Election '97: Getaway crowd vote for the departure lounge

Democratic ennui has prompted a holiday exodus, write Lucy Ward and Jojo Moyes
Sun, sea, sangria and the promise of no swingometers yesterday drew queues of holidaymakers to flee the country on polling day for a Mediterranean break. After weeks besieged by pollsters, canvassers and baby-kissing politicians, travellers were swapping polling cards for boarding cards in the rush to get out before the count.

Among beach-bound Midlanders crowding the check-in desks at Birmingham Airport were plenty for whom packing sun-oil had proved more pressing than exercising their democratic rights. Barry Camp, a scaffolder, travelling light with just as a carry-on holdall for a week in Majorca, admitted he had been nowhere near a polling booth. "I can't be bothered. I know it's wrong really but I've got other things on my mind." Mr Camp, from Leicester, had booked his break on the eve of polling day after the six- week campaign finally frayed his nerves. "I'll be staying with a friend who runs a bar and I probably won't know and he won't till I get back."

None of the five eligible members of the Tate and Rose families, off to the Med together in matching Wolverhampton Wanderers shirts, had been out to vote before checking in. "We are sick of the election," said Denkya Tate. "We are going to Spain and we won't be phoning home to find out the result. We have got two weeks away from the whole thing."

Jane and Kelly Yardley, mother and daughter, booked their week in Palma before election day was announced but were unruffled by the clash of dates. "We've not voted - we were busy packing this morning," said Kelly, 19, an accounts trainee. "It doesn't really matter who gets in - it never makes any difference." Her mother agreed: "I am thoroughly sick of the whole thing. I'll be lying on that beach and I can tell you I won't be thinking about John Major."

Michelle Jamieson, 24, heading for Malaga with three girlfriends, admitted she had forgotten it was polling day until her mother reminded her on the way to the airport. "To be honest, if it came to a choice between voting and going off my head with sangria or snogging by the pool, I know which one I'd go for."

Only Marie Finn, 21, on her way to Spain, confessed to a twinge of remorse after avoiding the polling station. She confessed: "I'll feel really guilty if it all rests on one vote."

r There's some consolation for the election losers: Thomson are offering the 3,061 unsuccessful candidates a chance to escape to Majorca, writes Sam Coates. With their spouses, they can apply for one of the 320 places available, allocated on a first-come first-served basis.