IAN HART: The poll we didn’t need

Ian Hart
Ian Hart
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As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is reported to have said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Following the general election, the spin doctors on both sides have gleaned ‘positives’ from a campaign which divided the nation.

On the face of it, the winners lost and the losers are still claiming some kind of victory. But ultimately, has this country fallen foul of the arrogance and vanity of our last two prime ministers?

David Cameron promised what became the Brexit referendum to strengthen his own position when he didn’t necessarily have too, and the same can be said for Theresa May.

From previously stating there would be no snap election, she went to the country, 17 per cent ahead in some opinion polls, but then the Conservatives offered up a manifesto which even members of the party described as a ‘car crash’.

Bizarrely, despite losing her majority, Theresa May’s Conservatives polled their highest vote in 30 years, and gained more votes than Tony Blair did in the Labour landslide victory of 1997.

Do those ‘statistics’ in themselves tell us that our ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system is not only outdated but flawed?

And courtesy of their own spin doctors, Labour come out of the election with far more positives than negatives.

Jeremy Corbyn, the man whose own parliamentary party wanted rid of him, almost became the Susan Boyle of politics – written off by so many only to come good when it mattered. Perhaps more ‘Every Loser Wins’ than ‘Things Can Only Get Better’?

Galvanising the youth vote, 18 to 24-year-olds, is a real positive, and his manifesto certainly captured the public’s attention, despite questions over the figures behind it.

I’m fortunate to have an eclectic mix of friends and acquaintances, and I don’t think I’ve heard politics discussed more by almost everyone I’ve come into contact with in the last week or so.

Would Labour’s figures have stacked up? Will Mrs May get the Tories out of the mess she got them into? All will be revealed in the fullness of time, but before that an acceptable Brexit has to be negotiated and activated, and whether or not this arguably needless election has harmed remains to be seen.

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