This morning the Communication Workers’ Union released a Survation constituency poll of Hartlepool, the first one we’ve seen (earlier in the campaign figures were released from a Focaldata MRP of the North, but you can’t really use MRP for a by-election – it doesn’t pick up the unique circumstances). Topline figures with changes from the last election were are CON 49%(+20), LAB 42%(+4), NIP 2%(+2), GRN 1%(+1), LD 1%(-3), ReformUK 1%(-25).

I should start by saying that constituency polling is difficult. It is mostly done by telephone and often has small sample sizes (in this case, the sample was 500, but the actual voting figures are based only 302 who gave a response). Its track record has sometimes been patchy. Nevertheless, it’s the best evidence of where the race stands that we are going to get. What can we tell?

The Conservatives are ahead (though the two main parties are within the margin of error for a sample of 302). Compared to the general election the poll suggests an 8 point lead from Lab to Con, significantly better than how the Conservatives are doing in national polls.

It would be extremely unusual for a governing party to gain a seat in a by-election. There have been only two instances in the last fifty years (Copeland in 2017 and Mitcham & Morden in 1982). Few governments poll ahead of their last election performance mid-term anyway, and if anything they do worse than that in by-elections.

The reason the Tories are doing better in Hartlepool than nationwide appears fairly straightforward, and doesn’t offer any obviously transferrable lessons. In Britain as a whole the Brexit party got 2% at the 2019 election. In Hartlepool they got a very healthy 26%. That vote has almost completely vanished, presumably to the benefit of the Conservatives.

As ever, by-elections are extremely unusual beasts that do not necessarily tell much about national politics. Maybe if the actual by-election turns out like this it will be a steer on how other seats with a high level of Brexit party support in 2019 may go… but then, come the actual by-election we’ll have a glut of other data from the local, Scottish, Welsh, Mayoral and London elections due to be held on the same day, so hopefully we won’t be trying to desperately read too much into one single by-election.

Also worth noting that – given this poll was commissioned by the CWU – it also asked about some of the issues that they are concerned about like broadband, Royal Mail privatisation, nurses pay. The answers in Hartlepool were as you’d expect from national polling (people like free stuff & nurses. They don’t like privatisations). It doesn’t tell us anything particularly useful about why Labour aren’t doing better. Don’t assume because the CWU chose to ask about those issues that they are necessarily ones that are driving support in Hartlepool. Maybe people in Hartlepool care more about Corona, or crime, or Brexit, or economic regeneration, or taxes…

Finally, before this poll there was also significant social media buzz about the Northern Independence party having an impact, not least because their candidate is Thelma Walker, a former Labour MP who resigned over the party’s refusal to re-admit Jeremy Corbyn. Realistically a party that hasn’t even been registered yet may be very pleased indeed if they manage to get third place, but nevertheless, the poll suggests they are not significant players here.

UPDATE: The tables for the Survation poll have appeared, and worth adding a further caveat. At the last election the Brexit party got 26% of the vote. Among people who took part in the poll, only 3% recalled voting for the Brexit party. This does not *necessarily* mean its a duff sample – there will undoubtedly be issues of false recall, of people re-aligning their past vote to match with present circumstances (especially since the Brexit party has rebranded itself into ReformUK and no longer exists in its old form), but it should be an extra reason for caution.

Scotland

There were two Scottish Parliament voting intention over the weekend, one from Panelbase, one from Survation. Topline figures are that both show the SNP continuing to cruise towards victory and on the edge of winning a majority. Both show a tight race for second place between the Conservatives and Labour.

However, these were also the first two to measure support for Alex Salmond’s new list only party, Alba. The Panelbase poll showed them at 6%, the Survation poll showed them at 3%. To understand the significance of these we need to explore the nuances of the Scottish Parliament electoral system.

The Scottish Parliament elects members using an additional member system. 73 MSPs are elected in constituencies using first past the post, a further 56 are elected on a proportional regional list system. The regional list seats effectively operate as a “top-up” to the constituency seats already won, so that overall the seats won should be proportional to the list vote. For example, if party A won 6 constituency seats, but got 10% of the list vote, they’d be awarded another 7 list seats so they had 10% of the total seats. It’s more complicated than that because it’s done by region, meaning there is an effective threshold to get any seats at all, but we’ll come to that.

Crucially people cast two votes – you don’t have to cast your constituency vote in the same way as your list vote, you can vote for different parties.

The SNP did extremely well at winning constituencies at the last election (59 out of 73). This meant that that despite winning 42% of the list vote, they didn’t receive many list seats, because they had already won almost their fair share through constituency seats. Compare this to the Scottish Greens – they don’t win any constituency seats (they barely stand), so there is nothing to set against their list vote and their list vote of 7% translates into 6 seats.

Therefore, the Alba argument goes, SNP votes on the regional list are “wasted” votes, that are unlikely to return MSPs. If a significant chunk of SNP voters voted Alba instead, it would return more pro-independence MSPs.

So far, so good. However, because the Scottish system uses regional lists, there’s an effective threshold to get any seats at all (about 5-6%). There is also already a second pro-independence party, the Scottish Greens. That means in practice Alba could have a positive or negative impact on the number of pro-Independence MSPs elected. If they get over 5% in a substantial number of regions, and do so by taking SNP second preferences, rather than taking votes who would otherwise back the Greens, they will increase the next number of pro-independence MSPs. If they get under 6% in most regions, they are unlikely to win any MSPs at all. If they get under 6%, but in doing so, take votes from the Scottish Greens, they could even reduce the the number of pro-independence MSPs.

Hence, in judging the impact of Alba, the thing to look at is the level of Alba and the Scottish Greens in the list vote, and whether each is above or below that threshold of around 5-6%. The two polls so far paint contrasting pictures – in the Survation poll, Alba were at 3% and the Scottish Greens were unchanged at 11%. In the Panelbase poll Alba were at 6%, the Scottish Greens at 8%, again comparable to their showing in previous Panelbase polls.

So in neither case was there any evidence that Alba were cannibalising the pro-independence list vote by taking support from the Greens, but the evidence on whether they’ll actually win seats of their own is unclear. On the Panelbase figures they may well do (John Curtice tentatively projects 6 Alba seats, with a total of 79 pro-Independence MSPs). On the Survation figures they probably wouldn’t, but the SNP and Greens would get 77 pro-Independence MSPs between them anyway.

And that, in itself, maybe underlines the extent to which this matters. As things stand most polls show the SNP getting a majority or getting close to one. Taking the SNP & Scottish Greens together, there will very likely be a majority of pro-Independence MSPs anyway. Whether Alba manage to scramble over the threshold to win some seats or not doesn’t look likely to change that given their present level of support.


3,381 Responses to “Polling on Hartlepool and the impact of Alba”

1 2 3 68
  1. My prediction was a Tory victory in Hartlepool as BXP voters broke decisively for them. If Labour do put 4% that is an increase in $age vote share of 10% which is just about satisfactory.

  2. Second!!

  3. JJ. I respect your expertise (which makes me think I am wrong) but I stick to my prediction of a Labour win.

    This poll is interesting but (i) with 300 responses adding sampling error and (ii) the usual difficulties of getting a random sample of those turning out in a by election adding estimation bias I think it’s not a strong enough indicator to change my original stance.

  4. I might be wrong but think LTV may help Labour, or at least not hinder as much as in the past; as less of its support these days is from low turnout demographics.

  5. I have to say I think Labour will win Hartlepool but it will be tight!

  6. AW

    Thanks for a new thread and the usual interesting right-up.

  7. Interested in the BXP false recall!

    Nigel Farage certainly saved Labour’s bacon by standing in placesike Hartlepool and Alyn & Deeside.

    Suspect it will come down to turnout on the day.

  8. @ JJ – If LAB can ‘Unite the Left’ and come in 40%+ then that is perhaps a reasonable outcome in Hartlepool.

    Excellent write-up as always from our host but I would highlight the difference between electing an MP to send to Westminster to a ‘local’ election.

    Khan and Burnham might do very well in London and Gtr.Manchster but some of the credit for that goes to them as ‘individuals’ and specific to ‘local’ issues.

    A by-election to elect an MP is more of a statement on Westminster parties and as AW does mention then for ‘mid-terms’ then it is almost expected that the party in power does worse than would in the GE before/after.

    Of course we shouldn’t read too much into one by-election, with near perfect timing for CON, but if CON win by 5%+ then that is unlikely to be easily ignored by PLP.

    Some other seats CON could win if they get 80% of BXP’19 vote:

    Ed Miliband (Doncaster North)
    Dan (two jobs) Jarvis (Barnsley Central)
    Steph Peacock (Barnsley East)
    Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford)
    etc.

    plus some seats in Wales and even London (Dagenham and Rainham)

    Suddenly it is no longer about which seats LAB might win back but which other seats in the ‘wall’ they might lose in GE’19 (and only so many more ‘woke’ seats left that Corbyn didn’t turn Red)

  9. “Therefore, the Alba argument goes, SNP votes on the regional list are “wasted” votes, that are unlikely to return MSPs. If a significant chunk of SNP voters voted Alba instead, it would return more pro-independence MSPs.”

    That was already the case with SNP / Green. More than one alternative results in splitting and wasting votes too, unless there’s coordination, which is probably against the rules.

    However, if the SNP get 65+ seats in the constituency, and people ‘share’ their votes out so Greens and Alba get 10-20 seats between them, I won’t complain too much.

  10. As well as near perfect timing then Hartlepool is a ‘near perfect’ by-election seat for CON

    CON HMG have chucked a lot of money and effort at ‘Levelling Up’ Tees Valley and Teesside.

    So CCHQ will be disappointed if they do not see a big boost in their vote %. A close 2nd won’t be a big deal but if LAB get 45%+ to CON sub 40% then the ‘Level-Up’ agenda might be questioned by CON’s Heartland MPs in SE/SW/E.England.

  11. Thanks AW

    nice to hear from you

  12. TW

    You really are hilarious the £70 or so.earmarked by the regime for Teesside, promised mind you not delivered.

    Doesn’t exactly compensate for the £120 million a year cut in local government funding which has taken place since 2010.

  13. Trevor,

    45% regardless of winning the seat or not would be a good result for Labour and 42% OK.

    Below 40% would be poor mo.

  14. Sorry AW I meant write-up of course.

  15. The situation has been hotting up in Northern Ireland for a few days now. No surprise to those of us who consider the WA a wicked and highly dangerous document, Both the EU and the British Government must take responsibility for the rise in violence,. Signing that document was by far the worst thing that BJ has done during his premiership.

    The Northern Ireland protestants are never going to accept the current arrangement IMO, so I expect the violence will continue and probably escalate. There aim will be to make the Irish part of the WA unworkable.

    A sad, depressing but very predictable state of affairs.

  16. TOH, nothing to do with the EU. Once we left there was always going to be a border and the trouble that comes with it.

  17. @ JJ – Similar %s for CON in Hartlepool, IMO.

    45% Good
    42% OK
    sub 40% Bad

    A lot of that depends on the sum of the smaller parties. No Green should help LAB but I’m still assuming RUK, NIP and the various other small parties sum to a decent % (quite a bit more than the 9% ‘other’ in Survation poll)

    So it might be better to look at CON v LAB (from either side)

    Win by greater by 5% Good
    Within 2%ish of each other OK
    Lose by more than 5% Bad

    My original guesstimate was CON win in high 30%s, just a bit above LAB but that was based on RUK and NIP picking up a decent %

    PS rCollective have been doing some trading on Betfair. Trading the chop mostly but moved from net backing CON to net backing LAB after the Survation poll as CON moved from about 45% likelihood to win to nearly 70% (settling back at about 60%). We reckon CON are probably about 55% likely to win.

    https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/politics/market/1.180699589?

  18. Anthony, thank you very much for your excellent and well timed post.

    Much appreciated

  19. Good news on vaccination throughout the European union.
    26 of the European union member nations now fall in the top 50 countries in the world for vaccination rates with 8 in the top 20.
    Some l now achieving faster daily rates than the U.K. ,not point scoring it isn’t a race but obviously the faster coverage of the most vulnerable is achieved the better.

    After a slow start for some this is very promising not only for member states but their neighbours like us.

  20. TOH

    There wouldn’t have been a withdrawal agreement without a withdrawal.

    Brexiter’s decision take responsibility for your own screw ups and stop buck passing to the European union they didn’t make brexitanians choose stupidity.

  21. STEVE

    @”After a slow start for some this is very promising not only for member states but their neighbours like us.”

    Yes. UK has slowed dramatically .

    Cumulative stats now :-
    % of adults-1st dose/2nd dose-all as at 5 April

    USA 40.2 / 23.2
    EU 14.2 / 6.0
    UK 60 .0 / 10.4

  22. The Other Howard: The situation has been hotting up in Northern Ireland for a few days now. No surprise to those of us who consider the WA a wicked and highly dangerous document, Both the EU and the British Government must take responsibility for the rise in violence,. Signing that document was by far the worst thing that BJ has done during his premiership.

    The Northern Ireland protestants are never going to accept the current arrangement IMO, so I expect the violence will continue and probably escalate. There aim will be to make the Irish part of the WA unworkable.

    A sad, depressing but very predictable state of affairs.

    It is indeed. And a natural consequence of the brexit you espoused. As to predictability, well Remainers were warning everybody. We lost, you won. And we warned about BJ. We lost, you won. Now own it and him.

  23. Colin

    Indeed
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/06/england-covid-vaccine-programme-could-slow-sharply-sage-warns

    Regrettable indeed but perhaps indicative that the likely scenario will be by mid year that both the UK and European union nations will be within a few weeks of each other on roll out.

    Sadly vaccine nationalism particularly but not exclusively in the UK and failure of the UK to supply any doses to Europe probably hasn’t made our government any friends when it might have been helpful.

  24. @ COLIN – I gave Chile a quick ‘google’, quite a list of reasons all adding up to problemo:

    – mostly (of) the Chinese Sinovac vaccine
    – vast increases in people’s movements in January and February
    – new variants from Brazil and the U.K
    – fanfare and hype around Chile’s successful program might also have lulled people into dropping their guard
    (and the delay from being vaccinated to having high, non 100%, immunity)

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/chile-critical-grip-second-covid-wave-one-best-vaccination-rates-rcna505

    Hungary has had a somewhat similar issue with having to lock back down despite high vaccinations

    Every country has its somewhat unique issues but a lot of vaccine ‘envy’ exists elsewhere: EG Canada who sadly are going back into lockdown in many provinces:

    “US vaccine rollout envied in Canada”

    https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/04/04/live-covid-news-canadians-envious-us-vaccination-program/7079932002/

    I’d like to see England move a little faster out of lockdown (eg indoor hospitality moved forward a few weeks) but I can certainly appreciate the need for caution.

  25. From YG daily:

    “84% of Britons now think the government is handling the COVID-19 vaccine rollout well. This is up from 61% when asked in January”

    https://twitter.com/YouGov/status/1379459126682652676

    LAB lean more to ‘somewhat well’ than ‘very well’ but overall LAB state 77% ‘well’ versus 94% from CON.

  26. TW.
    Thanks for the Chile stuff. Food for thought

  27. @Steve & Colin

    Following yesterday’s discussion, by coincidence there’s an article in El País today about the hilarious or embarrassing consequences of misunderstanding Spanish and Latin American slang. One of the first stories revolves around Colin’s favourite, polla.

    I’ll give it in Spanish to avoid having to translate “chupar unas pollas”. Just stick it in google translate to get the flavour (as you might say):

    Hasta que sucedió lo que ella llama “interferencia lingüística”, cuando un joven le propuso: “Maestra, ¿quiere venirse hoy con nosotros a chupar unas pollas por ahí?”. La autora de Farándula recuerda que nunca había tenido “un grupo tan desinhibido”. A punto de perder pie y por su gesto, el alumno entendió: “Sí, a tomar unas cañas como ustedes dicen”. “Hecha la aclaración”, dice Sanz, “les aconsejé que no entraran en los bares madrileños con desparpajo anunciando que querían chupar unas pollas”.

    That concludes with the wise advice: if you go barrelling into a bar in Madrid, don’t announce you want to ‘chupar unos pollas’.

  28. Or even unas pollas.

  29. Somerjohn

    No gracias que acabo de cenaba

  30. Good spot by Anthony on the BXP recall issue. Also a lot of undecideds and not sure how that works into the final figures- anyone know if they get a percentage included?

    My gut feeling on undecideds is that they probably won’t vote in something like this and at a time like this. The BXP small sample of undecideds (3) is higher than the other parties though.

    Clearly this is not a done deal for the Tories but I feel this poll is ball park and the GOTV may balance out on Tory postal votes compared to Lab feet on ground which might not be that impressive under current circumstances and motivations. Perhaps Hartlepool may not be too awful for Labour on old school Lab postal voters compared to Tory postal votes although the crossbreaks on age do benefit the Tories.

    Could also see NIP saving their deposit and getting to 5% if they actually get leaflets out and isn’t just confined to a twitter campaign.

    @TW

    The Shevii collective of 1 is sitting on a minimum tidy profit of 45p and a maximum of 67p in Hartlepool- the bookies don’t like me :-) An original £3 bet on Lab at 11/10 followed by a £3 bet on Con when it went to 23/20. I did have a 130-1 £2 bet on NIP very early on but this looks like being voided because it will be as “independent”. I like the occasional bragging rights outrageous bet- I got 50-1 on Labour in Sheffield Hallam in 2017 which worked out very well :-)

  31. Ipsos MORI poll on vaccine hesitancy (lack thereof) in UK.

    “It is extraordinarily encouraging to see the steady progress being made with vaccine confidence across the UK. The increase in vaccine confidence among ethnic minority Brits is a particularly welcome sign given the disproportionate impact that COVID has had on ethnic minority communities.”

    https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/vaccine-confidence-grows-month-month-latest-ipsos-mori-knowledgepanel-poll

  32. CON: 42% (-)
    LAB: 35% (-3)
    LD: 8% (+2)
    SNP: 4% (-)
    GRN: 3% (-)
    REF: 2% (-)

    Via
    @SavantaComRes
    , 2-4 April (+/- since 19-21 March)

  33. @ SHEVII – You did well to get 50-1 on LAB for Sheffield Hallam in GE’17 (or was that a mistype?)

    Even if it was Jared O’Mara then ABClegg (ABLDEM) eventually won the student vote in 2017 after LAB just missed that one in GE’15 and Calamity Clegg of Coalition infamy got a few more years as an MP before he could retire to CA, USA on a huge salary from Facebook.

  34. Is the LDEM ‘bounce’ enough to call it a ‘surge’ yet? ;)

    Some LDEM’19 who moved to LAB VI look to be moving back to LDEM. The dizzy heights of double digits await!

    Has Davey or LDEM actually done anything to win back voters or is Starmer driving them back to LDEM?

    Polling is moving back to within MoE of GE’19 result which ‘mid-term’ is pretty amazing for the team in power.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_next_United_Kingdom_general_election

  35. It`s very depressing to hear BBC Radio 4 still giving out wrong information about the blood clotting that the AZ vaccine can cause in some younger women.

    Either the lady medical correspondent is unable to understand plain English, as written by the European Medicines Agency, or she was merely reading out a statement the Tory government had told the BBC to use.

    That the reason for the clotting is unexplained between various possible factors, such as poor batch, poor storage, not resting long enough after vaccination, underlying health problems in the ladies vaccinated, does NOT mean the clots do not occur.

    The incidences of the observed cases occurring by chance are 1 in several million. Yet still the Tories won`t admit this, for fear of losing popularity..

    This takes me back to the Chernobyl disaster when we researchers gathered in vegetation samples UK wide as a precaution, and found there were damaging levels of radioactivity on the Cumbrian fells and parts of SW Scotland. But the radioactive elements were not from Chernobyl but our own Calder Hall (now Sellafield) fire a decade earlier. But Thatcher told us to lie about this, on pain of being sacked for breaching the Official Secrets Act.

    All we can do is complain about BBC bias, and not pay the licence fee until they give up their blatant acquiescence to the Tory government.

  36. @ TW

    Yes 50-1 right when the election was called. Labour was well down in the polls and it was bordering on a silly bet but my thinking was that Clegg borrowed votes from Labour in 2010 and from Tory in 2015 and Tory voters would go back to Tory feeling comfortable they would get their majority anyway.

  37. @TOH – “A sad, depressing but very predictable state of affairs.”

    It has to be said I’m afraid, that when I predicted this to you several years ago, you told me I was being stupid.

    As others have said, you backed Brexit, so accept your responsibility for what happens.

  38. @ SHEVII – Blimey yep, the infamous Welsh walk from the Mayb0t when LAB were on mid 20%s and CON had a 20% lead in the polls.

    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-may-decided-to-call-snap-election-while-on-walking-holiday-in-wales-before-easter-a3517456.html

    That is a good reminder why no PM should want a GE early unless like Boris into GE’19 you don’t have a majority.

    May managing to turn a 20%+ lead into 2.5% on the day.

    Anyway, well played on that one from back then. I’d ‘forgotten’ what a total disaster the Mayb0t was.

  39. The BBC desperately need a statistics person who can educate their journalists.

    I’ve heard repeated claims that the risk of the rare CVST clots from the AZ vaccine are 600,000 to 1, whereas the risk of getting one normally is 200,000 to 1.

    Having checked (see here https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27435401/ ) it seems that the normal risks are 2 – 5 per million, so yes, 200,000 to 1, but that’s per million per year!

    The BBC is comparing the risk of an individual having a CVST within 365 days to the incidence of CVST within 20 days of having a vaccine.

    The natural risk of CVST within a 20 day period would surely be (5/1,000,000)*(20/365) – considerably smaller than the 200,000 to 1 odds quoted in many of the news reports.

  40. The Trevors,
    ” speed up vaccination and get transmission of C19 and the mutant strains risk down.”

    Except that mutant strains do not arise unless there is competitive pressure causing them to do so. The more you replace people susceptible to the old strain with vaccinated people, the more pressure there is for a new strain able to reinfect them to start to dominate.

    Alec,
    “On the French reports of AZ vaccine hesitancy, that will be interesting to watch. I think I’ve posted the figures of rising deployment rates of the AZ vaccine in France, up from 80% to 89% over the last week,”

    We need to differentiate between use of available vaccine , and who is getting it. Using the whole lot on 20 year olds would accomplish virtually nothing, but some countries seem to be operating first come first served.

    it is deeply unfortunate that governments have created an impression younger people are at equal risk.

    “Some member states will probably be well ahead of the 70% vaccinated target by the end of June, while others will take a little longer. ”

    Which target is that? Assuming R0=2.6, then to achieve herd immunity we must reduce this to 1, so 1.6/2.6 of ther population must become immune. Thats about 60%.

    If you assume R0 is more like 5, which later chinese work has suggested, then its 4/5 or 80%.

    If R0 is even higher as I think, then pick your numbers, we are talking about 90%+ to achieve herd immunity.

    That isnt allowing for however many are already immune naturally, but we arent vaccinating on top of them but indiscriminately vaccinating them too.

    The initial work on R was flawed because we dont know how many asymptomatic cases there are. And now there will be many more immune, also an unknown number.

  41. The Trevs,
    ” I gave Chile a quick ‘google’,”

    I had a look at the deaths and cases stats on the FT page. Deaths are at about 2/3 the UK total per million. There doesnt seem to be anything much remarkable in the numbers compared to typical covid performance.

    On the other hand there isnt any obvious indication of effectiveness of a vaccination program. The linked NBC article gives no breakdown of how the vaccination program has been conducted -for example if it concentrated on the high risk or failed to do so.

    Without that information the general report could mean anything. If it is the case there has been an effective vaccination rollout with due time to take effect, it could be early evidence vaccines dont work. But if thats so, then our current lockdown policy becomes ever more stupid by the day. it would mean the only way out is through catching it, and the sooner the better.

    I would suspect we are suffering another propaganda campaign.

  42. Danny

    “Except that mutant strains do not arise unless there is competitive pressure causing them to do so.”

    You regularly post this error concerning viral mutations.

    Presumably, you believe it to be true – else you wouldn’t repeat the error. (the only alternative would be that you are deliberately disseminating information that you know to be false).

    On the presumption that you are not being deliberately, and wickedly, deceitful, please provide a link to the source of your assertion on viral mutation.

  43. The Trevs,
    ” I gave Chile a quick ‘google’,”

    I had a look at the deaths and cases stats on the FT page. Cumulative deaths are at about 2/3 the UK total per million. There doesnt seem to be anything much remarkable in the numbers compared to typical covid performance.

    On the other hand there isnt any obvious indication of effectiveness of a vaccination program. The linked NBC article gives no breakdown of how the vaccination program has been conducted -for example if it concentrated on the high risk or failed to do so.

    Without that information the general report could mean anything. If it is the case there has been an effective vaccination rollout with due time to take effect, it could be early evidence vaccines dont work. But if thats so, then our current lockdown policy becomes ever more stupid by the day. It would mean the only way out from this lockdown fiasco is through catching it, and the sooner the better.

    I would suspect we are suffering another propaganda campaign.

    “Has Davey or LDEM actually done anything to win back voters or is Starmer driving them back to LDEM?”

    Libs opposed the recent renewal of emergency legislation.

    And now interestingly lab is opposing covid passports?

    One of the considerations we ought to be taking about the decent majorities supporting government anti covid actions, is that there isnt much formal opposition. It takes some sort of figurehead to crystalise opposition. The apparent support might be illusory because it lacks conviction.

  44. Oldnat,
    “On the presumption that you are not being deliberately, and wickedly, deceitful, please provide a link to the source of your assertion on viral mutation.”

    I read a lot of dawkins about evolution.

    Viruses mutate all the time. There will be many mutations within every person who has the virus at all. At any one time testing does not show the one unique strain a person is infected with, but an averaged result of all the strains processed as a batch. Thats a fact, though I’m not inclined to hunt out references for you.

    The dominant strain is the one which can spread fastest under current conditions. Its more like an army of viruses with slight differences moving forward together. If conditions change, then the makeup of that army chances as the new conditions make reproduction of certain strains more probable and others less probable.

    This effect can happen within one person, for example if you give drugs it will change the average makeup. Change the drugs and it shifts back. This experiment has been done on immune compromised patients, and is precisely what we saw in HIV cases. You don’t normally see it because the immune system usually either beats the virus quickly, or the patient dies quickly. But even so, if you did track the precise makeup I expect it changes during the course of the infection. If it was possible to do this, because we are only capable of taking a sample of many different virus particles and deriving the average or most common variant. Anything else is lost in noise.

    If you look at published data on strains, it gives not only the dominant strain but a figure for the proportion of the whole sample which was dominant strain.

    So two things are being muddled together when we talk about a new mutant strain. Viruses mutate all the timne throwing off new variants as part of every infection. Most of these just die out because the current main strain is already optimised as the most successful. But the potential for change is always there, its just suppressed.

    If we now change general conditions, eg vaccinate a lot of people, then suddenly the previously optimised strain is no longer optimised. And then others will out perform it if they are better able to overcome vaccine immunity. And then a new strain will surface even though it might have been chugging along in the background all the time. Or be a viable mutation which pops up spontaneously from time to time, but just wasnt useful before.

    If conditions are not changing, then there will likely be a slow random change of the virus amongst strains with similar viability, by random chance. But there are huge numbers involved here both in cases but even mor in the toal numbers of virus particles involved. So the random processes are fairly smoothed.

    Always look for the underlying processes creating the observed fact.

    Exactly the same principles (and so we get back to dawkins) apply to evolution of anything. But for viruses this is massively speeded up compared to most living things. Think of every single infected person as equivalent to all the members of one species of animal on a whole planet. Thats the sort of analogy.

  45. @Danny

    You really do need to stop dissing vaccines. Stick to carrots.

    There are numerous vaccines out there that have wiped out viruses, we can think of current vaccines to Rubella, HPV and Polio.

    There is no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will be circumvented by viral mutation.

  46. Danny

    “So two things are being muddled together when we talk about a new mutant strain. Viruses mutate all the time throwing off new variants as part of every infection.”

    Thankyou for your admission that you were talking absolute nonsense when you said “Except that mutant strains do not arise unless there is competitive pressure causing them to do so.”

    That you are muddled is well known.

  47. Tables for Panelbase/Times Scots poll are now available.

    https://www.drg.global/our-work/political-polls/sunday-times-poll-1-april-2021/

    I have already commented on the distortions created by selecting only two non-mainstream parties to prompt for. The tables suggest that only 0.6% of the electorate would vote, in total, for all of the other 12-15 minor parties combined.

    The briefest look at previous List voting would make that a ridiculous assumption. Most will get less than 1% each, but those votes would have to come from somewhere!

    A meaningful poll on List VI is unlikely to come about until after 20 April, when postal vote ballots drop through doors, and people see their List options.

    Any pollster who asks voters to select their List VI from the actual parties standing in their region, has the best chance of accurately predicting the result.

  48. JiB
    “There are numerous vaccines out there that have wiped out viruses, we can think of current vaccines to Rubella, HPV and Polio.”

    I don’t want to get into a big argument, but I’m sure I read somewhere that the only virus that had ever been wiped out was smallpox, and that took 200 years?

1 2 3 68