How much did the polls vary from the General Election result?

In the run up to polling day last Thursday, a large number of opinion polls were carried out, all aiming to estimate the public’s voting intention. The exact wording of the questions posed by polling companies varied, as did their approaches to weighting the responses, but in essence they all attempted to estimate the share of the vote each major party in Great Britain would receive at the General Election.

The results of these polls were broadly consistent throughout the campaign. But they were so different from the actual result for the two largest parties that the British Polling Council has launched an independent enquiry into the causes of the error.

So how different were the polls from the actual result? The chart below shows seven-point moving averages of the share of the vote for each party as estimated in opinion polls carried out by several major polling companies during the campaign period (from 30th March 2015), with the result of the 2015 General Election marked at the end of each series with a party-coloured X.

Chart showing a moving average of the share of the vote for each major party as estimated by opinion polls during the 2015 General Election campaign

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Regulating the web, the Open Internet and Net Neutrality

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, earlier this year warned that net neutrality—“a key element of the openness that underpins the Web and the broader Internet”—is under threat. And while internet activists cheered the announcement in February this year that the US telecommunications regulator had approved a plan to govern the internet like a public utility—thereby enshrining net neutrality into US law—this is currently being subjected to legal challenge.

Here in the UK, all the major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are signed up to the Open Internet Code—a voluntary code of practice designed to support the open internet—with EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone the latest ISPs to sign up in January 2015. So what is net neutrality, why does it matter and is regulation needed?

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How experienced is the new House of Commons?

How much experience of Parliamentary service does the newly elected House of Commons have? The answer is that it depends on how you measure it. The following chart shows the mean and the median number of years served in the Commons by MPs elected at each general election since 1983.

Chart showing the mean and median years service by MPs elected at each general election

The mean is what people typically think of when they talk about averages — it’s the total number of years that MPs in each group have worked in the Commons divided by the number of MPs in the group; while the median is the value which divides the group in half — in each group of MPs, half have fewer years of Parliamentary service than the median and half have more.

As the chart shows, the typical number of years service among MPs elected at each general election differs depending on whether you measure it using the mean or the median. What’s more, the trends differ between the two measures.

Using the mean, the MPs elected in 1997 were the least experienced of any Parliament since 1983. But using the median, the group of MPs elected in 2001 were the least experienced.

So which is the more appropriate measure? Arguably, you need to consider both measures, because the difference between the two reflects the shape of the distribution of experience among the MPs in each group.

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General Election 2015: women MPs and candidates

Women MPs

After the 2015 election, 29% of MPs are women, compared to 23% in 2010. 191 women were elected at the 2015 General election, 44 more than in 2010. 191 is the highest ever number of women in the House of Commons.

Women MPs by party include: 99 Labour, 68 Conservative, 20 SNP and no Liberal Democrats.

Labour MPs are just over half (52%) of all women MPs and Conservative 36%. The Labour proportion is higher  relative to their 35% share of total MPs and the Conservative proportion is lower than their 51% of all MPs of both sexes.

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General Election 2015: the results in context

The Conservative Party won the May 2015 General Election with 330 seats and a majority of 12 in the House of Commons – lower than any Government since October 1974, when Labour had a majority of 4.

The Conservative’s 330 seats and 36.9% of the vote in the 2015 General Election, compares with Labour’s 232 seats and 30.4% of the vote. In England the Conservatives won 319 seats, an increase of 21 on 2010. The government elected in May 2015 holds the lowest share of the vote in both Wales (27%) and Scotland (15%) of any government since 1945. It also holds the lowest number of Scottish seats of any government.

Across Great Britain Labour’s 232 seats was 26 fewer in 2015 than in 2010. Labour lost 40 seats in Scotland, 1 in Wales and made a net gain of 15 in England.

The Scottish National Party won 56 (95%) of Scotland’s 59 seats and 50% of the vote, their highest ever share of Scottish seats and votes.

The Liberal Democrats won 8 seats, 49 fewer than in 2010. Their 2015 vote share of 7.9% compares with 23.0% in 2010.  UKIP won one seat and 12.6% of the vote and the Green Party won one seat and 3.8% of the vote.

In Northern Ireland, the DUP won 8 seats, Sinn Fein 4, the SDLP 3, the UUP 2 and the independent MP, Sylvia Hermon, 1 seat.

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General Election 2015: candidates in numbers

3,971 candidates stood for election on May 7, including 1,033 women, a record number. Across the UK there were 6.1 candidates on average per constituency. Approximately 130 parties contested for seats. 584 former MPs sought re-election, including 24 previous MPs who had not been in the 2010-15 Parliament.

All data used in this article is available for download here: Candidates 2015 – data

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Exploring Parliamentary constituencies

The House of Commons Library, in collaboration with Durham University, is pleased to announce Constituency Explorer: a new online data visualisation tool that allows statistical comparisons at a Parliamentary constituency, regional and national level.

  • Which constituency has the most people going to work by bicycle?
  • Which constituency in London has the most graduates? Which the fewest?
  • Which constituency has the highest rate of divorce?

(Mouse over to reveal answer)

Constituency Explorer uses official statistics from the Census and other sources to examine over 150 variables, including population, travel to work, qualifications, health, and much more. Users are free to explore the data for themselves, taking advantage of the site’s intuitive tabulation tools to analyse a chosen constituency relative to others in the nation, by region or by party of the MP after the last General Election.

Try it for yourself:

Constituency explorer print screen


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The new world of devolution to Manchester

The Government has published two documents, in November 2014 and February 2015, proposing ‘devolution to Greater Manchester’. The November document proposes to devolve some additional transport powers, a housing capital budget, and various business support and skills-related budgets, a statutory spatial strategy, with a promise of closer working on the Work Programme and further education reform. The February document proposes to devolve strategic responsibility for commissioning of NHS and social care services. The 2015 Budget proposes to allow Greater Manchester to retain 100% of business rate growth, if certain targets are met.

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