Polling day for #ge2017 has finally arrived. It does seem an age since May stood outside Downing Street and called the snap election for today. All the speculation over the last 6 weeks comes to an end over the next 24 hours as we finally understand what voters have been saying to pollsters over this election and we count real votes!

At the start of the election I had hoped to write a lot more. However, my election agent from the 2010 election campaign was selected to fight the Loughborough seat and he asked me to act as his Agent. As I agreed to help my thoughts on the performance of the various campaigns had added pressure not to rock the boat, so I felt it was worth holding off for a few weeks and starting to write again after the election. Given the polls and likely outcome it seems there will be plenty of twists and turns ahead in national politics to keep me busy. I think for all parties there will be some rethinking to be done…!

I have found over time that those less involved in politics (the vast majority of my friends) have appreciated a little bit of insight into politics from an insiders point of view. If this election is anything to go by that appetite has not diminished and it has equally been fun replying to questions on social media and emails on what is happening and what various claims from the Parties mean. There are plenty of people who do this far better than I could ever achieve and I have been happy to point people to Matt Singh for example if you want to understand how polling works and why there are such variations in their figures. However, I have also found social media unpleasant at times. Its only a narrow band of ‘friends’ who find it difficult to accept that not everybody loves Corbyn & so every post looking at the nuances of the election have been greeted with claims of betrayal! It has meant that I have toned down my thoughts for the election period but I will not be holding back when the final result is known and the new government formed next week. There will be plenty to say about the future of our country. My appetite for intelligent, clam political  discourse has not diminished… despite the role of social media in reducing the debate to 140 characters or a meme!

At the start of the election I did say this campaign was too hard to call. Even today I am feeling a little bit the same. I have in mind a set of % and seat predictions but I am less certain than I have ever been in confidently predicting the outcome. I did warn that events might overtake the strategy and plans of the Tories campaign. It certainly seems this has happened. Their robotic May and the awful campaign has not stood up well to the spotlight of 6 weeks of campaigning. Much of this has been self inflicted damage – a robotic May, hiding from the debates and a chaotic manifesto launch. The Terrorist attacks shifted the debate from BREXIT to police numbers for example and the PMS record in the Home Office. So quite rightly I didn’t set out any percentage or seat predictions. I didn’t quite believe the opinion polls in April so until doors were being knocked in large numbers it would be difficult to verify the national picture. After a week or so it started to settle until the wheels came off the Tory campaign and the election became a different beast. I have had to readjust my estimation about the Labour performance slightly upwards in light of the campaign period.  I am still going roughly on what I said 2-3 weeks into the campaign. The fundamentals hadn’t changed that much on leadership, and economic competence ie the true measures of how people will vote.

I have kept a record of my election thoughts and diary and will publish most of this after polling day – as a record for myself and exposing my election predictions skills.

Our local Labour candidate Jewel Miah has fought an energetic campaign and the feedback has been far more positive than I expected at the start – thanks to his daily campaigning. We have had to fight the election with few resources and nowhere near the number of volunteers we have had in the past as a Key Seat but we have certainly put everything into the campaign to give people a reason to vote labour locally.

But on election day even the most confident candidate has the odd moment of panic. By now you have done as much preparation as possible and all the leaflets, emails and door knocking mean nothing if people don’t turn out to vote. So with one big last push the job today is to encourage your own voters to turn out in greater proportion to your opponents. This is probably especially true in this election where age and turnout differentials could easily decide the outcome – just as it may have done with BREXT if young people had turned out to vote in the same numbers as the over 65s.

So don’t put off voting today. We take it for granted but should cherish the ability to choose our government. Whatever you feel of the calibre of our politicians they have given up their time and effort to make a difference. You only need 10 mins of your life today to give your verdict.. even if it is to say None of the Above. Exercise the hard fought democratic right you have been given.