Daily catch-up: landscape; Labour’s poll boost; and why ‘alright’ is not all right

All you need to know about what is going on (in our political columnist’s mind)

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The Independent Online

1. A postcard-sized painting by Claudia Massie, which is on display at the Open Eye gallery in Edinburgh next week. The “I know what I like” school of art.

2. Polling news. Either there has been a shift in public opinion or the coin of probability has landed on heads three times running. Populus, Ashcroft and YouGov all showed Labour leads yesterday, of five, five and four points. The average:

Lab 34%, Con 29%, UKIP 17%, Lib Dem 7%, Green 6%

All three show UKIP up, the Tories down and Labour unchanged or up. This is not what I expected after the white van and flags story. If people noticed it, perhaps it didn’t bother them.

3. If that were the way people voted in a general election, Ed Miliband would have a majority even if Labour lost, say, 20 seats in Scotland (then the majority would be 16).

There would be a lot of angsting about a party winning power on barely a third of the vote and a lot of words wasted on our broken political system and how Miliband's government lacked legitimacy. It would all be froth and babble. The legitimacy of plurality voting, the so-called first-past-the-post system, has never been greater. We have only just had a referendum on the subject and the will of the people was clear. Those are the rules and if any party wins a majority under them, it has a mandate.

Mike Smithson at Political Betting was good on this subject recently: national aggregate vote totals don’t mean that much.

4. Best article yesterday was this by Chris Deerin about being the 20 per cent in a female household, and about having a woman First Minister.

5. I have an article in The Independent today on the great schism in the anti-totalitarian left between Oliver Kamm and me. He says it is “alright” to “deliberately split an infinitive”. I disagree on both counts.

You can buy his book when it is published in February, but my The Banned List is available now.

6. And finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris for this update on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here:

“Set in Australia so you can watch careers going down the plughole the wrong way.”

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