Campaign Diary May 3rd 2024

Welcome to my new campaign diary

I’ll be writing regularly about local, national and international politics as the general election draws near.
Warning: this diary may contain jokes!

I’ve been observing the London election count today at Kensington Olympia. By law I can’t give any hint about who’s doing well or badly

But I can tell you that the efficiency and friendliness are awe-inspiring.

We take clean elections for granted in this country. But I don’t. I have lived in countries where elections were shams, and where even spoiling your ballot was an act of defiance that could destroy your career and your family’s happiness.

I get a lump in my throat when I go to a calm, well-run polling station and witness the simplicity of a pencil cross on a paper ballot, honestly counted in front of independent observers.

It never crosses our minds that someone might be filching those cast for the “wrong” party or running off a few hundred extra ballot papers on a photocopier in the next room—something that my friend Joe Worrall (pictured) actually uncovered in his work as an international election monitor in Kazakhstan.

Long may that continue.

An essential part of elections is reminding voters to get to the polls on time. We political obsessives think about nothing else. But most voters have to fit the visit to the polling station into their busy days. They may procrastinate and then decide that the weather’s nasty and it’s getting late. And rationally, one vote is unlikely to make a difference. In almost all elections, voting is a symbolic act from an individual point of view. .

So that means sending out teams of activists. We were helping out with this at a by-election in Holland Park yesterday (result due tomorrow). The technical term for this is “knocking up”.

Unfortunately, this leafy bit of Kensington has rather a lot of American residents and when one of them asked me what I was doing I replied “I’m knocking up as many voters as possible”.

He looked at me with a degree of incredulity. In American English, “knock up” means “impregnate.”.


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