It's that Friday feeling after an exciting Thursday
What a week. What a night! Heaven knows where this leaves Britain, the government, whatever, but there are times in your life when nothing else much matters. Ruth is back and she marmalised them.
I started the day at my Polling Station in St Paul’s School. Everybody tells me I should get a postal vote, but despite not normally being one for ritual, this is one I enjoy, and puts me in the frame of mind for the day. A tory lurks in the bushes trying to get poll numbers, but he doesn’t get mine. Not my job to make his easier :-)
So there I was, at about 7.30 Thursday morning, wheeling my bike into our campaign centre front room, having convinced the owner that we could avoid being burgled in broad daylight this time, unlike what happened on referendum day.
In truth, I had no idea how the day would work out: it was up to me to try and orchestrate getting our voters out in Brentford. If we could persuade all our supporters to vote in every election we’d win a heck of a lot more often than we do. We’d had a really intensive campaign, with frequently 20 or more canvassers turning up to each session wherever we were across the constituency, ranging from young idealistic ones to venerable peers, plus the odd celeb. We’d given it a good go, but with the short build up after the alternative truths over plans for a snap election, we were nowhere near as prepared as in 2015.
Anyway, around 9 the volunteers began to roll in. Some cards had been delivered overnight or in the early hours to remind people to vote on the way to work and around 10 we began to send teams out to door knock our supporters. My job is to direct them where to go and in previous elections this has been nice and relaxed, with plenty of time for cups of tea and discussions on the meaning of life, singing socialist anthems, etc. Not this time. I look up from my papers and there are 20 of them baying for lists of addresses and by 12 we’ve knocked on virtually every door on our list, but they keep coming back for more. By mid-afternoon the timid amateurs who had never done this before have become cynical, hardened professionals as they intrepidly head out to the far reaches of Popes Lane and the Kew Bridge Road. We send a chap on a moped down to Kew Bridge Road, home to one of our sets of ‘hard to enter’ blocks, with the instruction ‘you are just going outside and may be some time’. Unlike Capt Oates he returns after an hour or two, having chatted up a concierge or two and uncovered a few votes.
Come the evening, we are sending out teams to knock on doors that have already been knocked 4 times. Despite my always impeccable record-keeping we unfortunately rap on a few doors to a response of ‘I told you 4 hours ago I had voted, now go away and never darken..’ etc. The pickings are increasingly thin: streets with 100 doors to knock have only half a dozen left unresolved but the volunteers’ enthusiasm never flags: they are REALLY determined to see Ruth home.
About 9.30 we get a warning, the candidate is planning to come here at 10pm with the documentary crew that have been trailing her throughout the campaign, so they can film her reaction to the exit poll.
Oh my! In truth, I have no idea whatsoever how it has gone: I believe we have done our absolute best to get our voters out and I’ve been encouraged during the week by the apparent panic of the local Tories, but the polls show everything from a 3% Labour lead to about 13% for the Tories. So we put the room back to its normal layout so Ruth and her husband can sit on the sofa watching the TV whilst the camera rolls. Then it comes… Conservative largest party, hung parliament. Collective gulp. Collective read it again.
Commentator drones on. We all look at each other and pinch ourselves. I commence my Jurgen Klopp impression (without the teeth). Wow. Maybe it’s going better than we hoped.
We finish clearing up the room and I cycle home, change into my party frock and head off to the count, arriving about 11. Serious frisking by security guards and more coppers lurking than usual (good!). Bad news is, with Hounslow library now in the Civic Centre, the counting area is a bit cramped. Good news is the canteen is open so I can get a gloriously chewy bacon roll, the first proper healthy cooked food I’ve had all day (Ok, it’s tomorrow now, strictly speaking). I go into the count, and what we do is monitor the counting staff as the unwrap the bundles of votes, and try and count them. I start off with a box of Brentfords. We seem to be comfortably ahead, which is what we would hope for. Nothing to see here, move along. Next one with a new box opening is Turnham Green. Ah, well, let’s assess how bad it is in a Tory ward. But it isn’t bad. Not at all bad. I count 56 Lab votes against 14 for Con and 8 for Lib Dems. Must be unrepresentative. Small sample. Let’s go and look at Isleworth. Oh. It says Isleworth but this box is from Chiswick Homefields. I seem to be a sucker for punishment… but… hang on a minute… we’re piling up votes here too and beating the Tories. Enough of this, it’s making me dizzy. There are some TVs out in the media area and a few results are coming up. We win a seat in Scotland. We win a couple in England. Maybe the exit poll is right, but what about locally? Ah, here’s Rupa Huq’s declaration. Her majority was 300 so if she scrapes home Ruth just might as well. OMG she did NOT scrape home, she destroyed them: 13000+ majority is scarcely believable. Still not counting chickens but eventually we’re wheeled out for Ruth’s declaration. Most of the Tories seem to have sloped off, though Lefty Lee still lurks. Well, no, he doesn’t lurk – not the lurky type – he pervades. Mayor Sampson reads the declaration. 12000 +. I would have happily settled for 12, but 12 THOUSAND.
Time to go and sleep it off. I wake up and no, I didn’t dream it, it really happened. This election campaign has been horrible. Two awful terrorist attacks and a lot of dead innocents. A completely pointless election called for shocking reasons and the PM getting her come-uppance, though astonishingly she thinks the Tory party will let her linger. A weak government turned into what I heard someone suggest is a coalition of chaos between a bunch of incompetents and some dodgy nationalists. And Ruth with the stonking majority she deserves. I need more sleep - tata.
June 9, 2017