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A Guide to the 2010 General Election

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A Guide to the 2010 General Election Dr Justin Greaves Department of Politics University of Warwick – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Guide to the 2010 General Election


1
A Guide to the 2010 General Election
  • Dr Justin Greaves
  • Department of Politics
  • University of Warwick

2
Outline of this talk
  • The basics (background and context)
  • What is a swing?
  • What is a hung parliament?
  • The electoral system
  • Opinion polls
  • The national debt (perhaps the main election
    issue?)

3
So, what are the basics?
  • More than 45 million people aged 18 or above vote
    for a new Member of Parliament (MP) for the area
    in which they live (Constituency)
  • Elections must be held at least every five years
    in Britain up to PM to choose the date
  • Traditionally held on a Thursday

4
Why a Thursday?
  • One theory about its origins is that people were
    not paid until Fridays and so holding polls on
    Thursdays ensured they were not too drunk to vote

5
Two controversial issues
  1. Should the voting age be reduced to 16?
  2. Should we introduce compulsory voting (as in
    Australia)?

6
The three main parties
7
The three party leaders

8
The TV debates
  • This is the first election in the UK where there
    have been TV debates between the three party
    leaders
  • Here is a clip from the 2nd debate

9
Too much celebrity?
  • Is it becoming too much like the X Factor or
    Britains Got Talent?
  • Leaders judged on how good they look on TV?

10
What is a swing?
  • Swing is a tool which helps explain how elections
    are won and lost
  • In simple terms it is a way of measuring how the
    public's support of political parties changes
    from one election to the next

11
The calculation
  • Step 1. Add the rise in one party's share in the
    vote to the fall in the second party's share of
    the vote.
  • Step 2. Divide your figure by two. The resulting
    figure is the swing.

12
An example
  • In the 2005 General Election the Labour Party had
    a lead of 3 over the Conservative Party
  • Lets assume that in Thursdays election, the
    result is a Con lead of 4 over Labour
  • This is a swing of 3.5 (34/2)

13
What to look out for
  • 1.6 swing against Labour Labour lose their
    overall majority
  • 4.3 swing against Labour The Conservatives
    become the largest party. They would still not
    have an overall majority.
  • 6.9 swing against Labour The Conservatives gain
    an overall majority and therefore form the next
    government
  • (but will a UNS operate?)

14
What is a hung parliament?
  • If one party has an absolute majority it means
    that it has more seats than all the other parties
    put together (326)

15
  • If no party has such a majority then there is a
    hung parliament
  • The smaller parties can then join forces to
    out-vote the government
  • This makes it difficult to pass laws

16
  • There is a good chance of a hung parliament
    resulting from this election
  • The last time it happened was in February 1974

17
Options in a hung parliament
  • Formal coalition (alliance with another party)
  • Confidence and supply
  • Minority government
  • If none of these options work there would have to
    be another election

18
Why is it so rare?
  • Hung Parliaments and coalitions happen a lot in
    other countries
  • So why are they so rare in the UK?
  • This is mainly a result of our electoral system

19
Proportional Representation
  • Many countries have a proportional electoral
    system (eg under PR if a party wins 30 of the
    votes, it will win approx 30 of the seats)
  • It is rare for any one party to get over 50 of
    the vote
  • Therefore, in these countries parties will have
    to work together

20
First past the post
  • Britain has a first past the post electoral
    system
  • Therefore, 650 constituencies
  • In each one, the candidate who gets the most
    votes wins (even if it is less than 50)
  • EG if the winner gets 36 of the vote they still
    take the seat

21
  • It is like a horse race
  • The winner of the race is the first to pass a
    particular point on the track

22
Strange results
  • FPP can throw up strange results
  • A party with 35/40 support can get well over 50
    of the seats
  • The party that wins most votes may not win most
    seats (eg 1974)
  • The Lib Dems could come first in vote share and
    third in seats

23
Opinion polls
  • You may have seen opinion polls in the media
  • These may only interview 1000 people out of the
    whole population of Britain
  • If the sample is representative these polls
    should be accurate

24
  • Polls usually have a margin of error of or 3
  • 19 times out of 20 a poll should fall between
    this margin of error

25
Think, pair, share
  • What could cause an opinion poll to be biased or
    skewed in some way?

26
National debt and borrowing
  • One of the biggest election issues is the amount
    of money the government is borrowing (and
    Britains national debt)
  • Due to the recession the government had to borrow
    a lot of money

27
  • One reason was to rescue the banks

28
  • Another was to pay benefits to those who became
    unemployed
  • And if people are out of work the government also
    loses tax revenue

29
Party Policy
  • The Labour Party plans to reduce the amount we
    borrow by 50 over four years (starting in 2011)
  • The Conservative Party say this is not enough.
    They want to go cut faster and deeper

30
Debt statistics
  • Borrowing of 163 billion last year
  • The government forecasts that debt will soar to
    1.1 trillion by 2011

31
Debt statistics (2)
  • We owe 14,480 for every man, woman and child
  • That's more than 31,254 for every person in
    employment
  • Every household will pay 1,898 this year, just
    to cover the interest

32
Thank you for listening
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