Recap: #MedwayDebates19

Last night, The Political Medway held our first live event, a debate between the future leaders of Medway Council as we approach the local elections. We were delighted to have Cllr Jarrett of Medway Conservatives and Cllr Maple from Medway Labour both came and set out their vision for Medway in front of an audience of approximately 200 people at Midkent College.

If you couldn’t make it along, you can catch up on all of the action from the evening below through medium of tweets:

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Tonight! The Medway Leaders’ Debate

Tonight is the night!

The Political Medway is hosting a debate between the potential future leaders of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett of Medway Conservatives and Cllr Vince Maple of Medway Labour.

We are immensely grateful that so many have taken an interest in this event and look forwarding to welcoming you to the Midkent College theatre tonight.

If you’re interested in attending and haven’t yet booked a ticket, you can do so here via Eventbrite.

Some final, practical information ahead of the event:

– You don’t need to print your tickets. You can if you like, but showing us your ticket on your phone is fine, as is just bringing ID so we can tick you off the list.

– The doors will open at 7pm for a prompt 7.30pm start. We are aiming to be done by 9pm.

– The Midkent College car park will be available. Upon passing the car park barriers (they will be open), proceed straight up the road to the main car park. Those with disabled blue badges can take the first left after the barriers, where disabled bays nearer the doors are located.

– From the disabled car parking spaces, the college is fully accessible, with step free access right into the theatre. If you have any specific accessibility requirements, please send us a message and will seek to accommodate them.

– Unfortunately we do not have a way of providing refreshments at this event, and we believe the Costa within the college will be closed. The restaurant may be open ahead of the event, and there are vending machines outside of the theatre.

– We have selected a broad range of questions from those submitted as you booked tickets. We received so many good questions that unfortunately we aren’t able to use them all, but we will get through as many as we can.

– There are a small number of tickets still left, so if you haven’t booked or know someone who might be interested, please get booked in! They will remain available until roughly 4pm today. You can book them here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/59291249724/

Phew! Think that’s it. We look forward to seeing you tonight!

Political Figures: Can independents win?

Once a month we are going to hand over to Alan Collins from Medway Elects who is going to dig into the Medway electoral data, and try to tell us what it all means..

This week marks Medway Elects’ fourth anniversary and, in that time, like this very blog, it has gone from strength to strength. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped and supported the project – and will continue to be open to ideas for new features over the coming months and years.

But given this important milestone, it is, perhaps, fitting that this is the week I post my last article in this series, on the very blog I launched Medway Elects four years ago. If you thought Jennings’ analysis of the candidates in each of Medway’s 22 wards was long, strap in tight: you ain’t seen nothing yet…

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State of the candidates 2019

So following months of campaigns getting underway, two days ago the final list of candidates was released for our upcoming local elections in Medway. 199 candidates spread across seven different parties and a record number of independents will compete for 55 council seats on May 2. Let’s take a look at the options in each of our 22 wards.

Strap in.

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The Medway Leaders’ Debate

We are pleased to present a head to head debate between the potential future leaders of Medway Council ahead of the local elections in May.

On April 18 at Midkent College, we’ll be asking Alan Jarrett of the Conservatives and Vince Maple of Labour a range of questions covering the important issues in Medway – housing, education, health, the environment, and so much more.

This is about the future of Medway, and we would love for you to join us.

By booking a ticket – either free or with an optional donation – you will have the ability to submit a question for the leaders. We can’t guarantee we’ll ask them all, but we will be selecting as broad a cross-section of them possible ahead of the event.

Booking a ticket also ensures entry to the event. Those without tickets will likely be able to attend on the night, space permitting, but will not be eligible to submit questions for the leaders.

Tickets are free, but you do have the option of contributing an optional donation when booking. This helps us cover the costs of putting on the event, and all donations are gratefully received.

Doors at 7pm, event start at 7.30pm, close at 9pm.

We hope to see you there!

Political Figures: Changing the ballot

Once a month we are going to hand over to Alan Collins from Medway Elects who is going to dig into the Medway electoral data, and try to tell us what it all means..

Short of 30 pieces of silver, what does it take to influence a vote?

Three years ago, the authors of this blog shone a spotlight on Mike Franklin, the Conservative councillor for Luton & Wayfield, for sharing unseemly tweets. Last month, following the intervention of Baroness Sayeda Warsi, he was finally suspended as a Conservative councillor and member of the party pending an internal investigation.

Of course, one does not wish to prejudge the outcome of such an investigation, but it is likely the local Conservatives will not wait for its results, and instead select a new candidate for the ward – as despite these claims being brought to their attention what feels like a lifetime ago, he continued to sit as a Conservative councillor and was slated to stand for re-election in May.

Everyone enjoys reading about a good scandal (what, just me?), but do they have any effect on the outcome of subsequent elections? And are there any other major events happening which could also impact the result this May?

Today I am going to be looking at scandals and farces during the 2007-2011 council term, all with their own hints of scandal, and also trying to guess (emphasis on the word “guess”, as data alone is insufficient for this purpose) whether Brexit will have any effect on this year’s elections.

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Political Figures: Ballot Roulette

Once a month we are going to hand over to our friends at Medway Elects, who are going to dig into the Medway data and, using wizardry, work out where are right now.

Voting is a complicated matter. You walk into the polling station, pick up your ballot paper (after providing absolutely zero evidence you are who you say you are), enter the polling booth, mark a cross next to the candidate or party you want to win, drop your ballot paper into the ballot box and then leave. Job done.

But sometimes, the instructions on a ballot paper can be too complicated to follow. The part where it says “vote for only one candidate” is generally assumed. But it’s not always there, and not everyone seems to notice.

With one exception (in Cuxton and Halling), voters in Medway this coming May will be voting for more than one councillor, so will have more than one vote. In the nine wards which elect two councillors, voters will be able to vote for two candidates, and in the twelve wards which elect three councillors, voters will be able to vote for three candidates.

As a veteran of three full council election counts, I can say with confidence that a significant proportion of voters either deliberately ignore this instruction, or simply do not read it, assuming they only have one vote. Others will vote for three candidates, but not necessarily all from the same party (sometimes parties will not field a full slate of candidates in a ward, or there may be independent candidates standing on their own). Voters are, of course, free to vote as they wish, but this can have a strange effect on the final result.

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Political Figures: How Data Works

Once a month we are going to hand over to our friends at Medway Elects, who are going to dig into the Medway data and, using wizardry, work out where are right now.

As any opinion pollster will tell you, trying to predict how people will vote at an election is notoriously difficult. You can ask a sample of the population and then attempt to extrapolate that out as a representation of how the population as a whole will vote. You can study trends on social and traditional media to make educational guesses. Or, you could simply make it up as you go along. Whichever option you choose, as history has shown time and time and time again, the end result will always be unreliable, for a number of long and complex reasons (but that’s a thought for another day). 

However, it is with the unreliability of such predictions in mind that I am today writing the first in a series of posts for The Political Medway on my own data model for the upcoming local elections, prefaced with a number of caveats. Most important among them is this: this is not a prediction. This is a data-based projection, based on local and national polling data, to forecast how much support each party has in each ward. Retaining that support, or gaining additional support, and ensuring those supporters go out and vote is the responsibility of the parties themselves.

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