Peeps through mists and thinning leaves.
In June 2016, the UK voted in an advisory referendum to leave the European Union.
As soon as the result was known, there was interest in the factors that correlated with voting intentions. Lord Ashcroft carried out research that suggests age was a good postdictor of voting choice.
Although the referendum was advisory, not mandatory, David Cameron said his Government would bind itself to the referendum result. However, no UK government can bind its successors, and he immediately resigned.
Then in 2017, we had another election in which no party won an overall majority, and during which the two largest parties offered radically different visions of Brexit.
Referenda haven’t been used much in the UK. After the 2017 General Election, and even more so after the 2019 European Elections, I asked myself the question, how might you decide the shelf-life of a UK referendum mandate? We don’t allow dead people to vote, and since it seems that 2016 Leave Voters tended to be older than Remain voters, I wondered if it might be possible to work out when the number of 2016 Remain voters surviving outnumbered the surviving 2016 Leave voters.
Here are my conclusions.
Sir John Curtice writes occasionally for the BBC Website, and he published graphs showing his research into how voting intention had correlated with age, and how participation correlated with age.
The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes:
- UK Population Details, men and women, segmented by age, in one year segments.
- UK Death rates, men and women, segmented by age, in 5 year segments.
I used the figures for 2015.
First, I applied Sir John Curtice’s graphs for participation and likelihood of voting by age to the ONS population segmentation to come up with a prediction of what the Brexit vote would be.
I got an answer of 17.6 million, which is pretty close to the actual 17.4 million. Bear in mind I haven’t ‘tuned’ the model at all. I was frankly amazed, and decided there was no need for anything more sophisticated (see e.g. http://www.statsguy.co.uk/brexit-voting-and-education/ for some very interesting detailed analyses).
I then applied the ONS segmented death figures to my modelled Leave numbers by age to arrive at a prediction of the number of first year deaths, and got a number well over half a million (the bar effect on the graphs is because the age segments are 5 year bands, whilst the population segments are years).
Obviously you can only die once, so I turned the number of deaths into a likelihood of a 2016 Leave voter surviving 1 year, which turns out, on my model, to be 0.97. Three years of this, and 1.5 million 2016 Leave voters have died.
Annual deaths in the UK are around 600,000. Subtract the dead Leave voters, and you’re left with 100,000 deaths, to be shared between Remain voters and ‘Did Not Vote’. ‘Did Not Vote’ includes all children under 18 who have a low chance of dieing, but I have not modelled them at all. Remain voters outnumbered Abstainers of voting age, 5 to 3, most deaths would be in people of voting age, the Abstain age profile is similar to that of the Remain age profile, so I would guess that perhaps 60,000 2016 Remain voters have died each year.
So the cross over point, when the number of living 2016 Remain voters exceeds the number of living Leave voters, must be sometime around now.
Should anyone wish to carry this further, here is my model, in the form of a LibreOffice spreadsheet.
My blog has now been live for a couple of months, and in all that time just two people have been moved to respond (I’m not counting the spammers that I am too tight-fisted to have weeded out automatically). So am I mostly talking to myself?
Well, according to statistics provided by my ISP, I am not. My blog has had thousands of visitors. Which begs the question, who are these people?
None of them left their e-Mail addresses, even with the incentive of a free poem on a subject of their choice, but the Web Servers log some information, and it makes curious reading.
Thirty percent of them accessed the blog from the former Soviet Union, mostly the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. Countries that I have never visited, whose languages are incomprehensible to me, and whose web-sites I have to access through Google Translate.
Nearly all these users claimed to be using Firefox. Whilst I applaud their devotion to open Web standards and an Internet that isn’t dominated by US Technology Giants, isn’t it more than odd that there wasn’t a single hit from an Apple iPhone or Google Chrome?
Whilst I would like to avoid racial stereotyping it all screams “Russian Hackers”!
But why? Could one of you please enlighten me?
Nothing persuades your children you are an
Idiot faster than their own baby.
Since Developmental Psychology
Has advanced they’re far more on trend than
You, they’ve been reading everything they can
Lay their hands on about biology,
All the other ‘ologies known to man.
Grandparents’ thoughts are politely dismissed;
Their age commands respect, if not their views.
But woe betide a parent with advice!
How condescending thinking to assist
Having not kept up to date, they accuse.
In response tongue-biting has to suffice.
When Theresa May picked up the baton
Released by David Cameron’s folly
She purged the posh with a single volley
And necromanced the late Boris Johnson
Just lately dispatched by Michael Gove, yon
Cassius minus his lean and hungry
Look, who she in turn returned rapidly
To thoroughly deserved oblivion.
Having raised the dead she raises her sights
To a personal mandate, who cares that
She said the opposite a year ago.
Her lead of unimaginable heights
Trumps all pretence of integrity, flat
Out triumph and which voters will still know?
Handsome princes and monochrome swans ought
To dodge Theresa May’s tear pool now.
The right wing press proved unable to cow
Enough voters to win. Instead they thought
They’d teach humility to those who’d fought
To get ‘Strength and Stability’ somehow
Swapped with reasoned policy to allow
Theresa May the free hand that she sought.
The necromancer dries her eyes and checks
Her magic money tree. She chucks a bung
To Northern Ireland nutters, lays down her
Minions for her life and resurrects
Gove to re-inter Boris. Her forked tongue
Slithers, and everything is as you were.
Tories tried in vain to end her mission,
Instead adding one more year begging,
Hectoring, delaying, adhering
To office like gum stuck to the bottom
Of your shoe. When she said she’d be gone
To her political graveyard, selling
Memoirs that will big her up whilst shedding
No light on anything, her denouement
Failed too. A career marked by failures
Failed even to end. To maintain such
Consistency of employment without
Notable achievements simply beggars
Belief. There obviously isn’t much
Tory political talent about.
Five foot eight, eyes of blue and ears of tin.
Theresa May takes the Union flag
In vain as her speech’s back-drop. I gag
At her mendacity. She cannot win
The vote because there is no way to spin
Her deal other than as a rag bag
Of prejudices to make incomes sag,
Achieve the aims of Vladimir Putin
And consign the United Kingdom to
The dustbin of history when Scotland
And Northern Ireland depart, the one
As a free country, the other into
The South of Ireland, whence both will land
Back in the European Union.
Odd. Andrea Leadsom’s resignation
Proved to be the final straw. Rejoicing,
As happened with Raab and McVey stepping
Down seemed the way to greet her being gone.
Theresa May now soldiered gamely on
Presiding over farmyard squabbling
Amongst the creatures who were jockeying
For position during the marathon
Campaign to succeed her. Musical chairs
With the final say given to old white
Men was the arcane process. No women
Were seated when first came silence, who cares
They make up half the country? The birthright
Of Tory toffs will be restored to them.
Although one and a half million Leave
Voters from twenty sixteen have since died
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt vied
To lead this zombie army. They perceive
The dead don’t see the attempts to deceive
Them. Beyond reason, they can be relied
On not to recognise they have been lied
To more than any who truly believe.
And so we face the spectre of ‘No Deal’
As well as the march of the dead and
The living dead, clothed in the flag of saints.
‘Will of the People’ the liars squeal
Tory posh boys in a pretense to stand
For people left behind and their complaints.
Does their ‘ism’ have a soul that draping
Itself in the flag of its native land
Goes whispering in people’s ears and
Provides balm for those busy exploiting
Their fellows, solace for any scraping
By? Those with plenty hear “Life is grand!”
Those with nothing are dismissed out of hand.
Those with little: “Fear those with nothing!”
All are told “Accept your station in life.
The natural order is the misdeeds
Of the rich must quietly cause no scenes
Else class mistrust and division are rife.
From each according to the wealthy’s needs
To each according to their current means.”
Has my path to Fame and Fortune opened up? I’ve just been interviewed by Sandra Jackson! (link to interview including exciting anecdotes)
Lieutenant Colonel John Napier Cormack MBE MC Reaches Ninety
Tough as old boots. The words spring to mind
As I survey the half of John’s lifetime
I’ve seen. With back packs we set off to climb
Lochnagar thirty years ago and mined
Snow to take back and show those left behind
In Craigendarroch. As vistas sublime
Unfolded below John surged on and I’m
Thinking old age isn’t much of a grind
Whilst you have good health. Sixty isn’t old
These days. Ninety is. Laid low by a stroke
Bestriding the world as a colossus
Is no longer an option. But behold
Reminiscence’s splendiferous joke.
The older I am the better I was!
RIP Lieutenant Colonel John Napier Cormack MBE MC
He’s dead. That morning he seemed to rally
Eating two tubs of ice cream, complaining
He felt terrible before expiring
After years of decline, far from happy
To go. The world is lucky to have me
He’d answered when questioned about living.
The dashing young officer who (sharing
His dugout with rats) picked up an MC,
Met his dream girl, and married her in weeks…
The father of three who chased Russian tanks
Taking pictures for the good of the cause…
The grandpa bitten by grandsons on cheeks…
For all his many parts we offer thanks;
He leaves the stage to thunderous applause.
Cruellest April, swapping sweet showers for
A raging storm that pelts the garden pond.
Water leaps to greet each kindred sphere, fond
Embraces cover the surface before
Gravity and surface tension restore
Calm, each droplet lost in the depths beyond
Our sight, its identity subsumed, donned
By the greater body, distinct no more.
The hearse awaits the improvised cortege,
Just four cars needed to convey us all
To the chapel where four grandsons shoulder
His coffin. His life now one with les neiges
D’antan his passing casts a heavy pall.
There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier …
Scattering John’s Ashes
There’s a better class of undergrowth in
Scotland. The serried rows of pines, ramrod
Straight let light alight on the soft green sward
Contrasting nicely with the grey lichen.
(Unwary ramblers will find their skin
Ripped to pieces by brambles should they plod
Through an English wood’s understorey shod
In fashionable footwear that’s too thin.)
The cremated remnants were surprising
Considering the frailty of the corpse.
Six ziplock bags full, three for each offspring
Present. Weaving through the trees, dust trailing,
Motes dance in sunbeams. Children from time-warps
Decades ago, twisted by time’s passing.
Is the first of these covers an improvement on the second?
I dreamt of playing Rugby for Wales
Last night. Were broadcast Premiership scores
I heard drifting off to sleep keys for doors
To lost desires? My mind unveils
Itself and I’m shocked awake. Details
Fade, but whistfulness lingers, gives me pause.
What deeply buried thing could be the cause
Of this? My mind’s conjured fairy tales
Far beyond anything in real life.
Am I mourning a youth that never
Existed when it was within my grasp?
Or was the game a metaphor for strife
That exists in the present forever
Entombed in the subconsciousness’s clasp?