» #ge2010 ¦ What You Can Get Away With

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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You see, this is why more people should be reading my blog. As I noted on Tuesday, when I’d been at the opening of the postal votes here:

even if I had seen how people had voted, I’d be committing an offence by telling you how they did

So, if Kerry McCarthy had read my blog the other day, she might have thought twice before tweeting what she’d seen at her postal vote count.

The big question, though, hasn’t been asked. As James Graham noted, what idiot decided it was a good idea to waste the candidate’s time by sending them (or not stopping them going) to the postal vote opening? There’s an almost infinite number of things that a candidate could be doing that would be more useful to the campaign than that. Like Gordon Brown being in Rochdale yesterday – are they really running a campaign that thinks they can gain seats? – it’s down to a Labour candidate being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just one link from me today – Mat’s latest post has a round-up of lots of things that are worth reading and seeing, so go see what he has to say today.

As for me, I’ve spent another day helping Stephen Robinson, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Chelmsford. It’s nice to be able to go and campaign somewhere else, just to help remember that this is a national campaign, if nothing else! There’s a really good atmosphere around Stephen’s campaign, and yet again, I’d advise anyone who is in Essex and looking to help elect a Liberal Democrat MP to get down there and help out. About 300 deliveries from me, as well as helping out the team in the office, takes my total up to 2,700 deliveries so far for the campaign…and I’m not going to start keeping count of the number of leaflets I’ve folded as well.

Still two hours to the final debate, and it’s already crowded out all other news from the TV. I’m almost tempted to watch The One Show in protest – especially as the BBC have wheeled out Quentin Letts from whatever pit of slime it is he normally lives in.

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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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For us politics junkies, The Thick Of It is essential watching and one of the treats of this election campaign has been Jesse Armstrong’s Malcolm Tucker columns for the Guardian (warning: contains language liable to offend the offendable).

And while it’s amusing to imagine just how the real-life Malcolms are dealing with the election, it’s a bit disturbing to discover they’re thinking on the same lines as the rest of us. Rebecca Front (the actress who plays Nicola Murray in The Thick Of It) tweeted this morning:

A very nice man approached me in the st & asked if I wanted to be in a Labour party broadcast. They want Nicola Murray in a ppb? …

Followed by this response from Armando Ianucci, the creator and director of the series:

@RebeccaFront. Saatchis contacted me and asked if I wanted to shoot the Tory Hung Parliament ppb. Offal heads.

At this point, life is no longer imitating art, it’s given up, stuck itself in a frame and demanded to be painted over. How long till someone attempts to get Chris Morris to direct a broadcast for them?

UPDATE: Turns out that they also attempted to get Charlie Brooker to appear in the Tory election broadcast. Satire may not be dead, but there’s someone out there trying to slaughter it in the most horrible ways imaginable. (thanks to James Graham for pointing it out)

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I have seen my first ballot papers of this election. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen the backs of them rather than how anyone voted – and even if I had seen how people had voted, I’d be committing an offence by telling you how they did. Yes, I was at the first day of opening the postal votes here in Colchester, making sure everything was fair and going OK, as well as getting a first indication of the postal vote turnout. In short, it was a couple of hours of watching people opening envelopes and putting postal ballot forms through scanners.

The point of today – and the next few days of working through the several thousand postal ballots they’re expecting from across the Borough – isn’t to count any votes but to verify them. By getting all that work done now, it means that the vast majority of the postal votes can be easily counted with the rest of the votes on election night, with only the votes that came in on polling day itself needing to be checked before being added to the count.

Elsewhere, we had some comedy injected into the campaign as UKIP put forward Christopher Monckton to answer the Guardian’s questions about their science policy. Their conclusion? “Woeful“. The only other party to be featured in the series so far is the Liberal Democrats, by the way. Lots in there if you’re looking for evidence-based policy, not much if you’re looking for laughs at the expense of swivel-eyed loons.

20 more doors knocked on this evening, taking the total up to 290, but the big box of stuff to deliver hasn’t been touched yet…and seems to have grown with a few more things since I last looked.

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