I could just write this tomorrow and save the speculation

… but it’s lunchtime on a cold, grey day and I have an hour to fill.

So, Ben’s prediction for the election: whoever wins tomorrow, the losers will indulge in months if not years of navel-gazing trying to analyse their defeat, and produce a new winning strategy for the next election almost indistinguishable from the strategy that lost them this one. An interesting article by Ben Goldacre explains why. Studies show that people can be comprehensively owned by clear and incontrovertible evidence that is contrary to their beliefs, and not only continue to believe but actually have those beliefs confirmed (in their own minds) by the contradiction. It’s now a scientifically observed phenomenon. (Scientific? Yes: it’s a theory that offers an explanation for observed data and is independently testable and verifiable. Scientific.)

This also explains current behaviour as well as future. It explains why Labour continues to believe that the affairs of man can be micro-managed by legislation, despite an ever more lamentable catalogue of badly written laws: look after the letter of the law and the spirit takes care of itself. On second thoughts, just dispense with the spirit and make do with the ever-more badly written bit.

It explains why even if the Conservatives aren’t quite the party of Norman “on your bike” Tebbit any more (and Cameron, I think, is genuinely trying to distance his party from that era), the spirit still lurks not far beneath the surface. “Phwah phwah phwah what you don’t have a comfortable financial cushion to fall back on at any time phwah phwah how can you not be absolute master of your own destiny it’s all your own fault you know phwah phwah phwah.” And it explains how they can still be the party that can adopt a candidate who ‘founded a church that tried to “cure” homosexuals by driving out their “demons” through prayer’, and believe that a prospective MP with that on her CV is still in with a chance. If Sutton and Cheam is Conservative tomorrow morning it really can only be that the other candidates just didn’t try hard enough.

(It would be fun to be a fly on the wall at one of her exorcisms.

Priest: “Be gone, demons of gayness!”

Demon 1: “Not in these shoes, girlfriend.”

Demon 2: “Ooh, get you!”

Demon 3: “Nice frock …”

In keeping with Goldacre’s article, of course, failure to produce any demons at all will not dissuade people from trying.)

And it explains why a Lib-Dem government, or even a Lib-Dem-controlled balance of power, just wouldn’t work, because they would consistently expect everyone to be sensible and rational and grown-up and they’re not.

And all of this explains why I don’t particularly want any of that lot to win, but am resigned to the fact that one of them will and I do hope it’s not Labour.

The sun brings them out

Languishing at home today with an upset stomach but at least I get to enjoy the election media of the also-rans.
The UKIP leaflet is a tad simplistic in bright, primary colours and looks like nothing so much as a supermarket flyer, especially with that pound symbol that tops and tails it. I expect the small print beneath “Vote UKIP” to add “and we’ll give you a box of washing up powder.”
So, about what you’d expect. This one from the Animal Protection Party is much more fun.
Doctor Death is none other than our very own local MP Dr Evan Harris. He is a vocal supporter of Oxford Uni’s secret animal research programmes – so secret they have vocal supporters. He is apparently pro-fluoride, “a waste product of the aluminium industry” and “of no benfit (sic) to teeth”. He is an “aggressive secularist” (seemed quite a mild one when I met him) who attacks “anyone (particularly Christians) who allow their faith to challenge his views”; and most devastating of all, on page 2 (which I didn’t have the heart to photo) he “uses his position to attack herbal remedies, vitamins and homeopathy”. The swine, the swine, the utter swine.
The implied conclusion I draw from this is that, um, Christians do believe in herbal remedies, vitamins and homeopathy, are against a secular society, and don’t use fluoridised toothpaste? Oh dear. Where do I hand my faith in?
I have no beef at all with Dr Harris. I like the fact that when I hear of him in the public media he’s generally doing something sensible and pro-science. A colleague at work, who is a school governor, tells me he’s not that hot as a constituency MP: missed appointments, unanswered letters and so on, in lamentable contrast to hispredecessor, who may have been all for teaching more hellfire in RE to combat youth delinquency but at least answered his letters. I can only say that of all the MPs I’ve had representing me, he is the only one who has ever actually turned up on my doorstep – and that wasn’t even in an election year. I forget what he was canvassing about but I was impressed.
I also know what he looks like, which is more than I can say for our Animal Protection Party candidate unless the latter bears a strange resemblance to a tortured monkey; and, possibly uniquely for a Lib Dem, he has managed to upset someone. Bonzer!

Unsure of how to vote?

Let Vote Match take the strain. You answer a series of policy questions and it matches your responses against the stated policies of the national parties. I wasn’t that surprised to find that I agree with:

  • Conservatives 42%
  • Lib Dem 40%
  • Greens 39%
  • Labour 33%
  • UKIP 28%

You can choose which parties you would and would not like to be associated with and I asked for BNP to be excluded from the final reckoning. Then, out of morbid curiosity, I asked for them to be included. This gives a rather worrying:

  • Conservatives 42%
  • Greens 39%
  • Lib Dem 38%
  • BNP 36%
  • Labour 32%
  • UKIP 27%

Hmm. Where did that 36% come from? I always thought the only difference between BNP and UKIP was the rapid [EDIT: or even rabid] xenophobia. I didn’t think I was remotely xenophobic, even though you will have to pluck my right to make jokes about the French, Germans and Americans out of my cold dead hands. Is it because my answers suggest I would have no problem with the idea of repatriating an immigrant who breaks the law? That of course would refer to a persistent recidivist, not someone who, say, gets caught doing 32mph in a 30mph zone. This is not entirely facetious: I recently read of a Mexican woman in the US, who has lived and worked legally there for 40 years, and whose children and grandchildren are US citizens, who has had her green card revoked because she walked across a neighbour’s lawn and got sued for trespass. That is silly (or to give it its fuller name, mindless petty spite). However, at the other end of the scale, someone who enters the country as an immigrant, gets the right to reside and sets themselves up as a crime lord running a drugs and prostitution ring should lose the right to residence. Is that a problem?

Therein lies the problem with any site like this: you can give general answers to general questions of policy, but that always assumes the legislation would emerge from the Parliamentary process framed and phrased in a reasonable way. Nothing I’ve seen in the last 13 years, and very little in the last 31, convinces me this would be the case.

I will now save this post, if I can get my right hand down from its 45 degree angle to move the mouse.