Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sunderland Has a Lot to Answer For

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sunderland Has a Lot to Answer For

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH HANN

WELL done, us! It takes real skill and judgement to manipulate a simple first-past-the-post electoral system to achieve a result that absolutely none of the political parties wanted.

That will serve them right for fiddling their expenses.

The only snag is that, being British, we are still not satisfied. The weekend newspapers were full of vox pop moans about that weird Scotsman still hanging around in Downing Street and asking what on earth nice Dave Clegg thought he was up to, talking to nasty Nick Cameron.

And, with another election probably looming fairly soon, no one in any party dared answer "Because you willed it, dimwits".

My own election day went very satisfactorily until about 11pm. I dropped my postal vote off at my nearest polling station, impeded only by two nonagenarians attempting to dodder through the door simultaneously, and enjoyed a fine lunch with two fellow scribblers, both lifelong Labour supporters.

Funnily enough they had both suddenly discovered an urgent need to support the Lib Dems, cheerily noting that the party stood to the left of Labour on most issues. Vote Clegg, get Miliband seemed to be the calculation. How could Nick possibly do a deal with "oily Dave" the PR man? Of course, they may yet prove to be right, but at least I have enjoyed a few days sporting a wry smile.

Having viewed the BBC exit poll, I should have headed straight for bed, but the wait for those promised Sunderland results seemed tantalisingly short. And then the massive Wearside swings of 8.4% and even 11.6% to the Tories made me think that a night of genuine excitement lay ahead.

After all, if Sunderland was prepared to swing so strongly towards "Dave" after his candid predictions about how the North East could look forward to many fewer comfortable public sector jobs, not answering the phones in call centres, or casually losing computer discs full of sensitive information, just imagine how well he might do in regions he was not proposing to lay waste. …

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