Why would someone stick a polling station just fifty yards from another polling station for one single by-election in one single ward, when there is ample room in either polling station to accommodate the other one…and this, by the way, for a town council election with an expected turnout of …um….20% – tops? (It happened today in the Thatcham Town Council South by-election.)

Answers on a postcard or stuck-down envelope, please….

Update: Simon Dickson has produced an excellent aerial photo here, pointing out the position of the two polling stations.

Conservative lead IS modest in comparison to Labour’s 1997 run-up lead

Well done to Mark Pack for shooting this particular fox:

Mike Smithson is usually bang on the money (literally, probably) on the subject of polling. But he said David Laws was wrong to say that the Conservatives lead now is “fairly modest” in comparison to that of Labour in the run-up to the 1997 election. With his usual extraordinarily tenacious anorak-work, Mark picks out the polling of ICM, which Mike Smithson commends:

David Laws’s comments are fully justified by the ICM figures.

Since last summer (i.e. August 2008-March 2009), the Conservative lead in the ICM polls has varied between 5% and 15%.

If you look back at August 1995-March 1996*, the Labour lead in the ICM polls varied between 14% and 22%. There is a small overlap between these two ranges, but overall the Labour lead in 1995/6 was much higher than the Conservative lead in 2008/9, averaging 18% for Labour compared to 12% for the Conservatives.

Moreover, due to the way their respective vote shares are distributed across the country, the Conservatives need a larger lead to have an overall majority than Labour – so in fact the relative position for them is even worse than the 18% vs 12% figure suggests.
Sorry Mike, but on this one I think you’ve got it wrong: the Conservative lead is consistently significantly lower than the comparable Labour lead was.

* This is the comparable period for a 2010 election. But the point also stands for a 2009 general election, for example if you take the period August 1996-March 1997 instead.