May 4th, 2012

Is there a black hole near Alexandra Palace?

Having (as always) voted a straight Labour ticket yesterday in the London elections yesterday, I'm keeping more than half an eye on the counts for Mayor and Assembly - and I've noticed something.

For the Assembly election that takes place alongside the Mayoral one, London is divided into fourteen constituencies, and the counting of ballot papers for both Mayor and Assembly for each constituency is taking place at one of three different sites - Excel for five constituencies covering east and south-east London, Olympia for five constituencies covering west and south-west London, and Alexandra Palace for the remaining four, covering north London. The official LondonElects website is providing a more-or-less live feed of the count. However, four out of the fourteen constituencies seem to be counting distinctly more slowly than the rest (the figures for this are below the bar chart showing the current interim result) - and the four constituencies concerned are the ones being counted at Alexandra Palace.

Something near Alexandra Palace is clearly causing a temporal distortion - and, if one discounts sheer human inefficiency as a possible explanation, a nearby black hole looks like one of the more plausible alternatives. Memory tells me that this isn't the first time that election counts for London-wide elections at Alexandra Palace have been suspiciously slow compared with those elsewhere, so the black hole may have been there a while - though, if so, I can't explain why it doesn't seem to manifest between elections.

Though, to be honest, I'm not sure that I would discount human inefficiency - the organisation of at least one previous Alexandra Palace count, at which I was present, was undertaken by Barnet council staff (despite Alexandra Palace being in Haringey - I think it was because Barnet is the largest borough within the four constituencies), and over thirty years, I don't think I have ever known the level of organisation of a Barnet election count ever get above "satisfactory" (and it's often been below).

On the election itself, Boris Johnson is currently ahead of Ken Livingstone and looks almost certain to win (boo), but in my local constituency, Barnet and Camden, the Labour candidate looks like winning the seat from its long-standing incumbent and somewhat notorious Tory, Brian Coleman - even though within Barnet and Camden, Johnson is leading Livingstone by some distance. It looks as if I have been rather atypical in voting a straight party ticket.