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Election blog, part four

May 6th, 2005 (01:09 pm)

current mood: sleepy
current music: Wakeman: 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur...'

I managed to sleep all morning, getting up at noon. This is the latest I've got up on the day following an election. From 1979 (where I had to go to bed immediately after the result was predicted) to 1983, a school morning followed; I still had to sit some O-Levels in 1987; finals beckoned in 1992; 1997 saw me doze on Dr Woods's sofa in Hampshire for a few hours before driving back to Oxford at around lunchtime; and in 2001 I went to sleep at about 4.30am to awake as William Hague resigned as Conservative leader round about 8am.

I was still with SocT at Christ Church, before our migration to the Manor, at 10pm, when the results of the BBC/ITV exit poll were announced. Fifteen hours and a bit on, BBC News are still reminding viewers that the exit poll predicted a Labour majority of 66, and that it appears that thyis will be the labour majority (though I checked Sky News a few minutes ago, and they were saying 64 - the BBC probably expect Labour to take Crawley, whereas Sky are calling it for the Conservatives - I've just checked and Labour have held Crawley; but I've now seen that the count in Harlow has been suspended until Saturday because counting staff have been worn out by recounts). I had expected Labour to have a slightly larger majority, of between 80-100; and I was surprisingly disturbed at the idea that the Conservatives would have 209 seats. I hadn't thought I had so great an animus against the Conservative party, despite my regarding them as either the originators or the midwives of most of the evils in contemporary British society. I was greatly struck by the prediction that the LibDems would have only 53 seats; I'd predicted 55-65 publicly, and was hoping that 60-65 would prove realistic.

Once the party settled at Shona's it became more animated, and I am now more convinced of a developing view that you can't provide enough food for SocT. Bread and cheese and crisps and quiche? Assimilated! Crepes? Forty minutes to prepare, forty seconds to eat. So rapacious are we, that the strawberries had to be reserved for a specially self-selected group with discerning palates.

We stayed with the BBC all night, and did't sample the celeb-studded ITV coverage. I was pleased that Rick Wakeman's 'Arthur' has been restored as the title music - it's much more stirring than the forgettable piece of MOR synthpop used last time, and suitable for the broadcaster intending to create a sense of drama.

The party broke up after 5am; as it was nearly three hours until the first bus to Woodstock I had to call a taxi. Instead of asking at Holywell Manor lodge for a phone number, I walked through the city centre, which was in transition between sleeping and waking, the thin population on the streets being mostly, at my guess, people who hadn't been to bed yet. I eventually called City Taxis, who wouldn't pick me up from a random spot on St Giles and needed an address - so it was back to the TGW office, where the security log will report that someone opened up at about 5.20am, only to lock up about ten minutes later.

By 5.30 it was unquestionably morning; the sun was shining cautiously and there were one or two early morning cyclists. I'm not used to that time of day, so it was almost a novelty; I wondered what it would be like to abandon my nocturnal habits and become an early morning person. I had struck a third or fourth wind and could probably have driven home, in the event, but was instead free to lie back and take in the early morning cyclists and joggers and watch the sun rise over Oxfordshire.

My constituency, Witney, remained Conservative, with David Cameron increasing his majority, and the LibDems overtaking Labour and moving into second place. I was disappointed to see that an old DSoc friend came within a thousand votes of taking Oxford East - it would have been good to still have a certified Doctor Who fan of sorts in the Commons too, particularly as Tim 'Pity he's a Tory' Collins lost his once-safe Conservative seat. With localised swings of the sort we saw last evening, I don't think the concept of the safe seat is quite as reliable as it once was.


Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 6th, 2005 11:27 pm (UTC)

You're absolutely right. I think that the rise of local factors such as constituency work and constituency reaction to individual MPs explains why marginals don't fall according to the script. Local sympathy to the ill health of Patsy Calton in Cheadle could be part of the explanation for her victory, although the tendency of Labour voters to switch to the Lib Dems may be more of the story in this case. Similarly, Dorset West may have been held by Oliver Letwin because he has made sure that he has kept the constituency 'warm' and because he has reinvented his image nationally since the 2001 election.