Here I am, sitting in Arkham, eating pungent octopus salad left overs and looking at the wife as she gets uglier and more fish-like by the day, pining for her home town of Innsmouth. Meanwhile, across the ocean, all my limey chums seem to be sharing a collective freak-out over dodging an Ed Miliband shaped bullet. It is all depressingly… serious.
So I was going to write something really interesting about Japan, just to change the subject…
… and when I remember what I was going to write, I will let you know.
A little over a year ago I asked the following question:
Has the day come when election polls are nearly always right?
Famously, in the last US presidential election, Nate Silver correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. His prediction for the election before that was correct for 49 out of 50 states.
Both times, I had hoped it would turn out otherwise. My hopes had been a little higher than they should have been because of the residual glow from the Shy Tory factor, first exhibited to a dramatic extent in the 1992 UK general election and still apparent, though in lesser degree, for several elections after that. I had known about that factor in my guts before that election, from listening to people on the tube, and had correctly guessed the final result would be more Conservative than the polls claimed. As the results came in I did not rejoice that the Government would be Conservative, but I did rejoice that the Chattering Classes had been confounded, their bubble burst, their conversational hegemony broken open and their flary-nostrilled noses put out of joint. Yeah.
Unfortunately not-yeah since then. I haven’t eaten a hearty post-election breakfast with schadenfreude sauce about the polls for many a year now. George Bush winning in 2004 was splendid fun, of course, but it was no great surprise to anyone who had been paying attention. The polls had given him a consistent small lead for months before the election.
Betteridge’s law of headlines strikes again. That day had not come. The polls in the General Election of 2015 were wrong, wrong, wrongety-wrong, wrongbert, wrongble and wrong.*
As was I, but least I had the nous to put in a question mark.
So, elections just got interesting again. Goody! But none of the articles I have yet seen adequately explain why the Shy Tory effect was successfully allowed for by the pollsters in the UK General Elections between 1992 and 2015, only to burst forth again now, nor why political polling in the US has generally managed to factor in Shy Republicans just fine. Except for the 2014 midterms.
The one place where the UK polling companies did fairly well this time round was Scotland, although they still underestimated the scale of the SNP’s triumph. Wishful thinking led me to suppose that the estimates being chucked around of 48 seats for the SNP were exaggerated; in the event they were too cautious. Going back to 2011, it is part of Scottish Nationalist mythology that the victory of the SNP in the Holyrood election of 2011 was completely unpredicted by the polls. However the very last polls were quite close to the actual result when it came to the constituency vote, but much less close when it came to the regional vote in the Scottish Parliament’s semi-proportional voting system. Probably the polls recorded a shift of opinion in the last few weeks of the campaign, which is all you can ask of them. When you think about it, polls cannot predict anything; the people who look at them do that. The final polls for the Scottish referendum were out by a not-bad 5% or so, in the usual direction of underestimating the small-c conservative side.
All in all, a British or American polling company attempting to sell its wares to interested political parties or news organizations on May 6th 2015 could have made a fair case that they were on top of the Shy Tory problem. So what happened on May 7th? What will happen on November 8th 2016, and will we have any idea beforehand?
*This is funny but nothing to do with this post. Americans and people under 50: don’t ask.
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Either astronomical phenomena don’t apply to Essex, or the guys doing the sacrificing to Huitzilopochtli were really hard at work.
Ok, this had me re-reading it several times as I was not sure if I was misunderstanding something. Someone called Max Fisher was taking exception to this.
The replies are pretty amusing.
Barcelona, Catalonia. January 2014
Warsaw, Poland. January 2014
Senaki, Georgia. January 2014
Den Haag, Netherlands. February 2014
Moscow, Russia. March 2014
London, England. April 2014
Vilnius, Lithuania. May 2014
Brest, Belarus. May 2014
Kraków, Poland. May 2014
Jerusalem. May 2014
Kirzat Luza, Samaria. May 2014
Sebastia, Palestine. May 2014
Kdumin, Judea and Samaria. May 2013
Zihron Ya’akov, Israel. May 2013
Belgrade, Serbia. June 2013
Istočno Sarajevo, Republika Srpska. June 2014
Mostar, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. June 2014
Stari Grad, Hvar Island, Croatia. July 2014
Turda, Romania. July 2014
Chisinau, Moldova. July 2014
Odessa, Ukraine. August 2014
Fiumicino, Italy. September 2014
Carthage, Tunisia. September 2014
Savignano Sul Rubicone, Italy. October 2014
San Marino. October 2014
Peoples Trotskyist Republic of Brighton. November 2014
Valea Viilor, Transylvania. December 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out as homosexual!
Wonderful! Marvellous! Actually to be honest I truly do not give a damn.
It might be because it has nothing to do with his job. People can announce what they do with their genitalia all they want, just do not expect me act as if this is something I need celebrate. He can shag goats for all I care, just please, make iTunes better than the steaming pile of poop it became in version 12.
Should homosexuals be given grief? No. Now that we have settled that, please just STFU and run the company like a good little capitalist.
I wonder if all L’Oréal models are required to be vegetarians? Or are is the company actually ok with meat eating models just as long as someone else kill the animals for them? Just curious.
By the way, gazelles make for interesting biltong.
I have been watching with mild interest as a furore brews over a very pleasant looking US huntress called Kendall Jones, posing with a variety of African animals who have snuffed it. And so in this intolerant age in which we live, there are howls of outrage that she dares post pictures of her prey, with demands that facebook ban her.
One might be moved to speculate how many of the people complaining will then go a stuff their faces with factory farmed meat products produced in what are effectively concentration camps for animals, and yet see no irony in their indignant outrage.
No prizes for guessing where my sympathies lie…
I suppose some people who loathe rock festivals and want to pretend how much they enjoy playing the “working class hero” line might sympathise with Bruce Dickinson, who is the front-man for group Iron Maiden, in refusing to play at Glastonbury for it being “middle class”. (He was privately educated, which is ironic.) I normally really like Dickinson (if not his music, at all) due to his being a qualified pilot and having fairly pro-free market, no bullshit, views. And he cannot stand Coldplay and all that dreary stuff, so he must be a good egg overall. But something about all this makes me think, “Fcrissakes, can we just take class out of it and enjoy the music on its merits? Does it always have to have some frickin’ socio-economic agenda?”
Here is the item:
Bruce Dickinson, who attended the private Sharrow Vale boarding school in Sheffield, said the band had no interest in playing there. He said: “In the days when Glasto was an alternative festival it was quite interesting. “Now it’s the most bourgeois thing on the planet. Anywhere Gwyneth Paltrow [the actress] goes and you can live in an air-conditioned yurt is not for me.”
Dickinson, who is also a qualified commercial pilot, said he was glad he was instead playing at hard rock festival, Sonisphere, at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire in July. “We’ll leave the middle classes to do Glastonbury and the rest of the great unwashed will decamp to Knebworth and drink lot of beer and have fun,” he said in an interview. Fellow heavy metal band Metallica are headliner’s at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, which starts next week and is attended by more 100,000 people. Tickets for the event, which sells out in minutes, are £210.
I can see his point about having a raving good time with cheap beer etc. Heck, I went to Le Mans last weekend to watch the 24-hour endurance motor race, which is the petrol-head equivalent of a rock festival with very, very fast cars blasting around a track in central France. There are lots of overweight middle-aged, lower-middle class guys (few women) who attend it, as well as the odd toff, group of rowdy youngsters and so on. I suspect even a few leftie-liberals go, in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. Think of Essex man and his European/North American versions all having a great time away from the other half and the kids. My wife stays at home with her friends and would not go there for love or money. And of course it is gloriously loud, vulgar, a hymn to non-PCness. But I don’t worry about the class backgrounds of those who go and would be a pretty sad individual if that sort of issue coloured my enjoyment. This weekend, I am in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot to watch the horses, and it doesn’t get more “upper class” in a cliched way than that.
Can we please, just for once, take the class obsession out of every such event? Please. Pass the champagne.
…in which delicious rabbits and eggs feature prominently
The ever splendid Natalie, once described as a ‘ninja librarian’, linked to a couple simply marvellous articles in the Guardian, and I really really wanted to leave a steaming, quivering pile of comment on them both. Alas… both have had their comments closed. So thank goodness we have Samizdata so that I can still share my thoughts with the wider world.
I was particularly taken with the ever dependable S.E. Smith’s article: ‘The people are so beautiful!’ That’s enough of the colonial tourism
While you’re drooling over Indian women in saris at the produce market, are you paying attention to the women organising against mining companies and western intrusions in India? Are you paying attention to the women opposing tourism and fighting objectifying activities in their communities?
Does this not SCREAM OUT for comment? My gratitude to Natalie for finding this positively buoyant paragraph knows no bounds. And so this is what I wanted to say…
It is essential to prevent anything that decreases the places that the ‘socially aware’ can go to feel good about themselves, thus tourism and the money it generates must be stopped. It must be replaced with tax transfers of course, sent directly to the Swiss Bank Accounts of the Mercedes Benz riding local ruling elite.
It should be clear that if poor brown skinned people start thinking they can lift themselves out of poverty via free exchange with willing visitors, they might start concluding they do not actually need the wise councils of the decaf latte drinking western bourgeois left and their NGOs, or even the bourgeois left’s associated third world auxiliaries.
This must not be permitted to occur. Bad things happen when the uppity lumpen proletariat (also known as ‘cashed up bogans’) are permitted to take high carbon cheap flight holidays away from the supervising catchment areas of their Guardian recruited social working betters. Take your eyes of them for a second and they start admiring the local crumpet, not for their picket line organising skills but rather for their agreeable curves! That will never do!
Let that happen and the next thing you know, they start intermarrying and miscegenating, greatly complicating the whole carefully constructed ‘identity politics’ balancing act that keeps statists of both left and right in power in oh so many places.