Friday, 4 May 2007

Closet Labour Voters Spare Blair's Blushes?

Well, it's still early in the night, as the TV commentators say, but it looks like Labour haven't been given quite the kicking a lot of people were predicting. John Reid was on the BBC earlier talking about the gap between opinion polls and what canvassers were hearing on the doorstep.

Listening to him, it occurred to me that voting Labour has become a little shameful, in the way that voting Conservative was in 1992. Back then, the pollsters had to weight their survey results to compensate for the reluctance of Tory voters to own up. It wouldn't surprise me if the sort of casual vitriol that constitutes received opinion about Tony Blair has had a similar effect. Could it be that this tranche of closet Labour voters has spared the government some misery tonight?

Here in Sheffield, I made it to the polling station (by taxi) ten minutes before they shut up shop. But there's no election night drama for us – every council in Yorkshire has postponed its count to tomorrow daytime, so whenever David Dimbleby hands over to the “regional results in detail”, we get a reporter sitting in an all night cafe chatting with a few retired council leaders.

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