Sunday 19 February 2017

By-election roundup No.4

* The Stoke Central Ukip news stories continue to become more bizarre. On Saturday a Ukip campaigner urinated on a fence, then barged into pensioner's house in order to use the toilet. Apparently the 73-year-old granny pressed the button on CCTV footage and, according to The Sentinel newspaper, "Police have launched an investigation".

Ukip HQ also issued an online picture of their leaflet-eers in a Bolton car park, but mis-titled it as being in Stoke. A petty matter, but then Ukip HQ inadvertently linked the mis-titled photo with the peeing news, by calling the confusion a "cock-up". Even their damage-limitation headline-spinning goes awry.

At the start of the election I predicted on this blog that the street campaigning would turn into a "pantomime", but I didn't realise it would also become a full-blown Joe Orton-esque toilets-and-grannies farce. Is there a tragi-comedy stage play or graphic novel or TV mini-series to be made from this election, once the dust has settled? Quite possibly, and there are still four days to go. Plus the election aftermath, in which we'll get a month of either: "Stoke goes Ukip, Labour in chaos..."; "Labour wins yet again, Corbyn secure..." or "Stoke shock sends bright young Conservative to Parliament, Ukip and Labour both stuffed...".

* Still no sign of Ukip's man Nuttall, nor his deleted website. If he doesn't get out of the doghouse and out-and-about in Stoke by noon on Monday then his Thursday tactical one-off conservative voters will be slipping away by the hour. Even normally sedate media will start asking if he'll even turn up for the final count when the polls close. But possibly he'll be too busy preparing for his new role as the next Doctor Who. The BBC have already sent him the eccentric costume and some curious assistants, now all he needs is a TARDIS (to whisk him back in time to a point before all this mess).

* Where are the Greens? Looks like they have a good honest candidate in the form of a local warehouseman. But he's not very visible in the media, although a few of his yoga-and-yoghurt students are no doubt still fervently tweeting anti-capitalist slogans and moaning about fracking. I had hoped that the Greens would have amused the Stoke electorate by trying to sell them on policies such as group marriage. The Green General Election manifesto managed to include such odd policies, but oddly didn't even mention litter.

* Stoke's dogs, recently featured on this blog, are apparently nipping at Labour's heels. If not also leaving smelly poops-on-paths. As canvassers stomp around streets and estates:

"On the doorstep we're finding that it's either UKIP or next door's damn dog again".

* The Labour candidate is still out and about on the doorsteps, and is perhaps charming the voters with his delightful poems. "Would-be MP Gareth Snell posted a poem reading "Soft Brexit, hard Brexit / Massive pile of s***" in September.

It's yet another dog/shoe encounter for Gareth, by the sound of it.

* A telling comparison of two tweets shows some Stokie ex-pat commentators living in the past, presumably by not having been back to the city in decades...

Though possibly that temporary and surprising low crime rate is something to do with all the "eyes on the streets", the result of all the leafleting and doorstep canvassing? A lesson there for the police, perhaps, re: the value of bringing back regular street patrols on foot?

On the subject of tweets, there are now said to be plenty of fake or tweaked or spoofed screen-shots of what are being claimed as Labour 'Snell tweets' circulating on Twitter. Beware of re-twating.

* I'm told that as much as a third of the total vote could be in the post-boxes already, via postal voting. But obviously some heavily insulated people are still getting up to speed, since even on Sunday night I read:

"I didn't realise until today that it's not a Labour Council in Stoke."

Yes, Stoke council is now effectively being led by some excellent and efficient local Conservatives. But when you hear comments like that from voters you have to wonder how many people in Stoke still have a hazy notion that a guy called Tony Blair is Labour's leader. Mind you, it appears that Tony sometimes still thinks that he's leader too.

Ominous headline: "Labour could lose Copeland and Stoke by-elections but Jeremy Corbyn won't quit, Diane Abbott says".

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