6 months ago

Wide of the Markievicz

Health Secretary Matt Hancock got some basic history wrong this morning:

Nancy Astor was not the first female MP; she was the first woman to take her seat in Parliament. 

The actual first woman to be elected as an MP was Constance Markievicz, an Irish Republican (and socialist, suffragette and revolutionary) who was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the seat of Dublin St Patrick's in December 1918, just under a year before Astor won her seat. (This was before Ireland gained independence from the UK, which was kind of the point of Markievicz’s candidacy in the first place.)

As is still the case with Sinn Féin MPs, Markievicz did not take her seat in the Commons; she did not recognise the legitimacy of the Westminster parliament and refused to take the oath. Also, she was in jail in Holloway Prison at the time. But she was still the first female MP.

Nancy Astor was elected for the Conservatives to the constituency of Plymouth Sutton in a by-election in November 1919–the seat had become available after her husband, the previously sitting MP, inherited his father’s peerage.

You can read more about all the women who have ever been elected as MPs here.

6 months ago

Our take on the SNP's manifesto

Good afternoon! We spent yesterday looking through and checking the SNP's manifesto, we wrote about our findings here

Notably, we found there was an error in their figures for international exports:

The manifesto said: “Scotland’s international exports are stronger than ever. Since 2011, our international exports, excluding oil and gas, have increased by over 57% and are now worth £32.4 billion. Of this, almost half were exports to the EU.” 

The SNP told us (after this article was first published) that this was an error in the manifesto and the change was since 2007, rather than 2011. International exports since 2011 have in fact risen by 19%, not 57%. 

We are waiting to see if this is updated in their manifesto.

We’ve checked all of the major party manifestos, and if you want to take a look at any of our checks, or general election content, you can find that here

6 months ago

Labour isn’t ditching the single occupancy council tax discount

We’ve seen this claim across social media today: that Labour would get rid of the 25% single occupancy discount on council tax. These claims have been shared well over 20,000 times on both Twitter and Facebook.

This is not Labour policy.

It seems to stem from some confusion over a Labour-commissioned report from earlier this year, which did say that the single occupancy discount encouraged inefficient use of housing stock. But a policy to scrap it isn’t in the manifesto or costings document.

You can read our full piece here.

6 months ago

Councils aren’t using postal ballots to suppress the youth vote

We’ve seen a few posts going round social media today claiming that the date of birth section on postal ballots is being pre-filled with the year starting “19” like this.

There’s been concern raised that this could confuse and may even discourage voters born in 2000 and 2001 who are eligible to vote.

We don’t think there’s anything to be worried about here. We contacted Bromley council who said that they do pre-fill the date of birth on postal ballots, but that voters born in 2000 or 2001 would receive a ballot prefilled accordingly with “20..” 

That was also the response of Cheshire West and Chester Council, the source of another of the questioned ballots.

Postal ballots are pre-filled like this to discourage people writing in the current date, rather than their date of birth. 

Bromley Council told us that the chance of someone receiving an erroneously pre-filled ballot was very small, but that if anyone born in the 2000s does, they should just cross the “19” out and write their actual year of birth above. 

6 months ago

On an (electoral) roll

Did you know that today is the last day you can register to vote in the election on December 12? Well, it is. You've got until 5pm to register for a postal vote (unless you're in Northern Ireland, in which case it's too late), and until 11.59pm to register to vote in person (that includes in NI).

We've written a helpful guide to everything you need to know about registering to vote

This election campaign has seen significantly higher applications for voter registration than in the same time period before the 2017 general election.

But it's worth noting that this doesn’t mean they are all new voters. Based on previous votes, a significant number will be duplicate applications from people who were, in fact, already registered to vote.