Wednesday, May 14, 2008

London elections: election nerd special

I promise this is my last post on the London elections - I mean, that's all so last week. Just a few loose ends to tie up, namely the ward breakdowns and Suz had a question about spoiled papers that I haven't yet answered.

I'm not going to do a breakdown of every ward in London - so if you've specific desires I suggest you check out the stats at London elects, I'm only going to look at City and East and Lewisham.

City and East results

As I mentioned earlier City and East "was the strongest for Respect *and* the second highest for the BNP *and* the highest for Labour" across London. Now the breakdown for City and East is available we can see that where those votes are coming from. Overall Labour came highest, then the Tories, then Respect, BNP, Lib Dems then the Greens in sixth. In order to get some clarity I've stripped out those parties whose vote is not very interesting.

It's been tricky finding a way to represent this graphically so I'm supplementing this with the raw numbers below. These are the percentages of the vote gained in each area.

BNP Tory Green

Newham 5.26 14.63 4.72 43.89 13.60
Barking and Dagenham 24.75 18.79 3.00 33.50 2.30
Tower Hamlets 4.76 19.41 9.10 34.20 15.10
City of London 2.17 43.01 12.81 22.90 1.68
Total 9.85 17.95 6.05 37.37 11.13

We can see from this that the BNP's good showing of 9.85% in the constituency is almost entirely due to Barking and Dagenham, from which 62% of their vote came, and where they came second, behind Labour. The only other party to get such a strong disproportion in their vote was the Greens where 55% of their vote came from Tower Hamlets, which is surprising because the Green electoral performance there has previously been very poor. This implies there is untapped potential here that a good local team could draw upon.

Even Respect, who are associated with Tower Hamlets because of their high profile MP had two strong areas out of the four - Tower Hamlets and Newham - although they will need to work on those third place scores in order to win seats at the next Parliamentary elections.


Lewisham is important in that it's target Parliamentary seat for the Greens (incidentally I've got money on Darren Johnson winning this so if I'm to cash in at the GE there is much work to be done). The Greenwich and Lewisham list results, which are in themselves respectable, mask the fact that the Green results in Lewisham itself are modestly impressive - coming third overall with 14.11% although we'd need to more than double this to win the seat (on these stats), a tall order.

In four out of the eighteen wards the Greens came second place (Brockley 29.9%, Crofton Park 19.35%, Ladywell 26.76% and Telegraph Hill 22.14%) and it's interesting to note that the weakest Green areas are the places where the BNP and UKIP vote was the strongest. There's also a strong correlation between a strong Left List vote, such as it was, and a strong Green vote - but there doesn't seem to be an other correlations between the parties (except perhaps a weak one in that the very weakest Labour areas were also the weakest for the Greens).

I should point out that in the constituency vote here people also had the opportunity to vote for the candidate for Socialist Alternative. As we might expect, although the SA vote was low overall (1.62% in Lewisham) they did have one strong area, Telegraph Hill where they have two of three councillors, achieving 3rd place (behind Labour and the Greens) with 13.06% - very respectable and over 38% of their total vote in Lewisham's 18 wards.

The Greens won 18.04% in this ward on this paper and 22.14% on the list so I suspect it's fair to say that at good part of that 4.1% of the vote in Telegraph Hill were people voting SA in the constituency and Green for the list. It's also the case that this was the strongest area for the Left List in Lewisham with 3.64% well above the 2.52% they got in the constituency vote in the ward so I suspect SA mobilised an extra 50% of the Left List vote for them here.

However, if the Greens are to take winning the constituency seriously it's clear they will need to target Telegraph Hill as part of that strategy, something that they have hitherto been unwilling to do. That might be difficult to do in a sensitive way but it would be hard to argue that an area where the Greens get more than 22% of the vote should be one they continue to ignore simply because a different progressive party have councillors there.

Overall it's probably doable to come second at the general and certainly an increase in councillors looks (almost) inevitable but it will take a well designed and implemented strategy for the Greens to win an MP in Lewisham.

Spoiled papers

There have been a few rumblings about the number of spoiled ballot papers, particularly in the Mayoral portion of the London election. I'm fairly certain that this concern is unwarranted.


2004 '04% 2008 '08% % diff
Electorate 5,197,647

Turnout 1,920,513 36.95% 2,456,990 45.33% 8.38%
Good votes (1st) 1,863,671 97.04% 2,415,958 98.33% 1.29%
Good votes (2nd) 1,591,443 82.87% 2,004,078 81.57% -1.30%
Rejected votes (1st) 56,862 2.96% 41,032 1.67% -1.29%
Rejected votes (2nd) 329,090 17.14% 412,054 16.77% -0.36%
Blank (no votes cast) 0 0.00% 13,034 0.53% 0.53%
No 2nd pref 0 0.00% 407,840 16.60% 16.60%

We can see from this that people are learning the system and that spoiled papers are reducing. However the electoral system is still responsible for some problems. Because it would take a lot of downloading and cutting and pasting I'm not going to bother compiling a complete set of figues on this but will content myself with using Lewisham as an example and cross my fingers that this is representative. Forgive my laziness. I'm also going to show figures just for the Mayoral as there doesn't appear to be any meaningful differences between different coloured papers getting "spoiled".

Of 1,160 spoiled first preference votes none lacked the official mark (which was something of great concern on polling day). 11,058 second preference votes (or ten times as many) were spoiled.

It's impossible to tell what the meaning behind unmarked first preference votes are - at a guess I'd say it's a combination of people making mistakes, genuinely being unable to decide and voters who were keen to vote for the assembly but not the Mayor. However, I think it's fair to assume that those people who put more than one vote in their first preference column were making an error - thankfully the proportion of spoiled papers is reducing but it's still worth noting that there are still some people, 742 of them in Lewisham, who still haven't worked out how to use their paper.

On the second preferences almost all of the "spoiled" papers are from people who didn't want to use their second preference vote. They'd voted for their choice and that was that. So although the spoiled second preferences were quite large I think it would be quite wrong to suggest that this was the electorate mucking up - in fact they were choosing not to choose a second choice. 17% of voters took this route, quite a chunk.

Anyway, that's it for election statistics for a while - but never fear I'm sure I can find other opportunities to bring you the very latest in bar graphs, pie charts and other graphical delights.


Matt Sellwood said...

I bow to your geekery, king of the election nerds....



Anonymous said...

They are indeed v impressive charts Jim - should Jeremy Vine be worrying about his job yet?! So long as you don't don a cowboy outfit and adopt a Texan drawl he should be ok . . .

Would be happy to send you my geeky spreadsheets with breakdown of Green vote and comparison with 2004 figures for Lewisham if you want :) BTW, I think we also came second in New Cross ward.

We increased our vote in 14 out of the 18 wards in Lewisham, with one more remaining the same and 3 dipping slightly (wards in the south of the borough where we generally perform badly and BNP and Tories do well). As would be expected, our vote increased most in Lewisham Deptford, with 20.5% across the constituency, compared to 17.4% in 2004 and 27% in the 2006 locals.

Who said we aren't targeting Telegraph Hill?! It's natural Green territory, with very similar demographics to Brockley, and our motivation grows with every inaccurate newsletter article about us that the Socialist Party put out ;). In the last one they claimed we supported the privatisation of council housing and cuts to services at Lewisham Hospital!

Definitely winnable for Greens if we put the work in, though it is tougher as it will be a 3-way split with Labour and the Socialist Party. Doable though.

Jim Jay said...

My apologies Sue - you're right!

New Cross Green vote was 13.78% and the Tories got a fucking useless 13.61% - the wankers! Hehe!

Cough, sorry for swearing as well (blush)

weggis said...

...but you do it with such reasonableness, Jim.