» ukip ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Have England’s universities been privatised by stealth? – How fees have radically changed higher education.
Some Thoughts On Online Voting – Why introducing it would bring in a whole load of new security concerns.
Iran: The Ayatollah succession question – A report from Open Briefing that explains a very different political culture very well.
Modern money and the escape from austerity – Does modern money theory offer us a completely different way of running the economy?
Square this circle: Common sense, UKIP and the decline of deference – “Things like this make me not envy politicians. How do you make policy when you have to appeal people who think 15% of girl’s under 16 are pregnant, but which has to be implemented by people who know it’s nonsense?”

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The World Is Squared – Episode 3: The Greek Calends – If you’ve not been following Daniel Davies’ round-the-world dispatches for Crooked Timber, you should be. This is the latest one.
Why I HATE Malala Yousafzai – No, it’s not the predictable contrarian backlash, but a much more interesting set of points.
You Just Can’t Pander Enough – “the only time that we’re ever lectured about how we must all indulge the “concerns” of parts of the electorate, is when chunks of it are all het-up with cretinous right-wing dickishness.”
Labour and immigration: Whatever the truth – Line by line refutation of Simon Danczuk’s nonsense about immigration.
Conservative Party Conference: a golden age for the golden years – Brilliant piece by Peter Kellner showing just how much his generation have got for free, and how much they’ve stopped others getting the same.

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Officials count ballot papers in WitneyA couple of months ago, I wrote:

It seems that UKIP are very good at getting out the vote, but they’ll need to broaden the number of people willing to vote for them to have a serious chance of winning a Westminster seat.

As they’ve now won a Westminster seat, let’s look at the evidence from the by-elections to see what happened.

As I said in that last post, the interesting thing to look at in the UKIP vote isn’t the share of the vote, but the share of the electorate. We spend an inordinate amount of time comparing the share of the vote in elections without pointing to the fact that we’re often looking at vastly different numbers of total votes being cast. For instance, Labour’s share of the vote went up slightly (40.1% at the 2010 general election to 40.9% on Thursday) in Heywood and Middleton, but that masks the fact that the number of votes cast for them dropped by almost 7,000 (18,499 to 11,633). In 2010, they had 23% of the electorate voting for them, last Thursday just 14.7% did.

UKIP’s share of the electorate in Heywood and Middleton was 13.9% – slightly ahead of how they did in Newark, but behind their previous high-water mark of 14.7% in Eastleigh. It’s now at third place overall for them though, because of the Clacton result. Douglas Carswell not only got well over 50% of the vote, he got the support of 30.4% of the electorate. In contrast to Labour in Heywood and Middleton, he was only around 1,700 votes short of the total he received in 2010 (22,867 to 21,113). In percentage terms, his vote on Thursday was 92.3% of his 2010 total, Labour’s in Heywood and Middleton was 62.9%.

So, Heywood and Middleton was around the top of the range we’re currently seeing for UKIP votes, but Clacton was well off the scale. Carswell’s 30.4% was more than double the highest share of the electorate UKIP have received before (14.7% in Eastleigh) and if he can retain that share, he likely will retain the seat next May.

The question is whether UKIP can repeat this feat in other constituencies. Thanks to Ford and Goodwin’s research (if you haven’t read Revolt on the Right yet, you really should) we know that Clacton is the most demographically favourable seat for UKIP. So, we would expect the UKIP share of the electorate to be higher in Clacton than anywhere else, but the question is whether that alone would explain it.

I don’t have all Ford and Goodwin’s data to see what the difference in demographics is, and how much that might explain the change in vote. As I see it, that’s one of three factors likely to predict possible UKIP success, along with the general level of support for UKIP and local support for the candidate. The ideal way to test this would be through an experiment where we ran an election in another constituency with different demographics but with the other two variables either the same, or easily measurable. Incredibly, Mark Reckless’s defection gives us exactly the chance to do that. If UKIP support in opinion polls is about the same at the time of Rochester and Strood as it is now, and the UKIP candidate is also a sitting Conservative MP who’s defected, then the different demographics of the seats should play an important part.

Of course, this could be completely wrong, and the Clacton result might be more easily explainable because of the level of local support for Carswell rather than the local demographics. Other results still seem to be holding up the idea that UKIP have a ceiling of support amongst the electorate, though that segment of the electorate – Ford and Goodwin’s ‘left behind voters’ is heavily concentrated in Clacton. At the moment, we only have the one data point of Clacton to suggest UKIP can win a seat when the turnout gets higher, but Rochester and Strood will give us some useful extra information.

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It’s federal election time! – Probably only of interest to Lib Dems, but Jennie Rigg will be doing questions for federal committee candidates again, and wants your input on what to ask them.
Utter scumbags – “What I cannot accept, however, is the properly grotesque argument which this contemptible, reckless, immoral and intellectually bust Conservative Party is running to justify and explain its human rights plans. In Grayling’s thumping rhetoric to the grinning faithful in Birmingham, you do not see a meaningful and serious-minded parliamentary deliberation on the contested understandings of human rights, but an abject and irresponsible failure to engage in any intellectual or morally credible way with fundamental rights ideas.”
So The Lib Dems Have A Glee Club Where They Sing A Rude Song About Tony Blair – Buzzfeed are, I think, the first media outlet to actually understand Glee Club, and not use it to prove some agenda or other is correct.
In Spain, Politics via Reddit – Interesting look at the way Podemos is using the internet to transition from movement to party.
Understanding UKIP: Identity, Social Change and the Left Behind – The authors of Revolt on the Right, Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin have a new paper on UKIP’s voters and supporters.

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Scotland saw a huge turnout, but we should be sceptical of direct democracy’s ability to engage voters at the level of local politics – How the evidence shows that elected mayors and direct democracy don’t provide more engagement in local politics.
Ayn Rand’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer – “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Another dimension means an entirely different set of markets, an entirely different economic playing field. The chance to make and win our fortune in strange and exotic trading floors.”
The upas tree: the over-development of London and the under-development of Britain – A brilliant explanation of the failings of regional policy in Britain and why we need a new solution.
The Wire creator David Simon: why American politics no longer works – David Simon’s always worth reading and listening to, and his new series sounds interesting to.
In Farageland – James Meek in Thanet.

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On current trends the Green Party will have a significant, if not decisive, impact on the 2015 election – Some interesting data from the LSE’s British Politics blog.
I Was Raped At Oxford University. Police Pressured Me Into Dropping Charges – A rather shocking story.
Motorists have ruined England – and they need to pay the price – Given the current drive to make things as centred around the car as possible gets called ‘war on the motorist’, I dread to wonder what this might get called.
Can UKIP scale up? – Excellent post from Flip Chart Fairy Tales on the problems of growing a political party rapidly.
Ricky Gervais Broke My Heart – “Having once been a slightly overweight white male millionaire does not give you the insight required to speak with authority and flippancy on the complexities of body size and the effects of anti-fat stigma. Or race, or disability, or rape, for that matter. In fact, it makes you look fucking ridiculous. This just in: New Millionaire Discovers Millionaires Were Right All Along.”

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By not simply crossing the floor at Westminster to join UKIP, but resigning and calling a by-election to do it, has he now set a precedent for any other Tory MPs who want to do the same? The last MP to do that for a defection was Bruce Douglas-Mann switching from Labour to the SDP in 1982 (and he lost), and MPs who’ve done it since then haven’t followed his example.

However, if there are any other Tories thinking of doing the same (and there probably are), they’ll be watching what happens in Clacton very intently as they know that if they want to switch, they’ll face lots of questions about why they’re not calling a by-election too. Indeed, a cynic might suggest that Carswell has found a way to establish himself as UKIP’s only MP (with the resulting media profile) should he win and if no one else wants to take the same risk.

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