I voted for the SNP this election. I wasn’t terribly impressed by their “we don’t want any cuts” idea, it seems to me if you’re in massive debt you should get rid of that debt as soon as possible. But they remain the party that I find myself in agreement with most often and I was very annoyed at them being left out of the leaders debates, the London establishment really doesn’t understand that the party of government should have a say in the main election event.
Voting over I decided to tick off another of the items on my list of things to do before I die and attend the election count for Edinburgh. Kindly the SNP invited me to attend to keep an eye on the counters and make sure they were treating everyone fairly. Turn out an election count is mostly boring. Even the political speaches at the results announement are nothing more than a poor-man’s Oscar thanks.
It’s a busy event, there are at least 65 staff for each constituency on the night and Edinburgh has 5 constituencies. Then there are all the party hangers on who are tasked with keeping an eye on the counter or keeping up spirits for their tired out candidate. There are also press and tele cameras around the place.
As a couning agent my job was to look over the shoulder of the counters as they unfolded the votes and take a rough count to get a feel for which wards are popular and which unpopular with the party I happen to be helping. I’m not sure why they can’t just get the counts listed for each ward officially but seems this low tech low reliabiliity approach is the preferred way.
First unfolding done and suddently everybody stops for lunch. In the middle of the night. Hungry work all this unfolding paper.
The second round of counting starts sometime after midnight when the papers are actually sorted into piles for each party. The occational “none of the above” or even full essay written on the voting paper provide occational humour.
Around one in the morning the higher profile candidates arrive. Colin Fox has been around all night making sure every one of his meagre Scottish Socialist Party votes gets counted properly while Alistair Darling can wander in (followed by a large number of press photographers) much later happily assured he’ll manage to win without any effort.
Around three in the morning the results start getting announced. Alistair Darling was entirely right to assume he’d win without bother. His Labour supporters all look like they would fit much better into the Tory party, polished shoes and all. He didn’t bother giving any more than one sentence for a speach before rushing off to try and pretend he was still in government. Best speaches for the night came from the various socialist parties who seem to have spintered into multiple factions again following Tommy Sheridan imploding. One of them had the microphone turned off while talking all because he wanted to make a serious political point rather than thanking his election agent and dog for helping during the election, shame.
No loony politicians in Edinburgh (a shame, they often make the best ones) but Leith constituency did sport the curious Liberal Party (unrelated to Lib Dems), various socialists and some bloke who claimed to be campaiging for the “great British pound”.
Four sets of results in and Edinburgh remains strongly Labour, infact even stronger than the start of the night. Quite mystifying, presumably people want to keep the Tories out. Only my own Edinburgh South is unfinished. SNP man Sandy Howat turns out to be good crack and quite perceptive but the early count showed he was in poor fouth. Tory bloke failed to make much progress, so there is some sense in the world. The piles of votes in the centre of the counting hall show Lib Dems and Labour to be exactly even. The candidates are called into the centre to be shown the results. The Labour man hugs his agent. Lib Dem Fred Macintosh seems to be talking to the returning officer and before long a bundle recount is in order. An hour later that finishes with more talking and muttering in the centre and a full recount follows soon after. By 5 in the morning most people have gone home but eventually the cheer goes around the hall from the polished show crowd with the Labour rosettes.
Edinburgh South results. Poor old Fred Macintosh who put so many leflets through our door every day lost by 300 votes. Mystifying indeed. Sandy Howat of the SNP moaned about how the country had rejecting the Conservaties but it seems by that logic they wanted Labour. Trouble is the English had a different idea and now David Cameron is Prime Minister. Fooey.by