Saturday, 4 May 2013

BBC hyperbole and UKIP: Turning 18% into 23%

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Have checked on UKIP's results in Wales as well. I did a quick search and couldn't find vote share but did find UKIP secured 2 councillors - yes 2 - in the whole of Wales in the 2012 local council elections. That means, across both Wales and Scotland UKIP have a grand total of 2 councillors. Anyone claiming this week's vote is a national breakthrough for UKIP are putting us on. Unless, of course, they think 'national' means the South and East of England. 

Small update but just checked on UKIP's last vote outing in Scotland during 2012 council elections. They received 0.28% which is as good as nothing. Am now curious that if UKIP poll almost zero in Scotland what share would they need to get in England, Wales and N.Ireland to get their national share up to 23%? 28%ish?

I am now slowly collating all the County Council results and it appears that UKIP won about 18%-19%ish of the vote total - quite a sizeable chunk away from the BBC's "projected" 23% - a figure which is now being widely bandied about as a "result". 

I've found vote share figures for 14 of the 34 councils voting (in Hertfordshire I've given UKIP a generous guestimate of 17% as the site just said 19.4% for "others") including Lincolnshire (24.3%) and Norfolk (23.47%) where UKIP did very well and Bristol (4.16%) where they did badly.

The percentage share I've arrived at so for these initial 14 vote shares is 18.52%. I got that figure by adding together all the individual vote shares and dividing by the number of councils that I've found figures for.

If the final UKIP vote share is 18.52% or around that number it only represents a 2%-3%ish increase on their 2009 European Election result of 16.5%

Remember UKIP don't control any one council, came quite distant 2nds and 3rds in seat numbers in the councils they did best in, didn't win one single seat in 10 councils and in 12 others secured less than 5seats. That's 22 out of 34 councils where UKIP made no significant breakthrough. 

So why all the BBC hyperbole? It does seem that a "narrative" was established and once a newsroom starts to run with it it can often be hard to pull back. I don't think there is a "right wing conspiracy" in the BBC but I do think there is some very lazy journalism and a need to use to hyperbole in order to grab a headline. Also the BBC's former Young Conservative Chairman Nick Robinson's blog piece on the election results reached epic proportions of ludicrous hyperbole when he declared 

It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land.

something he immediately backtracked on a few hours later when he wrote 

No-one can know how durable his success will be.

I guess we shouldn't expect much more from Robinson, a man who can seem a bit swivel-eyed and hysterical when it comes to his beloved Tories.

Anyway, here's the numbers I have with links to the relavant websites. If anyone has links to any more vote share figures please post them in the comments and I'll add them to the list and update the total share percentage.

Bristol 4.16%

Cornwall 15%

Cumbria 11.7%

Derbyshire 18.7%

Devon 23%

Hampshire 24.61%

Hertfordshire 17%?

Lancashire 14.72%

Leicestershire 13.4%

Lincolnshire 24.3%

Norfolk 23.47%

Worcestershire 20.44%


  1. Perhaps you should have a word woth Professors Thrasher and Rallings who create their own national projected vote share once they have all the results to hand?

  2. It doesn't add up...4 May 2013 at 02:43

    Surrey 22%


    (you have to add it up).

    Given the uneven distribution of UKIP votes and also differences in size of different council areas, your crude methodology, missing two thirds of councils including big UKIP success areas like Kent and Essex is hardly going to be accurate. I suspect that the professional psephologists have those things accounted for, even though their projections are subject to a rather wider margin of error following such a change in voting patterns.

  3. Thanks "It doesn't add up".

    I will do another post later when all the share results are in - what I would say is that quite a few of the councils where UKIP didn't win any seats haven't been added in yet either and the figures here include some of UKIP's most successful results. Also UKIP's lower ratings would drag things down as well. I don't think they UKIP will break 20% but we'll see.

    Yes, my methodology is crude. I'm just looking at the figures I can get hold of and doing some basic maths. The 14 above equal 18.52% though.

  4. You are attempting to calculate a different figure than the BBC, so of course you are getting a different result.

    The BBC’s Projected National Share of the vote was CON 25%, LAB 29%, LDEM 14%, UKIP 23%. The results for both the Conservatives and Labour are strikingly low… but this is more an artefact of the high level of UKIP support. I’ve said it in almost every post I’ve made this week, but note again what the Projected National Share of the vote is and isn’t.

    It is a projection of what the BBC think the shares of local vote would be if there were elections across the whole country and if all four parties stood in every council division. In other words, it takes account and corrects for the fact that only rather Toryish parts of the county voted, and that UKIP and the Lib Dems only stood in three-quarters of the divisions. Secondly, it isn’t the votes that were actually cast – if you totted up the votes cast in every ward on Thursday you’d come up with a different, but probably less meaningful, number. Thirdly, it’s not an attempt to measure or predict national support for a general election – general elections have much higher turnout and, more importantly, people can and do vote differently in them.

    1. Hi Anonymous

      Are you Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report? If not then you really should declare your post was a copy and paste of his and it should be placed inside quotation marks.

  5. Hi Anonymous

    Hmm, not sure I agree the BBC's figure is definitely "national projected vote share".

    The 23% figure I can find on BBC site doesn't mention "national projection" but just "vote share".

    If you have a link to something else please post it... be interested to see it.