Archive for May, 2011

Can the UK Greens win any more seats?

Posted in Climate Sock, Politics on May 30th, 2011 by leo – Comments Off on Can the UK Greens win any more seats?

Now electoral reform for the Commons has been defeated, First Past the Post (FPTP) is with us for the foreseeable future. I was never convinced that Alternative Vote (AV) would be a game changer for smaller parties, but the current system is particularly bad for them.

There’s no doubt that FPTP exaggerates results. Below a certain share of the national vote, parties get fewer seats than they would under a proportional system. Above that level, they get more.

Yet the Greens do have one MP, and they are in fact less hard done by under FPTP than the other UK-wide parties of similar size: UKIP and the BNP.

In the 2010 election, the Greens nationally won 286k votes (1.0%); UKIP won 920k (3.1%); and the BNP 564k (1.9%). Yet of the three, only the Greens won a seat.

So, why was this the case, and what are the Greens’ prospects under FPTP?

To win a seat in a multi-way marginal, a party typically needs at least 30%. Caroline Lucas won Brighton Pavilion with 31%; the next target for the Greens, Norwich South, was won by the Lib Dems with 29%.

Yet, with a lower national share than UKIP and the BNP, explanation is needed for why the Greens were able to mobilise 31% in a particular constituency, while the others were not able to do so.

At least part of the answer is suggested by the huge poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft, in particular the question on how likely respondents are to vote for various parties, on a 10-point scale.

The proportions who say they are extremely likely (let’s say 9 or 10) to vote for each of the three small parties is roughly what we’d expect: small, and similar to one another.

But the differences are very interesting when we look lower down the scale:

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One poll, two stories

Posted in Climate Sock, Media on May 14th, 2011 by leo – 8 Comments

Climate change ‘more important than immigration’

Climate change should be a higher priority for the government than immigration, according to findings of a new poll revealed exclusively in Climate Sock. The results will delight environmental campaigners, who have long been calling for climate change to be taken more seriously as a political issue.

According to the poll, 46% more people think that climate change is an important issue in their life than say the same about immigration or asylum. The results will put pressure on the government, which was criticised last week by environmental leaders, who said it was failing to live up to its pledge to be the “greenest government ever”.

The findings will also put an end to doubts about the public’s trust in the work of climate scientists. Following the 2009 hacking and release online of emails from the world-leading Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, there was widespread speculation that public opinion was increasingly turning against the view that climate change was caused by human activity.

Any doubts now appear to have been overcome, with three in four of those surveyed by Ipsos MORI saying that they think human activity has a significant effect on the climate.

Welcoming the results, Eddard Stark, head of the environmental charity Climate Campaigners, said “The government can no longer hide behind the myth that the public have higher priorities. These results send a clear message: the country wants action to stop climate change, and it wants it now”.


Global warming? Bring it on!


Brits are looking forward to the effects of global warming, according to findings of a new poll revealed exclusively in Climate Sock. The results will delight observers who have long argued that environmental pressure groups routinely exaggerate the negative side of climate change.

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