Count me out

by Kevin Meagher

I really don’t like election counts.

No, scratch that: I hate election counts.

Of course it’s something of an occupational hazard, but I have no affection for standing around in a hot and noisy fluorescent hall, listening to boring, ill-informed guesswork about who’s up and who’s down.

Seriously, people stand there extrapolating wildly on the basis of the flimsiest evidence, like 10th century peasants speculating about when the dragon will next appear, is an annual endurance I’d happily pass up. Why can’t we just learn to wait until the results come in?

And any other former agents out there will know how annoying it is to have colleagues who are supposed to be there to sit and watch votes being counted instead float off to natter and plot, sharing defective intelligence about how Harry will beat Roger, only to be exposed as a false prophet moments later.

Hot, uncomfortable and tedious. And as venues for the count are mostly now abstemious, they are even more unbearable.

And there is no better place to be than amid the throng of a count to utterly lose perspective on the national picture.

Most of all I hate the phoney tribalism of the whole thing. The gaps between councillors are so utterly miniscule that the enmity is entirely forced these days. However, the smaller the political differences, the bigger the rosettes.

Was I up for Portillo in ’97? I was – and I actually thought he handled himself with great dignity. The politics of personal destruction is ugly and reductive, whoever the victim happens to be.

Counts represent the triumph of a sugar rush electoralism that puts campaigning above purpose.

But what is that we win to do?

Now that I am interested in.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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2 Responses to “Count me out”

  1. Jonny Morris says:

    If you’re a former agent, then I expect you trained your counting agents, explained how sampling gave them PD voting information which helped future campaigning, how early indication of results allowed time for the candidates to go to the media having prepared themselves for some time, how a well-organised Labour team at a count dispirits and depresses our opponents, and raises the morale of all the Labour activists etc, etc. Or were you asked not to be an agent againn because you did none of these things?

  2. Ian Stewart says:

    Well, counts can bring out the worst in people from all sides, that is certainly true. And outside of those NUS conferences, you are unlikely to encounter a more hyperbolic, paranoid and generally fevered occasion.
    However, I can think of some cases where the unalloyed partisanship is to be applauded – defeating BNP candidates would be one…

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