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Mark Pack asks who should replace Diana Wallis as MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber? Her husband Stewart Arnold came second in the selection for the party's candidates back in 2007, as shown in these figures taken from the offical results site.

  Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5Stage 6Stage 7Stage 8
 First
Prefs
Surplus of
Diana Wallis
Exclusion of
Veena Hudson
Exclusion of
Phil Kitchen
Exclusion of
Neil Poole
Exclusion of
Nader Fekri
Exclusion of
Jeanette Sunderland
Exclusion of
James Monaghan

Stewart Arnold

60

+215.60

275.60

+9.16

284.76

+14.88

299.64

+15.20

314.84

+26.40

341.24

+30.96

372.20

+69.96

442.16

Nader Fekri

32

+52.08

84.08

+11.60

95.68

+8.60

104.28

+8.48

112.76

-112.76

-

 

-

 

-

Veena Hudson

19

+30.24

49.24

-49.24

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

Phil Kitchen

11

+43.68

54.68

+3.12

57.80

-57.80

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

James Monaghan

97

+77.28

174.28

+8.04

182.32

+7.60

189.92

+7.04

196.96

+11.84

208.80

+47.64

256.44

-256.44

-

Neil Poole

28

+36.40

64.40

+2.12

66.52

+5.48

72.00

-72.00

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

Jeanette Sunderland

90

+38.08

128.08

+2.12

130.20

+7.16

137.36

+10.04

147.40

+25.40

172.80

-172.80

-

 

-

Rebecca Taylor

85

+85.68

170.68

+11.40

182.08

+10.84

192.92

+21.20

214.12

+34.60

248.72

+61.68

310.40

+123.08

433.48

Diana Wallis

1082

-580.66

501.34

 

501.34

 

501.34

 

501.34

 

501.34

 

501.34

 

501.34

Non-transferable

0

+1.62

1.62

+1.68

3.30

+3.24

6.54

+10.04

16.58

+14.52

31.10

+32.52

63.62

+63.40

127.02

Totals

1504

 

1504.00

 

1504.00

 

1504.00

 

1504.00

 

1504.00

 1504.00 1504.00

 Stage 
 8 
Stewart Arnold442.16Elected
Rebecca Taylor433.48 
Diana Wallis501.34Elected
Non-transferable127.02 
Totals1504.00 

Mark Pack admits in his piece that the winner of the contest to be second on the list is not necessarily the same as the person who would win if the contest for first on the list was re-run with the original winner excluded, and goes on to say that those figures are not available. But in fact they are; it is not too difficult to take the transfers of Diana Wallis's votes from the second stage of the real election, work out how many physical ballot papers went to each of the other candidates, and see what the result would have been with all of her votes transferred. (It's fairly clear from inspection that her transferred votes were now at a value of 0.56.)

Candidate

original
first prefs

transfers from
Diana Wallis
on second count

transferred
ballot papers
from Diana Wallis
on second count

first prefs
including Diana
Wallis first prefs
at full value

Stewart Arnold

60

215.6

385

445

Nader Fekri

32

52.08

93

125

Veena Hudson

19

30.24

54

73

Phil Kitchen

11

43.68

78

89

James Monaghan

97

77.28

138

235

Neil Poole

28

36.4

65

93

Jeanette Sunderland

90

38.08

68

158

Rebecca Taylor

85

85.68

153

238


It is straightforward if tedious to repeat this exercise for each of the counts and therefore to reconstruct the election result for the top spot on the ballot paper, as it would have been if Diana Wallis had withdrawn after the votes were cast but before they were counted. Incidentally, this is how vacancies are handled for the STV parliamentary elections in Malta, which also tend to feature lots of candidates, but a very topheavy pattern of first preference votes. (Also Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and Cambridge Massachusetts.)Fortunately the order in which the losing candidates would have been excluded is the same as in the real election.

  Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5Stage 6Stage 7
 First
Prefs
Exclusion of
Veena Hudson
Exclusion of
Phil Kitchen
Exclusion of
Neil Poole
Exclusion of
Nader Fekri
Exclusion of
Jeanette Sunderland
Exclusion of
James Monaghan

Stewart Arnold

445

+14

459

+25

484

+24

508

+33

541

+38

579

+99

678

Nader Fekri

125

+16

141

+13

154

+12

166

-166

-

 

-

 

-

Veena Hudson

73

-73

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

Phil Kitchen

89

+4

93

-93

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

James Monaghan

235

+12

247

+12

259

+11

270

+18

288

+56

344

-344

-

Neil Poole

93

+3

96

+9

105

-105

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

Jeanette Sunderland

158

+3

161

+12

173

+14

187

+32

219

-219

-

 

-

Rebecca Taylor

238

+18

256

+17

273

+30

303

+61

364

+85

449

+175

624

Non-transferable

0

+3

3

+6

9

+14

23

+22

45

+40

85

+60

155

Totals

1456

 

1456

 

1456

 

1456

 

1456

 

1456

 

1456

 Stage 
 7 
Stewart Arnold678Elected
Rebecca Taylor624 
Non-transferable155 
Totals1456 

The figures for the very last stage have a couple of other possible mathematical permutations, but would not change the fact that Stewart Arnold was the winner; I have gone for the one I thought most likely given the transfer patterns of earlier counts (where Rebecca Taylor had gained almost twice as many transfers).

It's fairly clear then that the next spot on the list is Stewart Arnold's, fair and square; and while I'm not going to grind through the calculations again (it's more complex to work out the lower places from the information given), I would be astonished if the next spot down does not fall to Rebecca Taylor by a fairly clear margin over James Monaghan or any of the others.

The legal position is pretty clear. As outlined by Richard Gadsden, once the Returning Officer for Yorkshire and thr Humber is notified that that there is a vacancy, the RO contacts the next person on the list and gives them a deadline. If they have responded saying they want the job by the deadline, and they have the approval of the nominating officer of their party, then they become an MEP forthwith. Otherwise, once the deadline expires (or if they write back refusing the seat), the Returning Officer writes to the next person on the list and so on until the list is complete. (If the seat doesn't get filled at all, then there is a by-election by region-wide FPTP. The seat cannot stay vacant for more than six months.

So legally the place is Stewart Arnold's, if he wants it and if the party approves. (And the party ought to approve if he wants it; procedurally, he is completely entitled to take up the seat.) But things have moved on since the candidate selection of 2007, and the optics of an MEP handing their seat over to their spouse are, frankly, pretty disastrous. I feel very sorry for the three people most concerned, Diana Wallis, Stewart Arnold and Rebecca Taylor, all of whom I know and like, and I am certain that Diana Wallis will not have resigned her seat other than with a heavy heart and after deep reflection. But I hope that there will be mature consideration in Hull this weekend about what happens next.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
matgb
Jan. 21st, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Both Rebecca's parents are in my local party, and she's also a friend of a friend independently, although we've only met twice. I've not met Stewart at all, and TBH haven't had a huge amount of time for Diana since moving into her constituency, sure, I get a good luck card at election time, and a Christmas card, but I'd rather some actual contact and campaigning in the area from our only Parliamentarian.

You're right that, by all counts that matters, if Stewart wants the job it's his, but I do hope he doesn't and Rebecca does.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
Your analysis I think makes the assumption that re-transfers of DW transfers broke the same way as transfers of original votes from other candidates subsequently excluded.

Whilst there may be no better guess possible, this projection has to remain a guess: it cannot be said to be necessarily how the transfers would have gone.
nwhyte
Jan. 22nd, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)
No, not at all. We know precisely how the transfers would have gone because it is recorded (at a certain level of encryption) in the published results.

You will notice that, in the real results sheet, the figures for each candidate at each stage are given to two decimal places. It is pretty easy to work out that 1456 of DW's votes transferred at a value of 0.56 (and 48 did not). So it's possible to work out how many ballot papers were transferred both at whole and at 0.56 value at every stage in the original count (apart from the final stage where there are several possible solutions and I have gone with the one which seems to me more consistent with the transfer pattern of previous counts).

So there is no assumption that re-transfers of DW transfers broke the same way as transfers of original votes from other candidates subsequently excluded. We know precisely how DW transfers went at every stage except the final one.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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