Daily catch-up: what people do all day nowadays, farewell Gordon, and the latest polls

Plus the best in literary and film criticism

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The Independent Online

1. Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? updated by Ruben Bolling. Best of all, on the full version here, is the rage pundit. Thanks to Clive Davis.

2. Gordon Brown finally reannounced his departure last night. I was on Iain Dale’s programme on LBC discussing it with Damian McBride, Brown's former spin doctor. Obviously McBride was supposed to put the case for Brown and I was supposed to put the case against, but that is not quite how it worked out. I do think that Brown helped to “save the world” in 2008-09, in that he took the right decisions during the banking crisis to avoid a depression. And McBride said that, apart from on the economy, Brown was unable either to take decisions or to delegate, which are important qualities in any prime minister.

Six things Gordon Brown did that were not a complete disaster: the i100 instant guide, described by Andrew Denny as “praising with faint damnation”.

The one bit of Brown revisionism there that I do not accept, however, is the claim that he deserves the nation's undying gratitude for keeping us out of the euro. This is bunkum and hokum. Yes, Tony Blair was mistaken to want to adopt the euro, and he wasted a lot of time and energy preparing for it, but he never came close to holding the referendum which was required. For the simple reason that it was, rightly, never remotely winnable.

3. Literary criticism. Number 63 in The Guardian’s 100 best novels is Party Going by Henry Green (1939). Thanks to Chris White for noticing it. I have a spoft (soft spot) for it, as it was one of the subjects of one of my undergraduate English Literature dissertations. From here I was drawn to this interview with Green in Paris Review (1958), from which John Self identified the Quotation of the Day:

“If you can make the reader laugh, he is apt to get careless and go on reading.”

4. Film criticism. Matt Chorley, not impressed by yesterday's official trailer:

“Much discussion today about the merits of Star Wars. Is it not space cobblers designed to sell lunchboxes?”

5. Four opinion polls yesterday from Populus, Ashcroft, ComRes and YouGov. The average is:

Lab 32½%, Con 30½%, UKIP 16%, Lib Dem 8%, Green 6%

Peter Kellner of YouGov has looked at how the SNP surge in Scotland might affect the outcome of the election. Taking YouGov polls for November, he has applied the average swing separately in Scotland and in England and Wales. Whereas the standard conversion of votes to seats in the whole of Great Britain would turn a one-point Labour lead into a majority for Ed Miliband of two, the effect of applying separate swings is to leave Labour 20 seats short of a majority (table below). Kellner has also experimented with adjusting the figures to reflect the incumbency advantage (mainly for the Conservatives) of new MPs, which is more controversial because such an advantage has not been detected by Michael Ashcroft’s constituency polls. If there is a two-point incumbency advantage, however, it would leave Labour and Tories even on 278 seats and 277. 




6. And finally, thanks to Brian Bilston for this:

“Sometimes the power of a homophone comes out of nowhere and hits you like a truck,” articulated Laurie.