2017 General Election Diary Day 50: Far from golden

And so we come to the end. Seven weeks of electioneering enter their last few hours, and now we just have to wait for the people to go and vote (excluding all those who’ve done it by post already, of course). Several forests worth of leaflets have been delivered, millions of doors have been knocked (and some of them have even been opened), and thousands of carefully micro-targeted Facebook ads have been blindly scrolled past as people look for amusing things involving cats.

And what have we learned at the end of it all? On Brexit, the subject that the election was ostensibly called to settle, we know that Theresa May has a plan, but she won’t tell us what it is, and that Jeremy Corbyn would rather talk about anything but it, despite the fact that leaving the Single Market would likely lead to the Government having very little money with which to implement any of his ambitious plans. We know that other parties exist, but that they don’t really count as the media’s just too glad to be pretending that everything’s back to two-party politics again and all issues can be presented as arbitrarily binary. I have a feeling that this is going to be an election that we look back on in years to come and wonder just what we were thinking in not actually discussing important issues in any depth and allowing soundbites to no longer just describe a policy in simplistic terms but completely occupy the space that any policy would have fitted in.

But then, the other big news of the day is that Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of being behind a shooting in the parliament in Tehran, which coupled with the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar this week could lead to our general election being an amusing footnote in books about the war. Assuming there are historians around to write the books, and we don’t have to wait a thousand years for someone to uncover ‘strong and stable’ from the ashes and decide, as all bemused archaeologists usually do, that it was probably of some sort of ritual significance.

I don’t mean to sound angry and cynical about the whole process, but I am, so that’s the way it comes out.

Anyway, let’s look forward to tomorrow, when the media will be telling us that campaigning is over, and thousands of political activists will be saying they wish it was. They’ll be up at the crack of dawn to deliver leaflets, or sit on polling stations taking numbers, or drive voters to the polls, or phone people to remind them to vote, or lots of other things that make up the election day ritual. And at the end of that fifteen hour day, fuelled by cold sausage rolls and the last jaffa cake in the packet, a lot of them will be trying to make themselves look presentable to go to the count and experience the triumph or disaster that’s to be found there. Which is to say that if you do encounter an activist in the streets tomorrow, be nice to them because they’re doing this as a volunteer and they’re possibly not enjoying it but soldiering on regardless, just in case that little bit of effort might make the difference. And those people at polling stations asking for your polling number aren’t trying to use dark arts to determine how you voted, but just to know that you have so you won’t be disturbed for the rest of the day. A lot of them aren’t regular activists or even party members, so be nice to them, please.

So it’s time for our final Election Leaflet Of The Day, and people have suddenly decided to start putting lots of leaflets on the site which makes it hard to pick just one, especially as some were for elections that happened a while. I was getting excited that the Tories had a long-dead American TV star standing for them in Norfolk, but it turns out that Lorne Green has already been elected as their PCC. Then there’s this one, which hides some quite nasty views behind a jokey tone, and features ‘Note 1’ which should really be top of the list of things you don’t put on an election leaflet. However, our final leaflet of the day will have to be this one from Doktor Haze in Brighton Kemptown, who promises that we will be ‘stronger in chaos’ and that ‘in a world of horrors your country needs a ringmaster’. Finally a positive vision we cana all rally round and support.

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow (if you haven’t already), and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about the results on Twitter and here on Friday. See you on the other side.

2017 General Election Day 16: Pause and reflect

Maybe future general elections need to be arranged to have days off in the middle of them? Right now, all the politicos in the country are focused on the local elections, as are the journalists, though mostly because none of them want to run into trouble with reporting restrictions by covering the general election today.

Of course, this isn’t actually a day off for the people campaigning in the election, as much as the media like to spin the ‘campaigning is over, now let’s vote line’. Election days are long and busy – the way we do things might have changed somewhat since my first full experience of one in 1997 (see Monday’s post for more of that) but the amount of effort being put in hasn’t dropped. Work commitments mean I’m not doing much today, but I was still at the polling station at 7am to do a couple of hours telling, then I’ll be at the count tonight.

And to borrow from myself again, if you’re not aware why people are sitting outside polling station asking for your poll number:

One thing that people often ask me is why we sit at polling stations collection voter’s elector numbers. It’s not for any nefarious purposes – simply, every party will have a list of the people they expect to vote for them (in the old days it was on multiple sheets of paper spread out in a large room, now it’s all kept on computer and printed off as needed). Every so often, the numbers collected at each polling station are taken to the local base (known as the committee room) and entered into the system. So, when we look at the data later in the day, we can see which of our supporters haven’t voted yet and go out to remind them to do it, with increasing urgency as 10pm gets closer. By giving the person at the polling station your number, you’re making sure that you won’t be disturbed on polling day – we make no assumption that because you’ve given us your number you’re going to vote for us.

Again, some things have changed, as we can now enter the numbers online now, and the pieces of paper don’t even have to go to the committee room any more. Such is progress.

Anyway, I have to get back and do some more abstract-writing for an application, so we’ll skip Election Leaflet Of The Day for today and instead I’ll leave you with this from another election happening in a few days time.

Now, how do we get him to do one of those for Tim Farron?

2010 General Election Diary Day 31: This is it

Assuming the clock on my website’s server is right, then as this post goes live, polling will have started in the General Election. And on this day of all days, I’d like to appeal to activists of all parties to think back over the lessons learned during this campaign and come together as one to unite behind the Campaign for Humane Letterboxes.

Right, that’s the non-partisan bit out of the way. You might have guessed by now that the nature of election day means this won’t be like the other election diary entries I’ve made over the past month. As I’m unlikely to get a chance to sit at the computer and write something until Friday, I’ll tell you now what my election day consists of – first, sitting at polling stations taking numbers, then rushing round delivering leaflets before an afternoon and evening reminding people to go and vote. That’s followed by a mass rush to Charter Hall at 10pm for the count, and then a few hours of watching pieces of paper until it’s time for the result. If it wasn’t for adrenaline, caffeine and whatever else you might choose to keep yourself alert, election days would feature a lot less activity.

One thing that people often ask me is why we sit at polling stations collection voter’s elector numbers. It’s not for any nefarious purposes – simply, every party will have a list of the people they expect to vote for them (in the old days it was on multiple sheets of paper spread out in a large room, now it’s all kept on computer and printed off as needed). Every so often, the numbers collected at each polling station are taken to the local base (known as the committee room) and entered into the system. So, when we look at the data later in the day, we can see which of our supporters haven’t voted yet and go out to remind them to do it, with increasing urgency as 10pm gets closer. By giving the person at the polling station your number, you’re making sure that you won’t be disturbed on polling day – we make no assumption that because you’ve given us your number you’re going to vote for us.

You have a choice today when you go to vote. It’s a simple one: do you choose hope or fear? Do you vote because you’re scared of what the Daily Mail predicts, scared of all those nasty foreign people, scared of changing things that people say have worked for them for so long, scared of your neighbours, scared of those young people with nothing to do, scared of everything somehow going wrong unless the media’s designated strong government in waiting is allowed absolute power to tell you they’re dealing with all these problems while spending your money on finding new ways to terrify you? Or do you choose something else?

Do you hope for a better future, for a country where every vote counts, where the Government works for you, where the world’s just full of other people, not nasty scary monsters who want to destroy our way of life? Do you hope that this country could be run from the bottom up, not the top down, where taxes aren’t keeping the poor down, where you can get a decent education without plunging into thousands of pounds of debt, where you get to say what your hospital should be prioritising, not someone setting targets in London?

The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns and and close yourself off, the eyes of love instead, see all of us as one.

However you vote today, do it hopefully. They can only scare you if you let them.