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UEA forecast under scrutiny

Norman Lamb the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk told Concrete he felt UEA’s general election forecast was “irresponsible” and misled voters, following his victory on Friday morning.

Three weeks before the election, the forecast gave the Conservatives a 100 percent probability of gaining the North Norfolk constituency from Mr Lamb.

The forecast was regularly updated by Dr Chris Hanretty and on the morning of the election had reduced the Conservative probability of winning North Norfolk to 84 percent.

Mr Lamb said he was “thrilled that we have confounded what was reported” but said he felt the way UEA’s forecast was “allowed” to be reported “was very misleading.”

In the weeks before 8 June, local media reported that there was a high chance of all Norfolk seats turning blue, though ultimately none of the seats in the county changed hands.

Mr Lamb said: “To me to be able to report from a study like that, giving a nil percent chance of me winning this seat, I think demonstrates a flaw. I would love to meet with him [Dr Chris Hanretty] at some point because I think it was irresponsible actually, because it gives people a misleading impression of what is likely to happen in an election.

“I think academics have a responsibility to be more responsible than that.”

Mr Lamb added: “I haven’t read the whole study so may well be that there is some assertion that itís more complex than has been reported.”

The forecast gave the Conservatives a 74 percent probability of taking Norwich South a few weeks before the election yet on polling day gave Labour incumbent Clive Lewis an 84 percent chance of holding his seat.

Speaking to Concrete on Friday 9 June, Dr Chris Hanretty explained: “If I’ve given different forecasts at different points in time, it’s because of different information available to me.”

He added: “The forecast which was picked up by the Eastern Daily Press (EDP) was a forecast made at the height of Conservative popularity. The forecast made last morning gave Norman Lamb a 16 percent chance of holding on.”

Dr Hanretty said: “I congratulate Norman Lamb on his victory.” He added that he thought Mr Lamb “should feel particularly pleased and proud since – at least on my forecast – it was achieved against the odds.”

Norman Lamb won 25,260 votes, and increased his majority from the 19,299 votes he recieved in 2015.


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October 2021
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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