Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Labour Punished and Retained

Polls closed in the UK about half an hour ago. The BBC exit poll of 19,800 voters in 120 districts predicts a Labour government with a 66-seat majority, way down from the 160-seat majority previously enjoyed. Blair's lack of candor about Iraq cost 100 PMs their jobs, the Labour rank and file will likely believe. The vote is looking like 37% Labour, 33% conservative, 22% LibDem, and 8% other. Under the first-past-the-post system of UK elections (similar to those here) that translates into an absolute parliamentary majority for Labour - but with 63% of the public voting against them, Labour will have to change course. The (London) Times is predicting a mere two seat gain for the Liberal Democrats, with all the gains going to the Tories. Thus, as some feared, the LibDems took votes from Labour, but not enough to win, thus being a spoiler handing the seats to the Tories.

It is interesting to reflect that steady Liberal Democrat voting in perpetual third place means that neither Labour nor Tories have to come close to the near-50% needed in a US election, in order to become PM.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm working at home today watching the BBC simulcast on CSPAN2. They are all a buzz about the exit polls. But apparently BBC exit polls have a history of missing the mark (this according to the BBC commentators). I've seen returns reported for about a half a dozen constituencies so far and in each one there was between a 3% to 7% swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats with Torries stuck about steady. This could suggest a slightly stronger showing for the Liberal Democrats than the exit polls indicate.

Two things to consider: Turnout is much higher than in the last several elections and exit polls do poorly when turnout is much different than expected.

There are early reports of a lot of "tactical voting" which must be the British way of saying strategic voting. There are supposedly large numbers of normally solid Labour voters voting for the Lib Dems in constituencies where the Lib Dems normally come in second to Torries. Michael Howard (the Tory leader) may himself be in danger of losing a nail biter to the local Lib Dem candidate.

The night is young. There still may be hope for a Lib Dem surge which would make all this much more entertaining for me at least! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

AS of about 1am in the UK, the results show a possible Lib Dem surge - a pickup of 8 seats, loss of 3 (net +5). Labor is all losses and Conservatives all gains. LibDems are picking up the middle along the way. A LibDem increase of 5-10 will be substantially more than expected (from 52 to 62) and will make them more credible. Not surprisingly, the Scottish National Party is doing well too - also as a 'spoiler' of sorts. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I heard just now that BBC is predicting (based on actual results) that the Lib Dems will have a total of 59 seats which is the best showing for the Liberals since Lloyd George led them to a 59 seat showing in 1929.

My favorite part of watching the BBC coverage was when the contituencies in Wales reported their results in Welsh. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

OK, with 627 out of 646 constituencies reported the totals are (change from 2001 in parentheses):

Labour: 355 (-47)
Conservative (Tory): 197 (+33)
Liberal Democrat: 62 (+11)

You can see the full results  for all the parties at this BBC website.

To me two things stand out. First, the Labour Party is still the dominant party in the UK. Second, this is the best showing for the Liberals since WWI! They topped Lloyd George's 59 seats from 1929 (a benchmark set by the pundits for a really amazing success).

The Liberal victory is even more obvious when you look at the vote shares instead of the seat shares. The Labour party lost 5.8% of the vote share from 2001. The Torries gained a tiny 0.6%! The Liberals gained 3.8% (the only party to mark a gain of more than a full point!). Turnout was 2.2% higher than in 2001.

The Liberals were the ONLY party to oppose the war in Iraq. It is impossible to look at this result as anything other than a rebuke on the war issue. The Torries are running around claiming victory but those claims ring hollow and are only an electoral system imposed illusion. It is clear that the big winners were the Liberals. I'm hoping for a continued comeback for that venerable party! Maybe, someday, they can replace the Torries as the main opponent for Labour!
 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I would not confine the LibDem success to the war issue. The Liberal Democrats want to spin this election as having demonstrated that they are a viable non-Tory alternative to corrupt and ineffective Labour. Their gains are marked in Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall, areas with nationalist resurgence who voted for Labour b/c of devoloution of power, but now are swinging to the LibDems as an alternative. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

It probably doesn't hurt the Liberal Democrats that their leader is Scottish.

Also, the Liberal Democrats were the only party in Parliament to oppose the British version of the USA Patriot Act on the grounds that it was a threat to basic political liberties. Good for them!

Also, the Liberal Democrats were the only party to enthusiastically defend immigrants' rights during a campaign in which the Torries borrowed heavily from the anti-foreigner rhetoric of the British National Party.

But since the Labour party is on the wrong side of these issues mainly because of Tony Blair's slavish support of Bush, I think the Liberal Democrats' victory is mostly (but not entirely) due to their principled stance on the war and civil liberties.

By the way, I'm very glad to see that the shameless Tory attempt to win votes with immigrant bashing failed. While they won seats from Labour, those seats switched largely because of the LD's spoiler effect in districts where Labour and Conservative finish 1st and 2nd. The vote share for the Torries is stuck in the low 30s. I'm glad that coded racism didn't benefit them. Good for you Britain! 

// posted by Raised by Republicans

Raised By Republicans said...

Oh, one other thing. Labour does seem to have done better than many predicted. If I have figured out the idiosynchratic way British pundits calculate the "majority." Tony Blair went from a majority of over 160 to one of about 108. The exit polls were predicting it would drop to 66 or even less.

People were suggesting that if the majority dropped below 100, Blair would be under a lot of pressure from within the party to resign sooner rather than later in the next 5 year term. Reports are that Blair wants to beat Thatcher's record so we'll have to see if Gordon Brown et al let him do that.

Anonymous said...

I think they calculate majority by saying this: Labor has 400, others have 250, thus a 150 seat majority. More accurately (or more usefully) the majority should be measured by the number of votes above the minimum threshhold. So if 324 is needed, then 400 seats = 76 seat majority. If 355 seats, then 31 seat majority. This would mean that losing 31 votes in his own party = defeat.

 

// posted by LTG

The Law Talking Guy said...

The question we have not addressed is: what does the UK election mean for America, if anything?

It shows, I hope, the vibrancy of centrist parties in western democracies. The Tories rebounded slightly from the crushing defeat of 2001, but their attempt at running a rightist campaign (anti-immigrant, etc.) did not ignite the public. The public held their nose and voted for Labour overal, but in far larger numbers than ever before chose the centrist Liberal Democrats -- who showed an increase of about 20% in parliamentary representation and vote share (3.8% of the electorate more than the 18% previous is approx 20% increase).

Anonymous said...

I think that if Blair feels pressured to resign his leadership of the Labour Party (and thus the PM'ship) because of this election, it makes the Bush administration look even more isolated.

However, the BBC is reporting that Tory Leader Michael Howard is promising to resign HIS leadership position "sooner rather than later." So this could give Tony Blair room to spin yesterday's result as a third win in a row against three different Tory leaders. If the Labour Parliamentary party buys that, then Tony could stick around for a few more years acting as GWP's political fig leaf. 

// posted by Anonymous

Anonymous said...

One piece of bad news is from Northern Ireland. The Ulster Unionist Party, which has led the N. Irish government, has wiped out in parliament, losing all but one or two of its seats, including David Trimble's seat. It is replaced by the Democratic Unionist Party, which is anything but - it's the radical religious party led by 'The Rev' Ian Paisley, an equivalent of the American Republican Party for Northern Ireland. Not good news for the future there. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Sinn Fein has also gained seats, at the expense of more moderate parties. Sinn Fein is the political wing of a terrorist group, and it is sad to see terrorists gaining strength even after 9/11. This terrorist group has quite a bit of US support, from American Irish Catholics who identify with its goal. Even after 9/11, Irish Catholics in New York continue to support terrorism in Ireland - which is a mirror of the attitudes towards the USA of muslims throughout the middle east. Sadly, the American media does not say "Catholic terrorists" for the IRA as a parallel to "Islamic terrorists" for groups in the Middle East, so their Irish audience is not required to face the hypocrisy head on. The IRA refuses to renounce violence, decommission its weapons and use only peaceful democratic means to achieve the goal of a single government on the island of Ireland, based in Dublin. Having Northern Ireland divided between

By contrast, the protestant parties have renounced violence. Protestant Paramilitary groups are not directly affiliated with any parties. However, given that the protestant goal is to remain part of the UK, and the UK has its troops on the ground enforcing that goal, the 'renunciation of violence' must be seen in the same light as Israel's protestation that it abhors violence in the West Bank. Sure they believe in peaceful means... if you discount occupation as violence.

At any rate, splitting N. Ireland between Ian Paisley's party and Sinn Fein is not a recipe for political harmony.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm not sure the Democratic Unionist have renounced violence. The word I heard was that the Democratic Unionists displaced the Ulster Unionists because the Ulster Unionists had supported the peace agreement.

I hope this doesn't mean more "troubles" for Northern Ireland. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

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