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Topsy-turvy voting expected in Friday’s unique British election

Sunday December 8 2019

Brexit elections

Brexit Party supporters gather with banners against Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn near a venue where the Labour leader is due to attend a campaign event for the general election in Swansea, south Wales on December 7, 2019. PHOTO | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS | AFP 

GERRY LOUGHRAN
By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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As you read this, there are five days to polling day in one of the strangest general elections in Britain in modern times.

Some traditional supporters of the leftist Labour Party are planning to vote for their hated opponents in the Conservative Party, while there are life-long Tories pondering defection to smaller parties such as the Liberal Democrats or the Greens.

Horny-handed stalwarts of the working class are loud in their support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a posh scion of high society, Eton and Oxford-educated, and the very anti-thesis of socialist values.

Mostly, it’s about Brexit. People are reversing their long-held positions and planning to vote tactically in the hope that this will accelerate Britain’s exit from Europe should Johnson’s Tories return to power, or force a rethink in the event of a Labour victory.

Meanwhile, the Chief Rabbi, in an unprecedented intervention, denounced Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as anti-Semitic and called on Jewish voters to boycott his party’s candidates.

TERRORIST ATTACK

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The sense of crisis, of things getting out of hand, was sharpened last week when a terrorist attack took place in broad daylight on London Bridge in the centre of the capital.

Usman Khan, 28, stabbed two people to death, Jack Merritt, aged 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and wounded three others before being shot dead by police.

Khan, it turned out, had been released on licence last year half-way through a 16-year sentence for terrorism offences.

Johnson immediately declared that those convicted of the most serious terrorist offences should never be released from prison, bringing condemnation upon himself for using the tragedy for electoral advantage.

Dave Merritt, father of Jack Merritt, launched a scarcely veiled attack on the prime minister, saying that his son would be “livid” that his death was being used to perpetuate “an agenda of hate”.

OPINION POLLS

Jack Merritt, a graduate of Cambridge University, worked for Learning Together, a programme to use education to rehabilitate prisoners into society.

Opinion polls in the past few days of campaigning showed the Conservatives with a decisive lead, standing on 44 per cent support against 32 per cent for Labour, 15 per cent for the Liberal Democrats and three per cent for the Green Party.

Even the most optimistic Tories were cautious, however. This is an election like no other and polls have been wildly wrong in the past. By Friday morning, we will know.

* * *

Have you ever wondered about the effects of cherry juice on cardio-vascular health and cognitive function?

I thought not. But if this ever becomes a major concern, and provided you are aged between 40 and 60, just pop into Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne and you could help to discover the answer to this vexed question.

What’s more, three visits to the university’s research laboratory will earn you a £100 (Ksh13,000) Amazon voucher!

There are other ways of earning a bob or two… join a focus group and deliver your views on the question of eating meat and how animals should be bred.

Six discussions at Newcastle University will get you a £20 shopping voucher.

Even a 75-minute interview at the same university by experts studying language and dyslexia is worth a £10 voucher.

I learned of these unusual activities from a community notice board at the local Metro station. Not everything is a money-earner.

Some offer fun or personal improvement, others aim to make you feel better.

A ladies’ choir and a separate male choir (“no singing experience needed”) were looking for members, and a group named Anxious Minds called out to unhappy commuters: “Together, we can beat anxiety and depression.”

Finally and inevitably, back to money. Biggest payer of all is the Metro system itself, which offers £1,000 to anyone who can identify the criminals who steal expensive cable from the transport system.

* * *

A guy bought his wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas. His friend said, “I thought your wife wanted one of those new, sporty, four-wheel drive motors.”

Reply: “She did, but where was I going to get a fake Jeep?”

* * *

A worker went to see his boss. “Sir, my wife tells me we have a lot of work to do at my house tomorrow, moving stuff out of the garage and loading things into the basement, doing lots of heavy lifting.”

The boss shook his head: “Sorry, we’re short-handed, you can’t have the day off.”

Worker: “Thanks, boss. I knew I could rely on you.”

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