Agent’s Training 8 – Winning at the Count!


Tim let out a cheer that made the Labour candidate's wife think there were no more jollies to Brussels and Strasbourg!

Agents will tell you that elections can be won at the count, and never was it truer than at my election for the European Parliament in 1994.

Lancashire South was not the most winnable seat, and throughout the campaign my agent, Tim Farron, was very concerned that we might not hold on to the deposit, which from memory came from personal funds.

As such he went to the count with one simple ambition, and this was to save the deposit.

Being the candidate I was told to repair to a nearby hostelry, with my team, Martin, Julian and Jeremy and Tim (who was at the count) would give them a time for me to arrive, in due course.

Before my arrival, Tim, being good with sampling and statistics, had worked out, based on the official turnout, that we need about 8,500 votes to save the deposit.

Standing next to the area where the counting staff were bundling, Tim let out an enthusiastic cheer when we passed the required vote to save the deposit, not knowing that the sitting MEPs wife was standing next to him.

Ashen faced, and clearly not an election aficionado, she asked;

‘Has our Michael lost then?’

Wanting to maintain the fantastic impression of a Liberal Democrat shock gain, for just a little longer, Tim said;

‘Looks like it!’

It took me a while to realise quite why so many people looked at me as I entered the election count, to the cheers of Liberal Democrat supporters!

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