A Day at the Races:
May 8, 2001 10:47 AM   Subscribe

A Day at the Races: PM Tony Blair calls for the General Election on June 7. What will the next month of campaigning be like? Well, Trimble has already threatened to resign his post in N. Ireland.
posted by ahughey (6 comments total)
Hardly the first time...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2001

American politics could learn this lesson from the British -- only one month of campaigning. Cripes, here they're already jockeying for 2004.

I got a kick out of the poll graph on that link -- Labour well ahead of the Tories, who are about equally ahead of the LibDems, and almost no fluctuation, just three straight lines.

Do the British news media and parties do the same intensive daily polling that we do? It was almost impossible to get a good sense of trends during the presidential election because they were constantly polling.
posted by briank at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2001

Well, the online community has at least learned from the shambles on the other side of the pond. Following on from "Nader Traders", we have TacticalVoter.net, which aims to do the same thing -- with the potential for better results, given the first-past-the-post constituency system.

As far as party campaigns go: well, the Tories have apparently already spammed 20,000 random people with email purporting to be from Labour. (Expect to see that make this week's NTK.)

And since all MPs essentially stop being MPs on Friday, they'll be glad to have another excuse to ignore FaxYourMP.com.

But my guess is that the Guardian will come out better from this than any of the parties, at least as far as the web's concerned. Ask Aristotle is just brilliantly done.
posted by holgate at 11:20 AM on May 8, 2001

briank: there will be fairly regular polls -- the orgs are associated with particular national papers -- but because of the parliamentary system, and recent election results, there's generally greater scepticism, and certainly less of the poll-driven speculation than in the presidential race. (1992's Tory win proved that people didn't like telling pollsters that they were going to vote Conservative.)

What you will get are examinations of bellwether seats (typically Labour marginals that went over in 1997) and the search for the composite personality deemed to hold the outcome in his/her hands: Basildon Man, Gloucester Woman etc. What's interesting in this election, though, is that there's likely to be less emphasis on suburban "Middle England", that mythical world of semi-detached homes, mortgage and Mondeo, and on "the English heartlands", which -- unlike the US -- are regarded as "Old Labour", the bastions of the working-class where Blair could suffer from apathy. And that means we're likely to see the cameras and the cabinet ministers in this little pocket of socialism in the north-east.

(We're also now under the broadcasting restrictions of the Representation of the People Act, which means that the TV and radio stations are legally bound to ensure equal coverage for the major parties, with specific slots for party election broadcasts. No chance for soft money ads here, really.)
posted by holgate at 11:38 AM on May 8, 2001

Whatever happened to that MP from Basildon who was such a joy to watch during Question Time?
posted by aaron at 1:57 PM on May 8, 2001

David Amess? He actually joined the Tory "chicken run" in 1997, when boundary changes meant that Basildon was much more likely to swing to Labour, and got a safe seat in Southend because the sitting MP retired.

I met him after a Union debate in Oxford. He's absolutely insufferable. (Like most MPs, of whatever party.)
posted by holgate at 4:45 PM on May 8, 2001

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