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Spot the Difference

John Rentoul

goem Spot the Differencegoem2 Spot the DifferenceA miscellany of polling data to think about over the summer. Michael Ashcroft’s poll of politicians’ recognition last month found that 12 per cent of people said, yes, they recognised a photograph of the Chancellor but, when asked who it was, said something other than “George Osborne”: the most common wrong answer was “Ed Miliband”.

Then another 12 per cent – although the two groups presumably overlapped – said that they recognised Ed Miliband but then identified him as someone else: usually his brother David. The totals correctly identifying Osborne and Ed Miliband were 62 per cent and 77 per cent respectively.

Finally, for those people who are for ever pointing out that David Cameron “lost” the last election, a question and a table. The question is: who is the Prime Minister? And the table, below, is of swings at each election from the previous election (it comes from a paper by David Cowling, supreme number cruncher of the BBC, to which I referred here).

The 5.1-point swing to the Tories in 2010 was the third largest swing to any party since the war. The two largest were to Labour in 1997, 10.2 (when the party was led by some vote loser, according to the some of same people who think Cameron lost in 2010), and to the Tories in 1979, 5.3 – although the swing to the Tories in 1970, 4.9, was also close.

swings Spot the Difference

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  • mightymark

    We live under a constitution that assumes majority Government and in a country that famously “does not love coalitions”. Of the years since 1945 only about 4-6 have not seen no majority in the House of Commons (my doubt being solely that I can not remember exactly when Callaghan lost his majority). If and when, as some have predicted, minority government’s and coalitions become the norm, as they were in the mid 19thC and arguably the 1920s, I shall change my mind. Until then the position remains that Cameron, in failing to win a majority, lost the 2010 election just as Wilson lost the first 1974 election. Both “did well” to become the largest party but that is not “winning”.

  • mightymark

    Delete “not” at end of line 2.

  • Junius

    You can edit your original post by logging in and selecting the edit button under the comment. Once having made your change or changes, you then save the edited version.

    This facility has enabled me to avoid numerous embarrassments after noticing howlers in my original post.

  • Pacificweather

    What are you trying to tell us John,  that it is only people in Great Britain who don’t recognise politicians?

    These are the figures for the people who do recognise politicians when they voted for members for the national parliament in General Elections:-

    The swing to the Conservatives in 2010 was 3.7%
    The swing against Labour in 2005 was 5.2%
    The swing against Labour in 2001 was 2.5%
    (the LibDems being the largest beneficiaries in both cases)
    The swing to Labour in 1997 was 8.8%
    The swing to Labour in 1992 was 3.6% ( Conservative victory)
    The swing to Labour in 1987 was 3.2% (Conservative Victory)
    The swing to the LibDems in 1983 was 11.6% (Conservative Victory)

  • Pacificweather

    Labour had already lost its majority by the time Callaghan became PM in 1976 so he did well to last until 1979. When you say majority you mean seats of course; the last electoral voting majority was the Conservatives in 1931.

    No comparisons can be made before that because we did not have universal adult suffrage as we do today.

    There is an excellent play about the period, This House, by James Graham which is worth seeing if you get the chance.

  • Mombasa69

    Spot the difference, exactly there never really is when it comes to MP’s.


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