Sunday, August 19, 2007

Election Battleground with Robert Waller

Election Battleground is a new programme on 18 Doughty Street, in which psephologist Robert Waller and I discuss boundary changes in each region of the country and their likely effect on marginal seats at the next election. The above clip is on the West Midlands. So far we have recorded four programmes, which you can click on below to watch. Each lasts thirty minutes. For those who don't know, Robert Waller is the co-editor of the ALMANAC OF BRITISH POLITCS. I've also put a link to the BROGUHT TO BOOk programme where he talks about the book.

West Midlands
East Anglia
South West
North West
Brought to Book with Robert Waller


Tapestry said...

He said that even polling between Labour and Conservative gives Labour a 100 seat advantage.

He also said that boundaries were not really the cause of this unevenness of result.

What are the causes then?

Do I have to buy the book to find out?!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


You should dye your hair you're more handsome in the photo at the top of your site than on the video...


Anonymous said...

Oh, don't be such a ponce.

Anonymous said...

I see Ken Clarke and the rest of the Tory Eurocrats are running the party, as they seem to be putting everything into the EUssr regional Stench.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

At least Iain has retained more hairs on his fool head than meself!

Tapestry, here's what RW and Brian Criddle say on page 6 of ABP 8th:

"The first-past-the-post electoral system, which has consistently operated against the Liberal Democrats and most smaller parties, now also favors Labour over teh Conservatives. If the Tories had been three percent of Labour nationally instead of three points behind [in 2005] they would stil have had fewer seats. This is the product of a number of factors including differential turnoutand the distribution of the party vote, as well as the continuing overrepresentation of Wales and urban areas, and the constituency boundary changes due to be enacted before the next election will not make a significant impact on the Conservative deficit."

Equation above includes sizeable concentrations of socio-economic-ethnic groups in urban centers, celtic fringe and north o' the Wash that translate into lots of safe Labour seats however you divvy the turf. Turnout is low but this doesn't signify in the seat count.

Plus voters in growing suburbs & exurbs are less likely than pre-1997 to lean decisively to the Tories. Which limits traditional Conservative gains in new seats.

Anonymous said...

Best quick summary of the "bias" can be found HERE

Anonymous said...

effing eck
That tie looks like the old test card

Tapestry said...

thanks Sea Shanty and anon.

other anon, I see EUssr is often used on eursosceptic blogs. I use EUSR meaning 'EU of Subservient Regions'. What does your 'EUssr' stand for? anything? or just an echo of CCCP.

Tapestry said...

Re the bias, surely Conservaives should be tactical voting.

At the very least in Scotland, they should vote SNP, and push out Labour.

In Lab/Lib Dem marginals they should be voting Lib Dem - so that Labour loses its overall majority.

Is that in the book Mr Waller? I could afford £39 - just but I don't think it would carry well on flights by the look of it.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Tapestry, before 2001 election flew to London carrying my ABP (talk about carrying coals to Newcastle!) Was a pain to lug around, but wouldn't have left home without it. Definitely good read, albeit quirky & rather oddly organized in parts (but that's what they say about me).

Iain, just watched yer East Anglia show with Robert Waller. Good program informed by his electoral and your local knowlege & insights.

Waller thinks pickings for Tories are a bit slim in East Anglia, unless yer already bound for glory nationwide. Though he did say there's a rising blue tide in East Thurrock! Which is an interesting example of a renewed urban area with growing economy & population.

And what IS the deal with Fackenham?

Would suggest for future programs you might consider showing maps of the seats you're discussing, perhaps by county as in the book.

Rob Watson said...

could someone tell me how to get the links to work? what plug in do i need to make the video play?

Gareth said...

"psephologist" - is that one of those people that can tell whether you are a criminal by feeling the lumps on your head?

Anonymous said...

Iain, are you doing one on Yorkshire and the Humber?

Unsworth said...

Were you wearing that tie for a bet or something Iain? Or have you recently graduated from the Jon Snow School of Tailoring?

Don't get me wrong. I think it takes a man of real courage and conviction to wear ties like that. Never had the nerve, myself.

Nich Starling said...

Perhaps you could have asked him about his assertion in the Pre 1997 election version of his book where he asserted that the "Tories can rely on a 10,000 majority in North Norfolk over an evenly divided opposition". At the time we knew he was wrong, but to be so wrong shows a lack of knowledge on a grand scale.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

NB, just looked it up, Almanac of British Politics was (very) slightly less categorical:

1992 result:
C 48.2% LD 27.4% Lab 23.2%

ABP 5th (1996) said:
"the Conservatives can probably continue to count on a five-figure majority over fairly evenly divided opposition as the century nears its end."

1997 result:
C 36.5% LD 34.3% Lab 25.1%

ABP 6th (1999) said:
"The result at North Norfolk in 1997 looks surprising." Then note that, "Tactical voting seems to have played a part, for in the Norfolk County council elections which took place on the same day as the General Election the Liberal Democrats polled 6 per cent less than they did in the national contest."

2001 result:
LD 42.7% C 41.8% Lab 13.3%

ABP 7th (2002) said:
"Privately, top Liberal Democrat Party strategists nominated North Norfolk as one of their very best chances for a further gain in the 2001 General Election....This did indeed come to pass. Their success was based on a number of factors. There was a large Labour vote to squeeze....In return, Labour concentrated on trying to hold their own marginal next door, Norfolk NW, whre the Lib Dems sank even further to just 8%."

2005 result:
LD 53.4% C 35.5% Lab 9.2%

ABP 8th (2007) says:
"It was not [Iain's] fault...Almost all MPS do benefit from an incumbency boost after one term in Parliament, and this is usually particularly true of Liberal Democrats..." Plus "Labour's vote was there to be squeezed and it duly dropped by a further two thousand in 2005."

NOTE that in all entries mention is made of the historic rural Labour vote in this part of Norfolk. Guessing this appreciation was a factor in underestimating Lib Dems going into 1997, along with misunderstanding how badly Tories were slumping in their former seaside strongholds.

GrimUpNorth said...

Have just watched Robert Waller's take on the North West battle ground. Excellent analysis, plus interesting anecdotes. This boy deserves a much wider audienece. Perhaps he can push that self-important North American import Bob Worcester off our screens and airwaves.

Praguetory said...

RW clearly knows his stuff but the West Midlands episode was pretty superficial. Not sure you can meaningfully cover 80 or 90 or so seats in half an hour.