Hello From the Other Side
How are you? It's so typical of me to talk about myself. I'm sorry.
Exmouth House, London, 23rd January, 2016
A while back I ended up on the call list for a few of the polling companies. Before I left Ireland I would regularly be called and asked a series of questions starting with, "If an election were to be held tomorrow, how likely would you be to vote? Very unlikely? Somewhat unlikely? Neither unlikely nor likely. Somewhat likely? Very likely?". Of course if I were to be asked that question today, my answer would be, "Wow, you actually know the date of the election? And it's tomorrow? Enda's really leaving it late to tell us, isn't he?".
In all honesty, I may actually get asked that question any day now, as since moving to London I've been polled at least twice on my Irish mobile, and ironically the call invariably comes from a UK call centre. I'm happy to pay the roaming charges for the fifteen minute call just to hear someone from Croydon struggle to pronounce Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein multiple times in the same call. Since I can comfortably now pronounce Leicester, Worcester and Marleybone, I feel comfortable in my Schadenfreude (which I can also now pronounce. Almost).
I am also happy to answer the pollster as I know that, barring a freak boaking accident, I am 'Very Likely' to vote. It won't be as exciting as the last #GetTheBoatToVote, but I'll still be home to vote come rain or shine, but most likely rain. Maybe we'll use #GetTheBoakToVote if something unforeseen does happen en route to prevent me from performing my civic duty.
What it does mean though is that my perceptions of the current election cycle are almost entirely shaped by Twitter. I am studiously avoiding most Irish newspapers like the plague, don't watch RTE online, haven't seen an episode of #VinB in months, and so aside from the occasional "I say, Paddy really does have an appalling human rights record when it comes to treating women, what?" article in the Guardian, Twitter is my main source of Irish electoral outrage.
However I am not what you could call a swing voter. While my ideal first and second preferences would go to Syriza and Podemos, they don't seem to be running candidates in Dublin Bay South. so this leaves me in the "None of the Above" category that the pollsters simply label as "Independents", which includes a spectrum of smaller parties from Catholic Thatcherites right through to Leninist vanguards, with a handful of actual non-party independents in between, many of whom have confusingly banded together into an actual "Non-Party" party, sorry, "alliance".
This renders polls of my constituency a bit meaningless, for example the founder of the Monster Raving Lucy Party (the aforementioned Catholic Thatcherites) is based in my constituency and was elected as Fine Gael last time round. She probably has a reasonable chance getting reelected this time as well, but it's difficult to tell from polls as she is usually lumped in under "Independents and Smaller Parties", which in Dublin Bay South also contains a few solid left and hard-left folks, and the leader of the Greens in Ireland (yes, they still exist. Who knew?) who also has a reasonable chance of gaining a seat (if he can inherit some of the disaffected middle-class Labour vote). More than likely Fine Gael will retain one seat, with the Monster Raving Lucy Party retaining their leader's seat with FG transfers. With Fianna Fail highly unlikely to gain anything as (a) their former TD did a runner to Sinn Fein and (b) they destroyed the country, that leaves the remaining two seats as genuinely up for grabs between the Shinners, Greens, Labour and possibly even newcomers Social Democrats. If Labour can't beat the Shinners in 1st preferences, it's hard to see them getting in, which may just hand it to the Greens on transfers for the forth seat.
All in all, a very interesting election ahead.
Trying to explain all this while giving a quick lesson in PR-STV to the lad from Croydon who really only wants a Very/Somewhat/Not-at-All answer, not a fun experience.