Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Libdemologists: Nick Clegg Liberally Distorts Statistics?

Lib Dem Voice have a Cleggy vignette where he (gulp) quotes some dodgy statistics. I know, I know. Very strange from them Libdemologists isn't it? He's trying to pretend that 16 times as large a proprtion of the electorate don't vote for Labour or the Conservatives now as in in 1951.

Comparing voting in 1951 (a General Election, turnout 80%+) to 2007 (Locals - my estimate average 29% - plus Scotland Parliament and Wales Assembly - c 60%) he conflates "the electorate" with "those who voted". And doesn't even specify his geographical remit at all. For either statistic. And as we know these may be different anyway.

One side of the compare and contrast is carelessly, or very likely deliberately, slashed in size while the other is in effect increased 250% by the much lower turn out. The 2005 General Election is ignored.

The absolute figures are in any case completely wrong as Lib Dem Clegg claims only 2% voted for anyone but the main two parties in 1951 and this is utterly head-over-heels Lib-Dem fallacious. [Though he might have made an interesting point about the Liberal vote dropping from 1950's 9% plus to 1951's 4% across two schismic sections.]

This was it. Extracted from an Independent You Ask the Questions interview:

Under Ming Campbell, the party has been slowly sliding into electoral irrelevance. What is your strategy for making people take notice again? Allan Forrester, Orkney

If you look at the big challenges in British politics today – the environment, Britain’s role in a globalised world, the balance between freedom and security, accountability and transparency in politics, the importance of social mobility – they are at the heart of what the Lib Dems are all about. We can hardly be irrelevant when the whole political debate is moving onto our home turf. The age of two-party politics is gone: only 2 per cent the electorate voted for a party other than the Conservatives or Labour in the 1951 election;
32 per cent of the electorate voted for other parties in the 2007 election. Voters want more choice in politics, not less. Lib Dems must always be straight talking, and willing to ask the questions that no one else will.

That's right Lib Dem Nick Clegg. Straight talking. You know all about that. I may be back with some bar charts later.

The figure I'd estimate for English* Seats in 1931 was 7% of 81% equalling 5.6% of the electorate. If Clegg's figure is the actual figure for English* Councils 2007, at 32% of 29% this equals 9.3% of the electorate.

Hardly the 2% versus 32% difference Young Nick suggests. Rather than being up by 1500% it's about 67%. Very liberal. He has reduced one end to a third, and more than trebled the other end. Now that's what I call straight talking! Apparently he's done a deal with Ming to be nice to him, then inherit the earth. He (Clegg) was spectacularly overconfident in the Q&A shown last night.

* A comparison between England and England is clearly more manageable than some permutation of unequal territories. And it is also fair to say that a massive boom in small and medium parties has largely been in Wales, Scotland and the Six Counties.


James Graham said...

The combined Labour/Con vote in 1955 was 96%, so the increase has been from 4% to 32%. So it's 8x rather than 16x. Whether Clegg made a mistake or it is a typo is a moot point, but you are struggling a bit if you are claiming this is somehow "spin".

Chris Paul said...

Clegg said 1951. When the combined vote was 93% He has compared a General Election with turn out over 80% to a Local Election (apparently) with turn out under 30%.

Are you saying an 8x exaggeration would be OK somehow James? In future I'll bear that in mind though it will be hard to resist pointing out that a Lib Dem is arsing statistics by a factor of eight (which is OK) never mind 16 (which clearly is not).

As far as I know the Independent thing is a "seen" interview where he gets a chance to relax with the questions and research his answers.

This James is I believe an absolutely pathetic attempt to distort reality for political advantage.

David Boothroyd said...

The Liberal Party only put up just over 100 candidates in the 1951 and 1955 elections, so the vast majority of the electorate did not even have the opportunity to vote other than Labour or Conservative.