Call me a cynic but when MORI or anyone else runs a poll that generates headlines that the Judean People’s Front is 15 points behind, or whatever, I fetch the bulk salt dispenser from the kitchen and wash the results down with lashings of gripe water. Not that they aren’t professionally conducted but 1,000 souls, however well selected, whose opinion results are filtered by flavour-of-the-month political interpretation by the polling agency is too close to examining the entrails of birds for my taste.
When you’ve been on all the doorsteps I have over the last nine months, deploying canvass experience from the dozen elections since 1994, then you get a picture—not of the nation, but of your patch. The Pensioner Party could be about to sweep Glasgow and I wouldn’t know it.
But I do know East Lothian three ways from Sunday and it is in political turmoil. From one end to the other, talk of cuts and job losses has made people nervous for their future. This has broken many bonds that once bound people to a party with a lasting faith they could fix things. It’s easy to over-generalise but the mood is that Tories might fix things but they’ve no chance in Scotland and Lib-Dems have blown the trust of even their core vote by being too fast cosying up to Cameron.
This ought to herd people Labourwards as it blows its rusty-but-trusty anti-Thatcher trumpet to rally the faithful. But they’ve spent so much time denigrating others, they forgot to have ideas of their own. There’s no substance left to rally round. The result is that the Undecided party is winning East Lothian, hands down. Though there’s wobbling in SNP support, its only on the independence question. So many other doorstep responses start with ‘well I used to vote for…” (fill in unionist party name) “but now I’m not sure”.
Such is their disillusionment that this great swathe of once-Lab/Con/LD voters is angry enough to bother voting if someone gives them a good reason. Thankfully, for nine months now the SNP has been talking to thousands of such people and doing just that.