive, it something that the SNP needs to confront as well.
  • Blaming rise energy bills on the Energy Companies, when it is a result of the Climate Change Act 2008. When Ed Miliband launched the policy at the Labour Party Conference in 2013, it was seen as something of the left extremism. But the Conservatives put such controls in their manifesto as well.
  • Blaming the rising cost of pensions on increased longevity, when a major part of the reason is near zero interest rates on savings.

Part of that blame is for the rise is the spin doctors, who only put out messages that will be well received by the target voters, and keep in the background areas where the target voters are split in their views. The Conservative manifesto and Theresa May’s election campaign could be seen as the inheritors of these 1990s New Labour doctrines. The Labour Party, however have rejected New Labour Blairism. In one sense Labour have retrogressed, with mass rallies that hark back to era when the British socialist party was in the ascendancy. But in another way Labour grassroots have embraced the new technology. We have a new way of communicating ideas based on a picture and 140 characters that takes power away from a few professional manipulators of public opinion. That power now rests with alpha trolls or non-entity celebs with their shallow views supported by isolated facts. It is a sphere where excluding other opinions by changing the subject; or having the last word; or taking offence for upsetting their false perceptions; or claiming those with other opinions are either outright lying or are blinkered; or getting fanciful claims repeated thousands of times until they are accepted as though they were fact.

There is a way out of this morass, that is the exact opposite of the Donald Trump method of out-trolling the trolls. It is by better understanding the real world, so that a vision can be developed that better serves the long-term interests of the people, rather than being lead by the blinkered dogmatists and alpha trolls. I believe that Britain has the best heritage of any country to draw upon for the task. That is a country of the mother of all Parliaments and of the country that evolved trial by a jury of one’s peers. It is a country where people have over the centuries broken out of the box of current opinion to produce something based on a better understanding of the world, without violent revolution. That was the case in science with Sir Issac Newton, Charles Darwin and James Clerk Maxwell. This was the case in economics with Adam Smith and in Christianity with John Wesley. But there are dangers as well.

It is on the issue of policy to combat climate change that there is greatest cross-party consensus, and the greatest concentration of alpha trolls. It is also where there is the clearest illustration of policy that is objectively useless and harmful to the people of this country. I will be providing some illustrations of this policy nonsense in the coming days.

Kevin Marshall

 

ManicBeancounter’s General Election Forecast 2017

Update 11/06/17

This forecast turned out to be widely incorrect. In a follow-up post I try to explore why it was incorrect. The major mistake I believe was to bend my forecast to a consensus of opinion. My follow-up post explores this further.

In the past few weeks there have been dramatic swings in the opinion polls. As a result of which I felt unable to update my forecasts. Although the Conservatives have fallen in the polls, and Labour have risen, it is a very inconsistent picture. One Yougov poll had Labour only one point behind the Conservatives. Yet Atul Hatwal at Labour Uncut believes from the canvassing returns, the Labour Party is in for a nuclear winter outside of London.

However, I will go Mike Smithson, the punters and most of the polls in predicting in showing a Conservative lead approaching double figures. Up from about 6% at the last General election, it is quite a small change considering the dramatic changes in the political landscape of the last couple of years. To use uniform swings based on the General Election 2015 would be absurd. My method has been

  • Start with the absurd. I use uniform swings – but by region – updating the post of 22nd May, with the forecast for a Tory majority of 28.
  • Kept the assumption of a Conservative revival at the expense of the SNP in Scotland, but with Labour now only slightly down on 2015. Assume that Labour are doing very well in London.
  • Assumed that in Labour constituencies where UKIP were strong in 2015, half the UKIP vote would go Conservative, and some of the Labour voters would stay at home. That is across the North of England and in Wales I am assuming a drop in turnout, which will be at the expense of Labour.
  • I have not made a general allowance for a drop in turnout. This could be significant given the appalling campaigns, and the weather forecast.

In Figure 1 is the General Election Result 2015

Figure 2 is my best guess, by region, of the result of tomorrow’s election.

This would give the Conservatives a majority of 76. This is much smaller than the forecasts in April, but much larger than that of even a week ago.

Figure 3 is the summary of seat gains

The Conservatives gain seats in Scotland, the North, Wales and the West Midlands. Labour still manages over 200 seats. Whilst this is down on 2015, it is better than Micheal Foot did in 1983, and the share of the popular vote is still around 35%, which could be higher than the share Tony Blair achieved when he won the General Election in 2005.

The part of the forecast where I will be closest is the seats with no change.

A quick look at other forecasts. Lord Ashcrofts’ constituency estimate is for majorities between 48 and 78. These are probabilistic estimates, so will not identify actual seats.

The Telegraph have published Chris Hanretty’s estimate of a 100 seat majority. Hanretty did some excellent work on the EU referendum, which I have utilized in a number of posts.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But having crude figures by constituency I can compare forecast with actual.

Update 8th June 18.30

Lord Ashcroft’s final estimates were published at 15.45 at Conservative Home. His central “combined probabilistic estimate” of 363 Conservative seats, giving a majority of 76, is exactly the same as mine. We differ on the other parties, as I am assuming Labour will do worse in their Northern heartlands, where disillusioned voters in the Brexit areas will stay at home. The Lib-Dems and Plaid Cymru I assume will do better due to strong local support.

Final-estimates-170608-768x527

 

 

Kevin Marshall

Banksy trying to bribe voters through a legal loophole?

The BBC has an article Banksy makes election print-for-vote offer.

Secretive artist Banksy has offered fans a free print if they vote against the Conservatives in a move which could land him in legal trouble.

The political graffitist posted on his website offering a print to voters in six Bristol area constituencies.

Applicants have to send him a ballot paper photo showing a vote against the Tories to get the limited edition work.

This would contravene laws designed to ensure votes remain secret, and could break rules against bribery.

Banksy print

The small print is

Lawyer’s note: this print is a souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for re-sale. Terms and conditions to follow, postage not included.

I will leave it up to the Electoral Commission to decide the legality of Bansky’s offer. But the terms in the small print shows a delusion of the left. Simply by declaring that something “has no monetary value” and is “for amusement purposes only” does not mean that the print is not valuable to the recipient. For instance, experiences in my life have no monetary value, but I value them highly. In this respect the offer of a print for not voting Conservative could be viewed the same as a similar offer of being able to meet a famous person that the voter admires. What most people would agree upon is that some of the most valuable things in life have no monetary value, such as love, friendship or the bonds of family. The left have always been keen to emphasize that by creating monetary values, capitalism distorts these real values. It is therefore somewhat hypocritical for someone of the left to circumvent the law on bribing voters by offering a reward for voting in a non-monetary way, That is by trying to legally demonstrate that there is no bribe by declaring it has no monetary value, when to the genuine left-wing voters it is more valuable due to declared monetary value. The only defense if that those of the genuine left would never vote Conservative anyway. But that means that any offers for sale on Ebay of the prints are evidence that someone maybe changed their vote to get a print.

Alternatively, as most people agree that some things without monetary value are still valuable, including Conservative voters it could still be valuable. The intellectual left view Tories as being of lower morals, particularly looking after their selfish interests. In this respect maybe someone who would normally vote Conservative will vote for a non-Conservative outsider, to get the print. I am sure that Banksy feel able to stand up in court, under his real name, and proclaim under oath that no Conservative would stoop to such an action. I am just as sure that Corbinysta twitter trolls will be queuing  up with their Twitter histories to affirm that they have never implied anything other than that Conservatives were on a similar level of morals to themselves.

Just to clear, Banksy might be within the law. But it would appear to be rank hypocrisy from a left-winger to offer something that is declared without a monetary value, but clear non-monetary value, when most people agree – particularly of the left – that many things with a non-monetary value are in fact valuable to them.

Update 07/06/17

Guido Fawkes reported yesterday that Banksy has withdrawn this “bribe”.

Banksy recall

 

Kevin Marshall

 

 

 

 

Jeff Smiths Brexit Denial in South Manchester

I received an election communication from Jeff Smith, the former Labour MP. This is the main message.

 

(Online here)

The middle paragraph forms the core of the unreality of the Labour Party.

Theresa May wants to pretend she called this election because of Brexit, but her real aim is to get a get a big Conservative majority so she can impose more cuts on our schools, NHS and public services. Only a strong Labour Party can stop her. A vote for Labour is a vote for investment in jobs, our local services and out childrens’ future.

Take the first claim

Theresa May wants to pretend she called this election because of Brexit

The Prime Minister is not pretending that she called the election because of Brexit. This was the major reason. To anyone who has followed the news in Britain over the last twelve months, leaving the European Union is the major and most pressing political issue facing this country. The timeline of events fits this narrative. The Prime Minister made the announced the snap election for June 8th on April 18th (Guardian, Independent, Telegraph), just three weeks after the Prime Minister’s letter to European Council President Donald Tusk to notifying him of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. This followed a vote in the House of Commons on March 13th sanctioning the triggering of Article 50. On the face of it, Jeff Smith is failing to face reality by making a false claim against his opponent. This false claim is denying the important change to the British Constitution in at least 40 years.

Then the second claim.

..but her real aim is to get a get a big Conservative majority so she can impose more cuts on our schools, NHS and public services.

There is a secondary aim of the Conservatives to balance the eliminate the budget deficit inherited from the last Labour Government. Rather than rapid reductions, the date of balancing the books has been continually put back. In 2010 it was 2015, now it is around 2022. Phillip Hammond takes a more relaxed view of deficits than George Osborne.

Jeff Smith’s biggest fantasy follows

Only a strong Labour Party can stop her.

A strong Labour Party does not exist at the moment. To be strong, the Parliamentary Labour Party need a leader they can unite behind. Jeff Smith, in common with nearly every other Labour Candidate (bar Diane Abbott), does not once mention the leader in his literature. Last June 172 MPs voted Yes to a no confidence motion in Jeremy Corbyn against 40 who voted No. Nearly all of the most experienced MPs refuse to be in the Shadow Cabinet. Further, the leader has always been opposed to some policies in the Labour manifesto, such as renewal of Trident Nuclear Weapons, or anti-terrorist legislation. Corbyns’ closest allies include closet Marxist John McDonnell and a Shadow Home Secretary who is unrepentant about her past support of IRA terrorism. A strong leadership would discipline MPs who defied a party whip, Under normal circumstances anybody who defied a three-line Whip on the most important vote in years would be disciplined. In particular, any member of the front bench team or party whips who defied the Whip would be sacked. Jeff Smith, a party whip. defied the whip on Article 50, did not honorably resign and was not sacked. Jeremy Corbyn is too weak a leader even to control his own MPs.

Why Brexit denialism?

Why should a Labour candidate, who is acutely aware of the wider political realities, blatantly deny those realities by making false accusations? The answer lies in the results of the EU Referendum. In 2015 Labour won 22 of the 27 constituencies in Greater Manchester. Using Chris Hanretty’s estimated referendum results by constituency, I have created a graph of the referendum results for the 2015 Manchester Labour Constituencies, with the most pro-leave on the left descending to the least.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 16 of the 22 Labour constituencies in Greater Manchester. the estimated Leave vote was greater than the 51.9% National Result. The three most anti-Leave constituencies are in the centre of Manchester. It is Manchester Withington, where Jeff Smith is seeking re-election, that most anti-Leave in the area. Geographically and politically within Manchester, the pro-Leave constituencies are on the periphery, whilst the three most pro-Remain are at the centre. This is a metaphor for the Labour Party itself over Brexit. The current visible leadership team of the Labour Party (Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott) are all from London, one of three regions to vote to Remain in the EU. The other nine regions, with three-quarters of the UK population, voted to Leave. Yet a disproportionate proportion of the Labour Membership are both virulently pro-EU and London-based.

A Yougov survey looking at the how people voted in the EU Referendum, estimated that 65% of those who voted Labour in 2015, voted for Remain in 2016. These results seem to contradict the results in the Greater Manchester Labour constituencies. But this is not the case. Even with the possibility that a smaller proportion of Manchester Labour voters supported Remain than nationally, there is still the fact that in many Labour constituencies, the non-Labour voters were massively pro-Leave. This puts the Labour Party candidates in a quandary. Support Brexit, going against their beliefs and alienate the Labour Party membership and many of their core voters. Disrespect the result of the Referendum, and the majority of their constituents will be strongly motivated to vote for someone else. Either way they lose. So Labour Candidates can either, like Jeff Smith, openly deny the reality of Brexit, or deliberately exclude any mention that is happening. 

Kevin Marshall

 

 

Diane Abbott’s Lack of Repentance for Past Support of IRA Terrorism

Today on the Andrew Marr show Diane Abbott, who could be Home Secretary if Labour win the election, refused to categorically say that she has changed her former views on supporting the IRA.

There is the following clip.

 Andrew Marr : You yourself said it would be a defeat for the British State would be a great move forward at that period of time. Do you regret your support for IRA right back in the eighties.

Diane Abbott : That particular quote you’re referring to comes from a now defunct left newspaper and it has as well as ….. no no no no, but what I am saying to you is this. It was 34 years ago, I has a rather splendid afro at the time. I don’t have the same hairstyle and 1 don’t have the same views. The hairstyle has gone and some of the views have gone.

At 49s

AM : …Do you regret what you have said about the IRA at the height of the bombing?

DA : What specifically do you want me to regret? 

AM : (caught off guard stutters, searches among papers) …You said “a defeat of the IRA would be devastating to the British people” and ” a defeat for the British State was a good thing” you said at the time when the IRA was attacking the British State. And you said “the reason for the violence was the entirely caused by the British presence in Northern Ireland”. I am saying do you think that the those statements now are wrong?

DA : This was 34 years ago. I’ve moved on. 

AM : You’ve moved on. Alright I got the quote here finally. You said “The Ireland is our struggle. Every defeat of the British State is a victory for all of us. A defeat in Northern Ireland would be a defeat indeed” was the quote. 

DA : 34 years ago. And I have moved on.

Many of us have held views that we no longer hold. Some of them we would now find distasteful or shameful. In politics, there are many who had extremist and repugnant views in the past. I do not believe that, morally, this should necessarily be a bar to high office. But you must clearly have repented of such views, and very clearly state how your current views differ from past views. This comes from my Christian perspective that we should repent of our sins and strive to leave a better life. For those seeking high political office, it is analogous to former criminals seeking to become a minister (or priest) within the Church. Having held repugnant views (or even committed criminal acts) in the past, and recognize them as such, along with the transition they have made, they might have an understanding of how to lead others away from those views, or how to combat the threat they pose to the wider communities. But Diane Abbott’s perspective is like a church considering for ministry someone who does not repent (and maybe still practice) denouncing Christian Church, proclaiming the teachings of Jesus Christ are false, and thinking that the murder of fellow Christians for their faith is of no consequence.

However, so as not to be accussed of taking a short section a longer interview out of context, I refer to readers to a video of the full interview.

For instance from 2.00 where Marr asks Abbott about the early day motion she signed in 1989 asking for the “Aboilition of conspiratorial groups like MI5 and Special Branch….”.

Or at 2.50 Marr asking about Abbotts voting against anti-terrorist legislation about 30 times. The deflection is that she voted the same way as Tory MPs. That is rebelled against her own party when in Government.

At 3.45 she is asked about why, shortly before 9/11, she voted against Al Qaeda being proscribed as a terrorist organisation. The excuse is that the legislation was for a whole list of organisations, some of which some people would argue were not terrorist organisations. In my view, the FARC group in Columbia could also be called a dissident group, or even freedom fighters. Alternatively FARC is a communist terrorist organisation that have murdered tens of thousands over the last fifty years, forcibly conscripting children into its ranks and financing it activities through kidnapping, extortion and involvement in all levels of drug trade and production. Your perspective depends on whether or not one supports the Rule of Law in Liberal-Democracies. Diane Abbott clearly did not in the past, and will not proclaim she has recanted such views. Neither would she give one example of organisation that should not have been proscribed.

To repeat, if Labour are elected Diane Abbott, could be Home Secretary. Andrew Marr lets Diane Abbott conclude on an upbeat note. At 13.20 Abbott says

I will run the best Home Office that I can. I will draw on my experience having worked there. I’ll draw on my experience as an MP at the grassroots. But we will have the best Home Office that I can run, which will draw on some of the Home Office’s best traditions and above all will keep this country safe.

The Home Office website lists nine Responsibilities. These include

  • keeping the United Kingdom safe from the threat of terrorism
  • reducing and preventing crime, and ensuring people feel safe in their homes and communities
  • securing the UK border and controlling immigration
  • considering applications to enter and stay in the UK
  • supporting visible, responsible and accountable policing by empowering the public and freeing up the police to fight crime

So I would ask

  1. Is the best good enough for this country, from someone who in the past has preferred terrorists to the British State, and will not now proclaim those views to be a grievous error of judgement? For those who are citizens of other countries, and love that country despite its imperfections, substitute your country in the question.
  2. Is someone who has called for the abolition of of MI5 and Special Branch (rather than calling for reforms) and not recanted those views, be a fit person to head up those organisations?
  3. Will someone who is unable to provide a single example of a dissident group on a list that included the most deadly terrorist organisation of recent times, be a person of sound judgement to decide who is fit to be let into the country?

 

My point here is that a politician does not have to always supported the British State in preference to terrorists that sought to harm Britain and its citizens, to put themselves forward as a Minister of State. But they should express a clear preference in support of the British State at the point of consideration. That includes making a clear statement that past errant views were wrong. But admission of error is something that the British Hard Left never do. They will evade, deflect, distort, and name-call, but never admit to a crack in their omniscience. Diane Abbott is a long-term leading light of this left-wing trait.

Kevin Marshall

 

Revised General Election Forecast gives Tories a Majority of 28

In the previous post I made a General Election Seat Forecast based on the massive YouGov regional opinion poll published on May 15. Based on a uniform swing in all seats in a region, this would have given the Conservatives a majority of 128. This was slightly below other forecasts, but still a substantial majority. In the past week, following the publishing of the Labour and Conservative Manifestos, the polls have swung substantially. The Sunday Times / YouGov weekly poll, published yesterday (21 May) gave Con 44 (-2), Lab 35 (+6), LD 9 (-2) and UKIP 3 (-3). YouGov today have published an opinion poll for Wales, giving Con 34 (-7), Lab 44 (+9), LD 6 (-1), Plaid Cymru 9 (-2)  and UKIP 5 (-1). All the changes are with respect to the regional opinion poll. These are quite large changes, by still leave the Conservatives with a nine point lead over Labour. Surely this will still leave a fairly comfortable majority? A recalculation on the same basis gives quite a startling result.

Figure 1 gives summarizes the General Election Result of two years ago.

The 330 seats gained by the Conservatives (plus 1 for the Speaker) gives a small majority in a 650 seat Parliament. As Sinn Fein never take their seats, this gave a small majority of 14. This with 37.7% of the vote (excluding Northern Ireland). Surely with 44%, the Conservatives should do significantly better? Figure 2 gives my recalculations, based on the latest opinion polls.

Conservatives (including the Speaker) see an increase of just 7 seats for 7% more of the popular vote. Labour see an increase of 2 seats for 5% more of the popular vote. The Conservative majority doubles to 28 seats. Figure 3 shows where the parties gain seats.

Very few seats change at all change under this forecast. Four regions see no seat changes at all. In three regions the Conservatives lose seats to Labour, and in London they lose two seats to the Lib Dems. The increased majority is reliant on the gains from the SNP in Scotland. Stemming the tide of the Scots Nats (who in the last year have been a more effective opposition than Labour) might alone be worth calling a General Election. Whilst a small majority would severely weaken the Brexit negotiating stance, for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn to poll significantly better than Ed Miliband in 2005 and Gordon Brown in 2010, would mean that he could retain power. The Labour Party would still be condemned to being a weak opposition under Corbyn, and the hard left would be able to consolidate their power.

Now there are some points that will likely give Theresa May a larger majority on June 9th.

First, the forecast I made last week gave a lower Conservative majority than the more sophisticated forecasts. Uniform swing does not allow for local battles. The Tories have more enthusiasm compared to a deeply divided Labour Party.

Second, the Labour Manifesto was well received in parts, but the larger picture of financing was based on some fairly implausible assumptions. The Conservative manifesto was weak in parts but was mostly more of the same. As a result it seems Labour may have peaked, and the Conservatives are having a wobble.

Third, the Conservative election machine is far more formidable than the Labour one. Once they re-focus the debate on twin themes of leadership and Brexit, the Conservatives are the more likely to gain ground.

Fourth, the last minute scare tactics will work against Labour. Expect the last Conservative Party Political Broadcast to feature Jeremy Corbyn’s qualities and past associations. Conversely Labour’s usual “24 hours to save the NHS” tactic has already been anticipated.

Kevin Marshall

General Election Forecast based on Uniform Swing by Region

On May 15, YouGov produced a General Election opinion poll broken down by the eleven Regions of Great Britain. It seems impressive with 14395 GB Adults, plus 1040 London Adults, 1017 Scottish Adults and 1018 Welsh Adults. However, with fieldwork on 24 April to 05 May, it might be a little out of date. By combining this with the General Election Results by Constituency (available for the British Election Study) I have been able to produce a crude forecast for the General Election on June 8th.

The starting point in the General Election Results of May 2015, shown in Figure 1. Since then Con has gained 1 seat from Lab (Copeland), and lost a seat to LD (Richmond). The sole UKIP MP, Douglas Carswell, left the Party in March to become an Independent. These are ignored.

Note that the 18 Northern Ireland constituencies are not included. The 331 Con seats are against 326 for a majority in the House of Commons.

I made the following assumptions.

  1. Within each constituency, for each Party I have assumed the change in the vote is the difference between the regional share of the vote in 2015 and the opinion poll share from YouGov.
  2. If the constituency vote share in 2015 was less than the regional drop in vote share between 2015 and current opinion poll, then the vote is nil.
  3. A party may have a predicted vote despite not having a candidate. There are two instances where this is possible. First is that UKIP are not standing candidates in every constituency. Second is that the Progressive Alliance of Lib Dems, Greens, Labour and the SNP are standing down candidates to maximize the impact of the anti-Tory vote. Guido Fawkes’ summary of 16th May is here.

This simple model produces the forecast in Figure 2.

Implied Conservative majority is 128, up from 12 in the previous Parliament. The Lib-Dems also increase there number of seats, whilst SNP lose 9. UKIP’s “gain” is in Buckingham, the seat of the Speaker. This is due to a flaw in the crude model.

The Party gains by region are in Figure 3

Of note is that Labour do not gain a single seat, as YouGov estimate that their popularity has dropped in all but two regions. In the South East and the South West Labours’ presence is quite low. The SNP in Scotland lose seats to both the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems, but the loss of 9 seats is would still mean they have 47 of 59 seats.

These switches in seats are shown in detail in Figure 4.

My very crude forecast can be compared to the current forecast by Martin Baxtor at Electoral Calculus of Con 409, Lab 167, LD 7 & SNP 46. The Conservative majority is 168, 40 more than my own.

Another comparison is the mid-point of the spread betting at Sporting Index. This Con 399, Lab 159, LD 15.5, SNP 45.5. The implied Conservative majority is 148, bang in the middle of my own and Martin Baxters’.

In subsequent posts I intend to

  • Clear up the obvious errors.
  • Refining the forecast for Scotland based on the local election data of May 5th.
  • Look at the forecast for Wales, where I believe YouGov might be out of line with popular opinion.
  • Update in relation to more recent, but National, polling. For instance the recent strengthening of the Labour poll share and the fall in the UKIP share.

Kevin Marshall