Reading Pads

What worked on paper for Ian Mikardo was not bettered online by Obama.

Reading Pads: What worked on paper for Ian Mikardo was not bettered online by Obama.

(Pronounced ‘Redding’).

The UK Labour Party – like most political parties – has a fairly well-tested ‘Voter ID’ system. This is a means of ensuring that – on election day – they can nag everybody who they think is a Labour voter into the polling booth before polls close.

Essentially, carbon copies of voter lists are ferried from the polling station to the party’s committee rooms on election day. As people turn up to vote, they are politely asked their names, addresses (and ideally, their polling card numbers).

This is often a fairly affable co-operative effort between activists of all of the main parties.

Hotly contested areas often have representatives from all of the parties sharing this task. It’s an odd truce, and – I like to think, peculiarly British.

(Question: Does this level of co-operation happen anywhere else?)

The names are crossed off and the voters concerned stop being hassled, though if they slip through the net, party activists are instructed not to believe their protestations that they’ve already voted.

The Labour Party, apparently, named this system after post-war MP Ian Mikardo’s campaign to win or retain the hotly-contested Berkshire town where it was presumably tried out for the first time. And why mention this now? Well, apparently, the Obama team tried a whizzy new techie way of doing this.

It was one of the few bright techie ideas that they tried in this campaign that didn’t work, it seems….