Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Return of the Tim-o-Meter

Back in the heady days of the 2005 General Election, all the Westmorland and Lonsdale candidates were called Tim. 
This made it remarkably easy to remember their names but introduced confusion when it came to identifying which Tim was winning. After intensive research, and two minutes with a crayon and some graph paper, the Tim-o-Meter was created to alleviate Tim-orientated perplexity. It was remarkably effective and Newsnight’s Jeremy Vine was heard to say that he wished he’d thought of it first.
Now the 2010 election is well underway and only one local candidate is still called Tim, the other having changed his name to Gareth. This makes them easier to distinguish but does muck up the Tim-o-Meter. Undaunted, with a few sophisticated modifications this much-loved electioneering visual aid is reborn as the Grin-o-Meter.

Fitted with an upgraded microprocessor and new spark plugs, the Grin-o-Meter gives an instant visual indicator of the state of play in South Lakeland as the election lurches, ash-strewn, into the second week.
As we can see, Tim and Gareth are the only candidates visible so far. Tim (LibDem) is in the lead with 60 garish signs posted in hedgerows and gardens between Windermere and Kendal. Gareth (Conservative), on the other hand, has only managed 11. Initial research placed this number at 12, one of which read FOR SALE. This seemed rather blatant but, upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a Matthews Benjamin estate agent sign which uses the same colour.
There’s not much evidence of the competing candidates: Labour is fielding Jonathan Todd but hasn’t a hope in South Lakeland, where the last working-class person became extinct in 1974. Presumably Labour have chosen someone who they either don’t like very much or who needs practice losing. The Real Liberals - a sort of Jeremy Thorpe tribute act - have promised to stand as soon as they think of a policy. UKIP’s candidate is wandering around on day release and the BNP are trying to find a Petri dish large enough to grow one in.
But when it comes to elections, there really is no substitute for prodding your prospective parliamentary candidate in person. Get along to the local hustings. Ask awkward questions. Cause trouble. An election only happens once every five years and it’s much more entertaining than finding out who’s going to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.


  1. Oh wonderful, Colin. This has really brightened my day. That grin-o-meter is genius.

  2. Thanks for the kind comment!

    More on the hustings - there is one at Carver Church, Windermere on Sunday, 25 April, 3.00 to 4.30pm. Four parliamentary candidates have agreed to participate (I wonder which ones?). Doors open at 2.00pm. Questions must be tabled beforehand between 2.00 and 2.30pm at the church or via email before 24 April to southlakelandhustings@hotmail.co.uk

  3. Your grin-ometer has cropped out Gareth McKeever's grin! This is a clear example of favourtism and may even constitute a breach of election rules! For a truly independent view, see mikegloversmediablog.blogspot.com

  4. The appearance of the respective grins is entirely down to finely-weighted statistical analysis - i.e. how many election posters I see whilst milling around town. As the campaign ramps up, I feel certain Gareth's beaming visage will rise into view on the Grin-o-Meter.