By popular demand, here's a little polling day story from the election last May. It was the moment I realised just how powerful Murdoch was and how complete the whitewash of the right wing press.
I had drawn the shortest of short straws and was allocated a polling station in Whitehawk to man for a few hours. Whitehawk is a sprawling estate in Brighton - a town with few pockets of inequality in which to cram its unfortunate. Acres of social housing and gloomy deprivation should be natural Labour territory but it was quiet - Marie Celeste quiet. I knew within a few minutes that this didn't bode well for Labour nationally.
Still, I sat in the sunshine with my red rosette (no other party bothered to send a representative) and chatted pleasantly with those who did show up. I love the carnival atmosphere and sense of community spirit of election day. I love that spark of empowerment people give off as they exercise their democratic right.
Once election day dawns, you are totally forbidden from canvassing support at the polling station. You may not even have the word "Labour" in the centre of your rosette - though it may be red!! If anyone asks you how to vote or why they should vote for your party, you may not answer. If they ask you about specific policies, it's too late to explain your stance. You're simply a friendly face collecting voter numbers to match with the electoral register.
Usually, people don't linger. They march into the polling station, vote and march out, often handing their voter cards to the representative of the party they support with a knowing nod or smile, but by this stage, they are resolute. They've made their decision.
Not so in Whitehawk on May 6th 2010. A steady stream of voters lingered to chat, asked me about the economy or immigration or health and I wriggled with frustration as I explained that I couldn't answer. No-one was rude; there was no sense of disgust at my party, but there was a confusion that I'd never come across before.
Just after lunch, an elderly gentleman walked towards me and hesitated before going in to vote. He was neatly dressed in the way ex-military men tend to be. He asked me what to do, a question I'd never been asked before. I smiled and explained I couldn't advise him, and he sighed before going inside.
A few minutes later, he emerged, but seemed agitated and upset. He started to chat, the words tumbling out in confusion. He told me he'd always been a "Labour man," never voted anything else. He talked about his admiration for Gordon Brown "A good man" who'd kept inflation and interest rates low. He told me how much he valued the free TV licence and his Winter Fuel Payment. He was informed and articulate but he got more and more upset as he spoke.
After a few minutes, I was horrified to see tears in his eyes. I grew up alongside a hundred proud men like him - I know them well. Suddenly he blurted "I went Blue - did I do the right thing?" He was appealing to me, desperate and miserable.
My heart went out to him, but it was too late to show my frustration, too late to make a difference, so I struggled to find a reassuring phrase. "I'm sure it will all be for the best" was all I could come up with. By this stage though, I just had to ask him why? Unsure if even that was allowed under the strict, election day rules.
He actually choked on a sob as he answered - a sob!! "Well, the Sun said to vote for Cameron didn't they? They're a working man's paper - they wouldn't have told us to vote Blue if Cameron was going to let us down?" By now it wasn't a question, it was a plea. I nodded and smiled reassuringly, but inside, I was furious. How dare a paper for the "working man" hold such power? How dare they decide the outcome of elections? How dare they tell their readers to vote for a party who almost certainly would not represent them or stand up for their rights?
Yet again, I knew, it would be "the Sun wot won it" (along with its playmates, the Mail, the Telegraph, The Times, The News of the World, The Express and Sky.) and yet again, I knew that the very people they handed to Cameron on a plate would be the very ones to suffer the most under a Conservative government. Yet we allow it to happen. Just like in 1992, nothing had changed and nothing was likely to.
Still, Murdoch et al have their pocket government to ensure they will be shielded from the very austerity to be inflicted on their readers. They will get their corporation tax breaks and increase their profits while my old gent will see his pension dwindle, his benefits frozen, suffer VAT rises, inflation and interest rate rises and see growth falter.
Nice work Murdoch. When times get tough, it's back to the old adage : I'm alright Jack, pull the ladder up.