A giant ballot box. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
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The blagger's guide to the election

What happens if no-one wins? Why are people not voting? What happened in 1974, and why does it matter?

What would the UK look like (if the current polls are correct)?

This is what the electoral map of Britain will look like on 8 May if current polls are correct. To create this map, we have used a “poll of polls”, averaging out nationwide surveys and the work undertaken in individual constituencies by the Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft. This filters out rogue polls and takes into account the standard margin of error (3 points). The result is a swath of yellow as Scotland votes overwhelmingly for the SNP; Labour is reduced to a handful of seats there and the Lib Dems just one. The Lib Dems also face heavy losses in the south-west. Elsewhere, it is clear that the Tories have not broken through in northern cities; nor has Labour made big gains in the south-east outside London. End result? A hung parliament.

 

What happens if no-one wins?

Since there's likely to be a split vote, the question now is what happens after 7 May.

Anoosh Chakelian explains the most likely scenarios.

 

What's the difference between vote share and seat share?

With a first past the post system, it can be substantial. Here are our latest predictions.

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What can we learn from past elections?

With Scottish Nationalists, a hung house and even debates over North Sea oil, the 1974 election looks just a little bit familiar.

Stephen Bush explains what we can learn from it.

 

Can Labour or the Tories get a working majority?

Maybe!

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Who are the "lost voters" (and what happens if they vote)?

There's been a lot of attention on those who don't vote, and why.

Ashley Cowburn sorts the fact from the fiction.

 

What did the polls look like in previous elections?

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How much does it cost to stand?

Someone has to pay for all the leaflets and rosettes. 

Caroline Crampton tots up the cost of running for parliament.

 

Are people changing who they support?

In a word, yes.

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What are the top ten seats to watch?

Where should you be looking on election night?

Harry Lambert of May2015.com runs through the top ten.

For more election analysis, read our latest coverage here.

This article first appeared in the 17 April 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Election Special

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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