At last, this tedious charade nears its thankful denouement. Soon we’ll be spared the scaremongering, beancounting and ignoring the real issues we’ve had to endure for the last few months. Parliamentarians can then get back to the real business of making cuts and ensuring the most vulnerable pay to keep casino capitalism on the road. Let’s start the final constituency round-ups in the far north, Once upon a time, elections here were exciting as Liberals and Conservatives battled it out in a surrogate battle between church and chapel, booze and temperance, landlord and tenant, town and country. Now we only have the sorry spectacle of two coalition candidates vying for victory. Dan Rogerson and Scott Mann between them are, according to recent polls, attracting around three quarters of those who’ll bother to vote (although this is only half the registered electors in North Cornwall).
Rogerson doesn’t do social media but he’s quietly using the formidable local Lib Dem machine to corral the voters. Among his claims is credit for road improvements which will increase the capacity to continue the high population growth strategy that he seems to be so keen on. Although his majority may have slipped from 6% in 2010 to 2% in the most recent polls, those polls do suggest he’s been able to pick up more votes since last summer than Scott Mann, his Tory rival.
Turning from Tweedledee to Tweedledum, we read that Mann’s being getting a ‘great response’ (don’t they always – when’s a candidate going to say ‘crap response in X today’?) in Bude and Marhamchurch, where people were terrified of the prospect of the SNP propping up a Labour Government. Why this phobia should make them more likely to vote Tory is a mystery, unless they’re equally scared of the prospect of Rogerson again propping up a Tory Government. Scott has a small problem as there are now fewer ghost second home voters to rely on here. So to make up for that loss, he’s been turning to visits from top Tories. Such as Grant Shapps, or is it Michael Green, which he unaccountably appears to believe is a vote winner. If one dodgy character wasn’t enough, George Osborne also popped down to assure Scott that he wouldn’t reinstate a pasty tax. Although he doesn’t need to as they haven’t actually got rid of the last one yet.
Julie Lingard has watched support for Ukip steadily drift away since last summer, when for an instant Ukip looked to be picking up around a quarter of the vote in North Cornwall. It’s now down to the general GB average and an entirely more reasonable level as Ukip’s flock wanders dozily back to graze greedily on Tory and Lib Dem promises. Julie’s been busy publicising Ukip policies, such as tougher penalties for animal cruelty, which wouldn’t have been so welcome news for a previous Ukip candidate further west. She’s also been having throwbacks to the days when candidates had election meetings rather than hustings, holding a series of local meetings around the constituency. What next? Heckling? The open ballot?
It’s likely that John Whitby for Labour and Amanda Pennington of the Greens will be fighting it out for fourth place and the honour of saving their deposits. They’re presently neck and neck in the polls, although Amanda has the dubious advantage of an endorsement from Kernow King. While the King is going for MK in the rest of Cornwall, his attention was captured by Amanda’s energetic campaign (and her red hair.) When it comes to social media she’s way out in front, with 57 facebook posts last week alone, engaging 2,300 people. However, somewhat sadly, a video of her campaign which appeared in the Telegraph, paints a picture of a one-women campaign strapped for cash, with few posters and with only one leaflet to hand out. Are there no other Green Party members in North Cornwall?
Labour’s John Whitby is also quite active on social media, although nowhere near as frenetic or compelling as Amanda. He’s been providing an admirable public service however, by informing voters of Dan Rogerson’s voting record. He’s also been holding street parties in Bodmin, Bude and Wadebridge, accompanied by a blues singer. Unfortunately, no-one seems to come to them though. Looks like fun, but may not win that many votes.
Finally, we have Jeff Jefferies for MK, a last minute candidate who thinks that Cornwall was ‘effectively self-governing until the 1750s’ and is therefore out-doing even Ukip in the nostalgia stakes, let alone the wishful-thinking zone. Then there’s an even more last minute candidate – John Allman from Lanson – who’s standing because every child needs a father. (Don’t ask me; I don’t know either.)
Without the second home voters, North Cornwall may be safer for Rogerson than it appears. Nonetheless, Scott Mann’s impeccable local roots will do him no harm. I can’t believe that last time around I called for a vote for Rogerson here in order to keep a particularly obnoxious pro-tourist lobby Tory out. How stupid was that? I must have been young and naive. I’m now older, more bitter, cynical and twisted. If this goes on, by 2020 I’ll be a Ukip voter. So this time anyone but Rogerson (oh, but not Mann, Lingard or Allman please).
Here’s my prediction for the seat …
|1. Rogerson (LD)||39%|
|2. Mann (Con)||37%|
|3. Lingard (Ukip)||14%|
|4. Pennington (GP)||5%|
|5. Whitby (Lab)||4%|
|6. Jefferies (MK)||1%|
|7. Allman (Ind)||<1%|