Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Another Lib Dem leaflet

Like every politico, I do love a good Lib Dem leaflet. They never fail to disappoint, and their most recent one is no exception.

I got the "Edinburgh North & Leith Liberal Democrats Resident's Survey" through my door the other night. (Un)fortunately I was out training when their Westminster candidate, Kevin Lang, delivered the leaflet himself.

I do note that, despite the mess of Edinburgh's streets at the moment as a result of a dispute between the unions and the Lib Dem-led Edinburgh Council, there is no question on the survey regarding refuse collection.

However, I digress. It is a cracking effort at a textbook Lib Dem leaflet though. Rogue capitals, a couple of candidates featured that aren't standing in your area and, inevitably, the dodgy bar chart. Let's look at the graph, shall we?

Mmmhmm. I see what we're looking at here. 2005 UK General Election result in Edinburgh North and Leith (with slightly skewed positions on the chart I think). I guess that's a fair comparison - same boundary, same-ish population. But 4 years ago? Surely there are some more recent numbers we can look at?

Ah yes, the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election. We're working with a fairly similar boundary here (with a couple of minor changes) and obviously electing to a different parliament, but you'd expect that would give a decent barometer of support for different parties in the constituency. This was the result:

Labour 35%
Lib Dem 27%
SNP 25%
Con 13%

I see why we're not using that result - the Lib Dems have dropped a couple of points from the UK election result while the SNP more than doubled their vote share in, granted, what was an exceptional election for them.

But what's that you say? There was another election in Edinburgh North and Leith this year? Just 2 months ago? Oh yes, the European Parliament election. I seem to remember George Lyon's leaflet telling me that "Only the Lib Dems could win here," despite the whole of Scotland being a single constituency for that election! Anyway, the results in Edinburgh were broken down by constituency, so we know the result in North & Leith. And here it is:

SNP (4965) 20.5%
Labour (4324) 17.9%
Lib Dem (4201) 17.4%
Con (4199) 17.4%
Green (4014) 16.6%

Ah yes... again, I see why we're ignoring the most recent poll figure for the constituency. The Lib Dems poll figured has fallen by 10%, and they were THREE VOTES away from slipping behind the Conservatives in the constituency. And with the Greens on the march, they've almost made it a five-way marginal (with the usual caveats about European elections, PR and turnout of course).

So there were go. "It's a two horse race here in Edinburgh North and Leith." Well, if it is, the Lib Dems probably aren't one of the horses...


Stuart Winton 5 August 2009 at 10:39  

And it's intriguing that there's only 4% between the best and worst vote in a five party split - clearly there's still all to play for and it's a five-horse race ;0)

Malc 5 August 2009 at 11:04  

With caveats (ie, turnout, the fact it was a PR election, the fact it was a European election, the ranking as a third-order election) yes.

But its a cunning Lib Dem trick!

Jeff 5 August 2009 at 23:38  

As much as fun as it is bashing the Lib Dems, if they had put Scottish Parliament or Euro poll figures on a Westminster leaflet they'd get pelters even more so.

They do need to recalibrate their bar charts though, shameless stuff.

I do like the photos of Kevin Lang gormlessly pointing at rubbish or graffiti in the area.

If he wins, I'm moving house....

Unknown 6 August 2009 at 09:09  

If Kevin Lang wins, you'd do well to stay where you are, Jeff. I have known him well for a long time now - in fact, I was slating him the other night for daring to turn 30 because it makes me feel old as I first knew him when he was a student.

Anyway, the point of that is to say that he's one of the most hard working, energetic people I've ever met and North and Leith and he would work so hard for the area. The fact that both you and Malc spend so much time whinging about how many leaflets you get from surely proves my point:-)

And, Jeff, you made the point I would have done about what would be said if we'd used a different election result on a Westminster election based leaflet.

Let's have a wee comparison of the performance of the Lib Dems and the SNP in North and Leith over the past 10 years. While the SNP hasn't even regained its 1999 position (which, if you remember, was an election it didn't do that well in) by 2007 (which, if you remember, was an election it won), the Lib Dems came from 11% and 4th place in 1999 to 27% in 2007. In an election we didn't do as well in as we'd hoped, Mike Crockart, whose campaign had been masterminded by Kevin Lang, saw a 10.4% increase in the Lib Dem vote.

To me that clearly shows that the Lib Dems are the main challenger to Labour in Edinburgh North and Leith.

Nich Starling 6 August 2009 at 10:02  

And which election is next ? Westminster or Scottish parliament ? Knowing (surely you know) that results vary greatly from Scottish parliamentary elections to Westminster elections (just look at Aberdeen South or Inverness East) there is nothing wrong with showing the graph for the next election ?

Malc 6 August 2009 at 10:50  

Caron & Norfolk Blogger,

I do indeed accept that people vote differently in different elections. I've studied enough Scottish (and indeed, other) elections to know that. And "regionalist" parties (in academic terms) tend to do better in "regional" elections - such as the SNP in Holyrood.

I was merely pointing out that, in the two more recent canvasses of opinion in the constituency, the Lib Dems have not fared quite so well and, indeed, that their claim to be the "only party that can beat Labour here" may not be quite as true as they would like voters to believe.

PS - Caron, the SNP did pretty well in 1999 - they won 35 seats, only 12 less than in 2007. Granted most of them were regional MSPs, but still.

Unknown 7 August 2009 at 21:42  

The SNP were very disappointed not to do better in 1999 - but even so, they still didn't regain their 1999 vote in 2007 in Edinburgh North and Leith.

Jim Finnie said ... 31 August 2009 at 17:37  

Great post Malc - Im so sick of the ridiculous number of daft Lib Dem leaflets I get in Glasgow North plastered with the image of Katy Gordon making tea to crossing the road! The claims for the forth coming election are amazing, again based on the 2005 result in bar chart form off course. They are so misleading and frankly dishonest when there are good result breakdowns for Glasgow North from Holyrood 2007 and Euro 2009 which show that the election is a straight fight between Ann McKechin and Patrick Grady. Katy's great and she deserves more , but its just not going to happen.

rullko 18 January 2010 at 10:27  

Must be a heavy burden to bear, living in a multiple-horse constituency such as EN&L. My seat has been Labour since Noah was a boy and will still be when the sun goes into supernova, so I'm freed from all electoral responsibility.

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