The announcement of the forthcoming UK General Election is, of course, a springboard for all sorts of statistics to be bandied about by political parties, newspapers, TV pundits, columnists, political bloggers and so on, and I’m delighted that the BBCs “stats for non-statisticians” show More or Less, presented by Tim Harford, is joining in on the Today programme every morning to delve behind the numbers. I’m also delighted that they are collating all their bulletins into a weekly podcast, which found its way onto my laptop via Google Reader this morning. It’s well worth fifteen minutes of your time to give it a listen.
There’s an aspect of UK elections that has been bugging me for some time, and that is the seemingly endless bemoaning of the low and declining turnout, with seemingly no attempt made by the media to address the root causes of this. A lot of emotional argument exists on this issue, but very little of empirical value—not that I can see in day-to-day media anyway. The Lib Dems oft-repeated argument for electoral reform, in my view, while on some levels it is probably valid, under the current system only really serves to shoot themselves in the foot given that for the time being at least, they must play by the current rules: a Lib Dem supporter would vote Lib Dem, buys the argument about the first-past-the-post system being flawed, thinks “pah! I’m not bothering with this, there’s no point”, and hence adds their unused vote to the generalised pile labelled “abstainers”.