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From the Special Agent: With GOD on our side….

From the Special Agent: With GOD on our side….

🕔27.Apr 2015

Our intrepid Special Agent has been dutifully filing his reports. Here’s the first in a series of tales from the electoral front line during the campaign…

So the first task for the agent is to get the candidate properly nominated and onto the ballot paper. Straightforward? Well ….

Problem is that when the Dave and Nick bromance was all new and shiny, it gave birth to the stunning wheeze of five year fixed term parliaments (FYFT to the insiders). No one thought to consult an ecclesiastical diary. The upshot is that the campaign proper began on 1 April (ominous enough in itself) then the whole bureaucracy of election management promptly closed down for Easter.

This, in turn, meant that all of the form signing, delivery and other palaver associated with getting the mechanics of an election underway had to be completed in the course of a week – as nominations closed on 9 April – with a hefty chunk nibbled out. And much angst for this particularly hapless election agent.

So who gets egg on their face over Easter? Mr Cameron has been pretty clear on the haziness of his own religious convictions, letting us know that they come and go a bit like reception for Magic FM in his elegant Cotswold kitchen. Clegg is an avowed atheist, so he is off the hook. No, surely, it’s all down to GOD.

Not the Almighty, but the former Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus (now, Lord) O’ Donnell. There’s a civil service tradition that folk are identified in minutes and action notes by their initials. So it came to pass that O’Donnell became (in an example of that commitment to rib tickling mirth that so distinguishes the higher echelons of our public service) GOD. Oh, how we laughed.

You’d expect GOD, of all people, to be up to speed on the date of Easter a mere five years hence. And to advise empty headed politicos of the fact and its consequences for things like their fixed term wheeze.  For goodness sake, it’s an easy enough thing to work out, what with Easter Sunday, each and every year being the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (roughly). Simples, as that meerkat chappy would have it. Trouble with O’Donnell is that he is an economist. If he had studied something sensible, like Classics or Theology, none of this would have arisen.

As it is, all of the deep down and dirty tasks of getting the candidate nominated and processed by the electoral authorities had therefore to be undertaken at a pace that would leave the Large Hadron Collider panting for breath.

First and crucial job is to find the ten decent folk happy to attach their names to your candidate’s papers. No small task.

Now the hipster agent will have a purpose built app for the task. Probably an iNominate (or iNom). The iNom, on the basis of data culled from supermarket loyalty cards and purchases, cross tabulates with the electoral register and identifies your support base – kale and quinoa means Green; brown ale and cigarettes, UKIP;  and so on. iNom throws up a map and directions to your folk and quite possibly even provides a facsimile signature for the form (don’t tell the returning officer) and off you go. Bob’s your nominee.

With us, though, it’s a more traditional craft/artisan approach though. Many anxious phone calls and emails topped off with weary foot- slogging up garden paths.

The final bit in this whole nomination process is the small matter of the deposit. £500 is returnable if five per cent of the electorate oblige you with their votes. I call the election office. Will a cheque be OK? Sorry, they say, but no. Either folding cash or a bankers draft.

A banker’s draft? I thought they went out with guineas, horse-drawn cabs and gas lights in the street. The sort of thing that was regularly being purloined, thus requiring Sherlock Holmes to engage in hot pursuit. Which century are we actually fighting this election in?

Anyway, being deficient in banker’s drafts, we did some desperate rooting down the back of a few sofas and seem to have amassed just about enough to cover it – and we press rolls of grubby fivers into the returning officer’s hands.

So, let battle commence.

By the way, just in case the iNom doesn’t exist yet, then let me lay claim to the idea right here and now. Just to prove how invaluable it could be, I have just consulted my beta-version and can tell you that – subject to any shenanigans after the current election on the FYFT issue – the next election will be on May 7 2020. And the iNom can also advise that in 2020 the date of Easter (April 12, as you ask) will present less of an obstacle.

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