Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yorkshire and the Humber results: Dweebshire edition

Yorkshire and the Humber next where the BNP had their first MEP of the night elected. Let's see if we can find any positives from the 21 polling districts?

I didn't think to do the overall results for the other regions but it's probably useful, so here we see the distribution of votes. Confusingly I've put the right on the left and the left on the right - it's all so confusing these days isn't it! For clarity I've put the others (Christians, Libertas and Jury team) in the middle rather than get in a debate about where they are on the political spectrum;

The raw data for those parties who got their deposit back is as follows;

Votes MEPs
Party Total % Total +/-
Conservative 299,802 24.5 (-0.2) 2 0
Labour 230,009 18.8 (-7.5) 1 -1
UKIP 213,750 17.4 (+2.9) 1 0
Liberal Democrats 161,552 13.2 (-2.4) 1 0
BNP 120,139 9.8 (+1.8) 1 +1
Green Party 104,456 8.5 (+2.8) 0 0
English Democrat 31,287 2.6 (+1.0) 0 0

Or to put it another way all the mainstream parties declined and all the main minor parties gained.

York: you lovely people

In York we have the highest Green vote with 13.71%. This contrasts with the second lowest BNP vote of the region (4.85%) and the lowest UKIP vote (13.65%) and the lowest English Democrat vote (1.31%). You can tell something about a region when the best Green vote only just manages to beat the worst UKIP one!

People who've been following this section for the different regions will be picking up on a theme. Where the progressive vote is highest the reactionary vote is lowest. Every time. This doesn't have to be true. For instance, in 2004 Peterborough had one of the highest BNP and Respect votes indicating a real polarisation. Instead we're seeing a tendency towards, putting it crudely, areas leaning either to the left or the right rather than extreme 'hot spots' of conflicting views.

Labour: losing swathes of voters

Labour's vote varied quite widely. From 5.17% in Harrogate to 24.71% in Rotherham. The caveat to my progressive / reactionary thesis is, of course, how you see the Labour Party. All nine areas where Labour polled more than 20% also provided the strongest results for the BNP and include the now infamous Donacaster where the English Democrats polled 9.38% of the euro vote and won the Mayoralty.

It's important though to remember that whilst some Labour supporters certainly do defect to the hard right the fact that most fascist support comes from Labour areas does not necessarily mean these are Labour voters.

Imagine for a moment you are a racist Tory. I apologise for making you do that. You've lived in a Labour stronghold over twelve years of a very disappointing Labour government. Does this situation make you vote Tory more firmly, or does it drive you further to the right in frustration living as you do in an area where the Tories are either weak or non-existent.

So the three areas where Labour was weakest (Richmondshire, Ryedale, Harrogate) were not just areas that the BNP also polled the most poorly - they are down the line Tory strongholds. In other words where the Tories are organised and pose a respectable alternative the need for a more frustrated, belligerent right wing alternative seems, perhaps, less great.

It might be worth noting that if you substitute the Tories with Lib Dems, and even the Greens, the same principles apply just not so much. In other words the key to undermining the BNP vote is provide a strong alternative to Labour. Alternatively, the lesson that Labour supporters might want to draw is that your failures translate directly into BNP support - so fail less.

The Greens: moving forwards

The Greens saw their biggest regional increase in Yorkshire and Humber but we were some way off denying the BNP their seat (1.3% off in fact). Those areas where we attained over 9% of the vote were as follows;

York 13.71
Sheffield 11.40
Craven 10.33
Calderdale 9.79
Kirklees 9.57
Leeds 9.41
Richmondshire 9.04

There seems to be little to connect these areas apart from, perhaps, these are above average turnout areas. Some are strong for the Tories, some for the Lib Dems and some for Labour. We do have established Green presences on councils in most of these areas and this could well be a factor.

What the percentages hide is that there is a large disparity between the population sizes of these areas. Who would have thought looking at the 'league table' of districts that Sheffield and Leeds on their own provided 29.5% of the total regional Green vote (of 21 districts).

The left and the rest

The Socialist Labour Party's vote (0.58-2.92%) was again strongly correlated to Labour's vote whilst No2EU's seems much more scattered (0.82-2.01%). If we look at the following graph that compares votes with the BNP areas. As you move to the right the stronger the BNP vote. To make the graph less confusing I've used a rolling average only.

You can see from this that whilst Greens have tended to perform the best where the BNP vote is the lowest the SLP has the reverse trend - although I'd put this down to their correlation to Labour rather than some sort of a direct relationship. No2EU's vote was far more stable across the region although there is an ever so slight increase in Labour/BNP areas.

Finally what is it about Hambleton that led them to give Libertas their largest vote in the country, a mighty 1.34%? It's a very Tory area, I wonder if that has anything to do with it - or does their UK leader come from there?


Joe Otten said...

Why do you consider Respect progressive?

PhilW said...

I suggested earlier trying to get correlations between votes for different parties using regression analysis.

The trouble with such plots, though, is that they do not answer some of the most interesting political questions. The one I am most concerned with is where the No2EU vote came from. As Jim points out, a weak positive correlation with the BNP vote could signify taking votes from the LP, or votes based on nationalism (or both) and statistical analysis doesn't sort this out. My hunch is that if you have "No2EU - Yes to Democracy" on the ballot form and in these days of fragmented media outlets and weak coverage with the national leaflet, along with the general de-politicised nature of the electorate - especially in European elections - it would be optimistic to classify the No2EU vote as progressive. It may be "working class", but only in the sociological sense.

This contrasts with the Respect votes, which were inevitably identified George Galloway and therefore with opposition to the Iraq war and with a strong, anti-racist stance against the demonisation of the Muslim community in Britain.

Mr Andy C said...

Nice to know I live in a city with fewer racists than the rest of Yorkshire :-)

Jim Jay said...

Joe: whilst politics is more complex than left/right, progressive/reactionary and I wouldn't want to detract from that the Respect party stood on an anti-war, anti-racism platform entirely around addressing inequality. I would never want to say that means people cannot be critical of it but it's very clear that the Respect and BNP vote in Peterborough were from opposing factions rather than related in the same way that say the English Democrat and BNP votes are.

Andy C: Yes, I know the feeling being based in Cambridge :)

Phil: I agree, the stats are interesting and occasionally useful but the numbers always require some interpretation.

Strategist said...

Great work, Jim, thanks for making the effort.