Archive for the ‘Poll’ Category
Results as they come in
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Just keeping an eye on the local government elections here in South Tyneside as results are declared in South Shields and Jarrow.
- First off a wrong prediction in the early declarations, Labour’s Melanie Cartwright has taken Monkton from the Independent Alliance with a majority of 391 (didn’t see that one coming).
- Labour holds Whitburn and Marsden as predicted, Tracey Dixon romped home with more than a thousand votes to spare.
- Labour holds Bede ward in Jarrow, as predicted, welcome to Margaret Peacock.
- Ann Walsh holds Biddick and All Saints with an 877 majority.
- Alan Smith (Labour) defeats the Independent Alliance councillor Geraldine White in Fellgate and Hedworth (another prediction comes right).
- Jim Perry holds Primrose for Labour with a majority of over 1000.
- John McCabe holds Hebburn South for Labour
- Gladys Hobson makes a return to South Tyneside Council as Labour wins in West Park (not looking good for the Progressives).
- Just after midnight and Labour has already picked up an extra three seats on South Tyneside Council.
- At 45.5% Cleadon Village and East Boldon has the highest turnout in the borough again.
- HUGE win for Labour in Beacon and Bents, Ahmed Khan the Independent Alliance defendant has been beaten by former Mayor John Anglin with a good workable majority of 203!
- Joanne Bell holds Boldon Colliery for Labour
- Pat Hay wins Harton for Labour, driving another nail into the Progressive’s coffin.
- Mark Walsh wins another seat for Labour, knocking out Gordin Finch (Independent Alliance) in Horsley Hill, if Westoe falls to Labour this could signal the end of the Alliance.
- Westoe has gone Labour again! They must be jubilant as Sheila Stephenson records a 300 odd majority as the Independent Alliance is reduced to a solitary member. (is that right, just Jane Branley left?)
- Former Conservatice Alex Donaldson (also a former Mayor) holds Cleadon Park for Labour.
- Labour hold both seats in Simonside and Rekendyke
- Just waiting for results in Whiteleas and Cleadon Village now, perhaps they are closer than expected?
- Doreen Purvis eventually wins a seat on the Council as Labour takes Whiteleas from Independent Terry Haram
- Jeff Milburn survives as the only Conservative councillor in South Tyneside holding his seat in Cleadon Village and East Boldon with a majority of only 249.
- Mary Butler has taken Hebburn North for Labour to complete the evening’s bruising for the opposition parties.
South Tyneside Council now comprises 48 Labour members (a huge increase of nine seats) and a paltry six seats for the opposition, the real opposition must now come from within the Labour Party. Looks like my predictions yesterday were not far off the mark.
Biggest sweat must have been on the brow of Alex Donaldson who saw his majority reduced to only 21 as June Elsom came very close to unseating him, in total the Labour Party has won 18 of the 19 seats contested, a pretty formidable victory by any standards!
Referendum choice on May 5th could mean a second choice government.
The trouble with any voting system in use in any liberal western democracy is that it doesn’t suit everybody, it never will, and some compromise has to be made, minority views accepted and respected, and the majority view must never be used like a sledgehammer.
I will nail my colours to the mast here, I’m quite happy with our first past the post system, it is easy to understand and comprehend, it retains a vital link between a single member and a single constituency, and it represents one person one vote. Sure it has its problems, in some places you may feel that your vote doesn’t carry a lot of weight, especially if you are a supporter of a minority party in a constituency which heavily favours one of the major parties, but in our democracy it is the role of the candidates to enthuse people with a positive manifesto to attract votes, not a negative message to to encourage you NOT to vote for other candidates.
It has lost favour principally because of the large amount of votes stacked up in favour of the Liberal Democrats thinly spread across the country which has not translated into seats in the same proportion as Labour or Conservatives, and in the resulting horse trading following our last general election David Cameron and the Conservatives had to concede this referendum in order to keep Nick Clegg’s party in the deal.
My greatest fears about AV (alternative vote) is that we may end up with many MPs who were not the most favoured in their constituencies, but the least unpopular instead, this is not a very inspiring situation. Indeed the recent election of Labour leader Ed Miliband was the result of second and third choice votes being redistributed to him as the least unpopular candidate, his brother David, the South Shields MP was by far the most popular candidate in the early rounds of the contest but was pipped at the post as the minor candidates fell out and their votes were counted a second and third time. I find this inherently unfair, especially as I put so much faith in “one person, one vote”, at a general election we often see fringe candidates in South Shields exercising their right to seek election, under the AV system where we are encouraged to rank the candidates in order of preference, supporters of minor parties may have more weight to their vote and they may even see their vote counted twice or three times depending upon how long it takes one candidate to acquire the necessary 50% criteria that the AV supporters are looking for.
If on the other hand, someone like David Miliband (purely for example) were to receive 52% of the total ballot on the first count, then all of those second, third, and more choices will have been completely wasted. Until the next Boundary Commission comes up with constituencies with roughly even numbers of electors, we will still have many seats where this will happen, solid Labour seats and solid Conservative seats, along with a few solid Lib-Dem seats too, however in many constituencies where the current sitting MP does not enjoy that majority support the votes cast for minority parties become very important indeed. We ought to remember that some of them have very extreme policies too, but their supporters will get a second bite of the cherry and perhaps even a third, and we could see a number of MPs elected because of redistributed votes who would normally end up in second or third place in the ballot. As a result, the middle or third party could acquire sufficient seats to form a government, or at least hold the upper hand in a coalition, based purely on being the least unpopular amongst voters, rather than the party with the most favoured pre election manifesto. In effect our government may be one of second choice rather than first choice.
The most likely reality is that most Labour or Conservative supporters would choose a Liberal Democrat as their second choice, and in some seats this could easily condemn their first choice to a defeat. I do not like this idea of some votes counting more than others! Think of it this way, in a tight fight the victor could well have had two or three votes cast his way by thousands of people, whilst those in second or third place only received one vote per elector – fair and balanced?
I don’t want my MP sent to the House of Commons to represent the people of South Shields with their passive acceptance, I don’t want a government to be formed by passive acceptance, I want my representative or my government to have approval, and therefore I am happy to vote for the retention of our current system and allow the majority of MPs in the House to form a representative government – I just wish they didn’t have a fixed five year term (but that’s another argument).
Finally it alarms and frightens me that our centuries old system of forming a government could be voted out by less than a third of the population – just consider how many people will take part in the referendum on May 5th!
Silver grey vote could swing result for parties
Peverel Retirement, the UK’s eading manager of privately owned residential retirement property have recently conducted a representative poll of over 1000 over sixty-fives, a group which now makes up 20% of the UK population. Whilst their is a reasonable “buzz” on the internet with much more priority being given by the parties to bloggers, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks as the internet becomes a campaign tool, it must not be forgotten that some the core support for political parties will come from the elderly.
The headline results of the recent poll show that:
- 34% of pensioners intend to vote Conservative
- 14% intend to vote Labour
- 13% intend to vote Liberal-Democrat
- 20% are still undecided
- 69% are concerned with healthcare and the NHS
- 14% think that Inheritance Tax issues will influence their vote
Not surprisingly the politicians must talk about the future and how their policies might affect how Britain operates and runs for the next five years, but with a sizeable chunk of the population retired they cannot ignore the influence of those who have worked for perhaps over 40 years, diligently paying their taxes contributing to the economy and society, and who now wish to enjoy some rewards in their twilight years, after all it was their cash which government wasted to get us where we are today!
The report from the Peverel Pensioners Poll says this:
New research out today from Peverel Retirement shows retirees are likely to be the difference between success and failure for the Tories when the UK goes to the polls on 6 May.
A survey conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of the UK’s leading property retirement company has found 34% of over 65-year-olds, approximately 3.3 million of the population, say they intend to vote for the Conservatives. This figure significantly exceeds support levels for the two main other parties, with only 14% and 13% of the same age group backing Labour and the Liberal Democrats respectively.
With 9.8m people in the UK over 65 (source: ONS), this group accounts for a fifth of the UK’s 46m registered voters (source: Ministry of Justice).
The die is far from cast however. One in five of over 65-year-olds admitted they had yet to pledge allegiance to a particular party, giving Labour and the Lib Dems a bank of floating voters, many who may have been swayed by Nick Clegg’s assured performance in the first national television debate between the leaders last week.
The Peverel Retirement report, named Thinking about the Future, also found the most important policy issue to those aged 65-plus was healthcare and the state of the NHS (69%). This was closely followed by pensioner welfare (including fuel benefits) at 67%. However, politicians’ ideas for getting the economy back on track will only have a major influence on 54% of pensioner votes.
Retirement property specialist Peverel Retirement, which manages over 1,500 privately-owned independent and ‘Assisted Living’ developments in England and Wales, commissioned researcher Opinion Matters to highlight pensioner power in the forthcoming election.
Peverel Retirement Managing Director Keith Edgar urged the main parties not to neglect the needs of retired voters in their scramble to appeal to younger voters with TV debates and Twitter campaigns.
“Despite the efforts made by David Cameron to attract younger voters, this research shows Conservative policies still resonate strongly with the older generation,” said Edgar. “But what is really interesting is the number of undecided voters. Getting this group on side could put either one of the other main parties on almost exactly level pegging with the Tories.”
A quarter (26%) said free travel was a key concern and nearly half, 45%, wanted to see more done to tackle crime. Just under a third (30%) cited the education of future generations as a policy issue close to their hearts.
Surprisingly, only 14% of those aged over 65 will let inheritance tax influence their vote.
“With 27 years’ experience in this sector, we understand how important issues such as healthcare are to retirees. This research shows very clearly what this group of influential voters wants from the next government. We’ve done the legwork and shown politicians what they need to offer. The challenge for all three parties over the next fortnight will be to convince retirees they have listened to their demands.”
Even more reason not to put lies and scare stories on your leaflets!
BNP thwarted by additional candidates in Jarrow by election
Last night’s by election for the vacant seat in the Primrose ward of South Tyneside Council produced one of those “squeaky bum” moments for Labour as they narrowly fought off the attempts of the BNP to take their first council seat in the north-east. Labour’s Ken Stephenson held the seat, declared vacant after the untimely death of Barrie Scorer, against a strong challenge from Pete Hodgkinson for the BNP.
Ken Stephenson (Labour) 854
Pete Hodgkinson (British National Party) 566
Aaron Luke (Independent) 213
David Alan Rice (Independent) 174
Anthony James Lanaghan (Conservative) 124
Susan Heather Troupe (Liberal Democrat) 100
Hodgkinson has now come close twice in Primrose, having taken second place to Labour’s Jim Perry in 2008, the BNP saw their vote fall slightly following the introduction of two independent candidates and the Liberal Democrats, in 2008 there were only three candidates for the seat. Turnout yesterday was 32.25% quite close to the norm and only slightly down on the 33% who turned out to vote in 2008.
It appears from yesterday’s vote that Labour’s position was weakened and the BNP’s just about the same as it was last time, the biggest losers were the Conservative Party whose weak base vote became split between themselves, the Lib-Dems and the two Independent candidates. Unfortunately insufficient BNP votes were soaked up by the minor parties and as a result Pete Webber and Pete Hodgkinson are likely to see their efforts as a success and hang around for the next election in May, which, if held on the same day as a general election, could see Labour facing another uphill task to hold this seat as a mood for change affects core Labour voters.
Jury Team failed to inspire
I was just reading at Croydonion’s place his analysis of some EU voting numbers relating to the smaller parties last week, and learned one odd thing that I was not aware of, Gibraltar is part of the UK’s South West Region – odd, but there you are.
“Jury Team failed dismally in Gib” he said, which prompted me to head over to the BBC to see exactly how badly they had faired across the UK:
- Nationally 16th. place 78569 votes 0.5%
- East Midlands 13th. place 7362 votes 0.6%
- East of England 15th. place 6354 votes 0.4%
- London 13th. place 7284 votes 0.4%
- North East 12th. place 2904 votes 0.5%
- North West 11th. place 8783 votes 0.5%
- Scotland 13th. place 6257 votes 0.6%
- South East 13th. place 14172 votes 0.6%
- South West 14th. place 5758 votes 0.4%
- Wales 11th. place 3793 votes 0.6%
- West Midlands 11th. place 8721 votes 0.6%
- Yorks and Humber 11th. place 7181 votes 0.6%
Our own man from South Tyneside, the Independent Alliance councillor Ahmed Khan (who doesn’t claim a penny in expenses) was the Jury Team’s first placed candidate on their list and as you can see in the North East Region (from Teesside to Berwick) they managed to scrape together 2904 votes, the lowest achievement on their ticket in the whole of the UK. Cllr. Khan’s Jury Team votes in South Tyneside at 548 were 840 fewer than he received in his own Beacon and Bents ward in 2008, and the 2904 votes he received in the whole region were only 840 more than his colleague Cllr. Jane Branley received in her single South Shields Westoe ward in 2007, not exactly a blazing success story. The planned invasion of Europe hardly got out of the starting blocks.
There have been no updates to the Jury Team’s website or blog since before the EU election, indeed no reaction to their electoral debut, and it remains to be seen whether the outfit financed by former Tory Party donor Sir Paul Judge will carry on with their plans to fight at the next general election. This little acorn may well have fallen on stony ground!
However he can console himself in knowing, as Croydonian points out, that his share of the vote in South Tyneside represented the height of the Jury Team’s breakthrough!
Will voters desert the main parties?
One of the consequences of the of the revelations now appearing every few hours in the Daily Telegraph about MPs expense claims will be how the stories affect voters’ perceptions about mainstream politicians in the EU elections taking place on June 4th. There can be little doubt that many of us will take the opportunity to express our anger and outrage in a demonstrable manner in the polling booths, but the manner in which we do that could have some terrible consequences.
The first problem will be turnout, traditionally it has never been huge for the EU elections and a smaller turnout than usual may produce some very odd results if, as some expect, voters turn away from the three main parties and support the smaller fringe or more extreme parties. It was not unreasonable to expect in any case that quite a few Tory voters would desert the party just for the EU election and vote for UKIP, returning to the fold for the general election, UKIP’s manifesto is somewhat closer to the hearts and minds of the traditionalist wing of the Tory party and may be found more attractive to those with entrenched anti federalist views. There is also the possibility of all three major parties leaking support from their younger and softer sectors to the Green Party as a mark of protest against Commons MPs, but worse scenarios may be foreseen in die hard Labour areas where working class support may move to the extremists of the BNP, and of course there is a plethora of Independents to take into account too from Libertas to Jury Team and many others in between.
In normal circumstances (and the current news narrative is not normal) government support would move to the default position of voting for the opposition party as a means of protest against the government’s economic record, but as I’ve said these are not normal circumstances and we can only speculate as to how long the Telegraph want to continue their campaign of exposing expense excesses. The greatest worry for the three main parties in this election, which uses a form of proportional representation, is that the smaller fringe parties benefit from a surge in support and the danger here is that the extreme nationalist/socialist BNP gain more than the 8% that they need in some areas to claim a seat in the EU Parliament and if this happens they then qualify for financial help from the EU!
Nothing illustrates more clearly the need for national politicians in Westminster to put their houses in order URGENTLY with cross party agreement to solve the crisis which is eroding confidence in our representatives, and even at local levels we need to feel assured that the issue of claiming expenses or allowances of any kind is open, transparent, honest, simplified and reduced, and that pledges given are adhered to, only then can we return to the issues that are of far more importance, in this case the relationship between the EU and it’s member states and how we perceive the future of the European Union as either a common market for common trade and values or as a fledgling common state with a federal constitution and federal governments. The decision that we make on June 4th. will help shape the way that the UK approaches European unity for the next four years and voting in haste and anger may produce results that will come back to haunt us.
Therefore my greatest fear is that their will be voter apathy and a poor turnout, the other school of thought is that there may be an increased turnout with demonstrations of anger manifesting themselves in massive amounts of spoilt ballot papers, a “plague on all of you” may be the message. Spoilt papers still have to be counted, before being discounted, so perhaps this tactic is all a little unfair on the thousands employed to administer the count. I’d rather we were able to look more dispassionately at the issues and the policies on offer and then make an informed choice on who to send to Brussels or Strasbourg, but this is unlikely to happen during the period of the current news narrative.
The latest poll by YouGov shows Labour at an all time low of 22% nationally but this belies the fact that both they and the Conservatives have lost support considerably over the past seven days, the Tories have dropped nine points, however the good news for David Cameron is that he is seen as the man most likely to be able to sort out the expenses mess. The Labour party share is forecast at 19% for the EU election and this could see them overtaken by UKIP and if Brown fails to be decisive could see them fall behind the Greens. These are extraordinary times indeed. So the message has to be for the House of Commons to sort out it’s problems, some “honourable members” may have to be rooted out of their seats before the next general election before we believe that the job is effectively in hand, and Michael Martin, The Speaker has to go, and go soon. He is not the man to inspire confidence in the ability of MPs to reform their structures and Douglas Carswell MP has a motion of no confidence in The Speaker which is slowly gathering support.
Meanwhile those with a good decent profile in the EU Parliament are out there banging on doors, delivering leaflets, and talking to voters, Dan Hannan MEP in the Conservative stronghold of the south east is offering a tenner to the first person who owns up to supporting Labour at the EU election. I doubt that we’d need to entice them with money in South Shields Dan!
So here’s hoping that the trough gets cleaned up within the next week and that you are able to go to the polls confident in knowing what you are about to do, and that you do so in decent numbers to prevent the proportional share of the vote for the obnoxious and despised BNP rising above that 8% level, there enough nationalist wierdos in the EU to start with, I wouldn’t like to see them gelling together to form National Socialism at large on the continent again!