Monday, 12 April 2010

Those Little LiB Dem Bar Graphs

I’ve taken this from D J Taylor’s Column in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday.


If one can predict anything about the next three and a half weeks, it is that some of the dirtiest local campaigns will be fought by the Liberal Democrats. Not long ago, I listened to an illuminating Radio 4 feature about by-elections, in which a succession of Tory and Labour activists stepped up to concede that, while they might have done some questionable things in their time, the sharpest practice always came courtesy of Mr Clegg and his helpers.

This was borne out by a publication called the "Norwich Mail", which flopped through letter-boxes here in Norwich South the other day. "The choice is clear," it insisted. "It's between hard-working local Lib Dem campaigner Simon Wright or Labour's Charles Clarke." The Conservatives apparently "cannot win", while the Greens "came a poor fourth in the last General Election in Norwich South, and came an even worse fifth in last year's by-election in Norwich North".

What this piece of analysis omits is the fact that in last year's council elections, the Greens topped the poll in this constituency. This, though, can be explained away as spin. Quite thoroughly inaccurate, on the other hand, is a bar-chart purporting to show "the result last time". Here the orange Lib-Dem bar trails the red Labour oblong by perhaps a centimetre, with the Conservative bar fading into insignificance. You would think from it that Mr Clarke's majority was a scant couple of hundred votes. In fact, as a glance at Robert Waller and Byron Criddle's invaluable Almanac of British Politics soon demonstrates, Mr Clarke received nearly 16,000 (37.7 per cent), the Lib Dems 12,252 (29 per cent) and the Tories a by no means disgraceful 9,567 (22.7 per cent). The bar chart, consequently, is horribly misleading. Pundits believe that Norwich South is a four-way marginal. On this evidence, it would serve the Lib Dems right if they came fourth.

So the Lib Dem’s and they little misleading graphs are everywhere but doess this from the latest copy of the Lib Dems leaflet that came through my door yesterday
However notwithstanding this vote was for the smallest local government. If you look at the votes cast acroding to the Lib Dem’s own website the excellent http://www.gwydir.demon.co.uk/byelections/le1003.htm the actual votes cast were


Lib Dem 196 (31.9), Lab 188 (30.6), Monster Raving Looney Party 130 (21.2), Plaid 100 (16.3)

Majority 8.
So although this was even worse for plaid it is based on only 614 votes and on an election in a small part of the constituency that has been a liberal stronghold for decades.

But the Focus leaflet also makes the bizarre statement that

“Labour have had the Pontypridd vote on loan since 1922 when they won a by election following the death of liberal MP Thomas Lewis”

Apart from the apparent assumption that Political Parties “own2 a constituency it is actual wrong. The by-election was called because T A Lewis had been appointed as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and under the law at the time has to face a by-election to confirm this. Even Wikipedia has this right if the Lib Dems can’t do a little bit of simple research what hope is there for them in the next parliament?

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