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December 12, 2019

Wet, chilly weather could hit voters in marginal seats

World

P
Pa
December 12, 2019

LONDON: Chilly and wet weather will affect the UK’s closest election fights on Thursday (today), as voters head to the polls for the first December election since 1923.

Wintry spells could hit eastern parts of Scotland on Thursday, the region home to the closest seat in the country: North East Fife, where the SNP are defending a majority of just two. The Met Office is predicting showers in the region, some of which could have “a wintry side”, according to meteorologists. One candidate expressed concern bad weather could affect turnout in the ultra-marginal. Liberal Democrat candidate Wendy Chamberlain told the PA news agency: “I think it’s going to be very interesting in terms of voter turnout. There is one part of the constituency near the north, Gauldry, and we were going up it and I said if it’s snowing on the 12th December this is probably a place we’re not getting to. I think it means that postal votes will be quite critical and a lower turnout might have an impact as well.”

The Perth and North Perthshire constituency, currently held by the SNP, has a majority of just 21 votes going into Thursday’s election and could also face some winter weather.

Talking about the weather in Perth and Fife on Thursday, Craig Snell, senior meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “It’s going to be a chilly start, temperatures will have fallen down to near freezing overnight. Through the course of the day there will be a few showers around, but compared to England it should be dry. Some will have a wintry side across higher ground, but across lower levels it will be falling as rain.”

Voters in Perth and Fife will experience maximum temperatures of around 5C (41F) and, in the morning, hovering around the freezing mark. Two other close constituencies further south — Glasgow South West and Glasgow East — are both held by the SNP with majorities of 60 and 75, respectively.

Snell continued: “Temperatures in Glasgow are going to be around the freezing mark, in the centre probably about two to three, and in the outskirts between zero and minus one. We’ve got a greater chance of seeing showers in Glasgow than we have in the east, but compared to England, looking a lot dryer. The main band of rain across central parts of the UK shouldn’t reach Glasgow until midnight and most will fall as rain.” Ultra-marginal constituencies in England could also see some bad conditions as wet weather moves north throughout the country.

Kensington — with a Labour majority of 20 — and Richmond Park — with a Conservative majority of 45 — will have wet conditions as a band of rain moves towards London throughout the morning.

Snell said about London: “[It will] start off cold but dry and bright, but as we go through the course of Thursday, we’re going to see a band of rain moving through from the west, reaching London around lunchtime.”

Dudley North, with a Labour majority of 22, will also see periods of wet weather throughout the morning, Snell said, adding: “in the afternoon, a dry spell before further rain arrives at the end of Thursday.”

However, one academic does not think bad weather has an adverse effect on turnout and results. Chris Hanretty, a politics professor at Royal Holloway University, found no significant statistical link between rain on the day of the EU referendum in 2016, and voter turnout. He wrote on Twitter: “The effects of weather on turnout are small, if they exist, and the effects on vote share are tiny. Less than one fifth of one percent in an extreme case.”

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