A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

Why I’m Voting Liberal Democrat in Oadby (Harborough Constituency)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

LibDems_StyleGuidlines2010.inddI am voting Liberal Democrat in the General and local elections on 7th May.  Why?

Locally it is a fairly easy decision. The Liberal Democrats have won a  majority on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council for several elections.  They have run the council effectively, budgeted sensibly and their councillors keep in touch and consult via regular leaflets and residents’ surveys.

They are also the only party who seem to be serious about the local elections as they are the only ones contesting every seat in the Borough.

The General Election required more thought, primarily because Nick Clegg  has had to make many difficult decisions as leader in a coalition was always going to be a tough ask. However, the party’s grassroots and many MPs are broadly social liberals like myself. A future leader is likely to be tougher on both the Tories and Labour if any cooperation in required. The Liberal Democrats have an excellent agenda for reforming government. They also have a strong environmental streak, coupled with clear, costed and moderate tax and spending priorities.

In Harborough Constituency, which covers Oadby and Wigston, the Liberal Democrats have been the main challengers to the Tories in every election since 1979 and obtained their best result as recently as 2005. Under our voting system, a vote for any other party only helps the Conservatives win again.

So on 7th May, I am voting for Zuffar Haq, the Lib Dems’  local candidate for MP who is a proven campaigner for the NHS and on many other issues. If you live locally, I urge you to vote for Zuffar too.

Register to vote online and save tax payers’ money

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Edited Register FlyerResidents in Oadby and Wigston are receiving their Annual Voter Registration Canvass Form through the post. Our local electoral registration department are offering no fewer than 4 ways to register: by phone, text, internet and post.

If you want to opt out of the Edited Register and there is no pre-printed tick in Edited Register (For Sale) column on the form, you can only use the internet and post to indicate this when you register to vote.

The “Edited Register” is available for sale and can be purchased by anyone. This is different from the “Full Register” the use of which is strictly controlled for elections, credit reference agencies and the law.

Annual Canvass FormWith the post becoming more expensive every year, the most cost-effective way to register is to use the internet. Not only is it convenient, it will help Oadby and Wigston Borough Council keep council tax rates down.

Note: you can save having to opt out of the Edited Register every year by downloading a Permanent Opt Out Form from the council’s web site.

Did the GMB & Unite break the rules & deliver for Ed?

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Ed Miliband with GMB, Unite & Unison logosDid GMB’s & Unite’s rule-stretching endorsements of Ed Miliband tip the balance in Ed’s favour?

Jim Pickard at the FT reports that Unite included a leaflet supporting Ed Miliband in its ballot mailing to members and that at least some envelopes had Ed’s picture on them.

The Guardian reports that the GMB went further, mailing out ballot envelopes within larger envelopes featuring Ed Miliband’s picture. The paper quotes Mark Wickham-Jones, Professor of Politics at Bristol University as commenting, “The GMB appear to have broken the spirit of the rules guiding the conduct of the Labour party leadership.” Labour party and union figures have rejected such suggestions.

More prescient is Prof. Wickham-Jones’ observation that,”In the event of an Ed Miliband victory …… It may well suggest that the margin of his victory depended on votes cast in dubious circumstances.”

So, whether the rules were broken or not, the question is: Did these actions by GMB and Unite deliver a majority for Ed?

The only sure way to know would be to be to compare the votes of GMB & Unite if there had been no Ed Miliband endorsement in the ballot mailing with the vote results where the endorsement was present. Since the former never happened we cannot do this.

Using detail from the the leadership results published by Labour, we can try to work backwards and see if these Union “ballot endorsements” got Ed his majority. This can be done by comparing the voting patterns of GMB and Unite with those of other affiliated unions.

Overall Ed’s majority was 1.3% over David Miliband. This is equivalent to 2,596 of the 199,671 Affiliate Member votes that the Milibands had between them after the 4th and final round of AV transfers.

Labour only provide breakdowns of the first preference votes by each affiliated organisation. We need to see if the Unite and GMB “ballot endorsements” inflated Ed’s vote above the “norm”. My best guess at a “norm” is to take the mean vote for Ed across all affiliated unions. This is 35.51%.

GMB and Unite did indeed return an above-average vote for Ed: 42.05% and 42.62% respectively; 6.55% and 7.13% above the mean. Only the UCATT union had a higher first preference vote for Ed Miliband at almost 60%.

If this higher voter than the union average is exclusively due to the “ballot ensdorsements”, then this tactic delivered an extra 10,750 votes for Ed Miliband, almost four times his eventual majority.

Of course the higher GMB and Unite votes could be just due to extra underlying support for Ed from the voters in these unions . However, I find it hard to believe that such a blatant endorsement on the actual outer envelope containing the ballot did not influence some voters.

Even if this tactic was only responsible for a quarter of the above average first preference votes returned by the GMB and Unite, then it is still greater than Ed Miliband’s eventual majority.

The lack of data on the transfers means that I can’t analyse how the tactic affected the lower preferences of Alan Millburn, Diane Abbott and Ed Balls. However, I believe it must have had some positive effect on Ed Miliband’s vote. And this strengthens my point further.

Why would two of the biggest Labour-affiliated unions spend thousands on this promotional strategy if it didn’t influence their members when they received their ballots?

And finally, if the GMB and Unite have delivered the Labour leadership to Ed Miliband, what will they want in return?