Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Totnes Postscipt

This is the notional election result for Totnes from 2005.

Conservative: 19990 (43.1%)
Liberal Democrat: 17268 (37.2%)
Labour: 5391 (11.6%)
Other: 3718 (8%)
Majority: 2722 (5.9%)

Total Conservative votes cast in primary 16,497

= 82.5% of the Conservative General Election vote.

Lesson: If you've voted for a candidate once, it's easier to do it a second time.


Mark Senior said...

You are assuming that the only people who voted are people who voted Conservative at the last election .
I could argue also that the majority who voted against the winning candidate may also find it easier to vote against her a second time .

digger said...

you rather presume that Labour/LibDem voters didn't pick the person they thought least likely to win.

Manfarang said...

No one needs to become a member of the Conservative Constituency Association in Totnes.Why waste your money on a membership subscription when you can influence its affairs anyway.

Dual Citizen said...


But the Conservative Constituency Association in Totnes still selected her for the final three (out of a choice of more than a hundred). Dr. Wollaston must have done something to impress them!

Anonymous said...

As an American voter, familiar with primaries, I am struggling to understand the 'primary' elections being open to all.

In the US only people who have registered for a particular party vote in their party's primary. Independents or opposition do not vote in other's primary elections. This does go some way to avoiding opposition poarties from influencing candidate selection.

Obviously at a General Election all are free to vote for any party.

Anonymous said...

This Primary idea is clever, giving the constituents a feeling of commitment towards the candidate. At 40k a go, I doubt it will be done very often. At another marginal seat perhaps!


Anonymous said...

Don't set up as an accountant, Iain.

Baron said...

You're probably right Iain but I think that aspect of it is actually less important than the sense of empowerment open primaries give supporters of parties in "no-hope" constituencies.

Labour supporters in Totnes for example may well have cast their votes for the candidate they consider most acceptable/least objectinable. If that candidate is nominated they are far less likely to sucumb to the siren bar-charts and two-horsism of appeals for tactical voting.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

@ Anonymous at August 05, 2009 8:16 AM:

Aren't there open primaries in some parts of the US? And in any case here in the UK there is no system whatsoever for registering voters as supporters of political parties so it would be impossible to restrict a primary ballot (short of teaming up with the other parties and allowing voters to vote in only one primary).

Will 883 said...

Of course only a minority of those who voted actually did so for the winning candidate - the majority of voters have already seen their chosen candidate lose.

Quietzapple said...

UKIP pose a considerable threat in this constituency, whose boundaries have been redrawn to include parts of Torbay, where UKIP substantially out polled the Tories in the Euro-elections:


Open Primary here was a clever enough move that I wonder whether Ashcroft's Tory HQ backroom boys chose it?

It has very little to do with democracy, everything to do with buying an election in advance of it being called.

Spending £40,000 choosing a candidate in so promotional a way might be regarded as starting expenditures on the next General Election in that seat . . .

Chris Paul said...

Non sequitor. These 16,000 folk have voted for an individual from a list of conservatives. Many of them will have voted AGAINST your man. Re-run your figures to show the number who voted for the winning candidate. Then we'll see how important your lesson is. Many of them will still revert to other parties when the time comes. Many of them voted AGAINST this candidate.

Eric "Question Time Furore" Pickles' bravado in the Independent today could well come back to bite his ample arse regions.

Is the corollary:

If you've voted against a candidate once, it's easier to do it a second time?

Almost 9,000 of the 16,600 voted AGAINST her and less than a third of those can probably be put down to opposition votes for the man who came in third.

Tories should hold this seat whereas they might have lost on expenses otherwise. But your logic Iain is big pants. Most voted against her. She has a 11% mandate is all.

Alex said...

Manfarang said...
No one needs to become a member of the Conservative Constituency Association in Totnes.Why waste your money on a membership subscription when you can influence its affairs anyway."

If that was all they cared about, members would only join for one year in a generation when the Conservative MP changes.

Mark Senior said...

Conservative Party Membership Totnes
2002 1,297
2008 786

A fall of 30% despite the transfer of some members from Torbay on the redrawing of boundaries .

peter_dtm said...

Open Primaries is - excuse me - a totally stupid idea.

As a conservative (nb small c) I would vote for the worst possible candidate for the parties I did not intend to vote for at the real election.

Remember the Militant Tendency ? And they were members; how much more damage can people opposed to your party do ?


Iain Dale said...

Mark, and in the interests of balance, I am sure you will furnish us with the LibDem memberships for the same years.

Quietzapple said...


I'd look at the Green Party memberships and Lib-Dems too if I were you, there will be overlaps in S Hams, an area adjacent to one I used to know very well.

Does anyone KNOW whther it was Ashcroft's people who told Totnes to go down this route?

And are they banking on other parties being too embarrassed to challenge these expenditures as being part of Conservative Election expenditures in the Totnes seat?

Might work Before the election, but if the good Dr is elected she may well find a challenge.

Anonymous said...

@Tim Roll-Pickering

This open primary was paid for and run by the Tory party. I think you will find that they do know who their members are and could quite easily have made this members only. Except that would have defeated the object which in fact was to get as much publicity as they could without falling foul of electoral spending rules.

Libertarian said...

This so called open primary just goes to show how out of touch politicians and political party activists are with the electorate.

As any fule no electors couldn't give a hoot who the candidate is at a General Election. They don't vote for Sir Damian Donkey or Roger Windbag, they vote for a party to form the next government. It matters not a jot who the candidate is.

Mark Senior said...

Iain , I thought you would have posted to correct my maths , the fall in Conservative membership in Totnes from 2002 to 2008 is of course 40% and in Devon as a whole almost 50% .
LibDem membership in the same period fell from 71,636 to 59,810 around 16% not good but a much less steep fall .

Iain Dale said...

Mark, you don't wriggle away that easily. I asked for the LibDem membership figures in Totnes so we can compare like with like.

Manfarang said...

Dual Citizen
Was that the selection committee of the Conservative Association?