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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Voice of the Leader: January

Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics. Today we hear from Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council and the Conservative Group.

Alan Jarrett

‘Going forward I promise that we will protect Medway from those who
seek to close down facilities and services; against those who belittle
Medway and its hard-working people; and against those who snub our
military heritage and insult our monarchy.’

This was the promise I made in my first article for The Political Medway, and it is relevant to reinforce it here as most of us celebrate the incredible success achieved by Gillingham Football Club in defeating Premier League club Cardiff City in the FA Cup.

Gillingham FC is Kent’s only Football League club, this year celebrating its 125th anniversary, and as such has a special place in the history of Medway. The FA Cup is the world’s oldest cup competition and for these two things to coincide is noteworthy in itself.

When we agreed the shirt sponsorship deal for this season with Gillingham FC it was on a nil cost basis to Medway tax payers. But still we had our Labour opposition firstly trying to stop the sponsorship, and secondly to criticise and denigrate it. We’ve been here before, and it is another shabby example of how Medway Labour disrespect our heritage.

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iFAQs: Protesting on the peninsula

For inFrequently Answered Questions this week, we decided to take the pulse of the Hoo peninsula. With increased development, local discontent tends to be building, with a protest – led by political upstarts Medway People’s Voice – even being held to demand better infrastructure.

With Peninsula being the ward with the largest number of announced candidates, we decided to contact them all to get their views of the situation in the area, as well as their thoughts on the protest.

As usual, all responses are posted below entirely unedited. In a break with convention, Cllr Pendergast decided to post his responses on his Facebook page last week, so apologies to both readers who may have already read them there.

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The Week in Westminster, 12 Jan

Tracey Crouch, Kelly Tolhurst and Rehman Chishti all voted.

Tracey Crouch, Kelly Tolhurst and Rehman Chishti all voted.
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Much ado about Labour

This week we are interrupting our regular schedule to bring you an examination of how each local political party appears to be preparing for the May 2019 elections. 
To finish the week, we are taking a look at Medway Labour.

On paper, the omens should be pretty good for Medway Labour heading into the 2019 local elections. With a confusing national picture that has seen them polling roughly equally with the Conservatives, a string of council blunders, and facing a set of councillors that seem tired, Medway Labour should be well placed to mount a challenge to control the council.

The problem is that we’ve been here so many times before. 2011 and 2015 should have been fruitful years for the party for similar reasons to those above, yet Labour rarely seem able to capitalise to improve their standing. As such, a few minor seat fluctuations aside, Medway Labour have held pretty much the same number of seats on Medway Council for the past 16 years.

Could 2019 be their breakthrough year?

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Much ado about UKIP

This week we are interrupting our regular schedule to bring you an examination of how each local political party appears to be preparing for the May 2019 elections. 
Today we are looking at Medway UKIP.

The four years since the 2015 local elections have not been kind to Medway UKIP. Riding high on Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless’ defection to the party and subsequent by-election victory, the omens looked fairly good heading into the last set of elections. Yet, despite the results not being as strong as some faces within the party were expecting, they won a solid four seats on the council, immediately placing themselves as the third party in local politics.

This success lasted a matter of weeks, given two tactical errors that undercut them from day one. The leader of the group, Chris Irvine, a sitting councillor in Peninsula, decided to fight for a seat in Rochester East instead and lost. More devastating was the loss of Mark Reckless as an MP. These two issues immediately destroyed any momentum Medway UKIP had, and others in the party quickly began to fall away. One of their councillors, Mark Joy, declared independence from the party in no time at all, before eventually joining the Tories. A second, Catriona Brown-Reckless, resigned and moved to Wales. Most recently, Cllr Mick Pendergast resigned to sit as an independent, and has since formed his own group to fight the 2019 elections.

Ostensibly, this leaves only Cllr Roy Freshwater as both the leader and the entire membership of the Medway UKIP group.

Where can the party realistically go from here in Medway?

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Much ado about Liberals

This week we are interrupting our regular schedule to bring you an examination of how each local political party appears to be preparing for the May 2019 elections. 
Today we are looking at the Medway Liberal Democrats.

The story of the Lib Dems in Medway is not a particularly happy one. When the unitary authority was formed in the late nineties, they were the second largest party on the council, but it was not to last. They quickly fell to third party status and spent the next fifteen years on a slow decline into oblivion.

In 2015, they were wiped out from Medway Council completely.

So are they prepared for the coming elections in May?

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