The TV debates aren’t responsible for the Hung Parliament that will follow Thursday’s election as surely as night follows day. A quarter of a century of decline in the combined Labour and Conservative share of the vote means that the two party stranglehold over UK politics is on its way out and Clegg’s TV performance was just a tipping point.
One of the wonderful things about the web is the accessibility of data. The Guardian has published all of the Guardian/ICM polling data since 1984. At Election 10 we took the combined Labour and Conservative share for every poll and created the graph above. In 1990 the two parties were claiming almost 90% of the vote between them this has shrunk to a little over 60% and it has been a steady consistent decline. A continuation of this would mean a government taking power that was opposed by around 65% of the population. Even our bizarre electoral system can’t sustain this.
To predict the future we must delve into the past. In this case the past is telling us that the party is very nearly over for the reds and blues and the voters will be calling time this Thursday.
There’s a brilliant web site, independently run by YouGov political analyst Anthony Wells, called the UK Polling Report. Along with lots of other election data is brings together all the opinion polls every day. It also has data going back to the last election. There is perhaps no better representation of what has happened in the last couple of weeks than this graph taken from the site. Between 2005 and 2008 the Labour and Conservative shares were much of a muchness, whilst the last two years saw unbroken Tory dominance, albeit with a steady narrowing of the gap since last summer. Then wham bam thank you mam the three parties collided after the first TV debate and that look very much like where we’ll be in just over a week’s time.
Henry Macrory the Head of Press at the Conservative Party posted a tweet today with a link to the picture (above) of Jack Straw talking to an empty square in Wolverhampton this week. He had uploaded the picture himself and it appears today on the Conservative Home blog stating – No one is listening to Labour, John Prescott couldn’t attract a crowd last week and Jack Straw has the same problem this week. But the scene below was caught on video by the local Express and Star newspaper and shows Straw wrapping up his soapbox address to a fair size crowd.
It seems the new generation of political spinners are adept at using the web to twist a tale, but the web is getting adept at catching them out.
Since we posted on the Leaders’ Debate Poll conducted by YouGov on Thursday there has been an extraordinary revelation. YouGov says their internet poll on the TV debate was conducted between 9.27pm and 9.31pm, so the majority of responses were taken during the debate not after it.
This is critical because it means the poll was taken during the summing up speeches. The speeches took place at the following times:
Brown 9:26:30 – 9:28:05
Cameron 9:28:08 – 9:29:17
Clegg 9:29:18 – 9:30:47
That means that over half of the polling would have been done before Clegg summed up in the debate. It also meant that up to half the responses were taken whilst Cameron was summing up and had sole command of the floor and the cameras. That’s a serious flaw in the process and is either incompetence or intentional distortion. You decide which you think it was.
The YouGov/Sun poll gained an enormous amount of exposure on Sky TV last night when it appeared minutes after the TV debate wrapped up. It put Cameron clearly in the lead and fired up an already excitable Kay Burley. When other polls appeared the tale was somewhat different as ITV/ComRes, the Guardian/ICM and The Mirror all put Clegg first, with The Mirror even reporting that Cameron had come last. So what was going on. A quick look at twitter confirmed a broader sense of astonishment at the YouGov findings. The tweet…
YouGov Poll: Earth round 23% Earth flat 64% Earth other-shaped 13% #LeadersDebate
..was posted by hundreds of voters. A Twitpic that has been viewed over 18,000 times suggests that YouGov has been polling on behalf of either the Tories or Labour to elicit voter fears in the event of the Liberals gaining a big share of the vote.
Twitter posts also pointed to the extraordinary fact that the founder and (until the start of the campaign) CEO of YouGov is a Conservative candidate. It isn’t much of stretch to question the independence and therefore reliability of a polling organisation that may be commercially and politically aligned to one of the major parties. In this game value and reliability are very closely linked.
There are few groups as secretive as the Bilderberg group, the axis of politicians and industrialists that meet in secret every year and have been credited by some as the secret power behind the European Union and US administration. It is likely that both Peter Mandelson and George Osborne will be amongst the 130 or so attendees just as they were last year but there will be no discussions about Bilderberg during the election debates. The CEO of Google attended too in 2009.
It is unclear how influential this group actually is, but clandestine cabals run counter to the ideas of democracy. Their ability however to operate under the radar is being unravelled by the social web. Although it doesn’t appear to be published anywhere (official or otherwise) this blog reveals where the next meeting of the Bildergroup will take place. It took ten minutes to find out. Here’s how.
The Dolce Sitges is fully booked for all those dates, although every other hotel in the town has rooms. The Dolce is also away from the main town, on a cliff to and accessible via a single, easy to secure, road. Call us conspiracy theorists if you like but if you encounter Osborne or Mandelson on the campaign trail ask them if they’re planning a trip to Spain together this summer.
If you are not yet registered to vote in the UK general elections today is the very last chance that you have to do so. There is a fantastic website provided by the Electoral Commission called About My Vote, which
will show you how to register to vote. Entering your postcode on the site, and they will provide the forms and show you where to take them . They can usually be faxed or hand delivered. Do it now. The deadline is 5pm today.