Ah, Election Day. A hallowed testament to the power of democracy, but just as importantly, a legitimate excuse to stay up really late watching the results on The Telly. Hooray!
And this one promises to be a nailbiter. Not because the polls don’t point to a rough outcome, of course, but because of a deep and poll-confounding tendency amongst the people that brought us the most recent Tory government, Leave and even Trump. Anything could happen…
1) Assemble Your Snacks
You’re in this for the long haul! Plan some ridiculously fancy spread, maybe drop some food colouring into some hummus pots and then dunk stuff in it with some kind of kitchen implement. You can call it ‘Tong & Table Leader Dips.’
Ultimately, fail to get around to any of this, and just buy loads of Pringles and Hob Nobs.
2) Display Your Drinks
Look, it’s either going to be good news or bad news, and either way you’re probably going to want a drink. Again, devise some colour-coded cocktails to wow your guests, or just settle down on the couch with eight cans of Red Stripe. Cheers!
3) Oh Shit, It’s Early
Realise it’s still really early. Like, much too early.
Start eating all the snacks and drinking all the drinks.
4) Pick Your Televisual Poison
Who will guide you through the night? While the night is young, play the field. Cuddle up to the Beeb, have a quick fling with Sky, give ITV an awkward fumble. In particular, keep an eye out for who’s rocking this year’s most ludicrous data visualisation. 3D Swingometer? Virtual Reality Democradoodle? Electric Data Slab? Perhaps a giant alien child will selectively prey upon vulnerable MPs before regurgitating them into their electoral rivals? Will there be an augmented-reality ‘ship of state’ called Votey McVoteface?
There’s nothing to actually report per se but that won’t stop Blighty’s finest pundits pontificating on what might happen. It’s the part they were born to play, and play it they will.
5) Take a wild guess
It’s your last chance to share your wise and informed predictions with your friends. You may be unable to shake the sense that by guessing a certain outcome you’ll be making it less likely to happen. Consider ‘tactically predicting’ to make it more likely something else happens. Realise that you’re making this all about you. AGAIN.
6) Take A Final Trip Through The Twitter Rumour Gutter
Check in on Twitter and wade, one final time, through the wild rumours and ‘leaked exits’ of Election Day. Retweet all the ones that make you feel happy, quote-tweet all the ones that make you feel sad. Feel wistful, like visiting a fetid swamp you once lived in, before it’s turned into luxury flats made of actual votes.
7) HERE COME THE BONGS: it’s exit poll time!
All the channels will break the results of their 20,000-person Exit Poll at 10pm sharp, which 2 years ago was the first sign that Labour had screwed it, Clegg had accidentally destroyed his own party and somehow the Conservatives were going to be running things even more than before.
Even though the TV will have been counting down to this moment for the past three hours, there is somehow a greater-than-even chance you’ll be sat on the loo when Big Ben dongs ten. What are you like, eh?
8) Immediately find out how to praise or denigrate the Exit Poll
Amazing! It’s just as you predicted! Or, WELL ACTUALLY, everyone knows that exit polls are sometimes wrong! Latch on to whatever you can find to validate your beliefs like your life depends on it. Usually someone will appear on TV to espouse your favourite opinion – and perhaps even promising to ‘eat their hat’ if it’s true.
9) SUNDERLAND BABY!
There still aren’t any actual results, so you can spend the next half-hour watching enthusiastic teenagers running about with boxes at ‘we’re so quick at counting votes!’ Sunderland. Ask yourself why all the other consitutencies don’t have sprightly teenagers, so we could all get to bed at a reasonable time. When the result comes in, extrapolate wildly.
10) You may as well get LIT
Nothing much more happens until 2am, so you’ve basically got three or four hours of genuine partying ahead of you. Put on some tunes, catch up with some friends, play a few parlour games, maybe take a lover. Confess your deepest secrets, do a dance… or, fuck it, natter on about the state of progressive politics in 2017.
Of course, you should still check Twitter every 45 seconds as if you’re the bunker guy from Lost.
10) Take a seat in your Data Throne
It’s 2am, and although you might already be a bit tired, have drunk a bottle and a half of wine and eaten three bags of pistachio nuts, the ‘fun’ is just getting started! There’ll be roughly a result every single minute for the next hour.
Settle into the couch with your pals, get your TV on yer favourite channel, get another channel streaming on your laptop, get twenty different liveblogs running in twenty different tabs, that sort of thing. Got a projector? A whiteboard? Set it up! THIS! IS! NEWS!
11) Act like you know what’s going on
Now’s your chance to act like you know what you’re talking about. The secret here is to learn a weird amount about a single constituency – West Dunbartonshire, Ribble Valley, Chipping Barnet – and insist the results there will be absolutely crucial to understanding the night as a whole. Then just colour your insights with pointless trivia: ‘Nice acceptance speech there,’ you can say. ‘Classic Aquarius. His wife’s a Libra of course. They met at a Pizza Hut. Ordered a Meat Feast.’ Another trick is to follow a slightly different liveblog to your friends and quietly take credit for all their observations.
11) The long march into mild disappointment
Tonight’s predictions really have something for everyone: the promise of an increased Tory majority to anguish Labour supporters, but that nonetheless falls far short of the Conservatives’ dreamt-of landslide, doesn’t give anyone a mandate, arguably undermines Corbynmania, but isn’t really bad enough to trigger a change of leader. As hundreds more results are revealed over the next two hours, it truly could be a rollercoaster of ‘ugh’, ‘meh’ and ‘OH WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT?!’ Happy days!
12) Tell yourself you’re going to sleep. Then don’t go to sleep
Between 4am and 6am, 270 results should pour in from across the country. So although the writing may be very much on the wall by this point, TV coverage will in fact be at an absolute fever pitch. You’re painfully aware that you have to leave for work in three hours, but THINGS. KEEP? HAPPENING?!!
There’s also a nagging sense that if you stay up latest, you… somehow… win?
But there are no winners here. (Apart from whoever wins the election of course.)
13) Regret everything
Shuffle into work like a complete zombie.
Scroll through all your friends grumpy Facebook statuses.
Because DEMOCRACY, that’s why.