It’s odd to think after so many weeks of uncertainty that this time next week we’ll finally know something for sure. The people will have spoken, and then we can try and work out exactly what it is they’ve said. Or we can just accept that it was another poll and even though there was a very large sample size, it was self-selecting and so doesn’t provide an accurate representation of public opinion, so is really just one more data point to be added to the model. It’ll be a slightly less scary version of Die Lösung, in which the people are not dissolved, but merely accept that all they can ever achieve is at best to be an emulation of the important findings of a statistical model, which will obviously be much more accurate than they can be.
Six days is still a lot of time for things to change, though, and there are lots of factors out there that just might influence people’s vote next week. One simple one is the weather. If something similar to the thunderstorm currently happening outside as I write this post happens at the right time next Thursday, it could depress turnout in key seats at key times as people decide not to vote, or just don’t get the knock on the door from their local campaigners telling them that they need to go out and vote. (Trust me, the number of people who intend to vote but don’t realise they have to do it on that particular day before 10pm will surprise you – why not go out campaigning next Thursday and see for yourself?) Who knows what effects the massive storms in south eastern England had on the referendum result last year?
Two things that might have an effect have happened in the last twenty four hours. First we had the spectacle of Trump declaring the US will be pulling out of the Paris Accord on climate change because he thinks that it might somehow affect Americans’ God-given right to make as much money as they want. The reaction from the rest of the world was a giant rolling of the eyes and yet more joint action from the main European powers who rushed out a joint statement critical of the move. Those main powers were of course Germany, France and Italy, a reminder that the big four powers of the European Union are now the big three, and Britain’s saddled itself clinging to a special relationship with a country run by someone who believes money is more important and more real than the planet. That’s probably priced into a lot of voters’ beliefs anyway, but for others the reminder that Theresa May – who told Trump’s Republicans she “believes in the same principles that underpin the agenda of your party” – has aligned herself very closely with a man who’s very cavalier about melting glaciers for someone who owns a lot of sea-level properties.
Meanwhile in Kent, everyone’s favourite hashtag #toryelectionfraud has been brought back into life by the announcement that the Craig Mackinlay, who won Thanet South for the Tories in 2015, has been charged with a number of offences under the Representation of the People Act relating to that campaign. It’s not top of the list of things you want to happen six days before an election happens, is it? The question is how much attention it will get both within Thanet and without, and how many votes it might swing. There’s also the question of how over-excited certain more clickbaity sites might get in reporting this and if any of them might foind themselves up on charges themselves and discovering ‘ but it got thousands of shares on Facebook’ isn’t a legitimate defence when accused of contempt of court. Which is my way of saying I’m not going to make any comment on the detail of the charges.
And as we get closer to election day, the deluge of leaflets intensifies across the country giving us much more choice for Election Leaflet Of The Day, which today features my favourite election slogan of the campaign so far: Ability, Bees, Community. That’s the slogan of Jandy Spurway, an independent candidate for the Stratford-on-Avon constituency. Her leaflet reveals she’s had an interesting life and is interested in ‘changing the way we do things’ and I’m not sure if the bees link into that, or she just wants to remind people that she keeps them, though I suppose candidates have to be careful when mentioning their stocks of honey in case it’s seen as treating the voters.
With that, we shall close for another day and wait for the next hundred and forty-eight and a half hours to pass until we can all be surprised by the exit poll, because whatever it says it’s going to be a surprise, isn’t it?