On the Batman byelection

Colin Smith writes: Re. “The Greens will claim more inner-city seats eventually, but not yet” (Tuesday)

Things are not quite what they seem in Batman. The Greens result in 2016, and their Northcote victory in 2017, were both enhanced by donkey votes, whereas their result in Batman this time has been depressed by them. Bhathal lost to Feeney in 2016 49% to 51% two-party preferred, and has now lost to Kearney 45.6% to 54.4% 2PP. However, her decline of some 3.4% is probably entirely attributable to the zombie votes of those who number all squares in order from top to bottom. 

It is generally accepted that a candidate whose name appears on the ballot paper above that of her principal opponent stands to gain an increase of between 1% and 2% 2PP. Bhathal had this advantage over Feeney in 2016, and Kearney had it over Bhathal this time. So, where Bhathal presumably gained between 1% and 2% via donkeys against Feeney in 2016, she presumably lost as much against Kearney. If the donkey effect were cancelled out, Bhathal would still have lost both times — but by a consistent margin intermediate between the margins of 2016 and 2018 — about 47% to 53%. And Thorpe would still have won Northcote — but by less.  So we should now be discussing why Bhathal failed to gain ground rather than why she apparently lost some. Also, perhaps, what to do about donkeys.

On the eavesdropping Uber driver

Laurie Patton writes: Re. “The other share economy” (Tuesday)

Uber admitted to a UK parliamentary committee it doesn’t know if its drivers even earn the minimum wage. But in any case, they are on a hiding to nothing. Uber and the like are already working on eliminating drivers and using autonomous vehicles.