Tomorrow, the good voters of Eastleigh, and indeed the bad ones, go to the polls to elect their new MP. Usually a brand new MP makes not a scrap of difference to anything but the MP's own career, but there are nationally significant propaganda coups to be made in this case. Possibly lasting till the weekend.
The by election candidates are listed here in case you haven't seen them. Bit of a motley crew if you want my honest opinion. A fine body of dependable men and women if you want the dishonest version.
However, some well-known points must surely obtrude themselves into the mind of any budding psephologist foolhardy enough to publish in-depth electoral calculations.
- The previous Lib Dem incumbent has left for reasons of personal dishonesty which have the potential to land him in clink.
- The current Lib Dem leader has admitted to lying for years about his knowledge of allegations against Lord Rennard, the Lib Dem's then Chief Executive.
- Many Eastleigh voters will still vote Lib Dem.
So that gives us our starting point. Unless there is a really monster upset, we can be pretty sure that a significant number of Eastleigh voters are insane.
Satisfactory though it is to reach solid conclusions in the midst of these difficult times, it still leaves us with a problem when it comes to constructing our multi-million pound computer model of voting probabilities. Voter insanity is difficult to factor into the model due to its inherently stochastic nature.
Therefore, because of the insanity angle we are stuck with the usual mess of rumour, bias, fantasy and the betting markets. I tend to prefer fantasy in these situations, because although fantasy is hopelessly unreliable and therefore solidly mainstream, it has the merit of conforming quite tightly to one's modes of political analysis.
If well chosen, it may even be convincing, although too often conviction is yet another symptom of fantasy.
How about picking those candidates who show a faint but potentially useful interest in moral verities? Fantasy though it may be to posit such an outré basis for selection, let's give the tombola of pure reason a whirl - to misquote Kant..
Hmmmm... Hmmmmmmm... Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
Tough choice innit?