General election campaigns provoke a lot of attention and criticism of opinion polls. Some of that is sensible and well-informed… and some of it is not. This is about the latter – a response to some of the more common criticisms that I see on social media. Polling methodology is not necessarily easy to understand and, given many people only take an interest in it at around election time, most people have no good reason to know much about it. This will hopefully address some of the more common misapprehensions (or in those cases where they aren’t entirely wrong, add some useful context).

This Twitter poll has 20,000 responses, TEN TIMES BIGGER than so-called professional polls!

Criticisms about sample size are the oldest and most persistent of polling criticism. This is unsurprising given that it is rather counter-intuitive that only 1000 interviews should be enough people to get a good steer on what 40,000,000 people think. The response that George Gallup, the founding father of modern polling, used to give is still a good one: “You don’t need to eat a whole bowl of soup to know if it’s too salty, providing it’s properly stirred a single spoonful will suffice.”

The thing that makes a poll meaningful isn’t so much the sample size, it is whether it is representative or not. That is, does it have the right proportions of men and women, old and young, rich and poor and so on. If it is representative of the wider population in all those ways, then one hopes it will also be representative in terms of opinion. If not, then it won’t be. If you took a sample of 100,000 middle-class homeowners in Surrey then it would be overwhelmingly Tory, regardless of the large sample size. If you took a sample of 100,000 working class people on Merseyside it would be overwhelmingly Labour, regardless of the large sample size. What counts is not the size, it’s whether it’s representative or not. The classic example of this is the 1936 Presidential Election where Gallup made his name – correctly predicting the election using a representative sample when the Literary Digest’s sample of 2.4 million(!) called it wrongly.

Professional polling companies will sample and weight polls to ensure they are representative. However well intended, Twitter polls will not (indeed, there is no way of doing so, and no way of measuring the demographics of those who have participated).

Who are these pollsters talking too? Everyone I know is voting for party X!

Political support is not evenly distributed across the country. If you live in Liverpool Walton, then the overwhelming majority of other people in your area will be Labour voters. If you live in Christchurch, then the overwhelming majority of your neighbours will likely be Tory. This is further entrenched by our tendency to be friends with people like us – most of your friends will probably be of a roughly similar age and background and, very likely, have similar outlooks and things in common with you, so they are probably more likely to share your political views (plus, unless you make pretty odd conversation with people, you probably don’t know how everyone you know will vote).

An opinion poll will have sought to include a representative sample of people from all parts of the country, with a demographic make-up that matches the country as a whole. Your friendship group probably doesn’t look like that. Besides, unless you think that literally *everyone* is voting for party X, you need to accept that there probably are voters of the other parties out there. You’re just not friends with them.

Polls are done on landlines so don’t include young people

I am not sure why this criticism has resurfaced, but I’ve seen it several times over recent weeks, often widely retweeted. These days the overwhelming majority of opinion polls in Britain are conducted online rather than by telephone. The only companies who regularly conduct GB voting intention polls by phone are Ipsos MORI and Survation. Both of them conduct a large proportion of their interviews using mobile phones.

Polls of single constituencies are still normally conducted by telephone but, again, will conduct a large proportion of their calls on mobile phones. I don’t think anyone has done a voting intention poll on landlines only for well over a decade.

Who takes part in these polls? No one has ever asked me

For the reason above, your chances of being invited to take part in a telephone poll that asks about voting intention are vanishingly small. You could be waiting many, many years for your phone number to be randomly dialled. If you are the sort of person who doesn’t pick up unknown numbers, they’ll never be able to reach you.

Most polls these days are conducted using internet panels (that is, panels of people who have given pollsters permission to email them and ask them to take part in opinion polls). Some companies like YouGov and Kantar have their own panels, other companies may buy in sample from providers like Dynata or Toluna. If you are a member of such panels you’ll inevitably be invited to take part in opinion polls. Though of course, remember that the vast majority of surveys tend to be stuff about consumer brands and so on… politics is only a tiny part of the market research world.

The polls only show a lead because pollsters are “Weighting” them, you should look at the raw figures

Weighting is a standard part of polling that everyone does. Standard weighting by demographics is unobjectionable – but is sometimes presented as something suspicious or dodgy. At this election, this has sometimes been because it has been confused with how pollsters account for turnout, which is a more controversial and complicated issue which I’ll return to below.

To deal with ordinary demographic weighting though, this is just to ensure that the sample is representative. So for example – we know that the adult British population is about 51% female, 49% male. If the raw sample a poll obtained was 48% female and 52% male then it would have too many men and too few women and weighting would be used to correct it. Every female respondent would be given a weight of 1.06 (that is 51/48) and would count as 1.06 of a person in the final results. Every male respondent would be given a weight of 0.94 (that is 49/52) and would count as 0.94 of a person in the final results. Once weighted, the sample would now be 51% female and 49% male.

Actual weighting is more complicated that this because samples are weighted by multiple factors – age, gender, region, social class, education, past vote and so on. The principle however is the same – it is just a way of correcting a sample that has the wrong amount of people compared to the known demographics of the British population.

Polls assume young people won’t vote

This is a far more understandable criticism, but one that is probably wrong.

It’s understandable because it is part of what went wrong with the polls in 2017. Many polling companies adopted new turnout models that did indeed make assumptions about whether people would vote or not based upon their age. While it wasn’t the case across the board, in 2017 companies like ComRes, ICM and MORI did assume that young people were less likely to vote and weighted them down. The way they did this contributed to those polls understating Labour support (I’ve written about it in more depth here)

Naturally people looking for explanations for the difference between polls this time round have jumped to this problem as a possible explanation. This is where it goes wrong. Almost all the companies who were using age-based turnout models dumped those models straight after the 2017 election and went back to basing their turnout models primarily on how likely respondents say they are to vote. Put simply, polls are not making assumptions about whether different age groups will vote or not – differences in likelihood to vote between age groups will be down to people in some age groups telling pollsters they are less likely to vote than people in other age groups.

The main exception to this is Kantar, who do still include age in their turnout model, so can fairly be said to be assuming that young people are less likely to vote than old people. They kept the method because, for them, it worked well (they were one of the more accurate companies at the 2017 election).

Some of the criticism of Kantar’s turnout model (and of the relative turnout levels in other companies’ polls) is based on comparing the implied turnout in their polls with turnout estimates published straight after the 2017 election, based on polls done during the 2017 campaign. Compared to those figures, the turnout for young people may look a bit low. However there are much better estimates of turnout in 2017 from the British Election Study, which has validated turnout data (that is, rather than just asking if people voted, they look their respondents up on the marked electoral register and see if they actually voted) – these figures are available here, and this is the data Kantar uses in their model. Compared to these figures the levels of turnout in Kantar and other companies’ polls look perfectly reasonable.

Pollster X is biased!

Another extremely common criticism. It is true that some pollsters show figures that are consistently better or worse for a party. These are know as “house effects” and can be explained by methodological differences (such as what weights they use, or how they deal with turnout), rather than some sort of bias. It is in the strong commercial interests of all polling companies to be as accurate as possible, so it would be self-defeating for them to be biased.

The frequency of this criticism has always baffled me, given to anyone in the industry it’s quite absurd. The leading market research companies are large, multi-million pound corporations. Ipsos, YouGov and WPP (Kantar’s parent company) are publicly listed companies – they are owned by largely institutional shareholders and the vast bulk of their profits are based upon non-political commercial research. They are not the personal playthings of the political whims of their CEOs, and the idea that people like Didier Truchot ring up their UK political team and ask them to shove a bit on the figure to make the party they support look better is tin-foil hat territory.

Market research companies sell themselves on their accuracy, not on telling people what they want to hear. Political polling is done as a shop window, a way of getting name recognition and (all being well) a reputation for solid, accurate research. They have extremely strong commercial and financial reasons to strive for accuracy, and pretty much nothing to be gained by being deliberately wrong.

Polls are always wrong

And yet there have been several instances of the polls being wrong of late, though this is somewhat overegged. The common perception is that the polls were wrong in 2015 (indeed, they nearly all were), at the 2016 referendum (some of them were wrong, some of them were correct – but the media paid more attention to the wrong ones), at Donald Trump’s election (the national polls were actually correct, but some key state polls were wrong, so Trump’s victory in the electoral college wasn’t predicted), and in the 2017 election (most were wrong, a few were right).

You should not take polls as gospel. It is obviously possible for them to be wrong – recent history demonstrates that all too well. However, they are probably the best way we have of measuring public opinion, so if you want a steer on how Britain is likely to vote it would be foolish to dismiss them totally.

What I would advise against is assuming that they are likely to be wrong in the same direction as last time, or in the direction you would like them to be. As discussed above – the methods that caused the understatement of Labour support in 2017 have largely been abandoned, so the specific error that happened in 2017 is extremely unlikely to reoccur. That does not mean polls couldn’t be wrong in different ways, but it is worth considered that the vast majority of previous errors have been in the opposite direction, and that polls in the UK have tended to over-state Labour support. Do not assume that polls being wrong automatically means under-stating Labour.

965 Responses to “How not to interpret opinion polls”

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  1. One for the straw clutching, weather watching, “polls are wrong” gang to put money where mouth is:

    LAB minority govt (ie wake up to PM Corbyn): 10x your money:

    Folks betting on “coalitions” are making that more attractive than it should be[1] but I’m not wasting my money on that unless it gets above 15.

    If you’re totally out there in La-La-LAB land then you can get 50x for LAB majority

    [1] Probabilities have to sum to 100% so if folks are wasting money on things like LAB/LD/SNP coalition then it improves odds elsewhere. Make sure to read the “i” (rules) to be sure what constitutes a “minority govt” (sounds like the kind of thing Sturgeon would support)

  2. Trev

    When the fun stops, stop.

  3. @SAM

    Whilst I agree that the court not sitting and requiring a renewed mandate is troubling in the context of the UK the problem with the WTO court is that it is retrospective.Therefore I suspect the problem is not enforcement of WTO but actually ease of protectionism


    I think that the whole they turn into capitalists is overblown. Those that I talk to are already capitalists and more often convenientists as I would call them but they fear there is an inherent bias against them in terms of there path to success. They end up staying in education longer and spending more money throughout their education (For example everyo parent I know spends at least £300 a year on at least one extra curricular activity compared to my parent who spend nothing on my County/Borough Football, basketball and Rugby, whereas my children I pay for their athletics, gymnastics Fizz-bang class (science) and extra language skills
    The difference is stark between myself at 53 and my children at 12 &13

    if they continue they will have debt basically twice the average annual pay whereas I left Teesside Poly with a debt of 12% my starting salary, I start home was but 4 times my starting salary where as a start home where you can get a good job is closer to 6 times.

    The reality is whereas a someone in their mid twenties could start on the property ladder they are now looking at somewhere in the mid 30s and th cost for both parents and child keeps going up. it is why you saw that Labour broke even at below 50s since parents in the last election were suffering the double whammy of trying to help their children and seeing the cost for their children in terms of rent and debt escalate

    What I suspect is that as capitalist they are saying that the costs are not value for money.

  4. @PTRP

    “So there is a different in terms of the state furthering market forces the provision of choice as an example and basically privatisation of the services since all you have done pass control form one party to another.
    Which is why I believe you have it wrong. The UK has not been practicing ordoliberalism if it had we would most probably not have sold off BT British Gas Water Companies and have academies fleecing the tax payer that is ne0liberalism.”


    Well I take your point that privatisation may not work out well, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t ordoliberalism. It just means it’s ordoliberalism done badly.

    Regarding your point earlier we have done a lot of privatisations the EU didn’t make us do, sure, but it is still state action on the market. In the case of energy it did give us more choice initially and I think prices came down.p, that’s what others in here have said IIRC.

    The problem of course is the tendency for the private sector to buy up rivals and suppliers and corner the market longer term, pushing up prices.

    Regarding your point that there’s plenty mutualism in the EU, indeed, and the Spanish in particular are doing quite a bit, hence the EU move to try and get control of it via Bolkestein and force councils to have to get EU assent.


    The article behind this link suggests that voters have grown tired of Brexit and are more interested in what the manifestos say about other matters – police, education, NHS, housing.

    Deltapoll claims to have a way to determine the strength of feeling towards a policy matter.

  6. CB11

    I’ve found talking this week to former students that even one that went to an expensive-private-school students is strongly Labour supporting.

    He says that with Mr Johnson the future is “dystopian” , citing the Conservatives fake fact-checker on twitter.

  7. CB11

    I recall Tom Litterick winning Selly Oak in October 1974 – defeating the right wing Harold Gurden. He then lost decisively to Anthony Beaumont – Dark who held the seat until regained by Labour in 1992.

  8. CB11
    “They analyse things differently and come to different political conclusions from most of their contemporaries?”

    That was certainly true in my case, though a lot of my contemporaries were RoC too. I suppose we tend to make friends with those who have similar opinions.

  9. @CB11 – another anecdote.

    Talked to my brother last week. He was never very political, and I would have had him as an anti Corbyn Lib Dem. He lives in a Lab held marginal in the midlands currently tipped as leaning Lab by the YG MRP.

    He surprised me by being strikingly animated for Corbyn (highly unexpected) and said he has dozens of friends in his constituency who are looking at doing whatever it takes to stop Johnson.

    It means nothing, in the scheme of things, and I can well imagine many other posters throwing their own anecdotes that show the other side of this election, but this exchange really did surprise me. I used to be the family radical, but now there are at least two of us.

  10. Tory lead now below 10pts according to the Britain Elects poll tracker:

    CON: 42.4% (+0.1)
    LAB: 32.8% (+1.4)
    LDEM: 13.1% (-1.0)
    BREX: 3.4% (-0.4)
    GRN: 3.0% (-0.2)

    Chgs. w/ Friday

  11. I`ve been out in West Aberdeenshire & Kinc, and saw fewer election boards than for previous GEs – just 2 for CON`s Andrew Bowie. With rush-hour driving here now in darkness, there is less incentive to have boards in fields where they are only visible in daylight.

    But we passed the road where our LibDem candidate stays, and saw no yellow diamond. It looks like he is just a paper candidate. Likewise, as a signed-up Labour member, I receive messages from our local branch, and though they don`t explicitly say vote SNP that is the clear inference I take.

    In 2017, Bowie had a majority of 7950 votes over the SNP canndidate.. But if three-quarters of the 2017 Lab and LDem voters switch to SNP then Bowie will be out.

    In 2015, the SNP candidate in WAK got 7000 more votes than the Tory, and 6000 more votes than SNP got in 2017, so there are many potential returners.

    I think this seat is Lean SNP in YG MRP language.

  12. @CB11

    Good to hear young people organising in a way to vote where it matters. I have much sympathy for them as I also have the sour options of either voting in a safe Tory seat or a safe Labour seat. We play the hands we are dealt, I suppose

  13. Some rough “rules of thumbs” from current polling and seat numbers

    Most models and polls are coming in around 340 “mid” for CON seats (10% “mid” CON lead) so with that as a “base”, then

    1/ Every 1% narrowing = 5 seats
    (so at 6% CON lead then Boris might not with a majority)

    2/ For 30% Tactical Voting then “Remain” add 10 seats

    3/ CON on 340 assumes they lose 4ish to SNP but would still have 9 seats in Scotland so possible they lose up to 9 more.

    Now you might well get a bit of all 3 (ie narrowing of CON lead (or much better GOTV on the day as apparently all CON VI are old and don’t go out in Winter!?!?), higher tactical voting AND SNP doing the biz in Scotland but to get CON seats below 300 is a stretching the imagination (unless something huge happens in the final week)

    Also note above assumes BXP on 4% (which means 9%+ average in seats they are contesting and more like 12%+ in many of the “marginals”). IF 30% of them vote tactically then CON add 20 seats. You might also see a bit more squeeze on BXP which is more useful to CON than a further LAB squeeze on LDEM as CON would get the votes where they need them (LAB-Leave seats) where as LDEM had very little vote to be squeezed in those seats (you might even see CON net taking seats from LDEM if they drop lower)

    NB I’ve used Electoral Calculus for above so folks can check for themselves. It’s close enough to my model and UKELECTS model as well.

  14. Tory lead now below 10pts according to the Britain Elects poll tracker:

    CON: 42.4% (+0.1)
    LAB: 32.8% (+1.4)
    LDEM: 13.1% (-1.0)
    BREX: 3.4% (-0.4)
    GRN: 3.0% (-0.2)

    Chgs. w/ Friday

    .04% so it will still be above 9% next Thursday. More interesting will be the weekend polls and if they show any trends

  15. @Sam

    Another of my rare posts some months ago pointed out that the WTO was effectively about to cease to exist. It no longer either has the ability to change its rules or to enforce them. It has become a ghost organization, and the rules are no more than a debating point now. And there is no chance of this changing for the forseeable future.

    Perhaps therefore relevant posters could stop talking about WTO terms?

  16. Electoral Calculus now showing a Conservative majority of 28

  17. @ProfHoward

    ”A lot of the thinking in the New Labour days was that ownership (state v private) is not in itself highly relevant the key thing is competition and performance incentives.”


    Well this does raise the question that if it doesn’t matter either way, why keep tipping things into private sector hands? And look what happened with stuff like MRSA.

    Transferring stuff to the private sector and setting targets etc. does not magically guarantee improvement. It can easily make things worse.

    I discovered this the hard way, when I was flirting with an early demise in hospital, the doctors tried to discharge me while I was still ill, there being a pressure to do so because one of Thatcher’s crazy wheezes was to incentivise hospitals to attain the “lowest unit cost” per patient.

    A few days later they were whizzing me back in an ambulance as my condition had deteriorated markedly. Proper bonkers.

  18. Hulagu

    I too have posted on the demise of the WTO appellate body.

    There is no problem in people talking about “WTO terms”, as long as they accept that they now largely equate to guidance which powerful economies/trading blocks can cheerfully ignore, should they so wish, and have the size and wealth to cope with the downsides of trade wars.

  19. Footage on Twitter of Andrew Neil empty chairing Labour in 2010, putting a stuffed Peppa Pig in their place. Increased pressure to empty-chair Johnson.

  20. @ TONYBTG – “When the fun stops, stop”

    Speaking of “fun” then off to a hustings in a neighbouring seat shortly. The LDEMs in that seat have one of those ‘dodgy’ bar charts showing them ahead of LAB, LAB out of the race etc.

    The “fun” is to have a few folks “pretending” to be LDEM and LAB VI.

    Faux LDEM “actor” asks the LAB candidate why they won’t stand down and back LDEM in order to stop CON keeping the seat

    Faux LAB “actor” then points out GE’17 result, LDEM collapse in polls and demands LDEM candidate stands down in order to stop CON keeping the seat

    You then leave the real LAB and LDEM folks and two candidates to rip into each other.

    Helps avoid the CON candidate having to tackle any challenging questions ;)

    PS From a betting perspective this is turning into a very dull GE. I’ve had a few spins on CON OM (and no OM) and flipped around some CON seat numbers (the 340+ bucket) but not a lot on individual seats and since the odds aren’t great then not a huge amount left on CON winning OM or 340+. All a bit zzz zZZ TBH and looking forward to getting back to the Real World.

  21. I’ve fed the latest YG Poll (2-3 Dec) into my model:

    Con 338 (+20)
    Lab 217 (-45)
    SNP 51 (+6)
    LD 21 (+9)

    Votes Shares:

    Con 40%
    Lab 31%
    LD 13%

    Seats by Region:


    Lab 47 (-2)
    Con 22 (+1)
    LD 4 (+1)


    Con 169 (-)
    Lab 17 (-5)
    LD 9 (+5)

    Midlands Wales:

    Con 87 (+13)
    Lab 54 (-13)
    PC 4 (-1)
    LD 1 (+1)


    Lab 98 (-19)
    Con 57 (+17)
    LD 3 (+2)


    SNP 51 (+16)
    LD 4 (-)
    Con 3 (-10)
    Lab 1 (-6)


    The changes from the previous prediction is an improvement for Labour in the Midlands Wales and the North.

  22. @CARFREW

    Well I take your point that privatisation may not work out well, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t ordoliberalism. It just means it’s ordoliberalism done badly.

    So isn’t this the Iraq invasion argument….If only they had done it properly it would have turned out alright. I do not believe that Uk privatised the energy sector in a manner that was anything to do with ordoliberalism. The point that I made about education and local services was that there was no stakeholder involvement, Does it need to be mutualised? Noit does not privatisation is definitely not mutualisation where state control and particularly local state control give you both a form of stakeholder presence (voters can vote the local government out of office)

    My argument regarding the EU and the UK government position is that when ever there has been a conflict between a lower level state actor and the EC the UK government has sided with the EC indeed whenever they UK has acted against any form of intervention with British Steel even when offered tariff on Chinese steel dumping. So despite Bolkenstien which has been watered down already by french intervention EC ordoliberalisation is not there to protect any one party but to enhance fair play

    The aim of say the sale of UK public enterprises was not to enhance the market indeed it was to get public borrowing down. This was Thatcher’s main aim

    Regarding your point earlier we have done a lot of privatisations the EU didn’t make us do, sure, but it is still state action on the market.

    Yes it is state action but is it ordoliberalism….Are you are arguing that all state action is ordoliberalism? if you are that is where I say you are talking rubbish.

    The problem of course is the tendency for the private sector to buy up rivals and suppliers and corner the market longer term, pushing up prices.

    So you pointed out that state action allows for privatisation but then ne0liberalism just slips in and takes over? Again at best it is clear what happens when you privatise. The aim of all privatised entities is to maximise profits and thus to create at least oligarchies and hopeful monopolies thus giving them a hand up in doing this does not sound like ordoliberalism to me

    If the Uk was practicing ordoliberalism then I do not believe we would be in this position. they are just replacing a public monopoly with a private one and transferring the assets to the private one in the case of the academy system. They don’t even have to buy it

    My point is your argument is essentially ordoliberalism is bad because it is market based, I pointed out that the UK is not doing the EU style ordoliberalism on two counts where it is starting from and where it is going to.

    Since we have privatised everything we start from a position of maintaining the market as it is. If say we did not privatise the the busses as an example then a local council adding a route that it provisions would not be upsetting the market since there would be no market to upset. Our position has made this problem not the regulations or the rules.

    It is exactly like the FoM argument. We do not have all the features in our own laws to implement the FoM so FoM is bad but in order to implement any rules we would have had to implement put the same features in our own laws. We blame the EU for not giving us a pass and then we have to have these laws anyway.

  23. Paul Waugh on Twitter.

    ‘Final push to elxn day by
    with first of almost daily rallies of supporters. Lab source: “Starting tonight in Birmingham, we’ve saved back a number of massive rallies for the final week to build on the momentum we’ve seen generated by our people-powered campaign”‘

    Labour’s final push. The question is will it work? Could give a sense of momentum and help pull in wavering/undecided voters.

  24. I see that rich people have been giving a lot of money to Tories and much less to other parties.

    One is the billionaire and hardline no-deal brexit supporter Peter Hargreaves.

    In checking him out I noticed a tweet that may not have aged well:

    “Upside? Politicians have been main cause of damage to UK over last 20 years, at least a hung parliament will mean they can’t cause trouble.” Jun 9, 2017

  25. Seat changes with model

    Aberdeen South – Change from Con to SNP
    Airdrie and Shotts – None
    Angus – Change from Con to SNP
    Argyll and Bute – None
    Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock – Change from Con to SNP
    Banff and Buchan – Change from Con to SNP
    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – None
    Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross – None
    Central Ayrshire – None
    Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill – Change from Lab to SNP
    Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East – None
    Dumfries and Galloway – Change from Con to SNP
    Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale – None
    Dundee East – None
    Dundee West – None
    Dunfermline and West Fife – None
    East Dunbartonshire – None
    East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow – None
    East Lothian – Change from Lab to SNP
    East Renfrewshire – Change from Con to SNP
    Edinburgh East – None
    Edinburgh North and Leith – None
    Edinburgh South – None
    Edinburgh South West – None
    Edinburgh West – None
    Falkirk – None
    Glasgow Central – None
    Glasgow East – None
    Glasgow North – None
    Glasgow North East – Change from Lab to SNP
    Glasgow North West – None
    Glasgow South – None
    Glasgow South West – None
    Glenrothes – None
    Gordon – Change from Con to SNP
    Inverclyde – None
    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey – None
    Kilmarnock and Loudoun – None
    Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – Change from Lab to SNP
    Lanark and Hamilton East – None
    Linlithgow and East Falkirk – None
    Livingston – None
    Midlothian – Change from Lab to SNP
    Moray – Change from Con to SNP
    Motherwell and Wishaw – None
    Na h-Eileanan An Iar – None
    North Ayrshire and Arran – None
    North East Fife – None
    Ochil and South Perthshire – Change from Con to SNP
    Orkney and Shetland – None
    Paisley and Renfrewshire North – None
    Paisley and Renfrewshire South – None
    Perth and North Perthshire – None
    Ross, Skye and Lochaber – None
    Rutherglen and Hamilton West – Change from Lab to SNP
    Stirling – Change from Con to SNP

  26. @ Crossbat

    Much as your young persons anecdote listed my spirits generally, I do think this young vote discussion can get rather skewed. We see a lot of young people being interviewed and feeling very passionate about all number of causes like environment and Brexit and going on demonstrations.

    Unfortunately this remains a vocal, student based, middle class based minority. Nothing wrong with this and all credit to them but my experience in a town like Wigan is that no young people even bother to vote and the Labour vote is very much held up by the traditional oldies who were brought up with manual, unionised jobs and saw what happened during the 1980’s. So we have to be careful to define the demographic rather than make assumptions about ALL young people. We also know that the lower the age the less likely to vote and this is taken from surveys and even then it is very possible that this overestimates the percentage as I think that the young people who respond to surveys may not be representative of that age group.

    I don’t think young people vote Tory very much but I do think that many young people simply aren’t interested in politics. I have to put in my diary a scheduled email to one of my niece in laws the day before polling linking to the Labour manifesto on animal welfare- her vote should have been banked already but it isn’t. According to the stepson no-one at their minimum wage nursery votes- I mean they are on for a payrise of 20% on virtually day one of a Labour government (selfish reason for voting I know but imho fair) and no-one still seems to be bothered.

    Anyway give me a bit of notice if you do depart the boards for a bit as we should give you a rousing “we can see you sneaking out” football song, although if this is on December 13th I probably won’t be in the mood either.

  27. @SAM

    Perhaps therefore relevant posters could stop talking about WTO terms?

    I think not for a couple of reasons


    1. The argument about WTO is that it is essentially the law of the jungle
    2. It will be a moniker for no deal no matter what

    it is not that the enforcement cannot just happen but it will eb a situation whereby one side will show dominance on the other

    This was true whether the WTO court was in session or not. it has not stopped US and China trade dispute. it did not stop NAFTA beign renegotiated and it has not stopped EC offering to put tariffs on chinese steel (which the Uk amongst others declined)

    the truth is simple each side will have to weigh up what it can afford to lose and that has always been one of the advantages of the EU we had a veto on the EU trade deal with India as an example, whereas the EU were offering visa quota to the EU the uK was against this for multinational company staff.

    What will happen is that the trade offs we found unacceptable before will still be there and now will be front and centre and not only that there will be an obvious cost to these deals and obvious penalties

    We will find the cost and the penalties for being in the EU an interesting comparison

  28. PTRP

    I think most would agree that the WTO rule enforcement system was seriously inadequate, but now the USA has just removed any aspect that had some value.

    Under such circumstances, any sensible country that wasn’t an economic super power would make sure that they were a member of a powerful trading bloc ….. wouldn’t they?

  29. @Catman

    “My two are SEN, and have been withdrawn from the education system for about six years. This is because the support they got was atrocious, and the knowledge of those deemed to ‘SEN’ teachers at their school knew precious little.Therefore the ranks of home schooled grew by two, and I can tell you from other people we know, it’s the a failure of SEN provision that is a large driver in the increase in home education.”


    Oh God, I don’t blame you Catman, in fact I’ve taught a bit of SEN myself and know what it can be like. And people who try and improve things can easily be sidelined or attacked.

  30. Regarding the weather next week, I doubt it will deter the elderly and infirm.

    In my neck of the woods, the first big cold snap is always accompanied by large numbers of elderly people, often bringing out the fur coat they have had for years, braving the icy pavements and biting wind.

    Its almost a rite of passage.

    I think there were five broken limbs in one day a couple of years ago. This was caused by our local council who prioritised de-icing their own car park before the public ones. This was despite the fact that their offices had closed for Xmas! But it was in their ’emergency cold snap’ plan…

  31. I’ll try to remember to use the term MRA rather than WTO from now on ;)

  32. Carfrew
    “I discovered this the hard way, when I was flirting with an early demise in hospital, the doctors tried to discharge me while I was still ill,”

    I had the opposite experience. After I came round from a 10-day coma I tried to get discharged and they wouldn’t let me. I suppose I could have insisted but I was pretty weak. It just shows how anecdotal experience isn’t a reliable guide to anything.

  33. CMJ
    Very interesting figures. It shows how London and the South are almost a separate country to the rest of England.

  34. CMJ

    I love your model! :-)

  35. @SHEVII

    I think that there is now a pretty sharp divide between tertiary educated young and the none tertiary educated young

    For starters they tend not to stay at home after education because of jobs and whilst in my day (1985-1989) there was not a lot of people going to tertiary education particularly at degree level now there is a much larger cohort.

    What I have said about this is essentially that what you will find is around about 50% of the under25s being involved with politics because of issue like student debt, access to housing and pensions and the postponement of family and children being key issue and those that just will carry on regardless they will be doign pay as you go jobs and living a very different life

    In the past one would argue that this is a middle class divide but I suspect it is subtly different to the old argument of class. I suspect it is a mix of regionalisation, metro versus small town situation and somethign that we see in the US where there is s stark but growing divide between flyover states and the west coast and north east cost states

    The growing divide is due to opportunity and the fact that metropolitan areas are just seen as better hubs for investment in a world where investment is rather tight and has very short RoIs

    I have often characterised this as Bristol North West versus Walsall North you are seeing a more social conservative take over on Walsall North where the young if they are successfull leave and you are left with an older less skilled workforce. Whereas bristol North West has massive gains due to Airbus and rolls royce factory in Filton and a emerging hub of accountancy and insurance offices in the centre you have a different view of the UK which is so stark it feels like you are living in a different country.

  36. @PTRP

    In your posts you are taking a particular approach to defining ordoliberalism as not just state action to ensure more market, but according to you it has also to be successful, otherwise it isn’t ordoliberalism.

    Which is no better than saying austerity didn’t happen if it didn’t work out well.

  37. @PTRP

    “My argument regarding the EU and the UK government position is that when ever there has been a conflict between a lower level state actor and the EC the UK government has sided with the EC indeed whenever they UK has acted against any form of intervention with British Steel even when offered tariff on Chinese steel dumping. So despite Bolkenstien which has been watered down already by french intervention EC ordoliberalisation is not there to protect any one party but to enhance fair play”


    Yes exactly, their definition of “fair play” is to reduce state involvement, even if it works out bad for consumers.

    And with TTIP they wanted more of this “fair play” by allowing business to sue the state over it.

  38. @PTRP

    “Yes it is state action but is it ordoliberalism….Are you are arguing that all state action is ordoliberalism? if you are that is where I say you are talking rubbish.”


    Of course I’m not. If the state nationalised something for example, that might not be very ordoliberal!

  39. Electoral Calculus still has that ridiculous “prediction” for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath that no one will vote for Hanvey (ex SNP candidate – now standing as an Independent) since his predicted votes aren’t transferred to “Other”.

    Meanwhile in Aberdeen North, the Tory is still predicted to get the appropriate vote share, as is the SLab one in Falkirk.

    A shoddy bit of work, that should have been corrected by now.

  40. @PTRP

    “So you pointed out that state action allows for privatisation but then ne0liberalism just slips in and takes over?”


    Well yes, that can happen because we have a more Anglo-Saxon economic approach than the EU.

    So state action selling stuff off to have more market is ordoliberal, but failing to regulate to stop oligopolies is perhaps more n30lib.

  41. Quick update on the prediction competion… using the latest Electoral Calculus prediction, the top 5 are now:

    1 – TrigGuy
    2= Hireton / RedRich
    3 – Millie
    5= OldNat / TonyBTG

  42. mog

    Did I misunderstand the rules? I thought we were predicting the election results, not forecasting poll results (?)

  43. @PTRP

    ”My point is your argument is essentially ordoliberalism is bad because it is market based, I pointed out that the UK is not doing the EU style ordoliberalism on two counts where it is starting from and where it is going to.”


    No, I am not saying it is inevitably bad because market-based. I’m not passing much judgement on whether it’s bad, some times it will work better than others, and I know the UK version differs in some way from the EU. this doesn’t invalidate my argument.

    All I did was point out a few things that some different flavours of liberalism tend to have in common. Obviously there will be differences too, and in terms of execution, but this doesn’t suddenly vanish the similarities.

    You can point to many more differences and the similarities will remain.

  44. MOG

    I’m still hoping to be outdone by you on my SNP prediction, though.

    CMJ is on your side!

  45. CMJ:

    Could please add in your predictions for the seats missed, e.g. WAK and 1/2 others.

    To have Banff & Buchan going SNP suggests a major revolution in the NE.

  46. @ PTRP

    I always enjoy reading your posts- mainly because they step a little way out of the immediate political to and fro and see the big picture more clearly. Pretty much agree with you, although have some reservations about the “social conservative” definition for the towns.

    A lot of this appears that way not so much because people are voting Tory as not voting at all. One of things you didn’t touch on is this disinterest in politics in many of the left behind areas. If there is to be a Tory gain in Grimsby then a lot of that will be due to natural Labour supporters not voting and not having any interest in voting. I think I flagged this up before with 1992 Grimsby being 2% below national average turnout. By 2010 this had risen to 11% I believe.

    I don’t know if Labour is to blame for this or if there is little they can do about it and it is just a social trend where politics doesn’t gain traction in what you rightly highlight being the “pay as you go” economy.

  47. @ OldNat

    They have Wrexham as a fairly easy hold for Labour but today’s Survation poll suggests otherwise.

  48. @CMJ

    Ouch! Lab down to 217.

    I’m wondering whether at the last some Red Wall voters will decide at the last minute that they just can’t bring themselves to vote Conservative. Just as some voters decided at the last minute in 1992 that they couldn’t vote for Kinnock, and in 2015 that they couldn’t vote for Miliband. In YouGov’s MRP poll last week they found that many of Red Wall seats were very tight. Could hesitation cost the Tories an overall majority?

  49. Bantams

    My complaint about EC isn’t that they may predict wrongly, but that an obvious bit of incompetence hasn’t been corrected.


    Yes, you can have varying motivations for free schools, and some might be preferable to others. The same can be said of different approaches toward them.

    How you ensure you get more of the good stuff is non-trivial, not least because there can be quite a lot of disagreement on the matter. (And a lot of the “experts” with the ear of the politicians aren’t necessarily as clued up as they might think).

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