SMO0B: The West of England Metro Mayor

Joe Young - Politics Editor

Image: ITV
Map of the West of England Combined Authority
Map of the West of England Combined Authority

SMO0B stands for Statistical Modelling on Zero Budget; just because we have limited resources does not mean we can’t use the data we have available!

So the first SMO0B we’re going to report on is the West of England Metro Mayor, who will lead the West of England Combined Authority The Combined Authority will consist of the City of Bristol, and the unitary authorities of South Gloucestershire, and Bath and North East Somerset (BANES).

It’s predicted that the Combined Authority could bring in up to £1bn of additional funding for the region, though this figure isn’t set in stone due to the absence of them existing at this stage.

So who is likely to win?

Despite the constituency being focused on the fairly left-wing City of Bristol – in which one constituency was a target for the Green Party that they almost won – in the first round of predictions (the voting system is two round; the top two candidates in the first round get an instant-runoff with second preferences for them distributed, then whoever has most wins),  Labour poll only 6% more than the Liberal Democrats.

“But the Liberal Democrats imploded!” we hear you scream

Wards in the West of England Combined Authority that have had Liberal Democrat representation
Wards in the West of England Combined Authority that have had Liberal Democrat representation

Data from by-elections has shown that in the South West, the Liberal Democrats are making rapid gains against other parties, notably on the issue of Brexit. The area is their historic heartland too – every single Council within the authority has previously been led by Liberal Democrats, and each has also previously returned a Lib Dem MP.

This tasteful pink and yellow graphic demonstrates that the Lib Dems have had a historically strong standing, and considering  a Metro Mayor will like a Supercouncillor, this is a strong starting position for the party.

It’s highly unlikely that the Liberal Democrats will make it to the second round, but stranger things have happened – with Corbyn’s Labour trailing behind in the polls, there is potential that the Lib Dems could make it to round two.

The question then would be “Can they get enough second preference votes to snatch the Mayoralty from the Tories?”

Highly unlikely. But once more, stranger things have happened. So let’s move onto the numbers:

A notable point here is the relative absence of UKIP – whilst gathering the data, we actually swapped out the UKIP Council data in South Gloucestershire for the Parliamentary data as Britain’s third party by vote share only getting 6,000 or so votes in a whole Council area seemed very bizarre, especially for an election of this nature. UKIP haven’t done well in the area though. They’ve had one representative – in Hengrove Ward in Bristol – and he subsequently lost at the next election.

Coupled with the fact that Bristol is home to a thriving ‘antifa’ movement, and UKIP have previously made the press for standing a porn star in the area, the party’s fortunes here look bleak. It also doesn’t help them that Bristol and BANES also both voted strongly to Remain in the European Union.

Using the very scientific and not at all inaccurate concept of every voter doing the same thing, we’ve provided these predictions for the final round of voting:

With the not unreasonable assumptions that UKIP voters would back the Tories, and Green voters would back Labour, and the Liberal Democrats are split 7:3 between Labour and the Tories (based on the movement of voters between the 2010 and 2015 General Elections) the system would propel Labour into first place, winning with a fairly comfortable margin.

But remember. A statistical model cannot take into account the public mood as it uses just data. Theresa May could have resigned and been replaced with a local MP, or Corbyn could have resigned and been replaced with someone less controversial. Or, as unlikely as it seems, the Lib Dems could bang the drum enough that they might just slip into Round Two.

The point is – the data says this is likely. But the last two years of politics have shown us that forecasting is a fickle business, and voters do not always vote as you’d think.

About Joe Young 316 Articles
Joe Young has been involved with student media for a very long time now, holding posts within The Pulse, and Pulse Radio, as well as the predecessor of The Pulse, Pluto. He is currently Politics Editor of The Pulse, and Head of News of Pulse Radio. In 2016, he won the Media Award for Best Article for his coverage of the Fishergate Shopping Centre bomb scare.

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