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The Missing Millions

Written By: - Date published: 11:18 am, December 12th, 2019 - 18 comments
Categories: Austerity, Bernie Sanders, Brexit, capitalism, class war, democracy under attack, Economy, elections, Europe, Free Trade, International, Jeremy Corbyn, journalism, Left, liberalism, Media, Politics, Privatisation, Propaganda, uk politics, us politics - Tags: , , ,

Not that you’d know it from reading any UK newspaper headline of late, but the polls that pop media has used to undermine UK Labour’s election prospects have a couple of glaring glitches.

As Zoe Williams reported in yesterday’s Guardian, none of the predictions flowing from any poll used in the UK incorporates the 4 million new registrations from this year. As she points out, most of those new registrations are from ‘young’ people who are far more likely to vote Labour.

That leaves four million, (registrations in 2019) the majority of whom are young. Even while various pollsters are happy to predict that they will break 2:1 Labour (which is actually quite a cautious estimate: if they’re young, they turn out and they vote tactically, the Labour share could be higher), they have so far been unwilling to build these voters into their predictions.

By my reckoning that’s about 10% of the total number of people who are eligible to vote that have been ‘blanked’ by polling companies.

Further to that, it would appear to be the case that most polls are conducted using  ‘online panels‘. I’ll leave it to others to tease out the inherent shortfalls of relying solely on that polling method.

Then there’s the small detail that Northern Ireland is omitted by all of the polling companies bar one (Survation). 18 seats are contested in Northern Ireland and without the DUP, the Tory Party could not have formed the UK government last time around.

Given all of the above, I’m almost left scratching my head as to why publication after publication has been been making robust predictions of a Tory victory and a Labour loss based on polling. And here’s the rub. I’m persuaded the predictions are driven by ideology and the polls merely offer cover for that fact.

As Jonathan Cook has written, from an elite’s perspective, Brexit is all about whether to tighten the  economic ties with a fading austerity riddled Europe, or to opt into the even less fettered capitalism of the USA. And pop media is in ideological lock step with society’s elites.

As such, the last thing they’d advocate for is a Corbyn led government that might end the days of self enrichment that  billionaires like Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar have enjoyed at the expense of society by giving British people the chance to vote for a Brexit that frees the British government from the tethers of European economic liberalism/austerity while staying socially/culturally in tune with the rest of Europe.

That’s not on. That prospect must be kept off the table. So vote Lib Dem and put a spanner in the works.

It’s true that some elites will not be happy breaking with Europe, but they’d rather salvage some opportunity to carry on with their ways by being aligned to the USA than see Corbyn ruin their ‘god given’ right to rip shit and bust at everyone elses expense.

So in conclusion (and on the basis election commentary simply isn’t aligned with reality)

Tomorrow Corbyn. Next year Sanders. And if that transpires and you think pop media has been complete arse during these days of Trump, then trust me,  you haven’t seen anything yet.


18 comments on “The Missing Millions ”

  1. mosa 1

    The amount of disinformation in this campaign is a disservice too the british voting public and will have a huge effect on how the vote will go on Thursday.

    Something we need to be aware of next year at our own general election and the subsequent campaign.


  2. adam 2

    “The objection to propaganda is not only its appeal to unreason, but still more the unfair advantage which it gives to the rich and powerful.”

    ― Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

  3. Adrian Thornton 3

    Hi Bill, good to read your thoughts on this very important election, thanks.

    "And here’s the rub. I’m persuaded the predictions are driven by ideology and the polls merely offer cover for that fact."

    That about sums up the whole election from a MSM media standpoint, infact IMO the UK election is nothing more than a straight out battle of opposing ideologies, unlike any played out in the West for a long while…hopefully we will see the same battle play out in the US with Sanders/Trump…that will really be one for the history books for sure.

    And of course, sadly, as anyone with half a operational brain could have predicted the actual disinformation smoke and mirrors operation known as Russiagate, is now being used to attack the progressive left…who would have thunk it?


    • Bill 3.1

      Thank you for the link Adrian. I'm not sure than indepth and informative commentary is appreciated much these days though. Anyway, there's a lot of names and connections in there, and it might be a bit dense for people to take in on a quick pass. So, this article by Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton covers more or less the same ground for those who'd rather read than watch.

      In the interview Max Blumenthal makes a very good point on the faux anti-Semitism being drummed up by the Israeli lobby and their fellow travelers at about 25:50 – they are weaponising Jews as a human shield to prevent progress.

      I believe Norman Finkelstein expressed similar outrage, and further, suggested that Zionists would bear the principle responsibility for any backlash against Jewish communities that might emerge from all of this bullshit.

      Jonathan Cook also makes an important contribution on that front by pointing out that Chief Rabbi Mirvis was contributing to the very antisemitism he says he wants to eradicate when he claimed Jews were fearful at the prospect of Corbyn as PM. (The entire piece is worth taking the time to read – as is the one linked to in the post)

    • Billy 3.2

      Yes, and the same funders who funded Russiagate… are funding people in NZ too, and around fake news…

      Those people are on the “left” (though they are to be discovered on the right I bet, too).

      As Adrian notes, the same tactics by the same funders are as happy using the likes of Bill Kristol as they are MoveOn, etc. The strategic priorities of these Americans might match up with the Labour-Greens this time around, but don’t expect loyalty. Also, we didn’t vote for them. Follow the money. Read the labels. Caveat emptor. Beware.

      (Btw is it possible Hooton has knowledge / connections too with these military comms / IC adjacent types? He’s often pushing Bill Kristol lines…)

  4. pat 4

    "The map below shows 50 seats where tactical voting could keep the Conservatives out. Most tactical voting websites draw on one or two sets of polling data, which risk ignoring the specific circumstances of individual constituencies. The guide draws on a wider range of information – detailed big-sample national polls, but also constituency surveys (including those reported week by week in the Observer), past election results and local activity, such as the recent student registration drives in some key seats (one is Brunel University, in Johnson’s own constituency, Uxbridge)."


    A lot is going to depend on where those 4 million new registrations reside

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    There has been a sniffy to dismissive attitude to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, from some commenters at the Standard since he first gained and then retained, the leadership against near impossible odds. I was castigated myself by several prominent posters here for supporting Corbyn’s approach.

    No better Xmas pressie than Mr Corbyn at number 10 imo. A self effacing guy, with an allotment! would be an ideal PM in my view–but hey, the reality of 30 plus years of Thatcher/Blair neo liberal hegemony is in play–aided and abetted by the 2019 tory dirty tricks media activity. Not to mention UK military figures threatening a coup if JC were ever to be elected. And the scabbies within the Labour Party too.

    It will be an “undercover” win for sure if he is in a position to form a Govt. but would it not be great? Nationalisations, and all the other policy.

    • tc 5.1

      Imagine the raging indignation from the UK MSM is he did win but like DC here in 2014 the games rigged in the incumbents favour with similar tactics.

      • Anne 5.1.1

        The Brits are a step or two ahead of the flightless kiwis who fall for every trick in the book tc. They've had a lot more centuries of experience and they take the knocks for years then boom… they fight back with every bone in their bodies. They've done it before and they will do it again.

        Fingers tightly crossed its about to happen again. The raging indignation from the ruling class, their minions and media toadies will be a joy to behold.

      • greywarshark 5.1.2

        Comment on other Brexit post from a Dutch chap returning home – carried over.

        https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/how-i-learnt-to-loathe-england 6/10/2017

        The worrying conditions that gave rise to the result—the class divide and the class fixation, as well as an unhinged press, combine to produce a national psychology that makes Britain a country you simply don’t want in your club….

  6. Billy 6

    Hitler! lol

  7. Glenn 7

    Tactical voting is the key

  8. UncookedSelachimorpha 8

    Great article from the analyst from Stats for Lefties (which has a bunch more great analysis).

    In 2017, between the date that parliament voted for an election (19 April) and the final date of being able to register to vote (22 May), 1.9 million people aged under 35 registered to vote; over the same time period in 2019, 2.7 million people younger than 35 registered to vote – a 40% increase. Among voters younger than 25, registration rose by an even greater margin, increasing from 993,321 in 2017 to 1.5 million in 2019 – an increase of 47%.

    There is hope, but the cake is now in the oven….will it rise??

  9. swordfish 9

    As Zoe Williams reported in yesterday’s Guardian, none of the predictions flowing from any poll used in the UK incorporates the 4 million new registrations from this year. As she points out, most of those new registrations are from ‘young’ people who are far more likely to vote Labour.

    That leaves four million, (registrations in 2019) the majority of whom are young. Even while various pollsters are happy to predict that they will break 2:1 Labour (which is actually quite a cautious estimate: if they’re young, they turn out and they vote tactically, the Labour share could be higher), they have so far been unwilling to build these voters into their predictions.

    By my reckoning that’s about 10% of the total number of people who are eligible to vote that have been ‘blanked’ by polling companies."

    Be nice to think so … but I strongly suspect Zoe is catering to those clutching at straws, Labour having proven unable to narrow the Tory lead over the final week to the extent that supporters would've liked.

    I think she's probably wrong for the following reasons:

    (1) She is clearly influenced by the widely-held assumption that a similar Youthquake occurred in 2017. The most authoritative research (by the British Election Study & separately by a few other academics) suggests this was largely a myth … essentially Tremors, yes, but no Youthquake (although the concept still remains popular with one or two Political Sociologists).

    (2) My understanding is that Pollsters naturally incorporate newly-registered voters, (in the correct proportion) as they do everyone else, in their samples (& hence in their % & seat predictions).

    And – in contrast to 2017, when they were aggressively down-weighting younger voters – almost all UK Pollsters are currently basing their turnout models on respondents self-reported likelihood of voting. Hence, any assumed lower turnout by younger age-groups will be down to a larger proportion of young respondents telling pollsters they're less likely to vote than people in older age groups.

    YouGov's MRP model (highly successful in its predictions at the 2017 GE) … and specifically its Population Model from which all else flows …would certainly incorporate newly-registered voters … it's extremely nuanced and takes all available up-to-date demographic info into consideration on a day-to-day basis.

    (3) Zoe has probably exaggerated the number of new registrations: Chaminda Jayanetti has analysed newly-registered voters across a large number of constituencies (519) in recent days and suggests a much more modest increase – certainly nowhere near 4 million. He has registration in these seats up just 1.7% (in the context of 1.2% population growth since the 2017 GE).

    (4) Jayanetti certainly argues that newly-registered voters could play a key role in the outcome of up to 20-30 marginals.

    But he emphasises that the data compiled from 519 constituencies across the UK, including most battleground constituencies, shows the largest increases in registered voters are generally not located where Labour needs them most – ie in its Red Wall of Northern & Midlands Leave-voting Marginals. The greatest rises tend to be in Metro & student-heavy seats, many of them Labour strongholds & near-strongholds.

    Of the 26 most marginal (read: absolute knife-edge) seats in the latest YouGov MRP model predictions … only 9 (according to Jayanetti's detailed analysis) have experienced the sort of mild-to-significant increases in new registrations that could prove decisive. And of the 41 next-most-marginal, just 1 is showing the sort of substantial rise needed to play a crucial role.

    What's more, a lot of marginals have actually experienced a fall in registered voters. For example, all 4 of the Labour-held marginals in West Yorkshire (each of them a key Tory target) have registered a decline.

    Jayanetti also argues that in some of the knife-edge marginals where registration has increased – a good deal of that may be a corollary of new large-scale housing developments that might not necessarily be Labour-friendly (eg Dennis Skinner's Bolsolver).

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 9.1

      Thanks Swordfish. You are probably the voice of reason – unfortunately!

      Only a few hours more and we will be looking at results instead of predictions.

    • swordfish 9.2

      The other thing to keep in mind: … if there is, indeed, a Youthquake today … it wouldn't have the same impact as it would in 2017 (vis-a-vis a dramatic difference between the Election result vs final Poll predictions) … because Pollsters are no longer aggressively weighting-down younger voters.

      Bear in mind too that 2017 was an anomaly … historically when UK Pollsters have got it wrong it's because they've tended to over-state Labour support … & we can't entirely rule that out happening today.

      Rather than yearning for a Youthquake to save them, Labour's hopes might be better focussed on:

      – Further squeezing the Lib Dem Remainer vote (Lord Ashcroft polling suggests two-thirds of Lib Dems prefer a Corbyn-Labour Govt to a Boris-Tory one … and other recent polling data suggests about one third of Lib Dems are waverers, with Labour the most likely beneficiary). Not easy, though, … despite all the analysis & exhortations over recent weeks … the Brits have never been particularly given to strategic voting.

      – A just-published analysis of 2018 / 2019 Local Election results as a predictive tool for this GE suggests the Tories may struggle to obtain an outright majority (important because the same Forecasting Model based on 2014 / 15 Local Election results was much more accurate in predicting the 2015 GE result than most opinion polls)

      Overall though … the odds continue to lean Boris's way.

      I'd say Likelihood:

      Small Tory majority: 50%

      Larger Tory majority: 30%

      Hung Parliament: 20%

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