The other politicos were very nice, apart from the Tory candidate, Connel, who struck me as a swivel-eyed loon of a uniquely Scots variety. He was quoting Ian Paisley out on the stump and had a tie covered in Ulster red-hand emblems at the count. It's a shame, because the Tories I met at polling stations were very reasonable and friendly people. I think they deserved someone better, but the Tory party in Scotland's not in a terribly good state at the moment.
A couple of ex-MPs were hanging around - George Foulkes (I've met George many times, as he and Agnes were at various times close allies - indeed, she claims to have phoned George from our house to suggest that he try to get the South Ayrshire nomination when she heard that Jim Sillars had left the party) and David Lambie (really nice bloke. Many interesting and illuminating anecdotes and recollections. Hadn't met him before, but I'm well familiar with his name and history), councillors, MSPs and MEPs, and a surprising number of South Ayrshire people compared to North Ayrshire. Presumably this'll have changed next time.
God smiles upon drunks, and upon the United States of America
I got down on Wednesday and did some knocking on folk's doors and handing out leaflets. The war came up, and people's dislike of young Tony. Happily, we were able to say that Kate agrees with them in both cases. Apart from that, people were solid. This is Ayrshire, after all, and the last few years have made a huge difference for them.
Yesterday had proper Ayrshire weather - overcast, breezy and with the occasional spot of drizzle - in the morning, before clearing up to glorious sunshine during the afternoon and most of the evening. The turnout was fair, overall - a bit up on last time, but not much.
Labour take critical marginal Millport East
She beat the Nats in Millport. Now, how likely was that to happen? Millport simply does not vote Labour. Ever. Arran went largely LDP rather than Conservative, too. I don't know about Largs, but I'm sure I can find out in time. The postals seemed to have benefitted us and the LDP - nobody else was getting very many of them.
Whether that's likely to benefit the LDP or not in the long term is hard to say - that sort of vote is soft to start with, so it may shift again before it settles.
As the polls were closing I drove to Glasgow airport to pick Manuel up. Radio 4 had a program on about Abelard and Eloise. This is not the sort of thing you want to listen to on your own late at night - if you're me, anyway - but was very interesting. Apparently Abeard's later writings have become widely-studied by philosophers in the last couple of decades, and Eloise has been very highly regarded for a very long time. It's still an appallingly sad story, though.
They think it's all over
The count wasn't as interesting as those I've been two before, because I wasn't tallying - I didn't get there until Kate did (in fact, I drove her there) so it was all done bar the shouting - or all done bar Millport and Arran, anyway, and they were well covered. It was all collected, though, so canvassing and campaigning can be organised properly next time. The re-election campaign starts here.
Back at Kate's we watched the results come in. I'd heard the exit poll and prediction on the way to the airport, so I knew roughly what to expect. Various people that we'll miss - John Cryer and John Lyons, for example - lost due to public anger at a war they opposed, to be replaced by people who almost certainly will be much less use. Anne Campbell's opposition to the war and to extensions to anti-terrorism law don't seem to have helped her either. Still, that's how the process works. Various idiots who won't be missed didn't get in either, though.
You are wrong
Kilroy was apparently disappointed with the Erewash result. So was I. I saw no sign of outraged locals storming the count to tar and feather him and ride him out of town on a rail. The same goes for all of the BNP headcases. What is the world coming to?
Various people were making comments about the people wanting a workable immigration policy. This is true as far as it goes, but was being addressed to the wrong issue. Ordinary people want a workable immigration policy. BNP voters want exactly the reverse, and their opinions aren't based on anything as mundane as reality. No policy which seeks to makes things better in the real world could possible appease them, because their view is based entirely on being lied to about how much immigration there is and what effect it has, and/or being pathologically suspicious and selfish. The former group could just be told the truth for a while - it would help quite a lot - and the latter are probably beyond help. Some people are only happy when they are angry and have something to complain about. This applies as much to politics as to anything else.
Trying to meet the BNP halfway won't help.
Historic Third Term
Please, please, please, can nobody ever use this phrase ever again?
Manuel claimed that some bookies were offering 300-1 against the Tories getting less that 200 seats . . . I wish I'd known that a few days ago. I might have stuck a tenner on just for a laugh. Ho hum. A majority in the mid-sixties would have had the parliamentary Labour Party creaming its pants not so long ago, though, so I doubt anyone's too disappointed. An awful lot of them remember being in opposition, after all, and being able to do next to nothing about anything.
The overall swing seems to be away from Labour towards whoever isn't Labour who might win. In that respect, it's going to be a pretty soft vote - as long, that is, as nothing so colossally stupid happens again. Next time . . . well, there'll be a different leader and a different leadership style, with a different collection of faults and virtues. On the other hand, people will be bored and will fancy living dangerously. But as usual the big issue will be the economy. It was the economy wot won it this time and it'll be the economy wot wins it (for someone) next time too.
A big big love
On the way back today I passed three trucks with blades from wind turbines on them. Fuck, those things are big. There's a whole pile of them on the hills above Ardrossan - rather nice they look, too. Elegant.
A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the Tories
Which it was, but not to the extent that the initial exit-poll projection said was the case. The Tories hardly shift their percentage and get thirty seats and the LDP jump several points and only get eleven? Up here PR's on the march. We have it for Holyrood, we're getting it for councils soon. I think you lot in Englandshire need to get with the program.
2000 light years from home
Michael Howard's leaving. Good. But he's not going far enough, fast enough, or soon enough. The prison officers have a story about him - civil servants presented him (as the minister in question at the time) with a report on penal policy, discussing various changes and non-custodial options with respect to their likely effects on prison occupancy, recidivism and crime rates. Howard frowned slightly and said that he was sorry but he didn't see where the votes were in any of that.
For all their faults, most politicians want to believe they're doing the right thing. Many of them are far too good at convincing themselves of this, even given very scanty evidence (and I'm sure you can all think of examples of this), but it scares me that Howard doesn't apparently feel any need at all to believe that a policy is right or productive. The postulated successors all seem much more human.