As the first results of the 2015 General Election filtered through in the early hours of the 8th May, the electorate were still reeling from another political earthquake which occurred just a few weeks before: the Berkhamsted school mock election. Following an intense campaign, packed with hustings and debates, the students of Berkhamsted School were able to anticipate what no pollster, political analyst or party leader could - a Conservative majority. However, a cursory examination of the results below show a striking deviation from the national election.
Berkhamsted School was clearly kinder to the Liberal Democrats than the general public, receiving 17% of the vote across Castle, Kings and the Sixth Form. This average hides an interesting result. Castle, it seems, cared little for the Lib Dems, who could only sway 5.3% of the boys. Yet it would have been of immense consolation to Nick Clegg if he were able to see the the somewhat surprising liberal swing at Kings and the Sixth Form, where they received an impressive 21.4% and 26.6% of the vote respectively, clearly benefitting from Ben Shelley’s good looks. In fact, the political persuasions of the girls are all the more striking when they are visualised liked this:
Although the Conservatives retained a clear majority across all year groups, one cannot help but notice the sharp spike in Lib Dem support among the Year 11’s. It is a sociological observation that people become steadily more liberal until their mid-twenties, when they begin to develop a more conservative disposition. Despite a resounding Conservative victory, this seems to be borne out, at least partially, by the results at Kings and the Sixth Form.
Confusingly, the results at Castle were more erratic. Labour experienced a bizarre surge in Year 9 (especially in Swifts) whilst UKIP were successful in siphoning votes from the Conservatives in Year 10.
Nonetheless, one cannot understate the scale of the Conservatives’ victory. If the school were operating under the First-Past-The-Post voting system, and we assume each house is a constituency, then the Conservatives would hold 91% of the seats - all except for Fry’s, which UKIP won, and Churchill, which sensationally produced a draw, presumably triggering a constitutional crisis.
The charts above show a sharp gender divide. 61.9% of the girls voted Tory, compared to 49.1% of the boys. The Liberal Democrats were also much more successful at Kings. However, UKIP barely registered among the girls but came in second place at Castle. The Greens also garnered an astonishing 11.4% of the boys’ votes. Overall, the girls appear to lean more to the right, although the boys are more likely to vote for far-left or far-right parties like the Greens or UKIP.
In addition to the votes cast for the parties specified on the ballot paper, a total of 17 students took advantage of the ‘other’ option available. These included one communist, one Cornish nationalist, two Plaid Cymru supporters, three Monster Raving Loony Party voters (a surprisingly low turnout) and one for my personal favourite, the Mongolian Barbecue Great Place to Party Party. An interesting side note, all of these votes came from boys. Make of that what you will.
The enterprise of organising the election has floated upon a sea of volunteers. There would have been little substance to the election without the brave Sixth Formers who tirelessly campaigned on behalf of their political party. Of course, none of it would have happened without the cooperation of numerous staff members, particularly Mr Moseley. Equally, there would have been no ballot papers with which to vote, or boxes in which to cast the ballots, without the reprographics team. And thanks finally to all those whom I coerced into counting votes, your help was much appreciated.
In the news today, there is much talk of political apathy and disaffection, especially amongst the younger demographic. I hope this mock election has succeeded in equipping some with an interest in politics that will follow through to the next election, when the majority of those to whom we presented at the hustings will be able to vote themselves. Good luck to the fortunate Year 8 who gets to do my job in five years time.