The introductory words by Prime Minister Theresa May in the Conservative manifesto 2017 outlined the main focus for the government’s General Election campaign: ‘Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity’. But when it came to Brexit, the campaign itself featured little of political substance from either of the two main parties. The impact of the EU-debate on the (quite unexpected) election outcome is very complex, with the anticipated Conservative gains in Leave-voting Labour seats failing to materialise.
In a contribution for the “In Focus” feature of Political Insight (September 2017, Volume 8, Issue 2) I looked at the outcome of the general election from the perspective of Brexit:
“Sanity is not statistical.” The political rhetoric in the aftermath of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom has brought us closer to Orwell’s infamous state of Airstrip One then one could have possibly envisaged. Each side of the debate twists and turns the statistics and ‘facts’ to keep supporting their argument, while neither political party has yet managed to end the political stalemate in the country, which finds itself in a state of ‘post-truth democracy‘ that it slowly entered during the pre-referendum campaigns. All sides claim what can be best explained with the German word ‘Deutungshoheit’ (a form of prerogative of interpreting the numbers behind the result as the ultimate truth). The real truth perhaps is that there is no truth, and the deeper you delve into the results, the more complexity you find. So here are some more less-talked about findings that emerge when taking a second look at the EU referendum statistics.
As mentioned in my earlier piece on mapping the referendum outcome, of all those who were allowed to vote in this referendum, 13 million people did decide not to cast their vote, which – despite the higher than currently usual turnout – is a significant number that could have made a difference in the close outcome either way. Amongst those that voted the immediate picture that emerged from the polls published after the referendum was confusing. Several polls, such as those paid for by Lord Ashcroft and used for this analysis, agreed that the older people were those who were more likely to vote for Leave, while the youngest had the largest share voting for Remain. However, when taking the total electorate into account, and considering those who – according to SkyData – chose not to vote (or spoilt their ballot), this picture became far less clear than it first seemed:
(click for larger version)
The decision has been made: 17,410,742 people of the United Kingdom’s 65 million population voted for leaving the European Union. These are about 26.8% of the UK’s resident population, or 37.4% of the electorate in this EU referendum. It also equals 51.9% of the valid votes cast, as stated in the official figures from the electoral commission. Continue reading
55.25% of the votes cast at last week’s independence referendum in Scotland were ‘No’ according to the Electoral Management Board for Scotland (EMB), meaning that Scotland stays a part of the United Kingdom. While the results have been mapped all across the media (I recommend Olli O’Brien’s interactive map for that one), I haven’t come across and cartogram visualisation so far. So here we go…the missing map of the Scotland Independence Referendum 2014: The first two maps show a cartogram of the Scottish Local Government Areas resized according to the total number of votes cast at the referendum. The colours on top of the maps show the (remarkably high) turnout on the left map – apart from Glasgow (75%) and Dundee (78.8%) was above 80% in all areas, figures unseen in any democracies in recent years (compare this for example to the turnout at this year’s European elections or at last year’s general election in Germany). The map on the right shows the share of votes going to either side of the campaign:
(click for larger map)