Somerton & Frome – who can win here?

Campaigning is really hotting up in the Somerton & Frome by-election. Candidates have been out on the doorsteps, and thousands of leaflets have been delivered. However a number of constituents have complained that the LibDem leaflet is misleading. It all hinges on the bar charts at the front of the leaflet. The bar chart comes under a heading “Its so close here.”

LibDems are fond of using the bar chart in elections in Somerset. They seek to project an image that it is a really close fight between the LibDems and Conservatives. The aim is to persuade people to abandon left of centre parties and unite around the LibDems.

There’s nothing wrong with that as an aim. The other left of centre parties may well be putting out a similar message. But there is something disturbing about the bar chart. It is fundamentally dishonest.

The bar chart might have some claim to accuracy if it was based on polling. But it isn’t. It is very specific that it represents the position at the last General Election.

In fact it grossly misrepresents the position at the last General Election in 2019. This is the LibDem leaflet:

The key thing to note is that the LibdDem bar is shown as significantly close in height to the Conservative bar. Being unscientific, you’d say the bar was more than half the Conservative bar, and perhaps as much as three quarters the height.

We measured it. The Conservative bar is 15cm tall and the LibDem one 11cm tall. Almost exactly three quarters the size of the Conservative bar.

Looking at Labour, their bar is shown as 2.6cm tall. That suggests a vote that was less than a quarter of the LibDem vote.

The Greens bar is even smaller at 1.2cm tall. This directly implies that the Green Party vote was 11% of the LibDem vote.

The one thing you can say for this bar chart is that the bars do reflect the order the parties finished in at the last General Election. But in terms of their relative performance, this is a misrepresentation pure and simple. Whether it is such a gross misrepresentation as to require sanctions is for others to decide.

But as a simple matter of fact, this is the true position at the last General Election shown in a bar chart:

You’ll immediately notice some differences. Firstly the LibDem vote of (being precise) 17,017 was less than half that of the Conservatives. Not three quarters as the LibDem leaflet shows. Remember the leaflet heading “Its so close here”. In truth it might be. But in the 2019 General Election depicted in the bar chart below the heading, it wasn’t. The LibDems got less than half of the Conservative vote.

Secondly the Labour vote 8,354 was nearly half that of the LibDems. Not a quarter as represented in the LibDem leaflet. Finally the Green vote was 3,259. According to the LibDem bar chart it was 11% of the LibDem vote which would have made a total of just 1,540.

The kindest thing you can say for the leaflet is that is exaggerated to make a point. But as we said at the top, if the bar chart was based on recent polling, the LibDems would be making a valid point. Maybe not everyone would agree, but it is a legitimate argument.

As it is, by claiming the bars represented General Election figures, the leaflet is simply wrong. And misleading. It is also a bit of an own goal. By putting accurate figures in the LibDems could have made the same point. One can only wonder why they chose not to. Because it was a choice.

Using incorrect figures rather smacks of dishonesty. Which is not a good look for a would be MP. Or perhaps these days it is?


  • To be honest the most misleading thing in any LibDems campaign is claiming they are a competent political party.

  • Would I buy a second-hand car from a Lib Dem candidate – anywhere?

  • “The mules of politics; without pride of ancestry, or hope of posterity,”

    Lest we forget Cameron/Clegg the latter ‘resident’ in the Californian ‘sunrise’ joint-architect of ‘austerity’. Locally across ‘fifty-years’ all things to all people, many a ‘sinecure’ pace SSDC. Paddys former ‘fiefdom’!

    My ‘elected’ Lib- Dem, Ward-member (2019) Parish/District/County/Unitary Authorities an ‘expectation’? “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

    The ‘travesty’ BBC Points West: Politics Live from Somerton, relegating 4 PPCs a ‘dereliction’ of the BBC Licence & ELECTION REGULATION.

    Graham E Livings, INDEPENDENT PPC, WELLS & FROME 1979
    PS: Ros this octogenarian alive & well; my dear ‘spouse’ dedicated to the Careers Service; thanks for enquiring.

    Ros Wyke

    Cc:Wyke, Ros – Cllr
    Sat 25/05/2019 21:29
    Dear Graham,

    Thank you and your wife for the email.

    As you can imagine, my diary is rather over flowing at the moment, so forgive me if I decline your invitation of a meeting at this time.

    While I cannot intervene in respect of a planning application, we will be reviewing the Local Plan later this year, including the policies related to the Mendip Hills AONB.

    Do hope you are keeping well.
    With regards


  • Worth remembering that the opinion polls show Labour 20 points ahead of the Tories, while the Lib Dems are still firmly stuck exactly where they were in 2029, when they came 4th in the General election behind the Scots Nats. The truth is that Labour has an excellent candidate., the party is on a surge an people hate the Tories. No chickens are being counted but i have to ask myself whether local people really want a Lib-Dem MP ata time like this.? Having David Laws as an MP harmed Yeovil rather than helping local people, for example.

    • Lets not forget that in the neighbouring constituency the Lib Dems are the bullies on Chard town council, something their leadership which includes the Lib Dem candidate for the Somerton and Frome constituency have failed to address.
      I also watched politics West on TV yesterday and in my view the Liberal Democrat candidate was very rude constantly Interrupting other speakers.

  • Richard Wilkins

    I note that you have chosen only to pick up on the Lib Dem leaflets despite knowing that they are the only likely alternative. Still I suppose does reinforce how important it is for everyone to vote for the only candidate with a realistic chance of winning that actually lives in the constituency and has been working hard for the area long before this by-election was called.

  • Andrew Cranfield

    I am not sure that any of the candidates are that impressive and, sadly, the Lib Dem candidate also doesn’t really appear to have the necessary intellectual horsepower necessary to do the job

    I would also think that her links to extinction rebellion wont help either!preferred/0/package/1377/pub/1377/page/14/article/NaN

    Happy memories of good old David Heath are fading fast…..

  • “In politics, there is no use in looking beyond the next fortnight”!

    Indeed David Heath CBE! The ‘epitome’ of Honour and Integrity, The Rt Hon Robert Boscawen MC.

    Graham E Livings, INDEPENDENT PPC WELLS & FROME 1979

  • The Lib/dems have always done those charts deliberately lying to the electorate to make it look that things were closer than they actually were.

  • Other half and I have both voted with postal votes. OH answered a knock at the door the other day and it was a male with a big yellow rosette (so not the candidate?), however,she was on the phone so he left her to it. Today there was a knock on the door and, to her surprise, it was the Conservative candidate in person. Well done that lady for doing something unique in our experience. We always get quantities of leaflets and junk, but in many, many years, we’ve never seen a genuine parliamentary candidate!

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