Graphs vs. graphs

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Just a quick post (yeah, I should post here more) as a few of us on Twitter found this article kind of interesting in that it purports to show a long-term declining trend in the combined vote share of the two main political parties in the UK, which they claim will lead inevitably to a hung parliament if not in this general election then soon.

Well, the graph doesn't quite tell the whole story, so I went to the same source (thanks, the Guardian!) and plotted the full data set, including that from before 1990 where the article's author had chosen to start. Here it is:


Rather different, isn't it? The main points which arise here are:

  • Saying hung parliaments and electoral reform are inevitable just isn't true - people who want to see change still have to work for it.
  • The Lib Dems (well, their ancestors) have been polling 30% or more before during the heyday of the SDP-Liberal Alliance in the early 1980s
  • Support for the main two parties seems to wax and wane, but when we include the data from before 1990 there's far more waxing going on there seemed to be when the data was being used more selectively.
  • Support for "Others" has been on the rise all along.
  • There really isn't any room for complacency on the part of Lib Dem supporters!

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"Other" is interesting, though. Is it still to small to say that it's been relentlessly increasing?

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