Bath Voice News: election expert on the Bath ward with a female only list of candidates and his forecast for Thursday’s election result

By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter: Bath could be “unique” in having the country’s longest all-woman ballot in the upcoming local elections.

All eight candidates standing for election to Bath and North East Somerset Council in the Widcombe and Lyncombe ward are women, which Bath-based elections expert Nigel Marriott said could be a record.

According to gender equality campaigners the Fawcett Society, as of 2019 only 35% of councillors were women. Assuming this is the proportion standing in the local elections, that would mean there is a less than 1 in 4000 chance of an eight-candidate ballot paper being made up solely of women, Mr Marriott calculates.

He explained: “It’s straightforward maths, one third raised to the power of 8 tells you that one in 4,441 eight-candidate lists should be all-female.”

There are elections happening for over 8,000 council seats across England on May 4, but the number of candidate lists will be smaller because many of those — including Widcombe and Lyncombe — will see multiple candidates elected for the same ward. Also, in wards where only one candidate is elected, candidate lists are likely to be shorter.

Mr Mariott said: “I think it’s a good chance this is a first.”

Widcombe and Lyncombe is currently represented by Winston Duguid and Alison Born, but Mr Duguid is retiring from the council at this election.

Mr Marriott is mainly an expert on gender and inequality statistics, and has given evidence to Parliamentary select committees on the subject and helped them rewrite their guidelines.

But forecasting elections is his hobby. He said: “In the 2019 general election I was the most accurate forecaster of everyone, beating even John Curtice’s exit poll.

“Of course, it should be said I was also one of the most inaccurate in 2017 so you can’t always get it right.”

In the upcoming local elections, he is predicting that the Liberal Democrats will hold on to Bath and North East Somerset Council.

In North Somerset, he predicts that it will remain under no overall control, but with an increased number of Conservatives elected.

In Bath and North East Somerset, all four political parties represented on the council — the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Labour and Greens — have fielded full slates at this election, meaning that there is a candidate from each party of those parties for every single seat on the council. Many wards also have independent candidates standing.

Consequently, all wards that elect two councillors to the council have at least eight candidates at this election.

Midsomer Norton Redfield has the most people standing, with voters having eleven different people putting themselves forward for their two seats on the council.

The election will take place on May 4. You will now need to bring a photo ID with you when you vote.

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