Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lies, Damn lies and statistics...

Today marks the end of an era, the last Morley Advertiser to be published. The paper has had a nearly 75 year history (it was first published on December 6th 1930) and next Wednesday, it will become the Morley Observer & Advertiser.

Sadly, the Advertiser has been the poor cousin to the Observer in recent times and despite being the same price (26p) it has generally been thinner and less informative.

Today, however, it goes out with a bit of a bang, with a full 24 pages, a few colour photos, a local history article called “The Advertiser Years” and a fair bit of election coverage.

The election coverage, however, is both enlightening and disappointing. There are letters from four of the five candidates but some of the PPC opinions seem to have been lifted as boilerplate for the front page article. An example of this is that Colin Challen’s share of the vote was down “slightly”. Slightly? It is down from 57% to 48.4%, and if you actually factor in the increased voting strength it is actually 15% lower than it should have been.

The article is also slightly odd in that it says this: "The Labour vote came out on top in every ballot box in the constituency for the first time". This is crap journalism as the voting process does not work like this at all, they are counted by box, then they are sorted into candidates en-masse. This statement is only speculation by the fevered activists who do chart-ticking of every ballot paper they see tipped onto the counter and has no official substance.

In a thank you letter, Colin attributes the increased turnout to be mainly due to postal voting which is known to favour the Labour Party. He is still banging on about saving the planet but I’m with the sceptical environmentalist on that one. His majority did indeed go up, but that was an artifact of voters deserting both him and the Conservative candidate.

Nick Vineall (Con) writes, congratulating Colin Challen and thanking the 8,227 people who voted for him. He is pleased they remained in second place as the only credible challenge to Labour (his words) but those words also sound a bit hollow when his figures are extrapolated, his vote is down 25.5% on what he should have got based on the increased voting base. He plugs the local Conservative Association and also mentions that the Independents didn’t stay for the declaration & speeches. He also claims that the Conservative Party is on the ascendent in Leeds (it may be, but not in Morley) and describes an independent platform as “wishy-washy”, on the basis of not knowing what you are getting. Sorry Nick those of us who don’t vote for the big three do so knowing exactly what we are getting from mainstream Party Politics and we don’t like it- Jaded, partisan, confrontational politics, all wanting big government, spin, lies & raiding our pockets. He says we would be “appalled” to find out that independents regularly vote with Labour. Pull the other one, we want them voting for the right thing to do regardless of whose idea it is.

The letter finally shows his ignorance of his parochial audience by encouraging all Conservatives to pull together to return Conservative Town & City Councillors, in next year’s elections. There are indeed 33 City Councillors up for grabs next Summer, but Morley Town Councillors all serve until 2006.

Stewart Golton the Lib Dem doesn’t have a letter published and he didn’t attend the mock election at Bruntcliffe High school (Challen, Vineall and Finnigan did), however, he made a good analysis of the results post-election, other than the bit about the Lib Dems being the obvious alternative! Based on proportional share of the vote, he was effectively up 14%, rather than the 9.4% suggested by the BBC.

Robert Finnigan, the Independent, described the election as a “deeply humbling experience” and has pledged to continue holding others to account. He omitted to congratulate Colin Challen & thanked the 4,600 predominantly Morley voters for beating the BNP and keeping his deposit with 10% of the vote. He actually polled 4,608 votes, maybe he should have stuck around for the result on Friday morning!

Chris Beverley from the BNP made capital of keeping his deposit (so it looks like you need 5% of votes cast, he got 5.34%) and claims that the BNP is now indisputably the fourth political party in Britain.

There is a letter of support for Robert Finnigan from Paul (Tingley Troll) Cockcroft & family encouraging him “to continue to provide an alternative to the boring mainstream politics which exist in Leeds”. I’d have to disagree there, sidestream politics is also boring to most people!

As a service to both of my readers, I have represented the Morley polls as a Pie Chart, first as % of vote cast. Red is Labour, Blue is Conservative, Mustard Yellow is Lib Dem, Green is Independent (Morley Borough independent house colours) and Pink is other, being UKIP in 2001 and BNP in 2005. I can’t do stripes so pink is a suitable mix of red, white and blue.
Share of the vote
Note the decrease of the Labour share to less than half the pie, the Conservative chunk being a Pizza slice rather than a Pizza quarter, the minor change on Lib Dem, the Independent vote appearing on the pie and the other vote doubling.
Share of the total
Now contrast the figures when the pie includes everyone entitled to vote. This time, the changes look much less significant and the obvious winner is the Grey pie chunk, the “none of the above” candidate for the Apathy Party.

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