How the UK voted by area

June 26th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Here’s how the 12 regions voted in order of support for Leave:

  1. West Midlands 59.2%
  2. East Midlands 58.5%
  3. North East 58.0%
  4. Yorkshire & Humber 57.7%
  5. Eastern 56.5%
  6. North West 53.7%
  7. South West 52.6%
  8. Wales 52.5%
  9. South West 51.8%
  10. Northern Ireland 44.3%
  11. London 40.1%
  12. Scotland 38.0%

So nine of the ten regions of England voted to leave – all except London.

UPDATE: Also interesting to look at it just in terms of the margin to leave, as not all regions the same size. They are

  1. West Midlands +548,512
  2. East Midlands +442,443
  3. Eastern +431,751
  4. Yorkshire & Humber +422,639
  5. North West +267,905
  6. North East +215,508
  7. South East +176,247
  8. South West +166,692
  9. Wales +82,225
  10. Northern Ireland -91,265
  11. Scotland -642,869
  12. London -750,287

Why Brexit won

June 25th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

It was amazing watching the results come in and as the small lead for Brexit remained and then started to grow, to realise that the peoples of the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. Until the votes were counted no one from the Prime Minister down knew what the outcome would be. The polls, the pundits, the experts, the media – none of them counted – just the votes of 33.5 million people – where each vote was worth no more or no less than any other.

It is rare the people get to make such momentous decisions. Normally they get to decide things indirectly through proxies such as MPs. But on such a fundamental decision, this was their decision.

Matthew d-Ancona wrote in the Guardian:

Before analysis, let us admit to awe: the sheer scale of the moment requires it. The word “historic” is deployed too lazily in political discourse. But it is entirely appropriate this morning. This is a hugely significant day in British (and European) history.

When a party loses an election, its soon-to-be-ex-leader rallies the troops and promises a different result next time. But no such option is open to the crushed chieftains of remain today. There is no “next time”.

This was a unique opportunity to seal Britain’s relationship with the European Union, or to end it. And the voters – at a high level of turnout – decided that it was time to go. They heard the warnings, listened to experts of every kind tell them that Brexit meant disaster, watched the prime minister as he urged them not to take a terrible risk. And their answer was: get stuffed.

So why did they vote for Brexit, despite all the warnings? I think there were three reasons – two major and one minor.

1. Democracy

The EU overall has been a force for good with many benefits for many people. However it is not what most would regard as a democratic government. The heart of democracy is that the people can sack a Government they have got weary of.  There was no real way for the people of Europe or the UK to sack the EU Government when they think it has got it wrong and needs to go. Without such a pressure release valve, discontent grows and grows.

The concept of an EU is good. The structure of the EU is bad. It may have worked when they had nine members, but not for 28.

Consider how unhappy we would be in NZ if our Government was not elected at the polls directly. Instead we each elected a local Mayor and Council (and all at different times) and all the Mayors got together and they decided who would make up the national Cabinet and Government to decide on our laws.  We would not stand for it.

You need to have the ability for the people to directly sack a Government, and effectively choose its replacement. It is that ability and need to be responsive to the public that makes a Government accountable.

2. Borders

The whole point of nation states is to have control of your borders and your population.  This is not racist or xenophobic. The elites who think it is, are out of step. You can be pro-immigration, but against uncontrolled immigration.

NZ has a good pro-immigration system. We set criteria for immigrants and if you have enough skills, education, wealth, prospects etc you can qualify to live here.

The UK as part of the EU has almost no control over who can live and work in the UK. 500 million people in the EU all have the right to move to the UK and work there if they wish to. Of course it also gives UK people the right to work and live in the EU – and that was a great right for many UK citizens.

Now again when the EU was nine countries, this might have been seen as a good trade off. But in an EU of 28 countries, with such a disparity in living standards, it was not.

Think of NZ again. We basically have an EU type agreement with Australia. Citizens of each country can live and work in the other. Not quite as good as the EU, because no guarantee of welfare eligibility.

But think if this arrangement was expanded beyond NZ and Australia. And it included all the Pacific countries who have much less developed economies (and hence many more people would want to live here). Think if it included all of Asia – that we have to take anyone from 27 other countries who choose to live here, regardless of their skills, education, experience, wealth or ability to support themselves. Do we think we would sign up for that?

Again you can be very pro-immigration but anti uncontrolled immigration.

3. EU regulations

A decade ago most of the angst against the EU was the endless regulations coming from Brussels that were ridiculed and resented. However I think this was a minor factor when it came to the vote. The Tories in 2005 campaigned on these, and lost. While people agreed with them, they didn’t think it was as important as issue as the economy, the NHS, schools etc. For the hard core activists, this was red meat, but less important to the majority of the public.

For the majority it was about being independent, being able to sack your Government and being able to control your borders.

Cameron resigns as UK PM

June 24th, 2016 at 9:34 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

It followed a turbulent night with Remain campaigners quietly confident until the early hours when results from Newcastle and Sunderland showed better than expected returns for the Brexit camp. …

With the Leave campaign securing 52 per cent of the vote, Mr Cameron addressed the nation in an emotional speech outside 10 Downing Street to announce that he would be stepping down.

Statements are expected to be made by Sinn Fein and the SNP later today calling for a breakaway from the Union.

The end of David Cameron’s political career barely a year after he had the huge triumph of winning a majority between all expectations.

It may also be the end of the United Kingdom as Scotland is quite likely to secede and Northern Ireland less likely.

And possibly the beginning of the end of the European Union in its current form.

Less significantly Jeremy Corbyn may be toast also.

The cost of Brexit

April 20th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

George Osborne has said the British government would lose £36bn in net tax receipts, equivalent to 8p on the basic rate of income tax or 7p on VAT, if the UK leaves the EU and negotiates a bilateral trade agreement with the bloc.

The chancellor said a 200-page Treasury analysis of the impact of Brexit showed it would make British families poorer, and he accused leave campaigners of believing that was a price worth paying. But out campaigners said that the chancellor was talking down the British economy in an unpatriotic way.

The study concluded that a Canadian-style model, in which the UK negotiated a new trade deal with the EU that did not require freedom of movement, would reduce Britain’s GDP by 6.2%.

The Bremain campaign seems to be campaigning entirely on scaring people from Brexit, rather than the positive benefits of the EU. I’m not sure it is a good strategy.

Another group, Grassroots Out, argued that the £4,300 figure amounted to 21p a person a day in return for national sovereignty.

A good line.

A by-election only three people can vote in

April 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Buzzfeed reports:

On 19 April possibly the strangest democratic election to any legislature in the world will take place, with seven candidates competing for the votes of three people for one place in the British parliament.

The winning individual will be able to vote on laws, propose amendments, and challenge ministers in parliament. They’ll also be able to claim £300 a day whenever they turn up to work, take advantage of all the facilities parliament offers, and retain the job for life.

Turnout for the ballot is expected to hit 100% since the entire electorate, who collectively get to choose who will receive lifetime membership of parliament, consists of just three people.

Any British citizen is eligible to stand for election to the position on the conditions that a) they are a Liberal Democrat, and b) they have inherited a peerage from their father.

Which is three people, so three Liberal Democrat Peers will elect a forth peer to join them.

It reminds me of this Blackadder episode:

Best Green Party ad

April 12th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This is very funny, and pointed.

UK health charges

February 25th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government looks prepared to accept a move from the United Kingdom Government to charge ex-pat New Zealanders a healthcare surcharge on every visa application. 

The UK Government has announced that New Zealanders staying in the UK for more than six months, will be required to pay a surcharge for access to the free National Health System (NHS).

This will be $328 for New Zealanders on the Youth Mobility Scheme or student visas, and $437 for New Zealanders on other visas for more than six months.

Both New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal health agreement with the UK, for equal access to each other’s public health systems. 

Prime Minister John Key said he was disappointed in the move, but defended the argument of the UK high commission that visits to private GP practices in New Zealand weren’t free. 

“We’re not planning any sort of reciprocal change if you like.

“One of the reasons for that, and this is the point that the British High Commission has been at lengths to explain to MPs right across the Parliament, is that the rules aren’t equal at the moment,” he said. 

I don’t have a problem with the fee per se, but why make it compulsory? Why not give NZers in the UK the option of not using the NHS and paying privately for any health needs, rather than pay the fee?

As I understand it, if you are there for less than six months you don’t need to pay this fee. If you become a resident paying tax, then your taxes pay for the NHS. But this is targeted at those just there for a couple of years, and whose earnings tend to be quite low, so they are little or no income tax to the UK Government.

Boris backs Brexit

February 22nd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new battle for Britain has erupted with London Mayor Boris Johnson saying he would join the campaign to encourage Britain to leave the European Union.

The move on Sunday (Monday, NZT) posed a direct challenge to Prime Minister David Cameron, who has launched a major push to keep his country within the 28-nation bloc.

The popular, raffish Johnson immediately becomes the most prominent Conservative Party politician to break ranks with fellow Conservative Cameron’s vision of the best course for Britain in a June 23 referendum on continued EU membership.

This is significant. However the remain camp has a good lead in the polls for now. The last two had remain 15% to 18% ahead. However the leave camp have some excellent campaigners.

Most Conservative Party members back a Brexit and they will vote for the next leader. Boris will lose institutional support for his stance, but may gain member support – and they will elect the next Leader and PM.

The final UK-EU deal

February 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The final deal has been struck and the UK goes to the polls on 23 June to vote on whether to remain in the EU or leave it.

Details are:

  • An emergency brake on EU migrants claiming in-work benefits. This was to be for four years but now is for seven years. However a maximum of four years for an individual.
  • Restrictions on child benefit for EU migrants will kick in at a reduced rate – indexed to the rate of a migrant’s home country
  • An opt-out from the EU’s historic commitment to forge an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe
  • UK will have the right to impose a handbrake to refer contentious financial regulation to a meeting of EU leaders in the European council

It will be interesting to see which Ministers are for or against Brexit. Michael Gove is going to campaign to leave and he is popular and respected. This is no surprise though.

The real interest will be on what Boris does?

If the public vote to leave the EU, it is hard to see Cameron being able to remain as PM for long. This is good for those who want his job.

However if you campaign for Brexit and force the PM out, the party may blame you for the result.

Normally a party will be highly focused on unity but with UK Labour so divided and unelectable, the Conservatives can take more risks than normal.

The UK EU deal

February 11th, 2016 at 8:41 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Cabinet ministers are threatening to defy David Cameron by publicly speaking out against his deal with the European Union, which they are warning will fail to cut migration.

The Prime Minister was handed an offer on Tuesday by Brussels which critics said contained only “watered-down” pledges. The deal will give EU migrants “gradually increasing access” to benefits after they come to the UK – as opposed to the outright ban Mr Cameron had previously demanded.

Despite critics describing the deal as “pathetic” and “insubstantial”, Mr Cameron welcomed the offer by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and said he “sure would” take the deal being offered.

Last night Cabinet sources accused Mr Cameron of effectively beginning the campaign for Britain to stay in the EU and warned that they will now start speaking out in favour of a “Brexit”.

Cameron has in fact managed to get some reasonable concessions. It remains to be seen whether the electorate judge them to be enough.
But in a boost to him, Theresa May has said she will now campaign to remain in. She was seen as a potential leader for an out campaign.
The main points of the deal are:
  • An emergency brake will limit migrants’ access to benefits for four years
  • New powers to stop suspected terrorists and criminals coming to the UK, not only if a threat is “imminent”
  • New rules will stop people coming to the UK via “sham marriages”
  • Recognises that the UK “is not committed to further political integration into the European Union”
  • A “red card” system will allow the House of Commons to band together with like-minded EU parliaments and block unwanted Brussels legislation

UK election spending

January 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

UK spending

The data comes from here.

UKIP did the best for votes per pound spent and the Lib Dems the worst. Conservatives and Labour fairly close to each other.

In terms of spending per seats won the SNP did best by far followed by Conservatives and Labour. UKIP did the worse.

Osborne slashes welfare, hikes minimum wage

July 11th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

George Osborne sought to outflank Labour and soften the blow from a £12bn cut to Britain’s welfare bill when he made a big rise in the minimum wage the centrepiece of the first Conservative budget in almost two decades.

In a move that went further than Labour was planning at the general election, the chancellor said employers would be forced to pay staff a minimum of £7.20 an hour from next April and raise wages by 6% a year on average to around £9 an hour by the end of the parliament.

Relishing the freedom to deliver his latest budget unfettered by coalition, the chancellor eased up on the pace of deficit reduction and reduced the size of the cuts that Whitehall departments will face in the coming years.

On the assumption that the economy grows steadily at around 2.5% a year, the Treasury is now expecting a £10bn surplus in the final year of the parliament – a sizeable war chest for the 2020 election.

So looks like it will take them five years longer than NZ to make surplus.

Declaring “Britain needs a pay rise” – once the campaign slogan of the TUC – Osborne said he was directly boosting the national minimum wage of 2.7 million workers aged over 25. The increase, accompanied by substantial welfare cuts over three years, was designed to engineer a rebalancing between the individual and the state – a political intervention to shift responsibility for low incomes from the state to employers.

“Let me be clear: Britain deserves a pay rise and Britain is getting a pay rise,” Osborne said, adding that 6 million people would see their pay increase as a result of what he dubbed the creation of a national living wage.

A fair few will lose their jobs also.

Osborne had considered a rise in the minimum wage in 2013 but could not win the support of the Liberal Democrats for the welfare cuts, or a further cut in corporation tax, an essential part of Wednesday’s package designed to ease employers’ resistance to the reforms.

But despite being given the sweetener of a cut in corporation tax from 20% to 18% by 2020, the CBI said the increases would prove “challenging” for its members working in the hospitality and retail sector.

If you’re going to have a big hike in the minimum wage, then a cut in company tax to compensate is sensible.

The big cuts to welfare come from:

  • freezing working age benefits and tax credits for four years as opposed to the two set out ahead of the election.

  • limiting the child element of tax credits to the first two children for new claimants. At present nearly 850,000 tax credit recipients have more than two children.

  • reducing the income thresholds in tax credits from £6,420 to £3,850 and work allowances in Universal Credit

In NZ, we increased benefit levels!

I like the limit of tax credits to the first two children for new claimants. If you want more than two kids,you should be able to fund them yourselves.

An English Parliament?

July 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn blogs:

The UK has developed a distressing habit of making significant constitutional changes for partisan political reasons. Last term it was the Tories’ attempt to equalise the size of electorates – a move which would have improved their electoral system but was driven purely by an effort to shaft the Labour party. That was defeated – the LibDems decided it wasn’t in their partisan political interest for UKanians to have an equal voice in Parliament

Parties tend to promote electoral change that benefits them – hence Labour wanting to get rid of the one seat threshold in Parliament now, but not when it helped them (and National not wanting to).

Hence the best way to assess change is not on whether it benefits the part promoting it (fine to point out their motives) but whether it makes things fairer.

The current UK boundaries are effectively gerrymandered – they are vastly different sizes, so some seats have far more electors than others.

The UK boundaries should be like the NZ boundaries – required to be the same size within a small tolerance.

this term we have “English Votes for English Laws” aka “preventing Scottish MPs from voting on things”.

As with equal sized electorates, there’s a reasonable argument underlying it: the UK has devolved a lot of policy to the Scottish Parliament, so why should Scottish MPs be allowed to vote on matters which only affect England?

The simple answer is they shouldn’t. Scotland can’t have it both ways with only Scottish MPs deciding matters on the Scottish NHS yet Scottish MPs also voting on the English NHS.

But the real driver is the desire of the Conservative party – which dominates in England – to lock Labour out of power forever, combined with some pretty toxic English supremacism. Because what EVEL actually means is that in order to govern in practice – that is, enact its policies – a party would not to win not only the confidence of parliament as a whole, but also of English members – basically, an “English veto” on government, forever. England uber alles!

Not really. If a Government had a majority of all MPs, but not a majority of English MPs, they could still pass their Budget, run all the ministries, and pass laws relating to the UK as a whole. They would only not be able to pass laws (without gaining votes from the opposition) that relate to England only. And that is as it should be.

The core problem here is that, for historical reasons, Westminster effectively does double duty as both the UK and English Parliament. But the solution to this isn’t self-serving changes to standing orders to diminish the role of Scottish MPs and make it clear that they are a subject people, but a fully devolved English Parliament with powers equal to the Scottish one.

Here I agree – this is the logical solution. Have a federal system with four devolved Parliaments, and a UK Parliament (and Government).

As for the solution, the SNP is threatening a legal challenge, which will of course fail due to Parliamentary Privilege. Which leaves them with the other option: walk. If the Tories want England, let them have it. At least Scotland can be free.

Many (not most) Tories would like Scotland to walk.

What happens when the UK boundaries change

May 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The current UK boundaries are not fair, with some electorates being much larger than others in terms of population. The electors per seat are:

  • Wales 57,057
  • Northern Ireland 68,704
  • Scotland 68,403
  • England 72,814

The Conservatives have a bill to get rid of what is effectively a gerrymander and also reduce the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs.

Electoral Calculus has projected what the 2015 results would have been without the gerrymander, and with only 600 seats. It would be:

  • Conservatives 325 (-6)
  • Labour 202 (-26)
  • Lib Dems 5 (-3)
  • SNP 49 (-7)
  • Plaid Cymru 3
  • Northern Ireland 16 (-2)
  • Conservative Majority 50 (+38)

This is quite significant. It will significantly help their re-election chances in 2020, if they get rid of the unequal seat sizes.  They go from a majority of 12 to a paper majority of 50.

Westminster now most gay Parliament in the world

May 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Now Britain finds itself with the queerest legislature in the world: 32 of the United Kingdom’s 650 MPs calling themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. At 4.9%, this pretty closely reflects what researchers believe to be the sexuality of the population as a whole: an impressive achievement, still to be matched in matters of gender or ethnicity.

The good thing about the representation now being approximately proportional, is that it shouldn’t be such a big thing in future. Having a representative Parliament shouldn’t be a big thing.

So who are the LGB MPs (the T, for transgender, is still missing, none of the four candidates who stood this election won their seat)? Twelve are Conservative, 13 Labour, the rest Scottish Nationalists.

So 3.6% of Conservative MPs are gay, 5.6% of Labour MPs and 12.5% of SNP MPs. Looks like the SNP needs a quota for heterosexual MPs!

Messina on why Labour lost

May 25th, 2015 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Jim Messina was Obama’s 2012 campaign manager and also a campaign adviser to David Cameron. He writes on why Labour lost:

Was it Messina’s data-focused approach that won the day, or was it down to the personality of David Cameron vs. Ed Miliband? ‘All elections are always about the candidates and we had the better leader,’ he says. ‘We had a leader with a clear agenda who had taken very difficult steps and the economy was benefiting from that.’

But Messina does not have many positive things to say about Labour’s messaging either. ‘To this day I can’t tell you what Labour’s message was other than I guess we don’t like the Tories. But until the famous Ed Rock or Ed Stone, you sort of had no idea what they were running on and when you are trying to do that five days before, you’re in deep, deep trouble.’

The research conducted by Crosby backed up his polling on the Tories’ message of economic stability. ‘CTF were saying it and then people on the doors were hearing it is that people believed that Cameron had taken tough steps, things were starting to get better and that Miliband wasn’t offering anything new and that combination made it very, very difficult for them to win.’

NZ Labour’s message seems also to be mainly we don’t like National, and no new policies.

Could he seem himself returning to Conservative HQ in future? ‘I would love to, I really believe in Prime Minister Cameron and I adore his team, I think Andrew Feldman and Lynton, those guys are all some of the better people I have worked with so it would be an honour to work with them again.’

What about working for say Boris Johnson, if he is leading the Tories in 2020? ‘Well we’re only three days after the last one! I think I’m going to go to sleep for a couple of weeks.’

Interesting that a Democrat would work the Conservatives. I understand it was mainly because of his admiration for David Cameron.

Lord Ashcroft analyses the UK election result

May 23rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Two interesting blog posts of Lord Ashcroft – the results of his post-election poll and a speech he gave to a post-election conference.

Some data from the poll:

  • Conservatives lost among under 55s, and won massively with over 65s. Labour got just 21% of over 65s.
  • Conservatives won in socio-economic classes AB and C1, tied in C2 and lost only in DE.
  • The most important factors in how people voted were trust of motives and values 75%, preferred promises 62%, the leader 45%
  • Most important issues were the NHS 55%, economic growth 51%, immigration 41%, cutting deficit 30%, cost of living 25%, welfare reform 20%, Europe 18%, schools 13%, environment 9%, crime 6%
  • 46% say austerity needs to continue, 30% say austerity was needed but no longer and 24% say austerity was never needed
  • Even 60% of Labour voters say austerity and spending cuts were needed


Backgrounds of UK MPs

May 17th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Smith Institute has done a profile of the 650 MPs just elected to Westminster.  Some interesting facts:

  • 25% of the MPs are new
  • The average ages are SNP 44, Conservatives 50, Lib Dems 51 and Labour 53
  • 29% of MPs are female, up from 22% last time
  • 33% of MPs went to a private school and 23% went to Oxford or Cambridge
  • Only 22% of MPs have a business background
  • 7% of Conservative MPs were in the Armed Force (0% for all other parties)
  • 15% of Labour MPs were professional unionists
  • 25% of MPs main background is in politics (29% of Labour MPs, 19% of Conservative MPs and 35% of SNP MPs)

The last one is the most disturbing. It isn’t a bad thing to have a few MPs whose main background has been in politics, but you don’t want a quarter of Parliament made up of professional politicians who have never held a job outside politics.


The hunt for the Ed Stone

May 15th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Ed Miliband is licking his wounds in Ibiza but his much maligned “Ed Stone” has suffered a less glamorous exit from the spotlight and is languishing in a south London garage, the Guardian has learned.

The 2.6 metre-high, two-ton stone was unveiled with great fanfare in the marginal seat of Hastings, and featured Labour’s six key election promises. It was intended as a symbol of how Miliband would restore trust in politics.

It was the one of the biggest PR stunt backfires I’ve seen. Partly because it was so ridiculous the insistence this would be placed in the garden at Downing Street, but also because the six pledges are meaningless waffle. A pledge card can work, but only if they have a fair degree of specificity.

With Labour defeated, and the stone’s promises summarily rejected, newspapers were offering rewards including a case of champagne in return for news of the tablet’s whereabouts.

The Guardian understands that the party has ensured the limestone hulk is kept under lock and key, to avoid any discovery which might cause further embarrassment.

The Daily Mail won’t rest until it finds it!

Winners and losers from the UK election

May 10th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


  • David Cameron. Got a majority against all expectations. Had been constantly criticised for not getting a majority in 2010, but has laid that to rest, and will be a conquering hero to his party. Set to be Prime Minister for at least nine years.
  • David Miliband. May now seek to return to Parliament to seek the leadership, in line with the constant claim that the wrong Miliband won. He only lost because the unions backed Ed over him.
  • Nicola Sturgeon and Alec Salmond – the SNP now dominate Scotland. And having the Conservatives remain in Goverment probably helps them, as they can blame them for everything.
  • Mhairi Black – the youngest MP (age 20) since 19 year old Charles Fox in 1768 had his father but him a seat.
  • Boris Johnson – back in Parliament and if he doesn’t offend more than half a dozen foreign countries, or sleep with more than half a dozen women, could become the next Conservative Leader and Prime Minister. Or resign in scandal.
  • Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor – their legend grows


  • Ed Miliband. Had a generally good campaign and was favoured to become PM on election night, but within hours he had led Labour to its worst result since 1987, and inevitably is now out of the leadership.
  • Ed Balls. Went from on the verge of being the Chancellor, to out of Parliament
  • Jim Murphy- led Labour in Scotland to a defeat so bad that the meme is Scotland now has more Pandas (2) than Labour MPs (1)
  • Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Danny Alexander, Ed Davey – Lib Dem Ministers who all lost their seats
  • Nick Clegg – kept his seat but lost his party
  • Douglas Alexander – the only thing worse than being the campaign chief for such a bad result is losing your seat to a 20 year old
  • The pollsters
  • Natalie Bennett – an embarrassing campaign from the Green Leader who failed to win a seat
  • Nigel Farage – failed to win his seat, and they lost one of their two defectors from the Conservatives. Has promised to resign, but is not ruling out standing again as leader (doing a Cunliffe)
  • George Galloway – the loathsome one is gone and buried. Not even close. He lost by 11,000 votes and only got 21%. Last time he won by 10,000 votes. One of the most vile people in UK politics who ran a disgusting campaign against Labour’s Naz Shah.

The UK result under proportional representation

May 10th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The UK has FPP. The Conservatives won a majority with 37% of the vote. The Greens and UKIP got over 16% of the vote between them yet got only a seat each. This is seen as unfair, and proportional representation does produce more proportional results which many see as fairer.

The activism for proportional representation tends to come from the left, but I’m not sure they would have liked a proportional result on the 2015 election. I show below what it would have been.

Of course it is likely people would have voted differently under a PR system. Yes. But we can only model with the data we have, which is the actual result.


So under PR the UK Independence Party would have 83 seats, instead of one. The SDP would hold 31 seats instead of 56 and the Lib Dems 52 seats instead of eight. And the Conservatives and Labour would have fewer seats – and the Greens 25.

If you look at the blocs, the right bloc would still have a majority under proportional representation. They’d be just 10 seats down. However it would be a Conservative/UKIP Government, not a majority Conservative one.

The left would do worse under PR with Labour and the SNP both losing seats, but the Greens picking some up. They’d be 33 seats down compared to FPP.

The Lib Dems in the centre would be best – going from eight seats to 44.

Who won seats off whom

May 9th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The final results for the UK election are:

  1. Conservatives 331 (+24)
  2. Labour 232 (-26)
  3. SNP 56 (+50)
  4. Lib Dems 8 (-49)
  5. DUP 8
  6. Sinn Fein 4 (-1)
  7. Plaid Cymru 3
  8. SDLP 3
  9. UUP 2 (+2)
  10. UKIP 1 (+1)
  11. Greens 1
  12. Others 1
  13. Alliance 0 (-1)

Now looking at that you might think the Conservatives won their seats off Labour and the SNP off the Lib Dems. But far more complicated. Here are the seat changes:

  1. SNP won 40 seats off Labour
  2. Conservatives won 27 seats off the Lib Dems
  3. Labour won 12 seats off the Lib Dems
  4. Conservatives won 10 seats off Labour
  5. SNP won 10 seats off the Lib Dems
  6. Labour won 8 seats off the Conservatives
  7. UKIP won 1 seat off the Conservatives
  8. UUP won 1 seat off the DUP
  9. UUP won 1 seat off Sinn Fein
  10. DUP won 1 seat off the Alliance

So Conservatives gained a net two seats directly off Labour.

The Lib Dems lost 27 seats to the Conservatives, 12 to Labour and 10 to the SNP.

And the SNP took 40 off Labour.

They key to the Conservatives getting a majority was that they won so many seats off the Lib Dems, and Labour failed to pick up (net) seats from the Conservatives.

Why the UK polls were wrong

May 9th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


As you can see the UK pre-election polls were wrong. Quite massively wrong. The Conservatives beat Labour by 6% and have won a clear majority. Only one poll of of the several dozen in the last few weeks got close to this. The poll were near unanimous that the Conservatives and Labour would be tied in the vote, and Conservatives would get only a few more seats. Instead they got 98 more.

So why were the polls do wrong? Not one poll, but almost all of them. There three broad plausible explanations – which are not mutually exclusive.

1 – People lie to the pollsters

Someone tweeted that the British have shown the one thing they’re really good at is lying to their pollsters.  A more polite version of this is what the Guardian calls Shy Tories. People don’t like to admit they are voting for a party. One has seen this in the US when one candidate is African-American. Also in NZ to a degree where I suspect one of the reasons NZ First often exceeds the polls, is people don’t like to admit they are voting for them.

But I think it is unlikely this explains most or even much of what happened.

2 – People change their mind

Either the undecideds decide to vote a certain way disproportional to the already decideds, or some decideds change their mind. One reason for this is tactical voting. This is why ACT keep winning Epsom despite poll after poll showing them behind. People only get tactical at the last minute.

Major newspapers published guides as to how to tactically vote to maximise the outcome for your preferred PM. This could have had quite an impact.

However while I think this may have been some of it, I don’t think it was the major factor. Even in seats where there was no ability to vote tactically (no major third party), you saw the Conservatives pick up seats off Labour.

3 – Turnout was different

Turnout was higher than expected in many areas. If one side does better at turning out their supporters, this can have a big impact.

In NZ the impact of Dotcom was to so enrage Government supporters, they advance voted in record numbers – determined to keep him out.

If you look at the motivations to vote in the UK for Conservative and Labour voters, they were quite different. Conservative voters had a pretty strong motivation to vote to keep Ed Miliband out, and to stop a party which wants to dissolve the United Kingdom, from holding the balance of power. A Mliband Government propped up by the SNP was very scary to many.

However if you are a Labour supporter, your best outcome was a Labour minority government that could only govern with the SNP’s votes. This is hardly motivating stuff.

So I suspect (we’ll know more as we get more data) that the major difference was turnout.


Of some interest is that in several elections now, it has been the more right wing parties that have exceeded their polls. In Israel Likud did massively better than the polls, as did the Conservatives in the UK. In the 2014 US mid-terms the Republicans did far better in the Senate than projected. And even in NZ National did better than the polls (but within margin of error). I’m not saying this is significant – just that it could be. Or it could just be chance. In one Victorian state election the Liberal Party did far far worse than the polls, and in NZ in 2011 National did a bit worse than the polls. But

The Independent endorses Conservatives/Lib Dems as the UK votes

May 8th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

The Independent newspaper has backed the continuation of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government if Thursday’s general election produces the expected hung parliament.

In a verdict that took many Westminster observers by surprise, the newspaper said in an editorial that a minority Labour administration reliant on the support of the SNP would be “a disaster for the country”.

Not only did Ed Miliband’s opposition appear “unready for government” in too many policy areas, there would be “justified fury” if nationalists seeking the breakup of the UK were to hold sway, it said.

This is unexpected.

Most UK newspapers endorse the party that reflects their readership and ideology.

But The Independent is regarded as coming from the centre-left. For them to endorse the Conservatives as well as the Lib Dems is significant. But not sure how much weight endorsements carry.

Results should start to be known from around now onwards.


UK Seat Forecast

May 7th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The seat forecast site I use the most is May 2015. They have their own forecast and also list five other ones.

Here’s what their final pre-election forecast is:

  • Conservatives 273 (33.6%)
  • Labour 268 (33.3%)
  • SNP 56 (4.4%)
  • Lib Dems 28 (8.8%)
  • DUP 8
  • Sinn Fein 5
  • SDLP 3
  • Plaid Cymru 3
  • UKIP 2 (13.4%)
  • Greens 1 (4.8%)
  • George Galloway 1

Of the 650 seats, you need 326 to govern. But Sinn Fein tend not to vote or turn up so of 645 votes in play you need 323.

If we look at rough blocs you have:

Right – Conservatives 273 + DUP 8 + UKIP 2 = 283

Left – Labour 268 + SNP 56 + SDLP 3 + Plaid Cymru 3 + Greens 1 + Galloway 1 = 332

Centre – Lib Dems 28

Labour is definitely in a preferred position. Even if the Conservatives get Lib Dems support they are 311 – 12 seats short. They need to beat the poll predictions by 12 seats.

Labour can’t govern without SNP support. Without them they are 276 and even f Lib Dems support are 304.

The SNP has said they will not vote confidence in a Conservative government. Labour have said they will not do any deal with SNP, either coalition or confidence and supply. So SNP has to back a Labour Govt even if no policy deal, or force another election.

It is interesting to consider what the result would be if the UK had proportional representation. Based on the polls, a proportional Parliament (excluding 18 Irish seats) would be:

  • Conservatives 212 (vs 273)
  • Labour 210 (vs 268)
  • UKIP 85 (vs 2)
  • SDP 56 (vs 29)
  • Greens 30 (vs 1)
  • SNP 27 (vs 56)
  • Others 11

So a proportional system would see UKIP gain the most, followed by Greens and SDP. The losers would be the SNP, Conservatives and Labour.

However a Conservative government would be more likely, as the blocs would be:

Right – Conservatives 212 + UKIP 85 = 297

Left – Labour 210 + SNP 27 + Greens 30 = 267

Centre – Lib Dems 56


It will be interesting to see the results tomorrow. I’ll be at the UK High Commission and will do a bit of blogging and tweeting during the day. As it is FPP, you should take the projections with caution. There are rarely national swings, and while there has been a lot of electorate polling, some of this is now quite dated. Also turnout motivation may be higher on the right – to stop the SNP having the balance of power.