Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday's Fumblings

The result of the Crewe and Nantwich by-election was encouraging for the Tories and not too bad for Labour.
If that doesn't accord with what the mainstream media are saying it's because, as a blogger, I don't have to create stories or peddle sensationalism.
By-elections, like local council elections, only have meaning retrospectively - i.e., when you look back at them after a subsequent general election. At the time they happen, they mean almost nothing.
And, having studied politics nerdishly for at least 45 years, I've seen numerous spectacular by-election wins that, with the benefit of hindsight, told us nothing meaningful at all.

My view on Crewe was that if Labour dropped below a 30% share of the vote they'd be in serious trouble and Brown's position might be at risk. But they got 31% of the vote. Not good, but not a total disaster.
The 17% swing to the Tories was high but in an historical context not at the top of the Richter scale. In 1976, the Tories took Walsall North with a 22.6% swing. In 1994, the Labour opposition took Dudley West with a 29% swing.

And be wary of professional psephologists, or at least the ones who rent out their opinions to the media. I'm not accusing them of dishonesty but they know that their retainers will vanish as quickly as a by-election majority if they say that the result tells us fuck-all about the next general election.

The psephologists tell us that no Prime Minister has won a General Election after a by-election defeat on this scale.
They also tell us that no opposition has ever achieved the swing that will be necessary for the Tories to win the next election.
Do we infer from those two assertions that the next election will produce a hung Parliament?
Well, only if you believe that the unprecedented can never happen in politics. But in politics, as in life, the unprecedented sometimes happens and new precedents are created.
So do I think Labour can still win in 2010? Yes, of course.
Do I think the Tories can win in 2010? Yes, of course.
Might there be a hung Parliament? Quite possibly.
Is there any evidence for any of these outcomes? Don't be silly.


When I left the house this morning, the Today programme was talking about the castration of teenage transgender boys in Thailand.
On returning to the house, I heard James Naughtie saying to a woman interviewee: "Never do it with children or animals. But you've been doing it with animals all your life, haven't you?"
Ye Gods! Had the Today programme turned into a radio version of a late night cable channel?
It was a relief to discover that Mr Naughtie was talking about acting with children and animals.
But I still think it's a mistake to subject crusty old Colonels to descriptions of Thai ladyboys over the Oxford marmalade.
"I've been thinking about our holiday, Marjorie. Bangkok's very nice at this time of year...."


When Dermot O'Leary pronounced 'hyperbole' as 'hyperbowl' on TV last year I thought he might be making some kind of pun, what with Big Brother being like a goldfish bowl. Then I remembered that Dermot O'Leary is an idiot.
But then last night on Radio Four, some bloke from a think-tank called the 'Institute of Ideas' also said 'hyperbowl'.
From an air-headed TV presenter to the intelligentsia in just a few months. By next year it will be in the Oxford English Dictionary.


Telephoning a call centre yesterday, the usual thing happened: I was shunted from wrong department to wrong department. The agony was prolonged because each person took all my details and went through numerous security questions before deciding I was in the wrong place.
Not for the first time, one chap greeted my every answer with "Brilliant!"
I give my postcode: "That's brilliant!"
I give my date of birth: "Brilliant!"
It was as though he were giving encouragement to a retarded child.
I was tempted to tell him that I can also tie my own shoe laces, use a knife and fork and even know the correct pronunciation of 'hyperbole'.
Maybe next time.


At 10:22 AM, Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

Excellent. I think that I love you.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Steady on, Vicus old chap.
Maybe it's time I provoked your disagreement again.
Coming soon: The Magic of Musicals.


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