Friday, September 28, 2007

PA seemed to have got carried away visa vis this week's by-election results

I have corrected my earlier post as I was misled by this Press Association report.

When I read this week's by-election results on John Hemming's blog, I thought John had maybe posted the wrong results, having already read the PA release! Such was the disparity between the report and reality.

Summary: The PA report said Brown was in turmoil after the Conservatives swept ahead in by-elections key marginal seats:

With results in from eight out of nine of Thursday's council by-elections, Conservatives had snatched back the projected lead. Labour held six seats but, on the basis of results at Portsmouth and Northamptonshire, Tories look on course for a sweeping parliamentary victory at Portsmouth North constituency and a closer one at Corby if there were an early poll.In Dover the 5.5% swing in a Kent County Council contest for Dover Town - which covers more than a quarter of the Commons constituency's electorate - would be enough for Conservatives to take it.

The actual results show:

Portsmouth: Tories up 3.3% but Labour held the seat with a 3.2% increase, four points ahead of the Tories.

Northamptonshire: Labour stonked the seat with a 718 majority. Labour share went down 8.7% but the Tories' share went down also by 2.7%.

Dover: There were three by-elections. The Tories' share went down in two of the seats by 8.2% and 12.6%. The bigger turnout/coverage seat was the town seat where the Tories increased their share by 4.1% but Labour still beat them by 512 votes and were 12 points clear. Count them. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12!

In Cheshire, the Tories went down by 13.2% in one seat and up by 2.1% in the larger county seat but the LibDems went up by 5.7%.

That's a very mixed picture which certainly does not justify a report saying the Tories are poised to win the relevant parliamentary seats. I suspect it would take someone from the University of Plymouth's politics department to analyse what these results indicate for future parliamentary contests in Corby, Dover and Portsmouth North, but it certainly doesn't look conclusive enough to justify the sweeping predictions of Tory victories in the PA's report.

The Norfolk Blogger and David Rundle mention a Tory press release which seems to have been at the foot of this nonsense.

I thought the PA were meant to be independent and objective? Perhaps they got carried away in the heat of the moment...

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