I’m not here to tell you that the polls have got it wrong this time, like they did the time before and the time before that (and the time before that). But I am interested to explore the twilight world of polling and the weird people who answer them.
The Guardian’s poll tracker has the Tories holding steady on 39%, with Labour creeping upwards to 28%, at the expense, not of the Tories, but of the Liberal Democrats (16%) and the Greens (3%). Of course, if you add the anti-Tory vote together (44%) and people do actually, this time, for once, vote tactically, then that 11 point lead is meaningless.
I’m old enough to remember the 80s, and talk, in ’83 and ’87 of voting tactically to defeat the Cons, but it never materialised. Nor did it in ’92, when Major unexpectedly won the last clear Tory majority. Yes, 27 years ago was when there was last clear blue water behind a Tory “win”.
Of course, in those elections, we didn’t have social networks and we didn’t have tactical voting web sites to show people the way. I’m afraid, however, that I’m sceptical. If I step out of my front door I could spit in any direction and hit a Tory. I just don’t believe enough people are willing to hold their nose WITH A GIANT FUCKING PEG and vote in the interest of keeping Johnson out of power. And I’m afraid, very afraid, that the children of non-voting age I teach are far more impressed by Johnson than they are by Corbyn. Which means that their older sibs are also likely to be swayed by his TV personality swagger, thanks to his years of exposure on the BBC. Furthermore, I’m very much afraid that the opinions that the young people I teach express about people on benefits (and their rights) and refugees (and their rights) do not give me hope.
Sure, I’m an old leftie who fought in the Spanish Civil War or something so I’m always going to be disappointed in the young, but when you hear people express thoughts straight from the editorial pages of the Mail, then you do lose hope. A bit.
Thinking about polling, I wondered, why doesn’t anybody ask me what I think? And so I reactivated my YouGov account and went in. Of course, nobody is going to ask me. Statistically, they’re already overwhelmed with 56-year-old white males, and so my opinion is irrelevant. But that’s a weird place, that YouGov web site. They constantly ask you to build your profile by asking you a series of dumb questions, and that you express opinions about such things as sporting activities, TV shows, and books. But what makes it weird is that the TV shows they ask you about are mostly from years ago. It’s as if the Platinum Age of TV never happened. They’re asking you about BBC and ITV shows of the 70s and 80s and 90s, asking you about Poldark (’75) and The Thorn Birds and whatnot. And then they ask if you, say, prefer fiction or non-fiction, and if you say, fiction, they ask you to rate a truckload of non-fiction books, or ‘authors’ such as actor Rob Lowe or actor Joanna Lumley or some DJ or whatever. And you do a search for actual writers you actually like, and they’re not there.
And you realise, this whole web site is set up so people like the Tories-I-could-spit-on-outside-my-front-door can express opinions about the things they remember from 20-30 years ago, about the time they retired. And people like me, who do have strong opinions and tastes but are somewhat (or very far) outside the mainstream, are so much the outlier that we really are statistically irrelevant.
And so we beat on, boats against the current, surrounded by cunts, borne back ceaselessly into the Arse in Downing Street.