THE MOST STAGE-MANAGED GENERAL ELECTION EVER

We ain’t seen nothing yet, warns JOHN MCGURK.  Almost there?  We may think it’s all over, but the BBC is firing up the news helicopters as we speak.

Soon the cameras in the sky will be following black limousines as they travel through the streets of Westminster.  Microphones will be trying to eavesdrop on broken bits of conversation.  The news channels will be in overdrive constantly repeating the same stuff.

But our political heroes, fresh from trying to grab every ounce of publicity for the past month, will suddenly be struck dumb as they attempt to outmanoeuvre each other.

It was certainly like that for days in May 2010 when that general election result ended in indecision and the country fell into paralysis.

Who will be out and who will be in?

Will Ed really refuse to speak to Alex and Nicola?

Will Dave and Nick be trying to make-up?

Who will dare to speak to Nigel?

Let’s ensure we remember what they’ve all been saying these last few days as they’ve jockeyed for position and see how it compares when the real talking gets underway.

The nation will just have to play yet another waiting game and we will come to realise that all these weeks of frustration, irritation and boredom have been a precursor for more of the same to come.

This election has been the most stage-managed, soundbite-driven, least informative and, frankly, unacceptable political contest this country has ever seen.  

Perhaps the most exciting moment so far was when Ed nearly tripped as he left the Question Time stage after last week’s grilling by a TV audience in Leeds.

His stumble wasn’t quite up to the standard of Neil Kinnock, who crashed to the ground when he was hamming it up for the cameras on a beach in 1992, but it was certainly a chuckle-worthy moment.

Poor old Ed will be praying that the similarity between him and the then Labour leader will end there since Kinnock went on to lose in dramatic fashion to John Major and his trusty soapbox thanks to a late swing to the Conservatives when the result was supposedly too close to call.

This time around, the strategists and the minders have worked tirelessly to ensure that their man, or woman, would not be the subject of the game-changing gaffe such as the “bigoted woman” moment between Gillian Duffy and Gordon Brown five years ago.

So gone were the daily press conferences, when leaders could be scrutinised every morning, and gone was the free movement of reporters and photographers as they followed the battle buses around the country.

Instead, the cameras, microphones and notepads were continually cordoned off and only invited from behind the barriers when the spin doctors were ready with their phoney picture opportunities and interview offerings with carefully selected, sympathetic supporters who had been coached with what to say.

So not long to go now until we find out…but hang on a second!

We will know the exact result of the election on Thursday night when David Dimbleby, the BBC’s election night master of ceremonies, open ups the programme with the conclusion from the exit poll.

Honestly, we will all be able to go to bed unless, of course, we want to personally witness the humiliation, particularly in Scotland, of those who will be booted out.

The reason for this is because the exit poll has been 100 per cent accurate for the last two UK general elections.

When the Conservatives polled he highest number of seats in 2010 but were 19 seats short of a majority, the exit poll called it exactly right.

When Tony Blair waltzed to his third victory in 2005 with a majority of 66, the exit poll called it exactly right.

Despite the 39,000 polling stations around the country, the pollsters, MORI and NOP, concentrate on the marginal seats where there is a history of the constituency changing hands.

By selecting the required number of voters to question, depending on the turn-out, the exit poll is no longer a barometer of opinion but a mathematical equation which produces the actual result.

So there’s no need to be locked into an all-night session in front of the box hoping that the actual result will be any different.

You really can have an early night on Thursday or switch over to the late night movie or get stuck into that bestseller you’ve been anxious to start. 

Even better, get the DVD box set of the Kevin Spacey version of House of Cards…and be glued to the screen until dawn. 

Unlike what we’ve had to suffer during this election campaign, this is a real political thriller!  

 

jcmcgurk@blueyonder.co.uk 

 

 

 

 

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