Thursday, February 23, 2017

The votes are in - now to count them

Polls closed 30 minutes ago in the Copeland and Stoke by-elections.

Under normal circumstances both would be absolute nailed on certain Labour holds. As I explained earlier the electorate sees by election as a "free hit" opportunity to give someone a kicking, but it is very unusual for them to aim this at the opposition. Even when the government is well ahead in the polls opposition parties usually increase their majority in by-elections.

The reality is that anything less than convincing holds in both seats will be a sign of a problem for Labour.

Expectations have got totally out of control with ridiculous suggestions such as the rumour posted on the Whitehaven News website that the Conservatives think we are going to win Copeland by 4,000 votes. If that suggestion really came from a Conservative they were smoking something they should not have been.

It is far more likely that this apparently preposterous suggestion was expectations management by Copeland Labour, either designed to make a narrow loss look less bad or a narrow hold look like a triumph, or to trick Conservatives into thinking they did not need to come out to vote on a filthy day.

If by any chance we do win by anything like that margin I will of course be absolutely ecstatic to be proved wrong.  Personally I am still expecting a very close result.

For what it's worth I think that there has been a good turnout among Conservatives and a less good turnout among Labour supporters and that all the "Babies will die unless you vote Labour" poison from the Labour campaign achieved was to harden attitudes on both sides and inject anger into Copeland's body politics which will last for years.

Goodness knows how long the count will last, and the number of places available for counting agents was much less than usual. I suspect we will get a result sometime between 2am and 4am.


Anonymous said...

I hear your tellers were flouting the regulations by being in the building containing the polling station. Weren't you one of them?

Chris Whiteside said...

That is not a breach of regulations.

It is up to the presiding officer at the polling station where tellers may stand.

Most presiding officers allow tellers in the building but not in the actual room where voting takes place. I obtained permission to be in the location I was telling - which was well clear of the room in which people were voting.

Anonymous said...

Well clear? 2 feet.

Chris Whiteside said...

Don't be silly.

I didn't carry a tape measure with me but it was a lot further than that.