UPDATE: the data extracted from Vote for a Change and used in this post was extracted around 1.30 this afternoon. Since then, the site’s data has been changed. Please see comments for further details.
Ever hear of Vote for a Change? Vaguely?
Another of the plague-on-all-your-houses, real-reform-now campaigns which have been springing up all over the internet over the past year, right? Yes, that’s what I assumed too.
Their aim, they say, is to advise people on how to vote tactically in each constituency to bring about a hung parliament. This is what they say about how they made their choices:
We began by looking at the latest national opinion polling, which has the Conservatives in first place, Labour in second, and the Lib Dems in third. In each constituency, we assessed how many candidates had a strong chance of winning the seat – based on polling, personal draw, and the political dynamics of that constituency.
Out of those candidates, we then picked the one whose party was likely to win the fewest seats in Parliament according to current predictions. So we would favour Labour over Conservative, Lib Dem over Labour, and minor parties over the “big three”.
For example, in a constituency like Batley & Spen, where only Labour and Conservative candidates look likely to win, we have recommended the Labour candidate Mike Wood. In Brighton Pavilion, where Green candidate Caroline Lucas has a strong chance of winning, we have recommended her over her Tory, Labour, and Lib Dem opponents. In a battle between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, we will normally recommend the Liberal Democrat candidate. A few exceptions have been made, however, where the Labour incumbent has been outspoken in their support for “hung” or “balanced” parliaments. One example is Edinburgh North & Leith, where we have recommended Labour’s Mark Lazarowicz because of his work with the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.
Correction: this is what they said up till today. While I’ve been writing this post, their FAQs page has changed and relevant passages can be found here.
Up until today, they haven’t actually displayed their choices publicly. You have to put in your postcode to get your personal recommendation for a hung parliament. No-one could get a look at the overall picture of what is really being recommended by Vote for a Change. Under, I gather, some pressure, they have today released a list (PDF), which covers the 300-odd more marginal seats.
This, on the other hand, is what Ryan scraped off their website a couple of hours ago, asking for its recommendations for all constituencies:
Source code to do the scrape yourself is available here.
I’ve done no more than glance at these, but the headline news is that the scrape version – what users of the site will actually access when they type in their postcodes – recommends voting for 375 Labour MPs, 186 Lib Dems and 16 others. Does that look much like a hung parliament to you? At this point, you may want to have a gander at their supporters page.
The official version of only half these recommendations appears conveniently in PDF form to make life difficult, and I’ve not got time to sort it out and crunch it, but I wonder how different the picture will look? My own MP Ivan Lewis (Bury South) appears as a recommendation in the scrape. Bury South is safe Labour. Lewis has over 50% of the vote, is a junior minister and perpetual Labour yes-man. If this is “Voting for a Change” then someone is using a very peculiar dictionary.
What appears to be going on here is that Vote for a Change are basically recommending a massive, increased Labour majority. On being challenged, they have published only about half of their recommendations and changed their FAQs page, apparently to anticipate some of the inevitable “WTF” type questions that spring to mind.
Further digging into both docs is welcome.