May 5th, 2012

Warning! Severe spatio-temporal anomalies in north London

Earlier today, I wondered whether a mysterious pattern of delays in the election count for London Mayor might indicate the existence of a black hole somewhere near Alexandra Palace. despotliz kindly pointed me, via the Guardian liveblog, to a rather more mundane explanation involvoing a power cut. However...

Two ballot boxes full of votes from Brent and Harrow constituency seem to have slipped into a wormhole yesterday evening and have only recently rematerialised in normal space-time, apparently somewhere in the region of Alexandra Palace. Moreover, this has apparently meant that, while the ballot papers were designed for scanning into an electronic counting system, they are now having to be counted by hand.

Actually, this brings back memories. Thirty years ago, plus or minus a couple of days, I went to my first "proper" (i.e. not student union) election count - I was standing as a Labour candidate for the local council. It wasn't exactly a good time to be a Labour candidate - for several months, the Social Democratic/Liberal Alliance had been attracting both Labour and Tory voters, except that the Falklands War was now at its height and the Tory voters had mostly moved back to Thatcher. In every local ward except one, the Tories took all the council seats, the Alliance candidates came next, leaving the Labour candidates trailing in last place. The one exception was that, in the one local ward where we already had a councillor (two over from where I was standing), we held onto that seat and gained another.

Except that in fact we hadn't. The next morning, someone realised that the voting figures for that ward did not properly add up, a search was done of the room where the count had taken place, and there were two still sealed ballot boxes under a table. The count was hurriedly restarted - this time resulting in three Tory councillors and exactly the same order of candidates as in all the other wards, except that I think that the top Labour candidate got a few more votes than the bottom Alliance one.

And this all took place just a few miles west of Alexandra Palace, and just a few miles east of Brent and Harrow. Could it have been the same wormhole?