Vote for the dinner party

There are, I understand, Labour supporters in the chattering classes who may defect or abstain this time because of the Government’s record on a whole sheaf of issues.

You’ve been contacting me in your thousands asking how to organise the perfect dinner party vote, so here are some tips.

Obviously, it’s best to hold the dinner party on polling day itself, then, just before the polls close at 10 o’clock, those who want to cast their anti-Labour vote can toddle off and do so, while the abstainers can stay behind with a couple of bottles of shiraz and perhaps a box of bitter mints.

You can top up the glasses of the ones who are voting, to sustain them in the polling booth. A circle of red wine from the base of a glass makes an original spoilt ballot paper and a good conversation piece for the tellers at the count. I would recommend holding back the cheese board until everyone has returned from voting.

It is advisable to prepare a little extra food for your dinner, because some eager Liberal Democrat party worker is bound to show up uninvited in the middle of the evening to try to persuade you to go out and vote and they won’t need much encouragement to squeeze in at the table and tuck in. I usually recommend a casserole – lamb with spring vegetables perhaps.

As a fun alternative why not hold a tactical dinner party? For this, you simply invite a group of people who you know are supporting rival candidates to your chosen one. Then you just keep them at the table until it is too late to vote. It’s a good idea to serve them something fiddly to keep them occupied.

Devilled spatchcocked poussin would be nice. Although it has to be prepared at the last moment, and means you will be too busy in the kitchen to get out to vote yourself, you can be confident that this is more than cancelled out by all those people enjoying their asparagus starters in the next room.

What are the hazards of the dinner party vote? Of course there is always the chance you may get the dinner party vote bore, bragging about how he was once interviewed by an opinion pollster. Incidentally, you should take care with the seating plan and make sure you don’t put an ardent fan of YouGov next to a passionate devotee of Gallup. This can lead to terrible rows. I once witnessed a fist fight which arose from a disagreement about sampling methods.

Talking of rows, you can also get the most frightful marital bust-ups. At a dinner party vote I attended at the last election, a Labour-supporting couple named Clive and Lucy Whimbrel arrived tight-lipped and spoiling for a fight.

Over the meal, after Clive had told her “It’s the economy, stupid” for the 14th time, she put on her coat, flounced out and voted for the Socialist Workers’ Party candidate. The Whimbrels split up shortly after that. Lucy ran off with the election returning officer and now lives in a cottage in one the Tories’ top 10 target constituencies. Clive went to pieces. I gather he gets odd seasonal jobs driving election battle buses.

Beware of dinner party dirty tricks. You may find your babysitter is suddenly unavailable on the night, forcing you to abandon your plans to abstain in style with a few friends over a delicious pumpkin risotto. It may turn out that she has been secretly dating the Green Party candidate and you are being lured to the polling station by trickery.

There could be a problem if you hire caterers for your dinner party vote. You and your guests may be drumming your fingers, wondering when the salmis of guinea fowl is going to appear when you notice that it has turned awfully quiet in the kitchen. You go and check up and discover the caterers have done a runner to cast their votes for the UK Independence Party candidate.

A lot of election experts are now saying: “Forget about the dinner party vote – what about the barbecue vote?” This could be a crucial factor, particularly if a large number of barbecue parties are held in key marginals tomorrow.

Groups of potential voters may be standing round, waiting for the charcoal to light properly and they could become so hypnotised by this that they forget to go to the polling station until it’s too late. A low turnout would be fatal for Labour.

In the end, the fate of this Government may depend on half a dozen duff charcoal briquettes.

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