mid-day my local polling station had notched up a 5% turnout. Over in Blackfen
the Independents reported figures between 14% and 19% by late afternoon. It must
be a long day for the Polling Clerks especially for those stuck in temporary
accommodation with no toilets, but probably the pay is some compensation. 20
miles away in Waltham Forest my cousins and their spouses have turned elections
into a family business that pays for a decent holiday or two.
One is Presiding Officer who additionally hand delivers the Polling Cards for a whole ward by himself. In Bexley they come via Royal Mail. He is paid close to two grand for two long day’s work. Another cousin is paid £25.75 an hour for the count. That’s him and his wife for tonight and next Sunday (the European Election). A far cry from the £6.19 an hour Bexley will be paying, through its agencies, the all night care workers. The council will pay Will Tuckley (Returning Officer) several thousands of pounds for each day’s work, as if his £250,000 plus salary package doesn’t really cover a few extra hours of overtime.
I shall be attending the count tonight as the guest of Nicholas Dowling (Blackfen and Lamorbey Independent). Nick must have more of a mischievous streak in him than I would have credited to an accountant type. He has invited John Kerlen who used to blog from Crayford under the pseudonym Olly Cromwell, to be his Counting Agent. Mick Barnbrook is convinced that the Tories will stop at nothing to win in Blackfen and we are all under instructions to keep everything under close scrutiny.
My understanding is that the count is some sort of closed community where no electronic gadgetry is permitted. No pictures, no Tweeting, no fun. Just several hours in the same room as Teresa O’Neill. The bad councillors will avoid me and the good ones will stay away for fear of attracting the boss’s wrath for saying Good Evening. It will be a strange night but I’m told it’s ‘an experience’.
If I am not dead on my feet there may be some news soon after the sun comes up.