It’s starting to feel like this election campaign began before the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant. Indeed, I’m not quite sure there was a Duchess of Cambridge, a House of Windsor or even a single monarchy back when it began. But no, it wasn’t in the days of the Heptarchy it began, just at the end of March and now we’re over a month later and still things feel as though nothing has changed in all that time, and we’re in stuck in an endless election loop. This time next week, though, the polling stations will be open and votes will be being cast in them and I’ll be spending my first election day in a number of years not running around like a blue-arsed fly, which will be interesting.
Sweepstake idea for election night: during Channels 4’s ‘alternative election night’ coverage, when will Jeremy Paxman first get visibly annoyed at having to cut away from an interesting interview or piece of actual news for some comic filler?
It’s the last big setpiece event of the election tonight as the Cameron, Miliband and Clegg don’t go head-to-head on Question Time. Yes, we can have all three in the same building at the same time – just like Miliband and Cameron were way back in March when they were interviewed by Paxman for C4 – but they can’t actually talk to each other. The order tonight is Cameron, then Miliband, and finally Clegg, but no word yet on if the others are kept in a soundproofed room while the others are speaking, and they all get a prize if they give the same answer to the questions.
I would normally have left the day’s election post until after it, so I could share my thoughts about it on the day itself, but tonight I’m going to be doing some more assisting on the QESB, so I’m unlikely to have the time to write anything before midnight, and if I don’t get my election post for the day done before Monday, then the Pumpkin Party win a seat. Or the blog turns into a pumpkin, it’s definitely one of those. It’s definitely been interesting helping out on the project both in terms of hearing what people are saying in focus groups and watching qualitative research being conducted. Plus it’s given me some interesting ideas for my Masters discussion, which I may discuss more on here when the election is over. Trust me, by September you’ll all be almost as bored of ‘the structure of competition for government’ as you are now by ‘variations within the margin of error’.
With the leaders all off prepping for their TV appearance tonight, it’s been a pretty quiet day on the election campaign trail, though that’s possibly because almost everything that could be said has been said in all the possible ways it can over the past thirty one days, and everyone’s hoping the stories about the royal baby coming are true because it might give them the day off that they’ve been hoping for since this all began. After this, though, it’s a frantic dash to the finish and it will be interesting to see where parties are targeting their campaigning and VIP visits in these last few days, as they try and shift a few hundred more votes in a constituency. This is also the time when the strength of the parties on the ground will be apparent – who can get out their and deliver the most leaflets and knock on the most doors before polling day, and who can drag out the most voters on the day itself? It might seem trivial, but swinging just a handful of seats from one column to another could be the difference between government and opposition, as John Lanchester explains here.
Today’s pickings from the depths of the list of parties is the Liberal Party. Yes, the continuity Liberals who didn’t join the Liberal Democrats post-merger in 1988 are still going, unlike their counterparts in the SDP. They still have a handful of councillors in scattered parts of the country and are standing four candidates: three in some of their traditional areas, and also one in Chelmsford. As a party, their ideology has wandered back and forth between the centre and the left over the years, seemingly depending on who is in control of the party at the time – at one point they were part of the No2EU electoral alliance that formed the basis for TUSC, but now the front page of their website shows that whatever they believe, they’re committed to explaining it in extremely long run-on sentences. I know that I sometimes have problems with using full stops as much as I should, but I’m not sure I’ve ever written a sentence that’s 223 words long and contains a quite ridiculous number of semicolons.
As the campaign goes on and more people hear about it, it’s interesting to se Election Leaflets look at times like everyone’s uploaded the same leaflet, only to realise it’s just a bunch of election communications that have arrived using the same party template. There are standard Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, Green, UKIP, Plaid and SNP leaflets all visible now in which the only real change is the photo and the candidate’s name. This, of course, is how we get leaflets asking for a vote for Name Surname who’s strongly in favour of First Local Policy Proposal Goes Here, and will work hard for the people of Constituency.
But you also get the one-offs like this leaflet for the Digital Democracy party‘s only candidate. Leaving aside the question of using an analogue method like a leaflet for an avowedly digital candidate, on reading it I can’t help but feel that he’d do well if someone explained to him the concept of a self-selected sample as basing your opinions solely on those who’ve chosen to come and register on a web site then answer some single issue questions seems to me to be a poor way to find out what public opinion is. Still, at least his leaflet looks good and doesn’t appear to be a template.
Only another week of these posts to go – but how many days will I need to be writing government negotiation posts for?