2017 General Election Diary Day 3: The Leavers’ chicken run

Didn’t get a chance to write last night, so at some point over the next few days there’ll be two diary posts in a day to get me back on track. Or pressures of work mean I’ll just end up slipping even more and this diary continuing on an irregular basis until we reach the conclusion in July. In which case, I will ask for no spoilers of the result until I come to write my post about it. I’m sure that’s doable.

We’re at a stage where we’re getting more surprises at people not standing in the election than from any surprise announcements of people deciding to stand. Joining the march to permanent exit from the House of Commons yesterday was Douglas Carswell, who decided that as the Tories wouldn’t take him back his work was now done, he wouldn’t be standing for election in Clacton again. Speculation then centred around whether Nigel Farage would put himself up to the task of defending the only seat UKIP have won at a general election until he announced that although he would absolutely definitely honestly with no doubts whatsoever would have won the seat, he would instead be concentrating on his work in the European Parliament. Yes, the man who’s tried seven times to get elected to Parliament and views the job he’s actually been elected to do as little more than a source of funding that he hardly ever turns up to has suddenly had a Damascene conversion to the importance of his job. It’s an act so brazen it threatens to replace ‘killing your parents and demanding mercy because you’re an orphan’ as the definition of chutzpah. Still, the one thing we can thank Carswell and Farage for is making Arron Banks’s campaign for Clacton even more pointless and ridiculous, and throws more attention onto the Tory selection there, where previous Tory candidate Giles Watling (brother of Deborah, who was Victoria in Doctor Who) is being challenged by Tendring Council leader Neil Stock.

Away from the Sunshine Coast, Jeremy Corbyn was launching Labour’s campaign by threatening to tear up the rules and win a surprise victory. Rule-breaking by him would not be unexpected as it’s been a feature of his leadership with such rules as ‘Labour can’t drop below 25% in opinion polls’ and ‘leaders who don’t have the confidence of 80% of their MPs resign’ being thrown out of the window recently. A few people have pointed to the recent surge in support for Jean-Luc Melenchon in France as an exampleof how a Left candidate can do well, but it’s worth noting that Melenchon’s surge has taken him to just under 20% in the polls, which is the sort of level that’s very good for the Left, but would promise electoral disaster for Labour.

(And on a trivial point, was Corbyn’s launch at the Islington Assembly Rooms? I thought I recognised it as the venue where the 2015 Lib Dem leadership election was announced)

Elsewhere, Theresa May’s promise to campaign amongst the people saw her team not telling the media where she was going, then doing a few photo ops in a factory. As yet, there’s still no record of her being in a position where she might face anything at all spontaneous, challenging or risky nad the Guardian’s election blog has already taken to calling her ‘Theresa May of Mystery’.

Now the election’s upon us, a reminder that the Election Leaflets website exists, as in weeks to come it will be being relied upon quite frequently as a source of content for these diary posts. If you get something through your door, take a picture of it and upload it for all the world to see. It’s a good chance to see what’s being said in different places, or just to see what strange things candidates say and what odd images they choose to represent themselves.

Three days done and we’ve yet to descend into Quatermass and The Pit-style mass barbarism in the streets, let’s hope we can keep that streak going for a while.

2015 General Election Day 4: Not-so-Magnificent Seven

Another day, another debate. It didn’t turn into the seven-way shoutathon that I feared, but there were points when there were lots of people talking over each other – usually 2 or 3 of the men – though Julie Etchingham managed to keep them away from the worst of it.

The polling results seem to be coming up with a variety of results, and I think that’s because of two factors. First, there’s a partisanship factor, as people are inclined to think ‘their’ leader won, but secondly because it’s very hard for people to consistently judge who ‘won’ the debate. A lot of the variation between the polls could well be a result of question design – the criteria people are applying will vary a lot according to how they’re asked.

I think that to get a more useful response, you’d need to combine the result of various questions, but that would take a lot more time than the snap judgments required by the media. For a simple take, I think the ‘who did worst?’ questions may give a more honest response. Invert the scores from those and who’s ‘least worst’ may be more of an indication of the national mood than ‘who won?’

For me, there were no knockout blows or career-ending gaffes – though the fact-checking on Farage’s HIV claim could have some interesting results – and I think they’ll all come away from it thinking they did what they needed.

I think Nicola Sturgeon delivered the best performance of the night, and if she was leading a party that stood outside Scotland, things would get very interesting. Farage isn’t trying to broaden UKIP’s appeal, but is trying to work up their base and make sure it gets out to vote, but I also expect a lot of potential UKIP voters wouldn’t have been watching tonight.

Clegg, Miliband and Cameron all came out pretty evenly across the night, and while I can see Cameron’s reasons for not going to the debate on the 16th (even if I still think he should be empty chaired for doing so), I don’t know why Clegg isn’t going to be there. Is it too late for him to change his mind? Miliband wins by being equal to Cameron, so he’ll be relatively happy, but someone should tell him not to stare down the camera every time he talks.

For Bennett and Wood, just being on the stage was a boost for their parties, and like Farage they were aiming for a certain section of the audience. What might be the biggest boost for the Greens is Sturgeon criticising the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour. English voters enthused by her message might well go to the Greens as the nearest alternative.

And one final thought: I’d love to see a survey that looked at how much people thought the women talked compared to the men. They might be surprised by this finding:

Worth Reading 150: Out of psalms

Nigel Farage: The Media’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy – Alex Andreou on how the media are now congratulating themselves for creating the rise of Farage and UKIP.
Tied hand and foot: the sad and sorry saga of the rise of Britain’s giant ‘pubcos’ – Interesting background on how the old system of tied pubs became the modern pubcos.
The Uberfication of knowledge – What will the life of a writer be, when the whole world’s a potential content farm?
On nerd entitlement – Laurie Penny on why white male nerds really shouldn’t claim that they don’t benefit from privilege.
Hell Yes, I’m a Feminist – John Scalzi is (and so am I) and explains why feminist men need to be clear about it, but also not to try and ‘white knight’ it to make it all about us.

Worth Reading 109: Mouths of the wicked and deceitful

24 Hours In Any City In The World – “The perfect, meticulously-searched guide to Any City In The World for people who, for some bizarre reason, have only allocated 24 hours to explore it.”
4 Things We Should Remember When Arguing About Politics – Useful perspective from Cracked.
As Millenials Shun Cars, Boston Rethinks Its Transportation System – “when I was learning to drive, the idea of driving out in the country and even driving around town and not spending a lot of time sitting in traffic was actually something of a reality. As Americans started driving more and more over the years, there’s no more open road in the United States. Almost everyone who’s driving is driving places that are pretty darn congested.”
A short history of swivel-eyed loons – Chris Brooke delves into Lexis and finds the moment when the swivel-eyed and the loon were first bound together in political commentary.
What Nigel Farage told British expats in Spain – Jon Danzig picks apart a succession of UKIP arguments.

Worth Reading 96: The Five Good Links

Common decency fail at the Huff Post – Jim Jepps on why posting pictures of David Miliband with his flies undone helps to drive politicians further away from the public.
Eastleigh – Why There’s No Farage – Because, explains Tim Fenton, despite his talk of the importance of Westminster, he’s no desire to actually be an MP.
Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Storm Damage Vehicles – An illustration of the amount of damage done by the storm, that also prompts questions about why they’re all being disposed of.
Against Save Our Thing – Alex Harrowell explains why campaigning to save social hardware is misguided when its the software that’s under attack.
The Shard: beacon of the left’s skyline – Owen Hatherley on how the 1980s changes in local government led to the skyscrapers of today.