They’re just flat out lying, aren’t they?

In an act of grotesque gerrymandering, some 23 Labour seats will be liquidated, hundreds of other seats affected and 2 million voters disenfranchised. On an out-of-date electoral register, hundreds of thousands of young people who registered to vote in the EU referendum are being denied a voice in the new constituencies. Wales will lose a quarter of its representatives as no account is taken of the asymmetric needs of the Union. While the Tories pack the Lords, they are thinning out the Commons beginning, with their usual gift for power, with Jeremy Corbyn’s own Islington North seat that is set to be discontinued.

Driving these changes is not a considered idea about the nature of representation and accountability in the 21st century, but David Cameron’s arbitrary desire to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600. So it was perhaps only fitting that he chose to quit on the day the Boundary Commission announced its conclusions.

Tristram Rhyming Slang.

A ruthless gerrymandering of British democracy to favour the partisan interests of the Conservative party: that’s what the new electoral boundary proposals amount to.

Young Owen.

Labour has been grossly advantaged by the current system. They lose much of this advantage as a result of the changes. This is the undoing of gerrymandering…..

87 thoughts on “They’re just flat out lying, aren’t they?”

  1. . . . 2 million voters disenfranchised . . .
    I see stuff like this and I know immediately that author is lying.

    Are these people being removed from the rolls? Are they being denied a vote? No? Then they aren’t being disenfrachised.

    The only thing that might be happening is they’ll find themselves in a new district for representation purposes – but they still get to vote for that representative, same as always.

    Now, if the author was trying to put out a case that this was a sketchy political tactic to maximise the election chances for a party – that’s one thing.

    Except that these districts *have already* been gerrymandered. So the whole ‘OMG, my party is getting screwed’ can easily be debunked.

    His party is not getting screwed, merely not being allowed to screw other people is not the same thing.

  2. Not to mention that the only reason the changes are so drastic is because Labour have fought tooth and nail for so long to hold on to their unfair advantage.

  3. Let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that (one of) Hunt’s claims is true, and his constituents require more MP effort than those in other areas.

    Is this a rational argument for MPs having variable rate allowances (based on demote ale need) for constituency staff? Possibly. Not a great one, but it is one.

    Is it a rational argument for his constituents having disproportional parliamentary representation? No. Not least because if they need the help of their MP to unfeck their lives, we probably want to limit their influence on ours.

    And from the article:

    Labour must continue to make the case to activists and boundary commissioners of the need for a parliamentary road to socialism.

    He can try whatever the feck he likes with Labour activists. He’ll not get anywhere with the current lot but that’s his problem.

    Hands off the Boundary Commissioners. They are there to fairly redistribute the constituency boundaries (except for the IoW, iirc), not to implement parliamentary socialism. Perhaps that’s the cause of all this whining?

    People have moved out of the inner cities, even London. Call it “urban sprawl” or “depopulation of the poor”. Don’t care. Those that remain don’t deserve disproportionate representation.

  4. What Theophrastus rightly said.

    I have no great love for the Tories but they are the only party in this country that is remotely fit for government.

    As for Tristram Bunt and the other lying cunt – of course they’re lying – that’s all lefties ever do.

  5. “Wales will lose a quarter of its representatives as no account is taken of the asymmetric needs of the Union.”

    As SE said, that ‘asymmetric need’ would be for more Labour MPs than the votes provide for would it?

  6. I remember living in Wales and voting in the devolution referendum there. Devolution would change the nation irrevocably for the better we were told. Change everything except that ‘asymmetric need’ that just happens to benefit Labour.

  7. Well he may- may- have half a point.
    The purpose of the exercise is to make constituencies near enough equal in size. This is based on the number of registered electors. Since this has been under weigh for several years it won’t take account of any that woke up and registered specifically for the referendum.
    But even assuming that these people maintain their registration to the next general election they will still get a vote, it will simply mean that a new boundary commission report will be needed to again adjust the size of constituencies.
    Which should be done every five years anyway since people move around a lot.

  8. It’s like a football team who have always been allowed to field 13 players against 11 whining that it’s ‘unfair’ if they are now asked to field 11 against 11.

  9. @ Pat “Which should be done every five years anyway since people move around a lot.”

    Well, that’s what the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 as amended by the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act 2011 requires. A review of boundaries at least every 5 years.

    The proposed 2013 review was scuppered by the Lib Dems teaming up with the opposition.

    Previous legislation required a review every 8 to 12 years and New boundaries were last used for the May 2010 election.

    So there have been periodic reviews for decades.

    So, no, Labour don’t really have a point. We are overdue a review. This one is a different than previous ones because of the reduction in the number of MPs and the equalisation of constituency sizes but if that adversely affects Labour it’s only because they had an inherent advantage previously.

  10. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I am astonished by how bare-faced Labour and their supporters are being about this. They just haven’t got a leg to stand on.

  11. Followers of a certain imported belief system need to lose the vote anyway. This would prevent a lot of future nastiness from ever happening in itself.

    As for the bollocks about young snot rushing to register to support their “bright future” (they and -more likely–their kids as EU Army conscripts), the majority of youth didn’t vote at all. It seems the left all lie from the same hymn sheet.

  12. If hundreds of thousands have only just registered to vote, doesn’t that imply that they were previously breaking the law by not having registered…?

  13. “2 million voters disenfranchised”

    He is lying. It is a blatant, verifiable lie. For someone who has whined continually about the Brexit ‘lie’, this is monumental hypocrisy. Perhaps his affair with Goldman Sachs over the Referendum has turned his mind.

    Where is the evidence these two million were disproportionately in the affected areas anyway? As the boundary changes are the result of changes in human population, why wouldn’t these two million be distributed as reflected in that population?

    As for the ‘asymetric needs of the Union’, these have been met by devolution. They get to vote on their issues and ours. We don’t get to vote on theirs. This review at least reduces their influence, but they shouldn’t have any.

  14. “Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I am astonished by how bare-faced Labour and their supporters are being about this. They just haven’t got a leg to stand on.”

    Because the BBC will back them to the hilt and give them whatever airtime and coverage they want.

  15. Note also that the fall in registered voters in these Labour constituencies isn’t just because of population movements, but also the result of moving to individual voter registration instead of household registration.

    You can see how that would disproportionately affect Labour.

  16. To repeat, the only possible effect of any extra registrations will be to render the new constituencies less equal than intended.
    As to the new registrants being young people, I saw lots of posts on FB on referendum day from people who were evidently first time voters, but none of them were young.

  17. I see a lot of social media comment about gerrymandering Tories.

    The same people who loathe FPTP because it is anti democratic. The same mob that wanted AV.

    So a system that equalises voter representation by MPs through similarly sized constituencies is now ‘anti democratic’, and ‘against the will of the people’?


  18. They are the same people who want Brexit ignored too. They are the anti-democrats.

    They would fight to keep pocket boroughs if they were theirs.

  19. As I said yesterday, you have stupid little idiots like Owen trying to do numbers and you get this sort of logic…

    “While the Tories won a seat for every 34,244 voters who opted for the Conservatives, it took an average of 40,290 to win a Labour seat last year.”

    It didn’t.

    To win a seat you need the same number of votes as the second place candidate, + 1.

    In Conservative constituencies, the average number of votes for the second place candidate was 12,368. In Labour constituencies it was 11,163.

    Which means that by and large Conservative seats are more marginal and about 10% more difficult to win. Labour’s problem is that it has uselessly large majorities in its seats and if boundary changes spread their voters around a bit more it might actually benefit them, well, if they weren’t shedding them like a moulting dog.

  20. ‘Young Owen’ – is he that young? he is over 30 even if he looks about 12 – the views he expresses are some of the most idiotic I have ever read espoused anywhere – and arguably anyone over the age of 21 really ought to know better – he is arguably the only high profile writer more stupid than Richard Murphy, and he shares that imbeciles’ extreme aversion to criticism and thin skin. For merely suggesting he might be on ‘Bob’ Mugabe’s Xmas card list I got blocked from his Twitter feed – one of only 4 people to do that.

    Suffice it to say the claim of gerrymandering is one of the most egregious examples of brassneck I have ever seen from the Left in the past four weeks… But another non sequitur masquerading as ‘incontrovertible truth’ will surely follow and be parroted without question by a supine media which the Corbynites seem to think is ‘right wing’ or ‘neoliberal’ despite much of it being distinguishable from the KCNA’s output only by the latter’s being grammatically better structured and more literate.

  21. Which means that by and large Conservative seats are more marginal and about 10% more difficult to win.

    Or that Conservative seats have more voters, or a number of other factors.

    There is one argument to be made, and neither Hunt nor Owen makes it. If Labour wards are being taken out of Conservative marginals and added to safe Labour seats, or something similar, then that would be wrong, and a huge benefit to the Conservatives.

    However, they say no such thing. Indeed, Hunt’s article actually veers off into a pop at Corbyn. I’m not sure his heart was really in the gerrymandering argument.

  22. VP

    A major difference between Murphy and Jones is that although Jones like Murphy is white, middle class, presumably reasonably well off and male (all of which are ostensibly negative factors for a SJW) he holds one of the supreme victimhood trump cards – he is gay.

    In that respect, Jones is in a much more powerful position than Murphy (and it makes him comparatively untouchable given potential recourse to law and media for the discrimination defence, whatever he does).

  23. For it to be ‘gerrymandering’, they’d need to evidence at least some of the following:
    -That the decision to review boundaries was motivated by political self-interest as opposed to a historic agreement that this is a pre-requisite for fair elections.

    -That the Electoral Commission is somehow under the influence of the Tories, to the extent that their reallocations deliberately benefit them and punish Labour.

    -That the disparity in constituency sizes is down to voter registration changes, as opposed to genuine demographic changes.

    So far as I can see they have not even attempted to prove even a single one of these claims. Fucking fucking fucking liars.

  24. The only thing that is disputably fair or not is the reduction in the headcount. Which, unaccompanied by a more necessary reduction in headcount in the Lords, seems slightly strange.

    Although Dave justified it reasonably at the time.

    It is now up to the Boundary Commissions to make those reductions _fair and equitable_ based on the statutory rules and decades of precedent (except for the Isle of Wight.) They will be specifically trying to avoid even the appearance of gerrymandering – and will have evidence to back every decision. It’s why we have the effing Boundary Commissions rather, than as in the US, allowing the legislature (state or federal) to do it themselves.

  25. I suspect that an unfair electoral balance has been quite usual in our history. When Ireland joined the Union in 1801, she was over-represented in the Commons, and Scotland was under-represented. That’s by comparison with England, the biggest constituent of the Union. I don’t know the comparison for Wales.

    Anyway, the unfair balance in favour of Labour has been effective for most of my life, I believe. I would be delighted if it were undone. I approve of anything reasonable that will lead to the demise of Labour, and return us to God’s intended contest, Whigs vs Tories. Mind you, that would need someone to find a few Tories.

  26. In 2005 Labour got 9,552,436 votes and a majority of about 60. In 2010 the Conservatives got 10,703,654 votes – over one million more – and as we know needed to go into coalition.

    How the squawking left can talk of electoral unfairness God only knows.

  27. Yeah I noticed these articles, and the truly disgusting dishonesty, too. Owen Jones I already had an opinion of, but I’ve also made a mental note to put Tristram on my ‘genuinely bad person unworthy of any respect’ list. This isn’t even spin.

    Interestingly, more of the comments under the articles seemed to be unusually critical of the accusation of gerrymandering that I would have expected for the Guardian. It shows that people aren’t quite as stupid as we might sometimes fear.

    I also note that my Corbyn-supporting Canary-reposting Facebook friends have also been silent on this issue. I will respect them a little bit more for that.

    As pointed out, this is the precise. reverse. of gerrymandering.

  28. BF

    Absolutely agree on the homosexuality thing being his trump card – albeit his absurdly infantile reaction on the Sky News broadcast following Orlando has probably made it harder for him to play that.

    It does put him at risk of a Dark Web fundraising campaign to surreptitiously kidnap him with a view to airlifting him to Raqqa to become a video star but that can’t be helped..

  29. Is it libellous to accuse the Boundary Commission of ‘gerrymandering’?

    I’m all for free expression but sooner or later some evidence is required. I await it with interest.

  30. From the man who talked about gerrymandering:

    “Labour must continue to make the case to activists and boundary commissioners of the need for a parliamentary road to socialism.”

    Eh, what?

  31. I wonder how many of the claimed extra voters from the EU referendum turned out to be duplicates and didn’t actually add to the numbers.

    “23 Labour seats will be liquidated”

    This is less than half the reduction yet is still described as gerrymandering.

  32. The Beeb played a blinder with this one.

    They fleetingly mentioned that it was independent but after that it was a tsunami of lefties blaming the Tories.

    Anti democratic, gerrymandering, fixing the election, racism all the rancid lies poured forth.

    No mention whatsoever of merely correcting the current boundaries giving Labour a 3% advantage.

    Still, 6 out of 7 stories (and by God some of them really were stories) were stunningly inaccurate and biased, so nothing new there then.

  33. What I don’t get is why the size of the constituency is determined by the number of registered voters. Why is it not on population, as in, for instance, the US? There is the decennial census is constitutionally mandated for just that purpose.

  34. The Torygraph analysis of Labour’s downfall points out that most of their prospective losses are due to them being unpopular, the changes due to boundaries are limited.

  35. PST,

    The poor tend to have more kids. When done by total population a poor person’s votes are worth more and we can’t have that.

    I’d use a sarcasm tag but I’m not exactly being sarcastic. I am sure there is a perfectly British explanation why and everyone will now tell us yanks.

  36. LY,
    A case can be made for either, but it makes little difference in either case. Labour currently have an advantage, and so an adjustment will negatively affect them. That’s that, sadly for Owen and Hunt.

  37. (i) Census figures are available only once every ten years (ii) And they are full of people not qualified to vote e.g. many furriners, lunatics, members of the House of Lords, …..

  38. And the Queen.

    It’s more logical to use the the number of voters to determine the number of voters per constituency, and the electoral roll is constantly updated. Cos it’s about voters.

  39. Jack C, yes, or rather public opinion. And non-voters aren’t intending to express an opinion, in terms of representation.

  40. The electoral roll is the simplest fucking form imaginable. If you are already registered at the property all you have to do is sign it, put it in the prepaid envelope and post it.

    Or, if you can’t raise the energy levels for that, you can do it online with a remarkably small number of clicks and reading for a Government site.

    In other words, citizens need to spend under five minutes registering to vote. So using the list of registered voters is perfectly reasonable.

  41. I almost crashed my car screaming at the radio when the complaint about “out of date register” was aired. It’s TWO MONTHS out of date. The 2016 register was published in December 2015 and the commissions started their review in Feb/Mar. How much fresher do they want it? The 2005 review was done with the 2000 register, FIVE FUCKING YEARS out of date. This is the FRESHEST data they have EVER used.

    So, should we just tell them we’ll stop everything until next year’s register is published in December and start everything again next Feb/Mar, and rip their balls off if they complain about out-of-date data again.

  42. “What I don’t get is why the size of the constituency is determined by the number of registered voters. Why is it not on population, as in, for instance, the US?”

    Sigh. It ***IS*** allocated on population. The electorate is a very consistant fraction of the population, almost everywhere in the country about 72% of the population, Either appocate seats with 75,000 electors or with 105,000 population, either way you will get almost identical results.

    Also, the electorate is counted annually, updated monthly, and tabulated house by house. The population is counted decennially and not updated, and is explicitly prevented from being at house-level detail. Which is the freshest and easiest-to-access set of numbers?

  43. From Joe Watts, writing for the Independent:

    “Theresa May’s MPs were said to be “shocked” by potential Conservative losses which could rise to 17 – the exact number of her Commons majority.”

    He’s the Political Editor.

  44. To Labour politician, if the voter aren’t voting for Labour, they’re being disenfranchised. If the voting district isn’t slanted towards Labour, the voters are disenfranchised.

  45. jgh –

    OK. Your explanation of the process is helpful, for which I thank you.

    The initial ‘sigh’, however, is just patronising.

  46. Sorry, it’s just I’ve been explaining this so many times in the last three years, and exponentially more in the last two days.

  47. Jack C,

    Hunt’s basically crapping himself that he’s going to lose his job. At this point, might as well lie about it and hope it works.

    His situation is that the boundary commission is reducing the number of seats, which would be fine if there was a Blairite leadership, but there isn’t. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Corbyn people try and kick out all 3 MPs and put 2 Dave Spart candidates in there.

    And I’m not sure what the situation will be, but his seat was one of the biggest Labour/UKIP marginals.

  48. “unfair in favour of the conservatives”
    The article says that the sources of bias are in favour of labour, but that the SNP took seats from Labour and UKIP took votes from Labour.
    I don’t regard either of those as “bias”. The article itself is shoddy in regarding the SNP effect as “third party bias”, whereas the SNP had all of its impact in areas where it was the “first party”.

  49. SJW,
    And they do show that the boundaries need to be re-aligned. Which is what the boundary commission is looking at.

    The “Efficiency Bias” is an internal party matter, while the “Abstention Bias” is pretty nebulous.

    The particular nature of the 2015 election may well have helped the Tories. “Far-right” UKIP did take votes from Labour, to the shock of those on the left, and the SNP (not a 3rd party) have taken Scotland from Labour.

    However, the point remains: the Conservatives didn’t do as well as Labour would have done in exactly the same circumstances.

  50. @ SJW
    If the Conservatives and Labour had gained equal shares of the vote in 2015, Ed Miliband would have become Prime Minster despite he and his allies getting only 43% of the votes while the Coalition and parties to their right got 54.8% of the votes.
    You are too intelligent to think that is a bias in favour of the Conservatives.
    There is a deliberate bias in favour of the SNP and an accidental one against the LibDems – the reform will reduce the bias in favour of the SNP, but do little to allevoiate the one against the LibDems.

  51. john77
    “There is a deliberate bias in favour of the SNP”

    Should this read “in favour of the Scottish party with most votes”?

    Which is really an FPTP issue in general, and the other side of the disadvantage suffered by the LibDems and UKIP, amongst others.

  52. @ Jack C
    It was intended to be in favour of Labour, with a deliberate significant overprovision of constituencies in Glasgow – the rural constituencies previously held by LibDems were, on average larger.
    So, no it shouldn’t read ““in favour of the Scottish party with most votes

  53. @ ukliberty
    No, because SJW took a piece of political propaganda at face value. The Conservatives got a larger %age of the vote in 2015 than Labour in 2005 and far fewer seats.
    If you add all the votes for left-wing parties together you get 36.1 excluding the Greens, 39.9% including them – the Coalition got 44.7% (or 45.8% including the Ulster Unionists and Speaker) – so they “should” have got 14% or 24% more seats. They actually got 15% or 18%.
    It just *isn’t* unfair in favour of the Conservatives (except relative to UKIP).

  54. If the Conservatives and Labour had gained equal shares of the vote in 2015, Ed Miliband would have become Prime Minster

    From the link I posted “If nothing else had changed in 2015 except that the Conservatives and Labour had tied in their vote totals, the former would have won 301 seats and the latter 254, a 47-seat bias in favour of the Conservatives”.

    I don’t know which allies you have in mind to make Miliband prime minister.

  55. @ SJW
    The Social Democrat and Labour Party won 3 seats in Northern Ireland, the SNP won 56 seats in Scotland – would have been 57 with a 3% swing in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale &Tweeddale, Plaid Cymru won 3 in Wales, the Green Party won 1 in England. That would have made 318 out of 645 (650 – Sinn Fein – Speaker) against 311 for Conservatives + Ulster Unionists (who are irrevocably split so unlikely to form a coalition with Cameron). Cameron flat-out excluded coalition with UKIP
    The SDLP is actually affiliated to the Labour Party so it was just sloppy of the two Professors to exclude them from their calculations.

  56. john77: the voting system (and any constituency-based voting system) favours regional parties. But it’s ridiculous to argue that that cancels the current bias between the two main parties. It’s not Labour’s fault that the Conservatives are so unpalatable to all the other parties.

    I think we should have a boundary review anyway. I just wanted to point out that the chorus on here about the system’s being biased towards Labour is currently mistaken.

  57. @ SJW
    The chorus may be based on pre-existing bias against Labour *but* New Labour gave the Boundary Commission specific instructions designed to create a bias in favour of Labour so it is *not* mistaken.
    The revision is designed to make things better for the Conservatives, but (AFAIK) does not create a bias in their favour because Osborne didn’t suss out a way to do that in a non-blatant fashion.
    60 years ago the then system favoured the Conservatives and Liberals because it said rural constituencies should have smaller electorates than urban ones because it was more difficult to represent electors spread out over a wide area (e.g. when it involved travelling three hours rather than three minutes to look at a constituent’s problem). The effect was actually insignificant, with the apparent bias in % of votes vs % of seats entirely due to the higher turnout in safe labour seats in mining areas compared to safe Conservative seats in rural areas (where it could take over an hour to get to a polling station). The under-representation of Northern Ireland was the main factor offsetting the bia in favour of rural areas.
    Labour changed the rules to eliminate this actual but insignificant bias and later (I don’t *think* it was part of their plan) the migration to the suburbs created a pro-Labour bias to the system. What New Labour did was to create a *deliberate* bias by demanding that (i) Scotland and Wales be over-represented, (ii) that consituencies be determined using out-of-date figures so that by 2010 there were 22 seats in Scotland and Wales with less than half the electorate of the Isle of Wight, the largest Conservative seat almost all of which were held by Labour when it instructed the Boundary Commission (it lost a handful to Plaid and the Conservatives in 2010). Tristram Hunt’s constituency and two others in Stoke had, between them, less than twice the electorate of the IoW so – if those had been the only changes (give Stoke and IoW two constituencies each) it would be justifiable.
    Your, usually rational, arguments against the chorus are welcome and occasionally justified, but as my local Green Party (self-proclaimed “watermelon”) amateur psephologist doesn’t claim that Blair set up a voting system that favours the Conservatives, why should you?.

  58. The pro-Conservative bias in the current review arises because of the switch to individual registration, which has led to lower registration rates in labour-supporting areas. As jgh wrote above, the method has been fair historically because the electorate has been a fairly constant proportion of the population. But now it isn’t. Perhaps that’s Osborne’s plan, not blatant enough for you to notice.

    I didn’t say that Blair set up a voting system to favour the Conservatives. The bias in the Conservatives’ favour in the last general election arose because 700,000 Labour votes in Scotland elected one MP.

  59. I must have missed it when you complained about anti-UKIP bias in the voting system, when 4,000,000 votes only elected one MP.

  60. @SJW
    it is utter nonsense to describe the situation in Scotland, designed to give Labour more MPs than they deserved, as a bias in the favour of the Conservatives who only got one MP in Scotland with 15% of the votes. Any bias in favour of the Conservatives would have given them more than 9 MPs.
    There hasn’t been a bias in favour of the Conservatives for more than forty years.
    Much of the drop in registration in labour-held areas is due to the elimination of fraud (how many voters did they have registered in one house in Tower Hamlets?). This, and students choosing to register in only one constituency, could well account for all the differential between the decline in numbers in labour- and conservative-supporting areas.
    You are claiming that labour supporters are failing to register and this is part of a plot by Osborne?!?

  61. John77: what you perceive to be the design is one thing: what’s actually happening is another. I really don’t know what we’re arguing about – it’s a plain fact that in the 2015 election the Conservative-Labour bias favoured the Conservatives. (And that in the Blair years it favoured Labour, and that in the twenty years post-war it favoured the Conservatives.)

    Another fact is that using the count of registered voters to determine constituency sizes worked quite fairly under the old system, but favours the Conservatives under the new, individual registration system. Whether Osborne realised this would happen, or it was just a happy accident for him, I cannot say.

  62. @ SJW
    The system is NOT biased to favour the Conservatives. Do you know what bias means? A bias means that if you toss a coin hundreds of times it will turn up heads more often than tails. Turning up heads once after turning up tails three times in a row does not mean that it is biased towards heads.
    WHY does individual registration favour the Conservatives? Are you claiming that removal of fraud favours the Conservatives?
    It is an undeniable fact that under New Labour constituency sizes were not equal because New Labour instructed the Boundary commission to give Scotland and Wales, where Labour is stronger than the Conservatives an excessive number of seats. To call that fair requires the use of a specialist left-wing dictionary.
    In 2015 the left-wing parties got 46% of the seats with 40% of the votes. Normally the party with the largest share of the votes wins a more-than proportionate share of the seats.
    Blair got 356 seats with 35.2% of the votes: Cameron got 330 with 36.8% of the votes. Howard got 198 with 32.4% of the votes, Miliband got 232 with 30.5% of the votes. That looks like a pro-Labour bias to anyone who can do sums.

  63. Wow. Have you got an argument here? Yes, the system favoured Labour during the Blair years, I acknowledged that already. In 2015 it favoured the Conservatives. Repeating stats from past elections doesn’t change that. Not even if you use capital letters.

    Nor does doing the analysis on some mythical grouping of “left-wing parties” change the balance between Labour and Conservative.

    Why does individual registration favour the Conservatives? Because Conservative voters tend to be more conscientious about filling in forms than Labour voters. The right’s enthusiasm for making registration more difficult has got little to do with the tiny amounts of fraud it prevents, and a lot to do with the fact that it reduces legitimate registration by voters who support the other side.

  64. @ SJW
    The system was deliberately biased in favour of Labour – you had repeated a blatantly false claim that it was biased in favour of the Conservatives. That was *not true*. It isn’t any less untrue if I use capital letters.
    In 2015 the system favoured *the Scottish National Party* whose share of seats was nearly twice its share of votes. It favoured the Conservatives (the party winning most votes) by *less than* the normal amount.
    The FPTP system tends (but did not in 1974 and 2010) to give a disproportionate share of seats to the party with most votes so any bias between Labour and Conservative is shown by comparing seats and votes in 2005 and 2015, as I did.
    In 2015 the system favoured the winning party (surprise, surprise!) but that was not due to Tony Blair building a bias towards the Conservatives. That the same set of constituencies gave Labour a higher number of seats per million votes in 2010 when the Conservatives got more votes shows how biased the system was in favour of Labour.
    The grouping of “left-wing parties” is not mythical – each of them exists and Nicola Sturgeon had committed herself to putting Ed Miliband in No 10 if, between them, SDLP, and Plaid Cymru, they got a 3% smaller share of the votes than the Coalition and Ulster Unionists (or if they and the Greens got an 11% smaller share of the votesthan the Coalition, Ulster Unionists and UKIP). So it *would* make the difference between a Labour and a Conservative PM. *You* may not think that changes the balance between Labour and Conservative but I’ll bet 1000 to 1 that Cameron and Ed Miliband did.
    The Conservatives *do* care about electoral fraud – it was actually a Conservative who pushed the investigation of electoral fraud *against the Labour Party* in Tower Hamlets. They also care about electoral fraud stealing seats from them – why shouldn’t they?
    You are saying that because Conservative voters tend to be more honest and law-abiding (which is what “conscientious” means in this context) than Labour voters, individual registration favours the Conservatives. Responding to the electoral registration officer is a legal requirement and is trivially easy.
    Actually your condescention to your fellow Socialists is a bit out-of-date. Recent opinion polls reveal that the less-educated largely vote UKIP, with Labour voters heavily weighted towards public sector workers and Guardian readers with degrees that do not equip one to do anything useful. So if some people find it a burden to complete a voter registration form it may be a ploy by Osborne against his *real* enemies, but not one against Labour.
    The whole argument amounts to “having a level playing field is unfair – we want to rule when we’re outvoted by 55% to 45% because we are SJWs”.

  65. @ SJW
    No, psephologists don’t say that. I have never heard a psephologist say that and I frequently talk to a Green Party psephologist (who doesn’t). You have quoted an article for a group that has made David Blunkett a Professor by two professors of *geography*.
    Do *not* claim that *psephologists* say it was biased in favour of the conservatives. I am a (rarely practising) statistician so *I* know what bias means and I was, when young, a decent amateur psephologist and, as such, I say that it was not biased in favour of the Conservatives. I am sure your geographers can live with that more happily that actual psephologists can live with your assertion that *they* say it was biased.

  66. @ SJW
    They show no sign of being psephologists: psephologists make *scientific* studies of elections.
    They do not use the scientists’ definition of biased.
    I actually find your misuse of the word “psephogists” to describe the people who wrote that piece of inaccurate propaganda mildly offesnsive.

  67. Their clearly stated definition of bias is which side would be favoured if the votes cast were equal. The approach they used – introduced by Brookes – is absolutely standard for this sort of analysis. Here‘s another paper which finds a bias towards the Conservative in the 2015 election, using a similar method.

    Whereas your definition of bias seems to be what you guess the intentions were of whoever specified the system. I know which I think more scientific.

  68. @ SJW
    Well, so Humpty Dumpty is a professor now?
    There is a scientific definition of bias.
    I did NOT say that my definition of bias was the intention of the designer of the system – I actually gave an idiot’s guide to bias “A bias means that if you toss a coin hundreds of times it will turn up heads more often than tails. Turning up heads once after turning up tails three times in a row does not mean that it is biased towards heads.” What I said was that New Labour gave instructions to the Boundary Commission that were designed to create a bias in the system.
    If you would care to look at the facts instead of making up things for me to have said, you might learn something.
    The system has not altered since 2005, yet you seem to believe that it was biased to Labour in 2005 and 2010 and to the Conservatives in 2015 – that *cannot* be so under the long-established definition of bias. One of the things about scientists is that we like experimental results to be replicable – whereas SJWs will pick up any result that can be interpreted in their favour even if the conclusion is contradicted by 99.9% of all comparable experimental results.

  69. Ah, light dawns. In all the rude comments you’ve made, you haven’t actually been disagreeing with my point, which was about the 2015 election.

    Rather you want to talk about expected bias of the boundary-review setup over all possible elections, and you believe, scientist that you are, that this can be determined by examining the results of three actual elections.

    My view is that the performance of the boundary-review setup is time varying, and that the next election is more likely to resemble the last election than the average of the previous three. We can agree to differ about that. It doesn’t really matter, since the Conservatives have changed the conditions of the current boundary review in their own favour.

  70. @ SJW
    A quarter-moon sheds some light on you.
    When you bother to learn what bias means, light may, just possibly, dawn on that corner of your brain.
    Learning the difference between systematic effects and random fluctuations might also help.
    The 2015 election failed to favour Labour because – instead – it favoured the SNP. The electoral boundaries did *not* favour the Conservatives against Labour – that is just wrong. Try doing that “vote equalisation” strategy for every other pair of parties – how many seats would Plaid Cymru have won in Scotland?.
    The modern version of the FPTP system gives no rewards to those who come second because it is designed to provide representation for people in shires and boroughs throughout the country by choosing the one person with most support. [The old system of two knights from each shire and two burghers from each borough rewarded those coming second but not third.] So the Greens are lucky to get one MP with tiny, thinly-spread, support while the SNP with not much more got 56. The whole point of individual constituencies is so that the local electorate have the option to choose someone like Dr Taylor who will represent their views. If you don’t like that you are perfectly entitled to relocate to Israel where the Shas have dictated policy on illegal settlements in Arab-owned property in the West Bank. I personally defend the right of people of Wyre Forest to elect Dr Taylor if they want to do so. That’s democracy.

    What we found was that the FPTP system caused a massive over-allocation of seats vs votes for Conservatives vs UKIP and for the SNP vs Labour. But UKIP won nearly three times as many votes as the SNP so selectively confounding the data (look up “confounding” in Kendall & Stuart) two geographers pretended that the boundaries favoured the Conservatives vs Labour.

    No-one can actually *know* the bias for *all possible* elections (N.B. “expected bias” is a nonsense phrase – bias is about expexcted results) without reading the deep subconscious of every single voter (if the Marquess of Salisbury renounced his peerage and stood as an independent in Welwyn-Hatfield, would he get enough votes to enable Labour to defeat Grant Shapps? – what chance would James Wharton have if SuperMac’s grandson stood against him? – would Plaid Cymru have beaten Kinnock junior if, in addition to his tax evasion, his sending his children to a fee-paying school had come out before election day?). What we *can* say is that the results of three elections give us a better guide that the result of one. You seem not to know that the Science of Statistics does not claim to prove anything, just give the probability of things, but that it *can* disprove a few ridiculous claims.

    There is, of course, one built-in bias in favour of the LibDems by making Orkney & Shetlands a separate constituency from Caithness & Sutherland, but no-one admits to caring about that.

    Rude? When you are lying about me I can be a lot ruder than that.

    You are right one point – that the boundary-review set-up is time-varying with a progressive advantage given to parties with support in inner-city seats as time goes by and the population migrates to the leafy suburbs – but that is *always* in Labour’s favour, which is one of the reasons why pollsters expexcted Ed Miliband to win the 2015 election despite getting far fewer votes than Cameron, let alone the Coalition. Yes, asking for a level playing field is changing the conditions in favour of the Conservatives – to a fair contest!

  71. @ SJW
    I generally refrain from lecturing people since teaching is not one of my many talents, but I am, as I said earlier if you had bothered to read it, a statistician and I have tried, several times to explain things to you.
    I am not lecturing you about statistics from the height of my expertise solely because you choose to be incapable of listening.

  72. John, your mistake here is that you’re treating the Brookes two-party bias statistic as a random variable – like a dice throw – when it’s actually a random process – more like a stock price. Feel free to get in touch by email if you’d like a tutorial on the subject.

    Meanwhile, thank you for humouring me by switching from capitals to asterisks to emphasise your misstatements.

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