There’s a whole load of hat eating going on in the world

Paddy Ashdown will probably never live down his statement that he’d eat his hat if the exit poll was right. On Question Time last night, they made him actually do it. Sort of. Here’s the video, from the Telegraph:

He’s not the only one who has eaten a hat in the last day or so. Remember that nice Mike Beckett, candidate for Scarborough and Whitby whose cartoon we featured a couple of months ago? He had a bit of a special birthday during the election and decided to celebrate it with a hat-shaped cake.

You may or may not have seen that Paddy’s Hat has its own Twitter account, set up very soon after he made his comment. Be warned that the tweet I am about to post has profanity in it. Look away if you are offended.

I am not sure Paddy would wear a hat like that, though. Feel free to suggest what sort of headgear he would suit. Feel free to photoshop to your heart’s content.

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  • What about Stephen Tall? I understand that he could sell tickets.

  • I’ve rarely been as angry with any LD politician’s performance as with Paddy on that QT. His petulant attack on Francis Maude was breathtaking in its naïvete. An ex-army man who’s dealt with the warring factions of Bosnia and he seemed to think it just wasn’t fair that the Tories weren’t defending the LD record in government but instead were actually daring – the horror! – to campaign against our MPs.

    It suggested that the leadership bubble that Paddy has been part of the last five years were genuinely and completely taken in by the blandishments of the Tories and really thought they were friends. Even with the public knowledge of the rumour that William Hague went home after signing the coalition agreement and told Ffion ‘I think I’ve just destroyed the Liberals.’ I agree with the comment on another thread that our MPs should have referred to Tory colleagues as ‘Honourable Colleagues’ but never honourable friends. And any future Lib Dem ministers in coalition should have their inside wrists tattooed with Alistair Campbell’s words “They’re ruthless bastards”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th May '15 - 11:56pm

    Suppose someone who disliked the out-going government, in fact felt it was one of the worst government they have ever experienced, were to have come to Liberal Democrat Voice on the eve of the general election, looking for reassurance that we hadn’t really “rolled over and joined the Conservatives”, that we realised there were so many thing wrong with the Conservatives and that if we had more power it would be different. The first thing they would have come across is this:

    The best UK Government in my lifetime.

    In retrospect, does LDV think it was a sensible thing to put up an article with that headline at that time?

    I stated where I thought the party was going wrong and why I thought it would be destroyed in the 2015 general election in my article in Liberator 370, published some weeks before the election. Well, whose predictions were right, mine or Paddy Ashdown’s? I have been accused of being “self righteous” for having said “I told you so” after the election, but read that article and think. Had the party leadership listened to what I was saying there and acted on it, might we have done better?

    Note that I am not saying we should not have joined the coalition in that article, and I am not saying we should have been apologetic about what we did in it – though these accusations were thrown at anyone who didn’t take the Clegg/Ashdown/Lindsay line that we should talk up what happened in the coalition and paint the five-sixths Conservative government that came from it as super-duper wonderful.

  • I might well have been tempted to follow Paddy’s example. Some 20 minutes into the Southport count, I was very lucky in that the first polling district to be counted was well sampled and showing virtually the same shares as last year. So I told a journalist, with some confidence (a) that we had won Southport and (b) that Paddy was right about the exit poll: after all, many of the seats concerned started with bigger Lib Dem majorities than Southport’s and had central money showered on them. They were bound to out-achieve us, weren’t they?

    Whoops! 🙁

  • John Roffey 10th May '15 - 5:32am

    In defence of PA – virtually all of the commentators assembled were taken aback at the exit poll result announced [on BBC] as the results were so out of step with the predictions by the pollsters. Since there had been so many of these giving similar outcomes – it must have been difficult for PA to take the exit poll seriously – and difficult to adjust to as the results confirmed the accuracy of the exit poll.

    Given that the pollsters have their reputations to defend – I will be surprised if they do not raise the issue of postal voting in due course – which has been previously criticized – I had not registered that this was to such an extent:

    Michael Crick – The pivotal pre-election postal poll

    Beware the Banana Republic Postal Ballot

    Could we have just witnessed a massive fraud?

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 8:53am

    May I return to the subject of what advice Paddy had been given prior to entering that BBC studio and even when sitting down waiting for the exit poll?

    This is relevant not just because it would have saved us much embarrassment but because that advice must have affected our targeting leading up to the campaign and the placement of resources during the campaign.

    For instance people were being asked to go to and send money to a campaign in a seat that we did not hold and which turned out to poll half the number of votes of the eventual winner – and people were receiving these requests in a held seat that we lost.

    That is how bad our targeting was.

    We can be certain that the party’s private polling was ‘comfort polling’. Those of us who had seen copies of the questionnaires knew this, but could only warn of this obliquely.

    Was Paddy being given each day straight figures from the centralised canvassing information? Where I worked, the shuttleworths contained people for whom we had no data and worse, both strong and weak supporters of our main opponent. Were these ‘enhanced’ numbers the ones that Paddy was relying on? And if so was that as a result of a failure to be able to use the data properly or worse?

  • As with any crime, any charges or even suspicions of fraud require a plausible identification of suspect, motive, means, and opportunity.

    As in this case all parties appear to have been caught flatfooted by the results, one would have to pin the blame on some mysterious organisation working in the shadows for unknown motives, yet with the ability to interfere with half of all the constituencies in England. On the face of it, this seems absurd.

  • @David-1

    There are a lot of commentators around who developed an unrealistic narrative, yet still can’t consider the logical steps to redemption. I lost respect for Paddy Ashdown on election night, and I don’t think that’ll ever change. I’ll make the 350 mile trip to watch Stephen Tall run naked down Whitehall, because I think it would be the start of the Lib Dems reforming – he really should of done it on Friday morning whilst the election coverage was still on, because he’d of made national news and everyone would of respected the gesture.

  • David-1 10th May ’15 – 1:35pm
    “As with any crime, any charges or even suspicions of fraud require a plausible identification of suspect, motive, means, and opportunity.

    As in this case all parties appear to have been caught flatfooted by the results, one would have to pin the blame on some mysterious organisation working in the shadows for unknown motives, yet with the ability to interfere with half of all the constituencies in England. On the face of it, this seems absurd.”

    Sorry David – I had not noticed that your reply was to my post.

    I don’t know if you read the second link I posted – and this in particular:

    “Postal ballots must be physically mixed in with other ballots before counting, so that it is impossible to tell if the postal ballot result differs markedly from the voting in person result. I can quite understand why they must be counted at the same time as other ballots, but physically mixed in?”

    As Craig Murray comments – “Party political activists know this … to be true, but it is almost unbelievable. There is an electoral commission regulation which specifically facilitates postal ballot fraud.”

    Michael Crick suggest that close to 20% of the vote would be via postal voting. I had recalled some case of fraudulent postal voting cases – probably the Blackburn case:

    “There have in fact been many convictions for postal ballot fraud. Some of these are of Labour councillors in Blackburn, where I personally came across a boarded up empty flat containing fifteen registered postal voters, and we chased Labour councillors from street to street as they collected bagfuls of uncompleted postal ballots. In that election, won by Jack Straw, at 37% Blackburn had the highest percentage of ballots cast by post in the UK. There have been numerous convictions for postal ballot fraud throughout the UK, but that is the tip of the iceberg and most of the time, they get away with it.”

    In the case of the GE – if such activity existed – it would be the Tories upon whom suspicion fell. Given that Cameron had appeared to believe that he had no chance of a majority a few weeks before the election – confirmed by the pollsters. If there was a store of fictitious postal votes fed into the important marginals at the last moment – this would explain the sudden change in Tory’s fortunes.

    I am not saying this was the case of course – but the circumstances are sufficient to raise suspicions – knowing how the postal voting system works.

    The issue can remain dormant until the percentage of postal votes in the marginal seats becomes known – if they are particularly high – then the issue will become one to return to.

  • SIMON BANKS 11th May '15 - 9:46pm

    He had no need to eat his hat. He said he’d eat his hat if the exit poll prediction was right. It said we’d get ten seats. We got eight. That’s a 20% error.

    Just as well in case the hat was a helmet he wore in his military days.

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