We're coming down to it now, thankfully. Only one week of campaigning to go, then it's x in the box and retire for the exit poll and count. We are nearly there. Enjoy that moment, seriously. Savour the relief that is to come.
Done it? Good.
Now, dig in.
There's a bunch of polls out there, and at least one polling group is going to be looking very red faced come the day itself. No, I don't know which one, and I don't much care right now. Here are the only two things that should matter from a progressive position right now;
- Labour are still gaining on the Tories
- Labour are still behind
And what that means is, it's time for all hands on deck. I now believe, for the first time this entire campaign, that the Tories are actually beatable. If you're feeling that too, and you are wondering how you can best spend your time between now and then to help make that happen, here's five practical steps you can take, this week, to make a difference.
NOTE: Yes, I am a member of the Labour party. None of this comes from the party, or talking points, nor does it in any way represent an official party line - not least because I will, under certain circumstances, be advocating voting for a party other than Labour. I am proud to be a member of the Labour party, but I am, at core, anti-Tory first and foremost. The following reflects that approach.
- Vote tactically.
I know, not too sexy. But this is hugely important, and the single simplest mistake I see people making when they're newly fired up by politics. If you're all fired up by JC, that's awesome - BUT - look first at where you live, and find out who can actually beat the Tory candidate. Yeah, that might mean voting Lib Dem, or even Green, when you don't want to. Suck it up and do it anyway. I've always had misgivings about the Lib Dems, and I will never forgive them for sacrificing economic sanity to prop up a Tory government. But I would still vote Lib Dem this time in Lib Dem/Tory marginal. I'd have to. Every seat that can be denied the Tories is vital. Protest votes guarantee irrelevance. Don't fall into that trap. Use your vote intelligently to do some damage.
Finding out who is best placed to do that damage is dead easy - go here - http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/newseatlookup.html - chuck in your postcode, and look at who won, and who came second. If someone other than a Tory won, that's the party to vote for. If the Tory won, look at number two. That's your party to vote for.* Simple as that, and utterly vital. If every anti-Tory voter did this, the Tories would lose. So do it, then tell all your anti Tory friends locally to do the same. Explain why. Good luck.
*one exception - never, ever vote UKIP. If they are number 2, look at number 3. Obviously.
- Campaign tactically
Following on from the above, use this knowledge to campaign. Find out where that party is based locally. Phone them up. Ask how you can help. They'll bite your bloody hand off. You can leaflet, you can phone poll, you can canvas - there's a ton of jobs out there, they all need doing yesterday, and you'll get to feel like you really got stuck in. You do not have to join the party in order to help. And this is JUST as important where there's a non-Tory incumbent as where there' a Tory you're trying to beat. Seats saved matter as much as seats won. Even if your margin looks healthy, get stuck in. This is a crucial election, and if the polls are close to right, a deeply volatile electorate. Take nothing for granted, either way.
And if you really, really care about a specific party that can't win where you live, by all means make a financial donation to their national campaign, knowing they'll spend it where it's most needed and where they can win. Again, they'll bite your bloody hands off - the Tories are collecting 10 times as much per donation as Labour - because the big money badly wants a Tory victory.
And if you're Labour and passionate about helping them campaign, you can find your nearest marginal (as well as locate campaigning events and materials) here: https://mynearestmarginal.com/
- Talk to your (grand)parents
Older people vote. They vote in record numbers and the overwhelming majority vote Tory. So why should you talk to them?
Because the Tories have taken them for granted, and with the dementia tax, the Tories are taking the piss. So talk to them about it. Explain how it's going to gut their inheritance - money they have earned and paid taxes on already over a lifetime - in order to fund more tax breaks for the well off. Tell them the truth - the Tories are going to do this and Labour are not.
You may not win them over. But you may. And you may make them think twice. And they should. They know this isn't right. Remind them that it can only happen if people - people like them - vote for it.
- Talk to your kids
You know those polls I mentioned earlier? Want to know the difference between Labour being 3 points behind and 12 points? It's how likely the pollsters think it is that the youth vote will turn up. Really. That's it. If this is even going to be close, the youth vote has to turn up in far greater numbers than they ever have in previous elections.
They are telling the pollsters they will. And I'm seeing a lot of energy. But still; talk to your kids. Talk to any teenagers you know who are registered to vote for the first time. Tell them about this. Tell them that they really can/will/must make a difference, this time.
Then tell them to go and badger their friends and become a politics bore for a week.
It matters. It's actually make or break for the result.
Have the conversation.
- Push back - hard - on the 'strong leader' line
This is key, because while Corbyn has gained ground, May has what is from my perspective an entirely unearned poll lead on leadership. Why does that matter? Because the only opinion poll that correctly picked the result in 2015 - God ,was it really only 2 years ago? - including the margin of victory - was the one that asked 'who do you want to be prime minister?' Cameron never lost that poll, and he got the result on the day. May is currently in the same place. BUT the difference is these figures are still moving. The more people see May, the less they like her - the more people see Corbyn, the more they like him. But with seven days to go, there's still a gap for Corbyn to close, and it's crucial.
And May is weak. She called an election that wasn't needed, and has run down a huge poll lead whilst spouting meaningless platitudes and threats. She's destroying her credibility as a leader, and as a negotiator of any kind, tough or otherwise. Don't let her get away with it. Remind people how weak this campaign has exposed her as being, and remind them too of the strength of Corbyn - a leader with a long track record of standing up to powerful vested interests in order to represent his electorate.
Corbyn consistently shows up, while May increasingly ducks out - first from the leaders debate, now from Women's Hour, for crying out loud. That's cowardice. Call it out. My preferred hashtag for this is #runningscared - but whatever works for you.
- Employ shameless self careYou're no good to anyone if you burn out. Don't burn out. Do what you gotta do. Win, lose, or draw, the fight doesn't end on the 8th. It begins. This is a sprint, these last few days - but the wider struggle is a marathon. Get and stay fit and healthy, and take care of yourselves.
Me, I'm heading off to a 3 day music festival on 9th, and my plan is to do it with no wifi at all. Reconnect with metal, the wellspring of life and joy. That'll be my self care, my recharge.
Don't forget yours.
Good luck. Fight.