On Thursday we have this year’s batch of local elections. This is the smallest of the four year local election cycle – there are no district or borough councils up for election, it is just the County Councils and a few unitary councils (mostly those that used to be county councils but had their districts abolished, like Durham, Cornwall, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire – although Bristol also has a third of its councillors up for election).

Without any elections in London, Scotland, most of Wales or the Metropolitan counties this is, by definition, a rather Tory set of elections. When the counties were last contested in 2009 when the Conservatives were riding high in the polls they took overall control of every county council except Cumbria. Of the 2392 seats being contested, sixty percent are currently held by the Conservatives (accounting for boundaries changes in some councils Rallings & Thrasher reckon the totals at C 1452, L 245, LD 481, OTH 214). All the councils up for election except Bristol are “all-outs”, with every councillor up for election, making it far easier for councils to change hands. With the Conservatives starting from an extreme high, it is almost inevitable that they will lose a lot of seats and lose control of a substantial number of councils.

It also means that Lib Dem councillors up for re-election are overwhelmingly in LD-v-Con areas, not LD-v-Lab areas. In recent local elections the Lib Dems have done OK against the Conservatives, but been massacred where they are up against Labour in metropolitan areas. With very few LD-v-Lab urban areas having elections, don’t expect huge Lib Dem losses this year.

Before local elections there is normally a rather pathetic game of expectation management by the parties, of claiming that party X needs to be making an absurd number of gains to be doing well, or that party Y expects to lose millions of seats so it claim it’s not as bad as they thought when they only lose so many… as if doing badly is somehow less bad when you can pretend you expected to do worse, or doing well is somehow even better when you can pretend you expected to be mediocre. Actually this year they haven’t been so bad compared to some previous years, though there are still a couple of days left! The predictions from Rallings and Thrasher, which are really the only decent guide, are that the Conservatives will lose around about 310 seats, Labour will gain around 350, the Lib Dems lose around 130 – roughly speaking (for there have been many changes in councils since then) this would reverse the 2009 changes and take us back to the position at the 2005 local elections, fought on the same day as Labour’s general election victory.

There is also the question of UKIP – we can expect them to do well in terms of share of the vote, but a more interesting question is whether it translates into council seats. While the national polls tell us that UKIP have gained significant support, what they don’t really tell us is whether that support is broadly uniform across the country (in which case it won’t be translated into many seats), or whether there are particular areas of UKIP strength (in which case it could result in lots of councillors elected). In 2009 when these councils were last contested UKIP only had candidates in a quarter of them, so we don’t even really have data on where they were strong four years ago! A year ago in 2012 UKIP actually did pretty well in the local elections in terms of the votes they won where they stood… but got hardly any councillors because their vote was evenly spread even where they did do well (to take some examples, in Basildon they got 17% of the vote and came third, but got no councillors at all, in Thurrock they got 18% but only managed one councillor). We may see the same, or we may see more effective targetting or them getting over a critical mass of support in some councils and gaining large numbers of seats. Right now we really cannot tell.

The other measure people will look at is the BBC’s “Projected National Share” (and the Rallings and Thrasher equivalent, the “Equivalent National Vote”). Both of these are essentially a projection of what the national shares of the vote would be if there were local elections everywhere, rather than just in the Toryish bits of the country that actually have elections. Both are based on looking at the swing in various key wards.

In 2012 the BBC’s Projected National Share was CON 31%, LAB 38%, LDEM 16%. The Rallings & Thrasher Equivalent National Vote was CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 15%. Rallings & Thrasher are predicting CON 29%, LAB 38%, LD 16%, UKIP 11% for this year’s ENV.

Just in case anyone is about to get excited about that high Lib Dem score (or disappointed that Labour is expected to be below 40%), bear in mind that people do vote differently in local elections to national elections. This is most evident in the case of the Liberal Democrats, who consistently do better in local elections than national ones (something I looked at back here.)

Finally we come to the question of what the elections tell us, and whether they matter. My usual answers are not much, and very much so! In terms of national levels of support local elections really don’t tell us very much we don’t already know from the national opinion polls. If people vote the same as the national polls suggest, then it doesn’t tell us anything new, if they vote differently, it is almost certainly because people just vote differently in local elections to they way they do in national elections. This year’s results may be slightly more useful than usual since they may give us some insight into exactly how the national UKIP support is distributed at a local level, though of course, it can’t tell us anything about their relative levels of support in Metropolitan areas.

Just because local elections don’t tell us much, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important – they matter deeply in terms of shaping the narrative, in terms of whether a party is seen to be moving forwards and doing well, or unpopular and doing badly. In 2011 the narrative emerged that Labour had rather flopped in the local elections and the Conservatives had done well. In 2012 Labour did very well in the local elections and it cemented the poll increase they’d had since the 2012 budget (though Boris Johnson’s victory in London stopped it being across the board good news for Labour). This year we can be pretty confident of solid Labour gains, and there is no obvious source of Conservative solace, so unless they really mess up the expectations management the effect on the political narrative is likely to be a strong positive for Labour, with them being seen to make progress, gain support and generally be on track towards success. The most obvious obstacle to that is if UKIP do particularly well and the weekend’s news coverage ends up being all about a UKIP breakthrough, rather than Labour success. On top of that there is the practical impact – councillors are often the ground troops, the backbone of local associations and the people who knock on doors and deliver leaflets, so Labour’s gains will help them in the future, Conservative and Lib Dem losses will slowly rob them of feet on the ground.

And, not least, they also determine who actually runs county councils for the next 4 years.


120 Responses to “Local Election Preview”

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  1. First?

    Good Afteroon everyone, and thanks very much Anthony for tthis analysis.

    Ed M is hammered in the TIMES today on front page and in two articles. He needs a good night on May 2/3

  2. Down here in the rural South West, if those who talk UKIP actually vote UKIP then they should win every seat, however it of course ‘aint gonna be like that. Obviously in this part of the world Labour doesn’t do that well, any Labour voters left in the main vote Libdem to keep the Tory out, I suspect despite it all that will continue. So the Tories might actually do worse here than they expect, caught between two stools you might say.

  3. @chrislane1945 – I really don’t think that a couple of news items in the right leaning press mean a great deal at this stage, and despite the attentions of some Blairites and their right leaning friends, this hasn’t become a big issue, and will not have relevance come Thursday.

    Having said that, and also in response to @Colin on the last thread, this is an issue Ed needs to get much greater clarity on. It isn’t yet any more than the usual people trying to attack his position, but if the issue is mishandled, then it could become a more entrenched and damaging view.

    Ed’s response needs to be nuanced, which is always difficult when trying to communicate with large numbers of voters and news editors, many of whom are not very bright.

    Ed is perfectly correct to say that his intention is to bring down borrowing faster in the medium and long term. I rather suspect that for honesty’s sake he also needs to be explicit that borrowing would be higher in the short term to achieve this. Communicating this is the key difficulty.

    The only things I could think of to help would be to firstly point to the governments own Universal credit proposals and say that this is exactly what the current government is doing – higher up front costs to make overall savings – but say Labour will not be so disorganised/incompetent etc, and secondly, to think of some easily understandable household comparison.

    I’ve come up with energy saving lightbulbs as a starter – cost more to buy but you soon get the savings back through higher efficiency. Possibly buying a more fuel efficient car as well. Neither of these are ideal, as they aren’t so focused on growth. Perhaps the idea of paying for training so you can earn more would be better?

    I’m not altogether sure how they can construct a snappy and coherent response, but they will be working on it, and having road tested the idea and failed this time, they will be able to sharpen up the message.

    The bottom line is that, as I never tire of saying, these things are never judged in isolation. If the coalition gets the economy growing by 3.5% next year and the deficit is tumbling, whatever Ed says he will be toasted. If the deficit situation continues to be as bad as it is now, Ed will be able to point to the failure of austerity, say there is a better way, and argue that we must invest to save, or some such inane phrase, and he’ll romp home with a massive majority.

  4. Alec

    “large numbers voters and news editors,many of whom are not very bright”.

    Are you say if EM and Labour do well in the local elections their being voted in by the above.
    Bit of slap in the face for your labour supporter.

  5. Many thanks for this analysis Anthony, insightful. Through my past during the past weeks I have been getting leaflets from nearly all parties including UKIP but no leafleting from Liberal Democrats which is very strange usually they would be the most proactive party in local elections.

    As mentioned by Anthony most areas who are voting in the local elections are in conservative territory but it would be interesting to see the numbers gained and lost by the party and of course by UKIp. Can I ask if there will be a general election programme hosted by David Dimbelby for the local elections? Always enjoy watching the general election programmes!

  6. @AW – think you might have left a nought off the Labour current seats total? There are currently 67 Labour councilors in Durham alone, all up for election on Thursday.

  7. @ Alec @ AW

    That explains the question I was going to ask which was why do the current number of seats for each party not equal the total of 2392.

    I guess Lab should be 245 which means I don’t have to ask the next question which is why they would be expected to go from 24 and make 300 gains!

  8. Indeed – it should be 245!

    Q/Ali – only a handful of councils are counting their votes overnight, so there won’t be a full election night programme (I’m not sure if they are doing anything on the Friday)

  9. Q/Ali – BBC2 have a 2013 Vote special between 12 & 1pm then again between 2 & 3pm.

  10. @Turk – “Are you say if EM and Labour do well in the local elections their being voted in by the above.
    Bit of slap in the face for your labour supporter.”

    a) I’m not a Labour supporter
    b) ‘Many’ isn’t the same as ‘all’
    c) There could be differential levels of voter/editor ‘brightness’, which could correlate with voting intention.
    d) Recent research (quoted in New Scientist, among other places) demonstrated that people with more right leaning political views have smaller brains than those with left leaning views, and these differences were statistically significant.
    e) There is in life, such a thing as ‘humour’
    f) It’s Tuesday afternoon – we all need to lighten up.
    g) You seem to be the go to chicken man. Can you name me a breed of hens that are silent, so I can murder my neighbours cockerel and secretly replace it with a silent version.

  11. Alec

    I suppose Ed’s slogan could be ‘you have to speculate in order to accumulate!’

    Problem is of course that the speculation is thus certain but not the accumulation.

    We’ll know afterwards, just as we know that his opponent’s policies have not delivered the goods (yet).

    I believe the extent to which Labour wins back the two shires, Notts and Derbyshire, will be keenly watched. It would not surprise me if they are not targeting those, as effort in the SW, for instance, is largely just a waste of time (except in Bristol, as AW mentions).

    Anyone here live in the EM and seen any evidence for that?

  12. I should hastily add (not that I believe my comment betrayed any partisan leanings) that I see no evidence that having any party in power and their fiddling with tax rates and so on makes a scrap of difference. You are either in power and have the luck of a boom or the bad luck of a bust. Most politicians would probably be content with 1% growth per year and no bull trading .

  13. Alec

    It could well be that although right wing folk have smaller brains, they are more efficient……………

  14. My things to watch out for, in order of priority.

    1) Will the projected national share be consistent with the opinion polls? It almost certainly will be, and therefore not tell us anything the opinion polls didn’t already tell us, but if there’s a shock result across the country, then it could be a warning that the polls have suddenly started getting it bad and wrong.

    2) UKIP vs Conservatives. This is probably the least predictable factor. Should UKIP suddenly start gaining large number of councillors, that will raise eyebrow. The Tory Right aren’t terribly good at keeping a calm head when results don’t go their way.

    3) Conservatives vs Lib Dems. More predictable here. Precedent from last year’s elections and Eastleigh is that votes aren’t shifting much either way at the moment. Should votes unexpectedly shift one way or the other, that may cause major panic – Lib Dems because they are defending most of their seats against Tories, and Tories because their over-reaction to Eastliegh will probably be repeated.

    4) Conservative vs Labour. Probably of the least concern because we know Labour’s going to make gains – the only question is how much. An unexpectedly large or small number may affect Labour Party morale one way or the other, but otherwise this figure will probably be buried in attention on one of the other three parties.

    5) Greens. Of the least consequence because no-one’s seriously expecting the Greens to have nearly as much impact as UKIP on the 2015 election now, but a breakthrough now might have an effect post-2015.

  15. @Howard
    “Anyone here live in the EM and seen any evidence for that?”
    —————————
    I do. Lab contacts tell me that they are working hard to regain Notts & Derbys County Councils and activists are being drafted in from ‘safe’ seats to help in target seats. But the word is that neither contests will be pushovers and blues may do better than some are predicting. LibDems are likely to have a disappointing night. No feedback or clues about UKIP prospects though.

  16. According the most recent figures on the ALDC website:

    http://www.aldc.org/elections/local/3073/4/18/04/2013/Whos_Up_in_2013

    the number of councillors up for election in May are:

    Con 1478

    Lab 251

    LD 490

    Green 18

    UKIP 10

    BNP 2

    Ind 134

    Oth 57

    PC 8

    Total 2448[1]

    Though they may not have adjusted for boundary changes.

    Regarding Rallings and Thresher’s projections, it looks to me that they are overestimating Labour’s percentage and underestimating the other three[2]. 29% is pretty much the low point nationally for the Conservatives in the current polls and UKIP’s 11% is lower on these grounds as well. Furthermore both Parties should do better on the ENV because they should both have a good turnout of voters – always important in a generally low-polling election.

    If we accept a national Lib Dem poll rating currently of 11%, R&T’s 16% seems a bit ungenerous as well. Normally the Lib Dems have a ‘local premium’ of around 7 points, so 17-18% would be expected, though for various reasons they may not get that.

    [1] I’ve taken out the two Mayors up for election. ALDC forgot or omitted the Isles of Scilly who are also up for election, though if we’re looking about what these elections tell us nationally, that’s probably a good idea. The figures do include the suspended Isle of Anglesey Council – the only one outside England.

    [2] I’m not sure if ‘nationally’ means UK, Britain or just England. Of course this is a wonderful ‘prediction’ to make because the only thing thing you can compare it to is your own projection of what the results would mean ‘nationally’

  17. ALEC.
    Thanks for interesting post. However, I remember HW and TB at the peak of their electoral winning powers. They could communicate very well with right of centre papers at first, and did well getting out a message when being interviewed.
    I feel the polls are suggesting that Ed M is not quite ‘cutting it’. IMHO he would be a very good deputy leader, and, not for the first time, I suggest that TB could be asked to come back to the Commons- as a Labour MP. However, I admit partisan love for the man, Can’t help it. Youthful love.

  18. Clinton’s “invest and grow” avoids the “speculation” issue.

    But the problem for Ed is not simply getting across the investment and growth thing. Additional problems include…
    1) talk of growth is a bit abstract. He should perhaps talk more about our income

    2) it’s not all about traditional investment but the impact of cuts on demand and the way money circulates in the economy which is quite tricky to explain

    Welfare cuts can impact on this but it wouldn’t immediately be apparent from considering more typical investment like infrastructure

    3) it is not necessarily in the interests of babyboomers to invest now for the future. They might be worried that they’ll take a hit but not get to see the gains especially since more jobs, better wages etc may not impact the retired much.

  19. Roger – marginally different from R&T, so presumably either ADLC haven’t updated to account for boundary changes, or R&T haven’t accounted for defections, by-elections, etc.

  20. I expect Lib Dems to take a kicking in my area from Labour, they are very worried I have had no less than 12 different leaflets from them. Yet not a single flyer from Conserative(not in running really) or Labour!!! No UKIP candidate :o(

  21. Alec

    ” Recent research (quoted in New Scientist, among other places) demonstrated that people with more right leaning political views have smaller brains than those with left leaning views, and these differences were statistically significant.”

    I’d always wondered why I was so embarrassingly clever.

  22. Whatever the subtle differences, I was imposed with the very few Lab councillors up for re-election, the prognosis for 300 odd Lab gains (thus more than doubling their number) and yet here we are envisaging entire shire councils changing hands to Labour.

    This could only happen in an FPTP situation. I wonder if any CCs would be outright control candidates under PR?

  23. I’m be quite surprised if Labour do make those 350 gains, although I guess the experts predictions are going to be better than me and it probably comes down to me not having a clue where these elections are but having an image of all being leafy Tory areas!

    It just feels a bit like Lab is currently doing very well in Metropolitan and the North but not so well in the type of seats that I assume are being fought on Thursday.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the Lib Dems will do much better than predictions of even a few losses. Local By-Elections recently have been good for them and if UKIP do well then the Lib Dems could even be looking at gains.

    Like many have said, the UKIP vote will be VERY interesting to find out if they have managed to get some organisation together for targetting- certainly HS2 areas and maybe some beyond.

  24. Labour might be expected to gain Cumbria and Derbyshire, and the Tories to lose overall control in Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and possibly Warwickshire. Bristol might go Labour, but if only some of the council is up for election, then NOC is more likely. Other than that, the Tories look set to make losses to other parties, but without loss of councils. So the elections could be quite boring unfortunately.

  25. @Roger Mexico,

    Yes, far better to means test child benefit IMO. Say, over £50,000.

  26. Note: £50,000 = household income.

  27. @Alec,

    ” Recent research (quoted in New Scientist, among other places) demonstrated that people with more right leaning political views have smaller brains than those with left leaning views, and these differences were statistically significant.”

    No doubt conducted by a left-wing scientist. A bit like those scientists who have found a causal link between nose size and the size of one’s…..I’d bank my house on the fact that they have a big conk.

  28. I do have an abnormally large nose BTW. Just thought I’d clarify that.

  29. Ambi:

    The ambivalent scientists aren’t quite sure what their results prove apparently.

  30. “The ambivalent scientists aren’t quite sure what their results prove apparently.”

    They have the best of both worlds. Not too big, nor too small. I am a statistical anomaly, otherwise known in mathematical circles as an outlier (i.e. more than 3 s.ds from the mean.

  31. “No doubt conducted by a left-wing scientist”

    ————-

    Lol, well it may be, but while it’s fashionable here to assume partisanship there’s no reason that has to be the case and science has a means of overcoming that: the reproducibility of results.

    In other words if other scientists of other persuasions get the same results, it’s probably not partisan. So the question is how reproducible are the results, have they been challenged etc…

  32. Shevii – the R&T projections are based on those same local by-elections (bear in mind that local by-elections will increasingly be from seats last contested in 2011 and 2012, so *after* the calamitous drop in Lib Dem support. Looking at whether parties are up or down in local by-elections you have too look at when they last contested the seat, was it a 2009 or 2010 election when we should expect a big Lib Dem drop? Or was it a 2011 and 2012 when the same sort of performance would give a no change or slight increase in support?)

  33. “Lol, well it may be, but while it’s fashionable here to assume partisanship there’s no reason that has to be the case and science has a means of overcoming that: the reproducibility of results.”

    Scientific results (and statistics) are only as reliable as those collecting/providing them. They also represent the biases of those producing/collecting them. That’s partly why different research papers often contradict each other, not to mention different think tanks. It’s also why the scientific method does contain some fundamental flaws.

  34. I fully expect Labour to make a lot of gains, but I don’t see much link between the gains and EMs performance. Perhaps that’s harsh, but it is honestly how I see it. UKIP will be the interesting one to watch. I think the Libs might do a bit better than people think. I have to hand it to them that they seem remarkably resilient at a local level.

  35. But that is the point. By having the research repeated by different people you can eliminate the bias. In the process methodological flaws can be exposed.

    You can also check for flaws by making predictions based in the theory. So if someone has a flawed theory it will get exposed by making flawed predictions. No Ine cares about any biases Einstein may have had because his theory works.

    Sure, think tanks may contradict each other but they are not necessarily engaged in science in the first place but PR.

    Additionally some claims are not very amenable to the scurntifuc method because not reproducible…

  36. @Chris Lane + Alec,

    I agree with Alec that the WATO flop has no long-term significance (and that they’ll probably get the line sorted out on borrowing to invest), but I do think Labour has a broader problem in that Ed Miliband is consistently bad in interviews. He’s fine in the Commons so he’d probably do fine in a debate, he’s quite good at Conference, apparently he’s able to reach out to cranky xenophobes on his pallet box away-days- but he repeatedly flubs live interviews. There was that “We might join the Euro depending on how long I’m Prime Minister” disaster and who could forget “These strikes are wrong”?

    I have no idea why/how this can be an issue. He’s been a senior politician for 5 years, he’s been Leader of the Opposition for 3, this is a basic, necessary skill for a politician at his level, presumably people can drill in it, and Labour has (or had up until the last election) the best political media operation in Britain. But for whatever reason, they haven’t cracked it yet. It doesn’t matter now, but as the general election nears it will. People are going to start watching, and if he can’t learn to nail these interviews or at least not blow them, it’s going to be a liability for the party.

    @Roger,

    You raise a good point about turnout. Do we know if R&T etc factor that into their models?

  37. @Rich,

    The thing is…ED doesn’t necessarily have to do well on a personal level for Labour to win the next GE. It would obviously help the ir cause tremendously if he did….but it’s not a prerequisite for a Labour majority in 2015.

  38. @ambivalent, ^ I agree actually.

  39. As a scientist I must intervene :)

    “Scientific results (and statistics) are only as reliable as those collecting/providing them”

    Statistics and scientific results are two different things.

    “That’s partly why different research papers often contradict each other, not to mention different think tanks.”

    Scientific research is very different from policy work produced by thinktanks. And this is not why different research papers say different things. It’s generally a methodological issue not a political one as you seem to be claiming.

    “It’s also why the scientific method does contain some fundamental flaws.”

    What ‘fundamental flaws’ would these be then? Specifically.

  40. CarFrew,

    “But that is the point. By having the research repeated by different people you can eliminate the bias. In the process methodological flaws can be exposed.”

    If the results were repeated across the board and the results always pointed to the same conclusion, I would be more inclined to agree with you. But this often is not the case; Einstein’s theory (or many Chemistry, Physics, Biological theory aside). Political research is often more controversial and open to debate simply because, unlike the other sciences, it does not typically provide us with such definite and concrete conclusions. It is also not so readily verifiable in many cases.

    That is why, for instance, right-wing think tanks generally produce research showing that policy X is the best way to proceed, whilst left wing ones show policy Y. It’s also why MigrantionWatch, for instance, produces research findings which are consistent with immigrants being (generally) bad for the UK, whilst more left-wing/politically neutral ones contradict their findings.

  41. AMBIVALENTSUPPORTER

    “If the results were repeated across the board and the results always pointed to the same conclusion, I would be more inclined to agree with you. But this often is not the case; ”

    Actually you’re completely wrong, there is something called scientific consensus where enough reproducible evidence exists to carry degrees of scientific certainty.

  42. Ambi,

    To be fair to the think tanks, political scientists, sociologists, etc, they have a much harder job than those of us in the hard sciences because they’re seldom able to set up proper controlled experiments.

    For some reason, countries don’t allow think tanks to randomly assign them immigration policies for five years and then compare the results…

  43. “Actually you’re completely wrong, there is something called scientific consensus where enough reproducible evidence exists to carry degrees of scientific certainty.”

    There has to be enough supporting evidence (i.e. by calculating confidence intervals) to be able to assume that the results provided are adequately supported.

    But as a side issue…you are making the big mistake of treating politics/accounting/ subject X like they are sciences. They are not – despite being classified as ‘social sciences’. They are certainly not the same as chemistry, physics, chemistry etc. etc. Nor should they be treated as such.

  44. @Spearmint,

    “To be fair to the think tanks, political scientists, sociologists, etc, they have a much harder job than those of us in the hard sciences because they’re seldom able to set up proper controlled experiments.”

    Exactly my point…or one of them at least.

  45. @ambivalent

    I agree, indeed you are just repeating the point I already made, that not all political research is that amenable to the scientific method.

    The research we are talking about has to do with brain size.

    Now, we can list various impediments to the application of the scientific method to various phenomena and I would agree with that too.

    But I was challenging your specific point that it was inevitably partisan.

    This isn’t true. It may be, it may not, and there are things that can be done to obviate that.

    Which leads to the second point… Even if they WERE partisan, then it doesn’t matter if the conclusions are true.

    Which brings me to the second

  46. “There has to be enough supporting evidence (i.e. by calculating confidence intervals) to be able to assume that the results provided are adequately supported.”

    In the hard sciences – as Spearmint so aptly put it – mathematical proof or scientific reasoning (within the scientific community) is sufficient. In the social sciences, this is simply not enough.

  47. @CarFrew,

    “But I was challenging your specific point that it was inevitably partisan.”

    Nope – it’s not inevitably partisan. It depends on the individual researcher and how determined they are to put their prejudices to one side. In many cases, such a determination does exist.

    “Even if they WERE partisan, then it doesn’t matter if the conclusions are true.”

    It does it if compromises the validity of their findings/research.

    That’s how I see it, anyhow.

  48. @PaulCroft,

    Out of interest – how do you see the top 4 race going? I’d say Arsenal have the easiest run-ins out of the 3.

  49. Ok, originally you said “no doubt they are left wing” but since you are moderating that we now have agreement.

    Sure partisanship is an issue if it compromises the findings but my point us that if the findings are not compromised, if they actually work and are reproducible and predict stuff then we cannot dismiss them just because the researchers were partisan.

  50. @Rich

    Remarkably resilient? They’re at their lowest number of councillors, and you have to go back to 1980 to find a similar PNV as their recent results. They’ve only been able to hold up in areas where they are really the only alternative, and even then not universally (hence how Tory gains from Liberals wiped out the heavy losses to Labour in 2011). These are the same such areas.

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