04 May 2010

Could it be a late negative surge for the LDs?

It's preposterous to make a lot out of one poll but the YouGov tracker shows Labour strengthening and the Lib Dems appearing to collapse to not much more than what they were at when "Cleggmania" started: Tory 35%, Lab 30, LibDem 24.

I'll be rather pissed off if the Lib Dems do deflate to the low-to-mid 20s as I genuinely thought we were within inches of getting rid of the same old shitty electoral system and the same morons going round and round again ad infinitum. But if Labour does pick up several points of late support - while holding the Tories at 35 or below - I'll be pleased, I guess. It's better than majority Tory govt anyway.

It's hard to say at the moment as loads of people have already voted via postal vote, so the polls don't necessarily get more accurate as we get nearer the election date, even assuming that sampling is correct and that people are giving accurate responses. Postal voting also means that the much-vaunted exit polls aren't really that helpful either. The upshot of all this, kids, is that it's going to be unpredictable whatever forecast, simulation or divination method you use. You'll just have to tune in on the night itself.

I've mainly posted this as it gives me an opportunity to relate a story about the missing SDP/Alliance "late surge" of 1987. The Alliance claimed that in the 1983 election they'd had a sudden surge of support at the end of the campaign (maybe when Michael Foot's trestle table gave way?) which took them to 26%, almost overtaking Labour. In 1987 they were running a clear third but for the last two weeks of the campaign I can vividly remember Alliance politicians saying that there was bound to be a "late surge" of support. No reason was given for this other than "it happened last time, so you just wait and see." Hey guys, on that basis we don't even need to spend all this money on an election, because, y'know, it happened last time...

Of course this "late surge" turned out to be a load of Optrex eyewash and the poor bastards in the Alliance only polled 23% - down three. It didn't stop some wag writing into the Essex Chronicle the week after the election saying, "I've noticed that there are several Alliance posters still up in Chelmsford a week after the election. Could this be evidence of a 'late surge'"? They was tough times, but I still had to laugh at that one.

The other amusing story from the 1987 campaign is that the Alliance candidate in Chelmsford was called Stuart Mole. On some of the posters on the Baddow Road in Chelmsford, some cleverclogs (the same guy who wrote into the Chronicle maybe?) had used felt pen to draw a pair of glasses onto Mr Mole, and had crossed out "Stuart" and written "Adrian". Ah, the wit...

The nearest I came to any kind of name-altering comedy in the election was in 1992 as a student at Oxford where a leaflet went round saying "Vote Steve Hocking Conservative" and I changed it with blue pen and tippex to "Vote Steve Fucking Conservative". Well, it seemed funny at the time.

Any of you Smash robots out there got any other amusing election poster defacement stories? By all means send 'em in.

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