Seven weeks since this all started, and now just a couple of days to go. I’m pretty sure it was a nice day back in April when all this began, warm and full of sunshine. Now, the weather seems to be reflecting the mood of the country after nearly two months of election related nonsense. Everything’s very grey and it feels like there’s a quest to wash us all away or at least cleanse of us of our misdemeanours. Or maybe it’s just a weather system brought on by the collective wish of the population to have a day without any leaflets being delivered, and this is the easiest way to bring that about? I’m just remembering the absolute drenching I got on the referendum day last year, and hoping that doesn’t happen again, though it’s worth noting that after 2010 returned a hung Parliament, some in the Civil Service were apparently expecting another election later than year, and pencilled in an expected date. On that date in December, much of the country was under a heavy covering of snow, which would have made things very interesting…
We’re in the stage of the election when parties are starting to shift into ‘getting out the vote’ mode, which isn’t something that just happens on election day itself. Hard as it is for us politics obsessives to believe, a lot of people need to be reminded that the election is happening on Thursday and that they have to go and vote then. That’s why you start seeing a lot of leaflets now that stress that, and we’ve also recently seen the ‘make a plan to vote’ message appear in a lot more political literature as studies have shown that if people do that beforehand, they’re more likely to remember on the day itself.
Some people’s thoughts are turning to what happens after the election and that also includes Jeremy Corbyn telling us of his plan for his first day in Number 10. Frankly, I find it all rather unbelivable in that he doesn’t appear to have included at least an hour for just wandering around the place and saying ‘holy shit, how did I manage this?’ with additional time for any conversations with new Cabinet members saying the same thing. (it’s important to use expletives at key moments of history).
And a reminder for those of you waiting until the polls settle before making your predictions: they’re not going to settle, so you might as well just try your best guess in my election prediction contest now. And while Corbyn is wandering around swearing for one reason or another, I’ll be poring over the new political maps to work out just who the winner of that contest is, and if it’s possible to visit all the tripoints during the next Parliament. If you want something to shape your prediction on, then the Britain Elects Nowcast might be handy as it’s an actual map of the country so you can see what borders with where. However, as with almost all election maps and predictions, it doesn’t attempt to give any details for Northern Ireland.
The election in Northern Ireland has been one of the hidden parts of this general election, getting at best only occasional and cursory coverage from anyone dealing with the election, and with all debates there squeezed into the same framework that applies to the rest of the UK. The potential of parties to win seats is more often depicted in terms of what that might mean to any potential coalition or minority government deal-making than it does to the political future of Northern Ireland. It’s entirely possible that there might be a third election there this year if no deal on the new Assembly is possible given the current numbers. I’m just as guilty as anyone of not paying enough attention to what’s going on there, but the results there on Thursday will matter as more than just some slightly different colours appearing on the screen but as seeing what the political makeup of the only part of Britain with an EU land border will be.
And so for Election Leaflet Of The Day we shall have what I think is the first leaflet from Northern Ireland of this campaign which helps to give an idea of the different political language and issues that dominate elections there. It’s from Gemma Weir, Workers Party candidate for North Belfast, and if you want to comprehend the different nature of politics there, ask yourself how you would explain the slogan ‘no sectarian headcounts’ to someone from the rest of the UK. Then when you’ve explained that, try and explain how the Workers’ Party evolved from Sinn Fein and the difference between ‘Official’ and ‘Provisional’. Then apologise when they tell you they just wanted directions to the train station, not a discussion on Irish politics.
Fifty-three hours to the exit poll and the big decisions are yet to be made – BBC or ITV for election night coverage?