The Liberal Democrat vote stands to collapse under PR. Be careful what you wish for on the back of your X-Factor ratings Mr Clegg. Like SuBo singing and a dog walking on its hind legs you're not really all that. The viewers surprise was that you were doing it at all. Talking to them like they were 10-year-olds, feelgood quackery and weasel words dressed up as an alternative. Misery-guts negative and empty pavement politics writ large.
Mehdi Hasan picks up in his Staggers blog on some typical Iain Dale twaddle which you can read, if you must, HERE. He doesn't really understand polls, economics or anything numerical or for that matter anything to do with logic and precision. As he might say: "Bless! or for that matter "Pathetic!"
Yes Iain, Labour are trailing in the reported polls, this last ten days. During the first X-Factor era of British politics. Bet you're regretting pushing for these debates now ain'tcha, well ain'tcha?
But back to the point. If you look at the small print e.g. on likelihood to actually vote e.g. on likelihood to change their minds e.g. on the $64,000 question: "Labour or Tory for the win?" and their squeezability; if you look at these then the polls are verging on meaninglessness with the Lib Dem bubble largely less likely to vote, more likely to change, and more biddable by squeeze messages.
We're being over-polled. Some of the polls are poorly designed and/or executed. And almost all of them are very poorly analysed by their Mainstream Media paymasters. Administering complex face-to-face polls myself - though 80% not on party political matters - I am perhaps more aware than many of the nuances of questions, of show card design, of options on them, of forced or unforced responses, and of the element of surprise vs expected polling.
Even on less than life-and-death factual matters punters can change their minds (i.e. their factual answers) in the course of a few minutes. Electoral behaviour in a couple of weeks time? So many undecided voters. And rather small samples.
I am often amazed at the weight put on opinion polls - the one's that suit a commentator's point of view anyway - the lack of acknowledgement of the margin-of-error factors, the lack of mining into the details.
Here's the Dale observation that Hasan pulls out:
The even bigger story is that Labour comes third but Gordon Brown still clings to the Premiership. And I'm not talking football.
If that happened I can foresee marches on Downing Street. And I'll happily be at the front!
Hasan then goes on to wonder out loud how the Conservatives would respond and ought to respond if they are deprived of their birthright by the vagaries of political geography. Vagaries that have at times favoured themselves. And which may do so again in the future.
Particularly if Dave gets his gerrymandering through, or loses the celtic fringes from his electoral map perhaps.
Underlying the analysis is an assumption that the current system is ridiculous. Even that the results we get out of in terms of popular vote versus seats can be projected onto other voting systems as if the arithmetics would still maintain.
Funnily enough I had a #labourdoorstep discussion with a Lib Dem and an anti-Tory Govt squeezable Lib Dem/Labour swinger yesterday. Students away from home, and neither of them planning to vote in our constituency, though if they did it would be 1-1 of course. One of them was tribal, the other a pragmatic tactician.
The Lib Dem - who plans to take part in the LD toppling of David Davis in Haltemprice and Howden asked what I thought about the voting system and would it be fair if such a scenario as Iain and Mehdi relate came to pass.
I replied that I support the constituency link and think say 5-seat Super Constituencies (SCs) would give a problem of connection and also intra-constituency game-playing between parties. Like split wards in local government. Increasing time needed for party campaigning and reducing that available for constituent championing.
Perhaps 2-seat SCs with one woman, one man? Some top up MPs perhaps? AV, AV+ or STV. I'm pretty open-minded. But big constituencies and party lists? Not keen. Mess!
But I also pointed out that it is not Labour's "fault" (or in the past the Tories "fault") that our supporters flock together geographically in the way they do.
If we did have SCs and AV we would almost certainly see FAR MORE of our Labour voters turning out. A 40-45% turn out in Manchester Central or Liverpool Riverside or Salford provides a numerically pretty low total of voters for three seats. But much of the other 55-60% of the voters are most likely Labour too.
This idle popular vote rhetoric based on the current FPTP single-member constituencies falls down because of this arithmetic and this reality.
If we had a different system people would vote in different ways and in different numbers. And - suck this up Mr Clegg - one particular thing that would happen is that your rag-bag coalition of voters would go home to Lab, Tory, Socialist, Green, even hard right places. The Lib Dems stand to COLLAPSE under PR. How about that then?