The Labour-Conservative swing in Barnet, 2014-2018

My analysis of the local election vote in Barnet has now been quite widely discussed, including on pages one and six of last week’s Jewish Chronicle. But while the chart I created does tell the story of the election, it’s a little difficult to read because it tries to show the whole story, with rises and falls in vote share for all four main parties. This leaves the reader to work out that there’s really just one central narrative of shifts between the two largest of those four parties, while nothing really happens with the remainder.

For that reason, I’ve now produced a simpler chart which shows only the Labour to Tory swing:

Swing from Labour to Conservatives by population, Barnet local elections (2014-2018)

A few points to note:

  1. The chart shows the change in votes. It shows not just how much worse Labour did in Jewish areas, but how much worse it did in those areas in 2018 than it did in 2014
  2. The intercept is negative. This means that, where there were few Jewish voters, the swing was from the Conservatives to Labour
  3. The gradient is positive. This means that the higher the proportion of Jews in a ward’s population, the more that ward tended to swing from Labour to the Conservatives
  4. R-squared is over 50%. This means that more than half the variation between wards can be predicted on the basis of the aforementioned gradient, provided that we know the Jewish population of those wards

This is in many ways an anomalous finding. Labour has generally been making gains from the Conservatives wherever people voted against Brexit: as the Financial Times writes, ‘[o]verall the Tories did better in Leave areas, whereas Labour picked up seats in Remain-voting cities’. British Jews overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU, and might therefore have been expected to swing the vote in Labour’s favour. In fact, the opposite happened. Those campaigning for Labour in Barnet are absolutely clear that the explanation is Labour’s failure to deal with its antisemitism problem.