My head is hurting less today! But while I haven’t been able to write much I have been able to amuse myself by examining the Brexit Referendum figures and juxtaposing them against the vote in the British Parliament last night. I realise (so don’t start Tweeting what a fool I am!) that the vote last night was not whether to exit or not! And if I was a British parliamentarian I would have certainly voted against the Act presented by the Prime Minister to the House of Commons last night. But then I favour (yes, Tweet away) a No Deal Brexit, which I believes puts the bargaining chips firmly in the favour of the British. But I have made that point often. The problem with last night’s vote is that it sets a dynamic for the parliament to reject the outcome of the 2016 Referendum outright, when the British government promised the people before the 2016 vote that they would respect and implement the outcome. The outcome wasn’t complex – it was clearly to Leave. And if last night’s vote leads to a process where the 2016 outcome is not implemented as promised then there are a lot of MPs who are behaving in a way that violates the wishes of their constituencies – the worst offenders being British Labour MPs. In the 2016 election, 60.7 per cent of the Labour constituencies voted to Leave (75.4 per cent of Tory constituencies). Yet only 3 out of 256 Labour MPs voted for the Act last night. One hopes that when it comes to the crunch a much higher proportion of Labour MPs will see to it that Brexit occurs.
Some Brexit data manipulation
Much is made of the overall Referendum result – 51.9 per cent Leave, 48.1 per cent Remain.
There was a turnout of 72.2 per cent.
The – European Union Referendum Act 2015 – that established the legal basis for the Referendum which was held on June 23, 2016, among other things, facilitated a “a guide was posted to every household in the UK and Gibraltar in the week beginning of 16 May 2016”.
The 16-page guide – Why the government believes that voting to remain in the EU is the best decision for the UK – outlined the some facts and figures (industry export proportions to the EU, etc) but then included some scaremongering consistent with the lying data being pumped out by the Treasury etc about the disaster that would befall Britain if the Leave vote won.
After pages of doom and gloom, the heading A once in a generation decision appeared and we read:
This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.
Very clear. The vote would be respected.
And what was the vote about?
The question was also beyond complexity:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Answer by putting a single X:
Remain a member of the European Union
Leave the European Union
That binary choice is as simple as it gets.
The people were not asked to vote on any conditionality – deals with the EU etc.
They voted clearly to LEAVE and the Government promised to “implement” that decision.
The 2015 Act setting up the Referendum also set up “voting areas” or “Counting areas”, of which there were 382 – “326 in England, 32 in Scotland, 22 in Wales and single areas for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.”
The “counting areas” were typically delineated by the local authority boundaries
These counting areas were, however, not aligned with the 650 – Consistituencies – which elect MPs, who voted last night on the EU deal that the Prime Minister put before Parliament.
For some in the press, it appears that that vote was about whether Brexit would go ahead or not. But it is hard to justify that position given that the people voted to LEAVE when asked and the Government assured them prior to the vote that they would “implement” their choice.
But what was of interest to me was how the Brexit vote was broken down by electoral constituency.
There was some work done by a Political science professor at Royal Hollaway (Chris Hanretty) along these lines. But, these estimates were improved upon by the BBC in their Ward-level analysis – HERE – as a result of accessing more detailed data.
On February 16, 2017, the House of Commons library published – Estimates of constituency-level EU Referendum result – which compared the Hanretty estimates with the Ward-level analysis by the BBC.
The BBC explain that they were able to get certainty in 20 per cent of the constituencies and relied on modelling for the rest.
Given that last night’s vote was by constituencies, I wondered what the Referendum vote was like broken down by this regionalisation.
Summary results are:
First, 62.9 per cent of the Constituencies voted to Leave. That means that 409 Parliamentarians were that sat in the Commons were representing electorates that voted to leave.
The difference between the 52 per cent of votes for Leave and the 62.9 per cent of constituencies voting to Leave is mainly due to the clustering of Remain votes in the larger urban areas. Spatial breakdowns suggest the Leave vote was more evenly dispersed across the UK.
Second, 60.7 per cent of Labour constituencies most likely voted to Leave, 75.4 per cent of Conservative, 33 per cent of Liberal Democrat and 60 per cent of DUP.
This graphic shows the breakdown.
Third, I also plotted a histogram to see what the spread of the Leave vote by constituency was like. The horizontal axis shows the breakdown by the Leave vote proportion in each constituency into deciles.
So, there were 248 constituencies where the Leave vote was over 50 but less than 60 per cent of the voters who cast their vote (and it was counted) and so on.
Now the question I was interested in was the breakdown in last night’s vote by the Referendum result.
The following Table brings together last night’s vote on the – European Union (Withdrawal) Act and the Referendum vote.
I made the adjustments to the shifting Party composition of the Commons since the 2017 election and matched it with the voting outcomes last night for the Withdrawal Bill.
So while the vote last night was not whether to ratify the Referendum outcome, the point is that the rejection of the Withdrawal Act is being cast as a rejection of that 2016 result and will clearly push the political trend towards either another Referendum or a revocation of the Withdrawal intention altogether.
British Labour has claimed it will not support a No Deal Brexit.
So my conclusion would be that there are lot of MPs in both the major parties that are not representing the views of their constituencies in this regard.
The Labour Party is the worst offender.
The Prime Minister spoke after the vote was determined and said (Source)
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The House has spoken and the Government will listen. It is clear that the House does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support; nothing about how, or even if, it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum that Parliament decided to hold. People, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible.
And after outlining her next moves she told the Commons:
The second reassurance is to the British people who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago. I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum. I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so
Which was what the Government assured the people it would do in the Leaflet they released in May 2016.
And the Tweet from European Council President Donald Tusk was typically smug:
If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?
What a jerk!
Music to soothe a sore head!
This is about all I can cope with today.
There are many theories about this set of pieces by Bach.
Whatever they might hold by way of interest and I have explored several of them with some joy, the music is sensational even when played on piano (when originally probably conceived for harpischord – but then that is conjecture too).
I originally acquired an earlier recording of the Fugues 1-9 (published 1962) by Columbia in the early 1970s which was Glenn Gould’s only organ recording. I loved it but the critics hated it. Philistines.
This audio in the video apparently comes from two different albums released much later.
The preferred compilation from Sony Classical Masters – Glenn Gould plays Bach – was released on March 25, 2011. Disc 6 has all the Fugues.
On the video you hear the unfinished Contrapunctus XIV (which many composers have tried to finish – I prefer Gould’s clean stop consistent with the original manuscript) and Contrapunctus I.
Glenn Gould was eccentric but was also the best to date.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.