UK Elections

More on Question Time

Running against time today, so this is going to be a quick post. I just wanted to refer you to this post, which is an excellent summary of last night's Question Time, this is being talked of in many places.

In addition, there's a post from a couple of days ago to help people who are confused about how to vote, though some conclusions are dodgy here. In my constituency it is a LD/Tory race, so if all you want to do is diminish labour, then one should vote one's conscience!

There is always the 'who should I vote for' quiz, which I mentioned here.

Question Time

Blair didn't look happy - and let's face it, he didn't look dry. That man could sweat! One question I would have liked to have seen (apart from the obvious one on electoral reform) was 'Why is this your first appearance on this show for four years?'

I loved the final question from Dimbleby...

Of the three leaders, Blair had the roughest ride. Howard and Kennedy both had tough questions, and both handled them fairly well. Blair looked rattled.

If this was a US style debate, I think the voxpops would now be saying 'Blair lost'.

Lib Dems Party Political 3

I happened across another Party Political last night. This one was for the Liberal Democrats. That makes the third for the Lib Dems that I've seen. I really do think that this was a mistake for the Lib Dems. It was a biography of Charles Kennedy, narrated by Sandi Toksvig. Looking back at the career of Kennedy, commenting that he once had more hair.

If you voted your conscience....It did make some good points, mentioning Iraq, education and so on - but the style of the thing was cringeworthy... and just as it made a few points the 'happy families' card was played.

The thing finished with the map turning completely yellow. This would have been more effective if they'd have used the 'If you thought they could win, would you vote Lib Dem?' map - the map going completely yellow would have produced a response of 'unbelievable' in many people.

First Gordon and Tony in soft focus 'Women in Love'-style, now 'Charles Kennedy: The Biography'. Next are we to see Michael Howard skipping through the daisies on a bright spring morning toward a new future?

As an aside, I watched 'Election Unspun' last night. Very good programme, and very depressing. It looked at how close all the politicians were, how hard it was to differentiate many of their policies, and why this was. It also looked at why many of us in safe seats haven't seen a politician at all, and some areas can't move for them (the marginals).

It looked at some new software which allows politicians of all parties to make best guesses about how you'll vote and to identify the floating voters, enabling them to cater their policies for them...

I am, if anything, more convinced that the country needs electoral reform, with AV+ the parties will not be able to concentrate on that narrow section of floaters.

Second Round of Party Politicals

To be honest, I hadn't noticed the second round of Party Politicals on the TV (and if I've missed the Labour or Conservative broadcasts, please let me know). The Lib Dems second broadcast is a little more sharp than the first. It begins by pointing out problems with the policies of both Labour and Tory, then goes on to present the LD view on various issues.

In my view, this worked much better than the previous offering as a party political. Yes, it had a bit of negative campaigning to it, but this was balanced with the positive.

UK Elect

Detailed forecasting and 'What if?' scenarios are available at the UK Elect website for the UK General Election:

The what if scenarios linked to on the homepage are:

  1. "What if the Tories overtook Labour in votes?" (answer, Labour win)
  2. "What if the Liberal Democrat vote surged?" (answer: Labour win)
  3. "What if the Labour vote slumped?" (answer: No Overall Control, Labour largest share)
  4. "What if the Tories reach 40%?" (answer: No Overall Control, Labour largest share)
  5. "What if Tactical Voting explodes?" (answer: Labour win)
  6. "What if main Parties get equal votes?" (answer: Labour win)

These back up the BBC seat calculator, giving lie to claims of 'Vote Lib Dem, get Conservative', especially "What if the Liberal Democrat vote surged?".

Findings like this frees up disgruntled voters, worried about a Tory government, to make their protest heard. This really does look like a 'no lose' situation for Labour, and their protestations seem to be because they want another (unhealthy) 3 figure majority.

This book looks like a good history of the Uk voting system: From Votes to Seats

Conservative Election Broadcast

The Conservative party political was transmitted tonight. The Labour Party Political and Liberal Democrat Party Political have previously been transmitted. The general comments on the production values was that it seemed a lot more polished than both Labour and Lib Dems. Labour had polished theirs, but in such a way that it gave rise to thoughts of the film 'Women in Love' - not what was needed for a Party Political.

The music on the conservative broadcast jarred, it had a twinge of 'wannabefunky' about it.

There were a huge number of voxpops.... the messages were essentially the same as has been put out on the posters. Immigration, cleaner hospitals and so on. Almost word for word the same - this wasn't voxpops from people in the street.

It was noticeable that the entire thing was bracketted with immigration, the first, and last message was immigration.

So far, I don't think any of the broadcasts would persuade anyone who wasn't already persuaded.

Worried about protest voting?

Are you a labour supporter wanting to protest vote? In the light of various politicos saying 'a vote for Lib Dem could let the Tories in by the back door', it could be a good idea to look at the stats. Have a look at these statistics. Assuming that the lib dems improve their performance from 2001 and get a 22% share of the vote (from around 18%), then labour still get a majority even if the Tories lead by 7%!

Any swing from Labour to Lib Dem, without a corresponding swing to the Tories does not give rise to a Tory Victory.

You may wish to look around the backing blair site, to read the balance of comment here (not just the article) and also consider why a promise from 1997 was not kept.

BBC seat predictor

A response from the BBC:

We are sorry you feel the application is deficient by not having a section for calculating seats in England.

For budgetary and technical reasons we had to keep the number of options on the seat calculator to a minimum and, as in other areas of our election and general political coverage, decided to give priority to parts of the UK with a representative institution - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and of course the whole of the UK.

However, we have already decided we need to review this decision should we use the seat calculator again, and views like your own will be taken into account in that review.

Labour Party Cyber Squatting

An aquaintance put this my way, it's a fairly old story, but new to me. As they put it so eloquently: Let's face it, all national political parties are lying backstabbing scum..

> whois michaelhowardmp.org.uk

 Domain Name:
michaelhowardmp.org.uk

Registrant:
The Labour Party

Registrant's Address:
16 Old Queen Street
London
UK
SW1H 9HP
GB

Registrant's Agent:
Pipex Communications Hosting Ltd [Tag = HOSTEUROPE]
URL: http://www.123-reg.co.uk

Relevant Dates:
Registered on: 06-May-2004
Renewal Date: 06-May-2006

Registration Status:
Registered until renewal date.

Name servers listed in order:
ns.hosteurope.com 212.67.202.2
ns2.hosteurope.com 212.67.203.246

WHOIS database last updated at 11:35:00 15-Apr-2005

Similarly:

> whois MICHAELHOWARDMP.ORG

Domain ID:D104312401-LROR
Domain Name:MICHAELHOWARDMP.ORG
Created On:06-May-2004 11:06:09 UTC
Last Updated On:16-Nov-2004 19:43:58 UTC
Expiration Date:06-May-2006 11:06:09 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Tucows Inc. (R11-LROR)
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:tuvJL1HvdWCVk1uu
Registrant Name:Kate McCarthy
Registrant Organization:The Labour Party
Registrant Street1:16 Old Queen Street
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:London
Registrant State/Province:UK
Registrant Postal Code:SW1H9HP
Registrant Country:GB
Registrant Phone:+44.2078021205
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:kate_mccarthy@new.labour.org.uk
Admin ID:tuvJL1HvdWCVk1uu
Admin Name:Kate McCarthy
Admin Organization:The Labour Party
Admin Street1:16 Old Queen Street
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:London
Admin State/Province:UK
Admin Postal Code:SW1H9HP
Admin Country:GB
Admin Phone:+44.2078021205
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:kate_mccarthy@new.labour.org.uk
Tech ID:tumI6v3LKN0SdppO
Tech Name:Host Europe Technical
Tech Organization:Host Europe Internet Ltd
Tech Street1:Portland Street
Tech Street2:Beeston
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Nottingham
Tech State/Province:Nottinghamshire
Tech Postal Code:NG92LP
Tech Country:GB
Tech Phone:+44.1159170000
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:+44.1158770213
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:webmaster@hosteurope.com
Name Server:NS.HOSTEUROPE.COM
Name Server:NS2.HOSTEUROPE.COM

Other domains are registered, but don't reveal too much.

Regardless of what one thinks of the various parties, assuming the registration details are accurate then this surely must come into the realm of 'dirty tricks'.

Liberal Democrat Party Political

The Liberal Democrat party political was tonight. Labour was the day before yesterday. The thing starts with gentle, soothing music and a map. It's Charles Kennedy standing on the map doing his 'Fred the Weatherman' (but without the streaker).

He makes the point about the differences between Scotland and England (but not that Scotland has its own executive and England does not). Instead he points out that the Liberal Democrats form part of the Scottish Government.

There are lots of voxpops. I hope for the lib-dems own sake that these are genuine people from the street and not party activists.

The general impression was one which was a little cheesy, it didn't spend it's time attacking the other parties directly (that's two out of three so far) and was pretty positive. Of course, it was all for making its attacks indirectly (the reference to Tories having no seats in many cities, and Brent East).

The yellow floaty exclamation marks/arrow things were a little OTT for my taste.

It was stage managed, of course - but didn't hide this in quite the same way that the labour one tried to do with its forced informality, as such it didn't annoy.

As these things go, not a bad job.

Who should YOU vote for?

There is a quiz at 'Who should you vote for' which asks questions on a range of issues, and matches you up with the political party that best represents your views. When I did it, it was broadly correct, though there were anomalies.

It claims to be independent, but you should make that judgement for yourself.

They refuse to comment on various aspects of the parties, and also refuse to comment on this site.

Labour Party political

For those who didn't see it on TV, you can be patronised all over again. Be Amazed! At Blair's rapidly appearing and disappearing tie.

Be Offended! At being called 'Human Capital'

Be Disoriented! By the dodgy 'fly on the wall' camerawork.

Call Dr. Who! For the conversation continuing with the magically changing scenery.

Give an Oscar! For the chummy overacting.

Let's see what the Tories and Lib Dems come up with.

I'd like to see this on our screens.

Labour Party Political

I've just seen my first party political of this election. It was for the Labour Party. The general response was vom!

It was Tony and Gordon, sitting having a quiet chat, reflecting on the past, looking to the future (conveniently setting aside issues such as War and Civil Liberties).

Setting the message itself to one side, the thing felt like a cynical construction (it's a party political, what else could it be?)

The camerawork was moving in and out of focus, zooming in on Tony's face, Gordon hesitating over his words... and then cutting to them having exactly the same conversation in another venue, then cutting back. In essence, it was trying to look 'ad hoc', focussing on the water bottle, finding the frame and so on - but it was too overproduced for this to 'fit'.

There was lots of soft focus, a piece of elevator music going over the top, very fluffy and soporific.

Prediction: When (if) I see a Tory Party political, I expect it to be full of deep orchestral doomladen tones, very little soft focus, lots of hard cuts and possible use of black and white.

I nearly forgot, thanks to artela for reminding me. Human Capital - Blair sees us all as Human Capital.... grrrr....

Internet Campaigns

I thought I'd go to each of the main party websites and look at the campaigns which they're running.

The methodology was to search the homepage, and when searchboxes were available I would use them to try and find the pages. If I've missed a campaign I will be happy to correct this situation. I've tried to be as even handed as possible and include all the major parties for Westminster.

Liberal Democrats:

Lib Dems BirdThe Lib Dems currently have three campaigns

The first is showing Tony Blair and George W. Bush in a romantic dance, with the caption 'let's dance to another tune'.

This campaign comes in two varieties, there is the large box and then there is the traditional banner.

Their next ad talks about the run up to may, and asks directly for donations to 'make it a fair fight'.

Like their other campaign this one comes in two varieties, there is the large box and then there is the traditional banner.

The third campaign is a rotating button, it's small and always links to the most prominent campaign of the moment.

Of the three campaigns, this is probably the one which seems to be the best, as it's not as intrusive and so much more likely to be used. It's not the 'most obvious', but being too obvious would reduce takeup.

Liberal Democrat ButtonI am also aware of unofficial campaigns here. These include simple icons (if you can call these a 'campaign' - I don't, I call them links!)

I'm voting Lib Dem this timeThere is Lib Dem This Time, which is a touch more organised.

Labour

Labour has an 'action centre' (sounds like something from Captain Scarlett to me!)

They don't seem to have any online campaigns which provide easy links for websites, I even looked in the 'Make a Difference' page.

Of course, there may be something behind the Members Login.

As for unofficial campaigns, there is 'Backing Blair'. It's dubious whether this is a supporting campaign or not, given that the mandate is 'Labour In, Blair Out', but we'll have to leave that to the reader to judge.

The Conservatives

The Conservatives website does have a series of options which present themselves, as well as a 'party toolbar' (which I'm not going to install even in the interests of research).

The Tories have quite discrete buttons and they should see a reasonable uptake as a result.

The Conservative Party WebsiteThe Conservative Party Website

I am not aware of any unofficial campaigns which reference the Tories.

Unofficial Campaigns

Obviously, I will not be able to keep up to date with all the unofficial campaigns out there... or even all the official ones. If there are errors and omissions, please post a factual comment on the site.

Party Leaders on Question Time

BBC Election BusSo, the three party leaders are to go live, one after the other, on 'Question Time', bring grilled by members of the public. The public interaction is much better than the US presidential debates, which are so stage managed it's unbelievable. Question time has a good history of party leaders being thrown curveballs by the general public, and the public has a good history of throwing them.

From Margaret Thatcher's 'Belgrano' to Tony Blair's 'handbagging', this could shape up to be a good spectacle.

I hope that one of the first questions asked of each politician is 'So, why no head to head debate, are you scared?' That would make for some interesting squirming from some parties.

Having said that, I would not want a US-style debate. It's much too controlled.

With the public asking the questions, it doesn't eliminate the stage managed aspect (which dominated the US 'debates'), but it does reduce it markedly. We see precious little of the leaders defending their positions, and if they don't get put on the spot by the public at election time then it is never going to happen.

I'd like to see a second question time, with Dimbleby moderating, and all the leaders on stage at once. THAT would be a sight to see.

Election to be Declared?

BBC Election BusFor people outside the UK, we have a bizarre system where the UK election date is at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. They have up to five years in power before an election must be called, though they tend to call an election after four years. This is partially because they're expected to, if they waited five years they would have a year of campaigning from the opposition who expected four years. It's partially to give themselves flexibility and choice (who knows what set of circumstances may play against them if they don't get to choose).

As there are local elections in May, Tony Blair is expected to put the general election on the same date, after all, people can't be expected to take 20 minutes out of their day twice, can they?

Given the expected date in May, Parliament must be dissolved by Monday. Blair was expected to announce the election yesterday, but did not 'due to the death of the Pope'. Therefore he is expected to announce today. Given that the Pope's funeral is Friday, it'd be 'unseemly' for the real campaign to start before then, and as the royal wedding is postponed until saturday the phoney campaign will probably continue until Monday 11th. Fun.

Once the election is declared, several rules come into play for political blogs.

  1. That coverage of an individual constituency race must be broadly balanced over an aggregate period of time.
  2. That any expenditure *at all* on the part of any person, whether involved in a candidacy or not, must be declared as an election expense by one of the candidates - if that expenditure has the intended effect of persuading the outcome of a constituency race.
  3. That the old requirement -- that you should, when referring to a story in a particular parliamentary consitituency, list all the other candidates not mentioned in the main piece -- has been relaxed. But how that's likely to be interpreted when there's no incremental cost at all of complying with the older regulation remains to be seen.
  4. That while parliament is dissolved you may not refer to yourself as a Member of Parliament.

For candidate blogs, this is pretty clear: if you've got 'mp' in your URL, you have to shut it down during the campaign.

'Broadly Balanced', I assume means that one fairly presents the views of the various parties.

I don't know quite how I'll be handling things, especially given that this is primarily a personal blog - and one of the things that interests me is politics. I'll just have to do my best. I wonder how soon a full list of candidates is available, and where one obtains them from?

As far as costs for this site, the domain has is paid up for the next decade or so, and the costs of the site are a fixed monthly sub which is paid automagically whether an election is called or not.