Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Reaction to MPs safe seat and scandal involvement correlation

Since posting about the correlation I have discovered between the safeness of an MPs seat and the likelihood of them being caught up in the expenses scandal (here and here) I have had a lot of links from other blogs and also started to get some national media coverage which is really good because I think what the apparent correlation highlights is the fundamental problem with the existing electoral system and this deserves a wide audience. They are shaping up to be my most successful posts ever since I started seriously blogging last November.

Here is a flavour of some of the reaction there has been:

Costigan on Himmelgarten Cafe who initially suggested a possible link himself last week described it as a good analysis.

Malcolm Clark from Make Votes Count echoed Alix's suggestion that it could be a hook for reform and also later did a fuller post devoted to analysing the findings from MVC's perspective.

Iain Dale included both posts in his Daley Dozen on Sunday which is always good because the traffic then goes through the roof! He is very much a sceptic on electoral reform but he described my posts as "interesting evidence".

LDV suggested that the analysis was a must read post on Sunday.

Bad Conscience thinks that the analysis is elegant yet compelling. This is what I was hoping. It is always hard to argue the intracacies of electoral reform as it is a fairly inaccessible topic but hopefully this correlation is easily understandable. Alix Mortimer also thinks that the link is not difficult to explain.

It provoked a lively debate on Andrew Duker's Livejournal where I joined in.

Obnoxio the Clown thinks that the correlation reflects human nature.

Fluffy Elephant thinks that the correlation is no surprise and concludes that we have to change the way we elect our MPs if we are to stop this sort of abuse.

Hagley Road to Ladywood says that in the light of evidence like this, Brown and Cameron can apologise all they like but the only thing that will represent a clean slate at Westminster is radical voting reform. Amen!

And finally, Polly Toynbee has very kindly included a link to my post in her article today in The Guardian which is a rallying call for constitutional change. I am the "political blogger" she refers to in the last paragraph. Apparently there is also now a campaign to get a referendum on the electoral system put onto the ballot paper for the next General Election. I am 100% behind this!

Thanks to everyone who has linked to my work and carried on the debate and apologies if I have missed anyone out. Hopefully this will gain further traction and will help advance the debate for the reform that it must be becoming obvious to everyone is now sorely needed.

UPDATE: I forgot about Jennie! How could I when she complimented me on my bar charts and everything? Sorry and thanks!


Anonymous said...

That's really great work. Wish I'd linked to you myself :D

Jo Christie-Smith said...

I think your original post was great, Mark, well done for wondering and then actually sitting down to do the analysis. I think many of us have an intuitive feeling that safe seat MPs behave very differently from marginal ones but we don't bother to prove it!

I wish you all success in your blogging career!

Mark Thompson said...

Thanks Jo. I very much appreciate your comments.

I know from your blog that you sometimes get invited onto the media to talk about issues like this so please feel free to mention this issue the next time you are on! ;)

Duncan Stott said...

Brilliant stuff Mark.

May I make a rather belated suggestion of how to tweak the charts to ram home the message.

Instead of labelling the bars in terms of which 25%, perhaps they should be labelled "Most safe", "quite safe", "quite vulnerable", "most vulnerable".

Dunno about anybody else, but when I'm skimming blogs I tend to look at the pwiddy pictures before the text. To understand what these charts mean at the mo you need to delve into all them words.

Mark Thompson said...

Thanks Duncan.

Yes, it is a fair point and the charts look a bit dry and academic at the moment I suppose. To be honest I wasn't expecting this level of interest! I am always a bit wary of editing posts after they have been published as it seems to be viewed as bad blogging etiquette. I wonder if this would be forgiveable though as it would make everything a bit more explicable.

I might have a look if I get time and see what I can come up with.

Jennie Rigg said...

Charlotte: I linked to him twice and didn't get thanked :( MAT did, though. And he didn't link ONCE.

* wanders off, singing *

Nobody likes me,
Everybody 'ates me
I'm going down the Garden to eat worms...

Mark Thompson said...

Gah! I knew I'd end up missing people!

Rectified now. And who is MAT? Have I missed something?

Jennie Rigg said...

Mark, thanks for the ETA, but I'm afraid I have taken Charlotte as my inspiration: I've BLOGGED about YOU :P

Jennie Rigg said...

Oh yeah, and Mat is my other half, who Andy thanked for the link, even though he hasn't linked to you (yet)

Edis said...

First Mark, congratulations on getting this question so much attention. I think your point is very strong.

I think myself that an additional factor needs disentangling, to avoid 'confounders'. Safe seats equal possible long tenures but in 1997 a large number of Tories in apparently safe seats were turfed out. This possibly biased the population of the surviving Safe Tories.

A number of the big miscreants of various parties appear to have been elected in the two 1980's elections, so possibly a factor to be controlled for is date of first election. Thesis for this is that the political culture they experienced on entering the House was particularly amoral and self-serving. Last befouling of Thatcher's children in short.

Andy said...

Edis: A good idea; what we need is a spreadsheet with the year of each MP's entry to the house, and the size of their majority on it. Any idea where such data exists?

Mary Reid said...

You missed me too - but it is probably my own fault because I posted half an hour AFTER you.

Sadly I stopped reading Polly Toynbee over breakfast when I got to the bit about how councillors wanted MPs to be deselected so they could grab the seats for themselves. Didn't realise that she had picked up your gems until the blogs started buzzing.

Mark Thompson said...

Edis/Andy, I actually got hold of the data you are talking about but when I tried to do an analysis I came up against the problem of different sample sizes when I tried to split them to compare. There is no easy way to do this as far as I could see because of the disparity in the number of people from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's. Also 1997, 2001 and 2005 are very much dominant.

If you can think of a way to do this please let me know. If either of you want to have a crack yourselves, let me know and I will send you the source data to work from.

Mark Thompson said...

Mary, I did read your post on your blog after I had posted this as you say. I tried to post a comment on your blog but there is something wrong with your comment spam filter in that the picture that you are supposed to interpret into text to validate never appears. I tried with Google Chrome, Firefox and IE all to no avail. I then tried to send you an e-mail but the e-mail mechanism uses the same broken validation.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for a very detailed and articulate post which mirrors pretty much exactly my thoughts. I keep getting this feeling that I am in the right party :)

Mary Reid said...

Yes, the comments are a real pain on my blog - I was wondering why no-one had responded! Have complained bitterly