» 2010 general election ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Vote music

Right, the man responsible for this – amongst so many other crime against music – has come out for the Tories today:

And don’t let it be forgotten that this man has been campaigning with David Cameron:

And never let this man’s Tory allegiances be forgotten:

Meanwhile, this was created by a Liberal Democrat:

And she agrees with Nick:

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Do you remember four weeks ago? When BBC News spent half an hour showing us live footage of Gordon Brown’s car driving through London, when David Cameron told us he was going to campaign for the ‘great ignored’ and the media didn’t really care who Nick Clegg was?

Yes, we’re four weeks into this campaign, with a little over 48 hours to go, or less if you’re a party leader. Must be great for them, not having to do anything but go out and vote, knowing that there’s no way for them to campaign any more, and there’ll be other people out there doing the knocking up for them on election day. The rest of us will be running up and down streets, looking for someone with a car to take someone to the polling station before it closes and wondering if this is the year that a Parliamentary seat or Council ward will be won by one single vote, so we can claim we made that difference. Though, for anyone doubting the need for work on election day, every election here in Colchester has featured at least one seat where the result could have been different (for every party) if there’d been one more person out knocking up for an hour or two on election day.

Lots of links for you today, you lucky people. Cicero’s Songs is waiting for the Liberal Democrat earthquake and Unlock Democracy has a point to make about hung Parliaments – would you rather be Greece or Germany? Over in Wales, my old friend Daran Hill writes for WalesHome about which seats there might see shock results on election night, while the New Statesman shocks us with the revelation that Ed Balls might just, possibly, be able to countenance the idea of someone voting for a party other than Labour.

Here in Colchester, we had some of the Young Britons’ Foundation leaflets delivered yesterday and The Bureau of Sabotage has some more information on them, including the interesting news that the deliverers of them may not have been doing it for ideological reasons, but purely for cash. I’m sure the YBF’s accounts will show that any payments for delivery were legal and above board, and not cash-in-hand payments dodging tax and employment laws. Changing the subject entirely, a rather shocking report from The Independent on what happened when a reporter attempted to investigate stories of election fraud in the East End.

After all that, have a break with a quick video:

As for me, it was a bit of a quiet day. Had to go to Ipswich this morning for non-election related work, but had an interesting tour of the Museums there, which are part of the joint Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service – and I’m sure I’ll talk about that at greater length after the election. I came back and went to do some deliveries, only to discover that thanks to a over-supply of volunteers today, there was very little left to do! Yes, today we were delivering things faster than we could print them, something that brings a smile to the face of every election agent. I did find a few things left to deliver, but just 100 to take my total deliveries for the campaign up to 3,450. From my memories of previous campaigns, I might double that in the next 48 hours.

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I should remember to never talk about the weather. Yesterday doesn’t appear to have been a blip in the generally sunny election we’ve been having, and the rain has returned. Typical Bank Holiday weather, of course, including a brief hailstorm, but really scuppers the best laid plans of deliverers and canvassers.

That didn’t stop electioneering from going on between the showers. David Cameron appears to be launching a special Conservative effort to target the insomniac voter, by promising that the Conservatives will campaign ‘through the night’ on Tuesday. I suspect someone’s borrowed an idea from American politics, where there’s much talk of candidates doing 36-hour last-ditch campaign swings, but it makes sense in a country with multiple time zones and many opportunities to sleep on flights between events. It doesn’t really mean much if you’re wandering round Smithfield at 3am trying to get a photograph with someone who’s not covered in too much blood.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown was in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft today with Duncan Bannatyne. Bannatyne is currently hosting a series called Seaside Rescue. Ever get the feeling that their hearts just aren’t in it at Labour HQ, or are they attempting to make lives easier for newspaper headline and caption writers?

Here’s a list of celebrity Lib Dem supporters. Rumours that Armando Ianucci’s there because a) we’re the only party not to have asked him to direct an election broadcast and b) a strong third party and a balanced Parliament creates some interesting plots for The Thick Of It would likely be strongly denied by the party’s press officers.

Today’s linkage gives you the opportunity to see Mark Reckons using the word ‘bunkum’, which just doesn’t get used enough in political discourse, Liberal England bringing us Betty Boothroyd’s views on electoral reform, and Chris Brooke discussing post-election possibilities for the Liberal Democrats.

Elsewhere, Splintered Sunrise collects several Northern Ireland election broadcasts into a single post, showing that one result of the peace process is that Sinn Fein can now make videos that are just as banal as any other political party. However, my personal favourite in that collection is the SDLP’s, which features a number of scenes that look like attempts to enter a competition for the world’s worst Reservoir Dogs-esque walk.

Things I didn’t expect to be posting links to in this election campaign: Lib Dem flashmobs in Trafalgar Square.

They Work For You have created a very good site to help you decide who you should vote for. Linking with the work done by Democracy Club, you get to answer questions on local and national issues and see how they match up to your local candidates, not just national party lists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my results gave me Bob Russell (Lib Dem) first, Peter Lynn (Green) second and Garryck Noble of the People’s Party Essex third, with BNP and UKIP tied for fourth. And no, I haven’t discovered some latent swivel-eyed loon tendency – that’s far behind in last place because our Labour, Tory, English Democrat and independent candidates haven’t responded to any of the questions.

As for my campaigning, I’ve done about 350 deliveries today, which takes the total up to about 3,350, I believe. Whole lot more to come over the next few days, but none of it is in my house at the moment.

And finally, some music, with Right Said Fred’s ‘Lib Dem anthem’. While it does have a singalong chorus, I can’t see it being requested that much at the next Conference Glee Club:

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It couldn’t last, of course. All bubbles burst, all things that have been feeling so good for such a long period have to eventually drop back down to the norm, and perhaps even below the norm in order to appease the law of averages that govern this sort of thing.

Yes, today was the first day in a while when the weather was horrible and not one that anyone would really want to go out and campaign in. Wet, windy and rather cold, it’s the perfect day for staying in and working on designing and rewriting literature for the last few days of the campaign – as Sara Bedford says: “When it rains, we artwork, so when it stops there is more to deliver”.

One of the benefits of living in one of the driest parts of the UK is that we do lose very few days of election campaigning to poor weather – though a couple of years ago saw the start of campaigning being delayed by snow – and so it doesn’t feel too bad to lose the odd day to poor weather. However, this does prompt a thought for any researchers looking for ideas for projects, how about something looking at the effects of weather on levels of political campaigning and the consequential effects on turnout and results?

Still, the forecast for the week ahead looks like it’ll be OK for campaigning, even if it is going to be a little cold. Sunny weather forecast for Thursday, though I’m a bit concerned at the prediction of the temperature dropping to 2 degrees on Wednesday night. Delivering those eve of poll and early morning leaflets isn’t too easy in gloves.

Seems to have been an oddly quiet day nationally in the election campaign too – possibly because other news has been topping the headlines today, and the media being glad for the chance for a quick break from the election to cover foiled bomb plots, oil spills, Greek economic woes and a rather bizarre story featuring the world snooker champion and News of the World journalists posing as the Ukrainian mafia. Against that background, you can see how ‘Clegg, Cameron and Brown make more speeches in different locations’ drops down the running order – even gay demons don’t get that much air time.

Less than 100 hours to go until the campaign’s all over.

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Another quiet election day from me – had a few more deliveries to do this morning, but just as I was getting ready to take them out, I noticed that someone had forgotten to put the letters in the addressed envelopes, and while delivering empty envelopes to people might be a good electoral tactic for a surrealist/situationist election campaign, I decided to wait until I’d got some letters for them.

Elsewhere in the election today, aside from the shocking news that the Independent has decided that I’m a prominent political blog, the Guardian has announced that it’s backing the Liberal Democrats at this election. While this is a welcome development for the party, what’s even better is just how crazy it’s made some Labour supporters. You can read the comments on the Guardian editorial to see some of it, but if you want the pure concentrated crazy, I recommend this piece at Harry’s Place, right down to the Khrushchev-quoting end. It’s especially amusing when a blog that’s spent almost its entire existence arguing that the Guardian is antithesis of everything it stands for goes off the rails when it dares to disagree with them again.

And now the Observer has joined the Guardian in backing Clegg, I’m expecting a fantastically arsey piece from Nick Cohen.

Away from all that – literally, for the past few days – is Anton Vowl, who’s been fortunate enough to have both had a holiday and voted, so is almost completely divorced from the election-related shenanigans the rest of us have been going through. Lucky git.

And from yesterday, but I didn’t see it then, Marina Hyde’s growing fears of a Tory victory next week, but unlike her I’m not worried about David Cameron becoming Prime Minister.

I worry about George Osborne becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer, using the Treasury as a tool to cut taxes on the rich and services for the poor. I worry about William Hague, the barely acceptable face of Tory xenophobia, becoming Foreign Secretary and wrecking our relationship with all our foreign partners. I worry about Chris Grayling taking his brand of ill-informed populist nonsense into the Home Office, about Jeremy Hunt using DCMS to gleefully wreck the BBC and return whatever favours News Corporation demanded for their support. I worry about arch-neocons and Iraq War cheerleaders like Michael Gove and Liam Fox getting their feet around the Cabinet table.

In the face of that catalogue of potential disaster, I just don’t have any worry left for the overpromoted PR man they’ve chosen as the frontman for Operation Illusory Detoxification.

Five days to go…

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Firstly, a musical interlude:

Well, that’s cleared all the lingering dog whistles from last night. For more on this, and to save me just echoing everything she wrote, go and read what Jennie has to say.

Just think, this time next week it’ll all be over, unless you have local elections and they’re finding it hard to get enough staff to count them all, and you’ve got several wards where the result is really close, and they’ve all had to go to recounts, and then the Returning Officer, with the look of someone who can barely remember what sleep is, decides you’ll all need to come back tomorrow to finish off. So, unless that scenario happens – and I know I’m tempting fate for Colchester by writing it here – the election will all be over by this time next week. And that’s when the screaming starts…

Or there’ll just be the realisation that while the people have spoken, we’re not quite sure what they’ve said and as liquidating the electorate and replacing them with a new one isn’t anyone’s policy (well, the first half comes close to the BNP) we’ll just have to go back and ask them again in 6-12 months to see if they’ve changed their minds. Electoral staff may be one of the growth industries of the next few years, if only we can find a way to export them for profit. Sadly, that would likely involve persuading another country to adopt an FPTP electoral system, which they seem reluctant to do so.

For another perspective on what might the situation this time next week might be, go read Chris Brooke.

Back to the debate, and an interesting post from Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon looking at how the pollsters weight their panels for the debate response polls. The information he provides leaves a very large question mark over just how accurate any of the post-debate polls have been, especially given that ‘the leader of the party I support came first’ appears to be the most common response. Still, anyone who watched Charlotte Gore’s version of the debate would have enjoyed it. If I had any animation skills at all, I would be working on a version of MegaMultiLeaderMechaRobot vs GimletEyedBearFascist Stomp Attack!, but I don’t so I just have to hope someone else is inspired.

That’s all from me for today – another 300 deliveries to take the total to a nice round 3,000, but no doors knocked today, as I had a terrible night’s sleep last night and don’t think that falling asleep on someone’s doorstep as I wait for them to answer the door is a good way

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I was struggling to think of a title for today’s post, then started flicking through the channels and discovered that the 60s Batman film was on FilmFour. It was very hard not to see Gordon Brown as the unluck sap running along a pier holding a giant comedy bomb while the presence of various babies in prams, marching bands, nuns, ducklings and other tabloid-friendly images prevent him from dumping it.

(Not that New Labour’s normally had much of a problem getting rid of bombs)

Obviously, the reason Armando Ianucci wasn’t available to direct the Tory election broadcast I referred to in my last post was because he’s now directing the entire election. Yet again, the broadcasters of Britain breathe a huge sigh of relief as they can now go for another day without talking about unimportant trivialities like policy and instead spend hours and hours dissecting the meaning of one comment. Sometime tomorrow, they’ll have to change their focus slightly to the final leaders’ debate, but they can frame that in terms of whether Gordon Brown will mutter something under his breath or if David Cameron will tell us that he too once met a bigoted woman, so with luck and a bit of manufactured post-debate nowtrage, the election coverage can stay entirely policy-free until the weekend.

The big question is this – is this the day Labour lost the election, or just the day the media will point to as the day Labour lost the election for which they’d already spent five years preparing the ground for their defeat?

Was listening to Radio 4’s PM this afternoon, which featured a Labour person saying that the campaign was going fine, and their canvass returns were showing that everything was fine. Of course, that’s always the response to any claims that things are going wrong – ‘we’re not hearing that on the doorstep’ – and it’s one of those things that I really wish the media would pick up on, by challenging people to put up that data to justify their claims. Never going to happen, of course.

Talking of canvass data, today I was out canvassing in an entirely new area – Chelmsford. A few of us from Colchester went down there to help out Stephen Robinson in his attempt to win there, and to show our thanks for all the times they’ve come out to help us here in Colchester – they’re one of the key reasons we won here in 1997, so we’re hoping that we can now repay the favour and get Essex’s second Liberal Democrat MP. If you’re in Essex and want to help out, then I know Stephen and his team will be grateful for all the help they can get.

Another 40 doors knocked on this afternoon, and then a traffic jam on the A12 meant I got back too late to do any tonight, so that takes the total up to 330. Tomorrow looks like it might be a big delivery day though.

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