An eternity in Schipol

On our recent trip to Sicily and Helsinki, we travelled through seven different airports on four different airlines. Amsterdam’s Schipol airport probably had least to ease the waiting between flights.

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No 12 “Joan”

No 12 “Joan” is an engine on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. No 12 “Joan” is also named for my maternal grandmother, Joan Mildred Simmons (nee Henzell) and was one of a number of steam engines which were used to haul sugar cane to the factory on Antigua. I visited the WLLR on their recent steam gala and was lucky enough to ride on the footplate on a scheduled service.

To find out more about this rather wonderful heritage railway, visit www.wllr.org.uk. To enjoy the trains, visit the railway!

An 1881 case of slavery?

Whilst browsing the 1881 census for members of my mother’s ancestral family, I came across a rather disturbing census entry for Weymouth in 1881. Here we have a surgeon and his wife, both originally from Dorchester in Dorset, whose children were born in South Africa. The children, who are 12, 7 and 4 have a nursemaid. The shocking thing is that this nursemaid is 11, a Zulu girl taken from her homeland, and given the appallingly degrading name of “Jumbo”. And to make it worse for this child, torn from home and her own culture, she’s described as a kleptomaniac.

I find it very hard to see this as anything other than a case of slavery in Dorset, more than 50 years after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. But then, South Africa was always a different story when it came to the treatment of native peoples by white colonialists.

Keills Port South Quay

Keills Port South Quay

At the end of the peninsula south of Tayvallich lies the little-used Keills Port. This slipway is the still-operational South Quay and maintained by Argyll and Bute Council. The gated road to the quay is a public road its full length and, contrary to the signs, it is possible to turn a vehicle at the quay end. That said, the best approach is on foot or bicycle to maintain the tranquility of the place. This was once busy with traffic from the Isle of Jura, which lies across the sound. Seals and otters can be seen here and the slipway itself is covered with sea pinks in the spring.

The quay was built in 1821 on the orders of the Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges and is attributed to Thomas Telford.

Canmore.

Dirty deeds done badly

It’s election season again, which means yet another example of bad mathematics and dishonest representation through the door from the Conservative party. The Tories use charts in an attempt to represent how they are the only party to stand a chance of beating the SNP in whatever contest they are engaged in. I say the SNP because they are the party which holds the Westminster seat at the moment and are the party to be toppled if someone else is to represent the constituency. Prior to the 2015 election, the seat was held by the Liberal Democrats.

This post isn’t about the political merits or otherwise of the various parties, but the perpetual habit of the Tories in mis-using and abusing statistics in seeking to gain the allegiance of the voters in the ballot box or postal vote as the case may be.

Let’s start with the statistics the Tories seek to abuse. These are the actual results of the elections for Argyll and Bute Council earlier this month. Because Scottish local authorities are elected from multi-member wards using a single transferable vote (STV) system, the only data that we have to work with are the first preference votes, which are published by the Electoral Management Board here for you to look at yourself. I’ll summarise the data:

The number of eligible voters was 68,808 and 33,670 people cast a vote, a turnout of 48.9%. That means, even if the turnout at a general election is 60%, there are another 7,614 votes in play. Remember that.

The first preference votes were as follows:

Independents 10079 30.4%
SNP 9174 27.7%
Conservative 8315 25.1%
Liberal Democrats 3571 10.8%
Labour 1362 4.1%
Green 609 1.8%
Other 32 0.1%

The distribution of first preference votes represented in a chart are as follows:

This is how the Conservative leaflet that came through my door today represented the Council elections for Argyll and Bute:

There’s a wee difference. If you took the numbers and charted the data properly, it would look like this:

The Tories have done what you’d expect; scale down the heights of the columns for the LibDems and Labour. Hilariously enough, they’ve also scaled down their own column and shown the gap as visually greater than it would be if the figures they were using were honest. Remember, they’re not.

So, taking the Council election first preference data, and excluding the 35,138 people who didn’t bother vote, and all of those who voted for independents, Greens and Kippers, the data would look like this:

The Tories have actually under-represented their own share. And these are the people who claim to be good with finances.

So, what about their claim that they’re the only party to unseat the SNP? Here’s the result of the 2015 parliamentary election as shown on the UK Polling Report website:

It would still appear that it’s an SNP/LibDem contest. Bear in mind that 32% of the people who voted in the Council election voted for independents, Greens or Kippers and there were 35,000+ people who didn’t vote at all. It may well be that the Conservatives are the party who can unseat the SNP, but the data they use is dishonest and shouldn’t be used to persuade people.

I should state here that I am not expressing a preference for any party here, with the exception of abhoring Kippers and Tories. I should also state that I’m not a psephologist.