Wednesday, May 07, 2008

BNP fools

So, I was at the count listening to the BNP counting agent recounting why he thought he "mixed race" grandson he was raising should be entitled to join the BNP, because he is culturally British - though, he said, he understood it is important to protect the species.

I really didn't want to kick off, it was a count, and I was surrounded by them, so I let it go.

Their election agent later explained the election strategy to me - they weren't standing any constituency candidates, because if Labour and Conservatives got more of those, they';d be entitled to fewer list seats.

Clearly, they don't understand the additional member system and the d'Hondt rules.

In the GLA there are 25 seats. 14 are elected in single member constituencies under First Past the Post. 11 come from the list. As you can see, there are more FPTP seats than list, so the first thing to note is that a party can win more direct seats than their proportion of votes would allow. This is especially the case considering that plurality elections allow the biggest minority to win, so, say, a vote of 26-35% could be enough to take each seat.

Labour and Tories did split the 14 seats between them, 8 and 6 with 37% & 28% respectively. (that is 32% and 24% of the seats - a subproportional tally).

The way the d'Hondt works, is you take the total number of votes cast for the list, and divide it by one plus the number of seats gained.

# Votes835,535665,443252,556203,465130,714
% Votes34.05%27.12%11.22%8.29%5.3%
# Seats118321
% Seats44%32%12%8%4%
As can be seen from this table, the parties who only received their d'Hondt votes basically got close to their proportional vote in representation (actually, the BNP are under represented, but, then, the whole problem here is one of rounding, and the rounding is only 1% in this instance.

Here's how the seats would have looked if the election had only been a d'Hondt list based one:

# Votes835,535665,443252,556203,465130,714
% Votes34.05%27.12%11.22%8.29%5.3%
# Seats118321
% Seats44%32%12%8%4%
Look familiar? d'Hondt actually favours larger parties anyway. If we exclude the 15% of votes for parties that failed to get representation (i.e. only take our percentages from effective votes) we get the following table:

# Votes835,535665,443252,556203,465130,714
% Votes40.02%31.87%12.10%9.75%6.26%
# Seats118321
% Seats44%32%12%8%4%
Which is, in effect, the percentages if these had been the only parties standing and voted for.

Now, you can manipulate the additional member system, if you stand as two parties, or, if you have a sister party standing in the FPTP seats you can swing a few constituencies to. But the BNP thinking was bunkum, they neither gained nor lost from not standing in any FPTP seats.

Just proof of stupidity.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BNP did stand in one constituency: City & East London. They probably concentrated on the London-wide top-up as it was less effort. Moreover there's no way that they could ever win a FPTP constituency seat as there's not enough concentration of BNP types in any one constituency.I would have thought that they would be reasonably satisfied with their one seat out of 25.

Incidentally I heard one Election Night commentator on the BBC say the BNP had been quite clever to concencentrate on the London-wide top-up.The guy you met may well be a fool, but that doesn't mean Nick Griffin is too.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I suppose it was clever in that it saved them money, but it also cost them the London PEB.

Yes, they're vote wasn't quite clumpy enough to take a whole seat - 18,000 in City & East it was high enough in their heartland to mean that scrappy votes elsewhere would carry them through - though chiefly they won because UKIP collapsed.

7:56 AM  
Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

You honestly expect your average BNP'er to understand that? lol.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Londonsocialist said...

I don't think the university graduates of the SWP understood the system either. Their Left List put out a leaflet saying: "The proportional representation system means the only way to stop a minor party like the BNP getting elected is to vote for a progressive, left alternative. Under the PR system just piling up voted for New Labour will not block the BNP. But voting for the Left List can stop the fascists getting a seat on the London Assembly". I think I'm right in saying that this is just not true. The D'Hondt system favours the bigger parties, so piling up votes for New Labour, the Tories, the Liberals or the Greens would precisely have been the way to have blocked the BNP. In this respect a vote for the SWP/Left List or any other very minor party would have been a wasted vote. Am I right or do you need a Ph D in statistics to understand all this?

9:10 AM  

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