How much does the weather matter?
Britain has not held an election in December for nearly 100 years, writes Philip Georgiadis.
In 1923, Ramsay MacDonald formed the first ever Labour government with the support of the Liberals following a hung parliament.
Much debate has swirled over whether holding an election in the depths of winter will depress turnout, but research from the University of Reading suggests bad weather is in fact a poor indicator of voter behaviour.
The academics combined data from the University of Reading’s weather station with post-war voting figures from the Wokingham constituency in which it sits.
It found that turnout actually tends to increase by around 4 per cent on rainy days. It also rises the colder it is – with each degree Celsius drop leading to an increase in turnout of around 0.4 per cent.
Dr Mark Shanahan, head of the department of politics, said bad weather is “a pretty poor predictor of a suppressed voter turnout or intention”.
People are far less likely to vote if they don’t feel engaged in the race, either in perceived ‘safe’ seats, or when manifestos are fairly similar across parties, as was the case in the Blair years. But if a race is tight, either locally or nationally, and there’s a distinct choice between parties, turnout tends to rise.
The choice facing British voters
James Blitz outlines how Thursday’s dispiriting election presents voters with stark choices.
The 2019 general election, he says, has been widely described as the most significant in a generation, a moment with huge implications for Brexit and the future of the UK.
Rarely have British voters been presented with such stark choices at the ballot box, ranging from Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left economic policies to Boris Johnson’s determination to drive through a hard Brexit.
Read the full story.
General election splashed over front pages
Election election. That’s what is all over the papers this morning as the daily broadsheets and tabloids take their positions.
The centre-left Guardian leads with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urging voters to deliver “shock to the establishment” while the Daily Mirror highlights key Labour themes such as the National Health Service, education and child poverty. “For them … vote Labour,” it says.
The Times puts the spotlight on a study that shows Nigel Farage’s Brexit party could cost Boris Johnson’s Conservatives 16 seats. A hung parliament is still possible, it says.
The rightwing tabloid Daily Mail urges voters to “brave the deluge” and back Boris Johnson. The mass-circulation Sun backs the Conservatives with a lightbulb analogy, a favourite of elections past, on its front page that shouts “Save Brexit”: If Boris wins today, a bright future begins tomorrow but if red Jez gets in, the lights will go out for good”, its front page says.
Other news: Tributes pour in for David Bellamy, broadcaster who popularised botany, died yesterday aged 86. Analysis and news put the spotlight on Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel peace laureate and once revered for her defence of human rights, at the UN International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Welcome to our election blog
It is the big day. Millions have until 10pm to cast their vote in the UK’s third general election in less than five years. Boris Johnson’s Conservative party have led in opinion polls since the election was called five weeks ago.
It has been a bruising campaign as politicians have jostled for attention — the right sort — from voters as 650 seats in the House of Commons are in contention. Many incumbent MPs have stood down so more than 50 seats are up for grabs.
The blog is free to access today and tomorrow so please join us for the ride as … Britain decides.