The Spectator

Barometer | 15 June 2017

Also in Barometer: who supports gay marriage in Northern Ireland; and how long can a dead woman walk?

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Keep walking

George Osborne called Theresa May a ‘dead woman walking’. The expression ‘dead man walking’ was called out by US prison officers to clear the way for a condemned inmate on his way to execution. It fell into disuse in the 1960s but was rekindled in 1993, first by the publication of a book of that title about a death row inmate called Elmo Patrick Sonnier, then by a successful film version starring Sean Penn. Sonnier was convicted in 1978 of the murder of two teenage lovers and executed in 1984. If Theresa May spends that long on political ‘death row’, it will last beyond a five-year parliamentary term.

Against the bias

Britain’s electoral system used to favour the Conservatives, then Labour, and now it seems to favour the Tories again. Number of votes received per seat won:

Year

Conservative / Labour

2017

42,927 / 49,266

2015

34,347 / 40,290

2010

34,979 / 33,358

2005

44,368 / 26,908

2001

50,374 / 25,968

1997

58,187 / 32,340

1992

41,943 / 42,658

1987

36,598 / 43,795

1983

32,776 / 40,463

1979

40,406 / 42,870

Youth will out

Labour’s unexpectedly strong election result was linked to young-voter turnout. How has turnout percentage varied among old and young in recent elections?

Year

18-20 / Over 65

1997

61% / 87%

2001

43% / 82%

2005

40% / 85%

2010

45% / 88%

2015

56% / 84%

Source: British Social Attitudes survey

Gay unionism

Some protested at a pact between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) over the latter’s stance on gay marriage. An Ipsos MORI poll in 2015 found that 68 per cent of people in Northern Ireland supported gay marriage. A similar poll in 2014 found support in Britain running at 69 per cent. The NI poll broke down support for gay marriage by political affiliation:

Sinn Fein

80%

Alliance

79%

SDLP

61%

UUP

49%

DUP

45%

In the Irish Republic, support for gay marriage was found to be 62 per cent.