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THROAT VOTE!; ALE AND PARTY: Tony's tipple topples Major's mild.

You can forget System Three. You can stick your MORI, Gallup and the rest of the clipboard crowd who are driving you up the opinion poll.

There's a new name out there who are guaranteeing to be 100 per cent accurate.

They're called ROPEY - Record Opinion Poll Election Yardstick.

And they do things just a wee bit differently.

Instead of testing what the general public might be thinking, they go TASTING what the general public might be drinking.

And their motto is "You Know You Can Trust A ROPEY Poll".

Our team decided to launch their 1997 campaign in Scotland's most talked about political hotseat - Michael Forsyth's Stirling.

It was a survey that didn't concentrate wholly on fundamental issues - it just wanted the fun part.

So OUT went that famous Swingometer and IN came a bottle opener.

Supermarket giants ASDA have launched a fun range of beers to help celebrate May Day.

There's Tony's Tipple, Ashdown's Ale and Major's Mild. Each has a party leader on the label and it retails at pounds 1.49.

Sadly, ASDA didn't produce a Salmond's Sip. So we took along a Scots- brewed beer from Maclay's range as well.

And, as we were heading for Stirling, it had to be their Wallace label, a bargain at pounds 1.09.

How would Stirling vote with it's throat?

When the word got out there was free beer in the town centre, our pollsters were more popular than all the parties put together.

Retired storeman Nicolas Keane, 69, lived up to his name.

Doing the first thirstings on the hustings, he preferred Tony's Tipple and will vote that way on May 1.

He joked: "Yes, there's something refreshing about it. I think it's a case of New Beer, New Labour."

Arthur Leamy, 54, tried Major's Mild then groaned: "The beer's mild - but he's no milder than Thatcher was.What the Tories haven't sold off, they've shut down."

Obviously Arthur likes a bitter edge to his bitter.

Would he be a Tony Tippler on election day?

"When it comes to a vote, I'd have to go for the Wallace," said Arthur, eyeing up a bottle of Maclays.

After a while, interest in Major's Mild was going a bit flat. And Ashdown's Ale supporters had all but dried up .Joe McGuigan, 69, studied all the candidates, but stuck to his miner's roots and went for Tony's Tipple.

"It's time someone else got a chance at running the country," was his view.

Student Peter Ackroyd, 23, from Taunton, didn't qualify for our poll.

But by the time he confessed his vote was in a south of the border constituency, he'd already quaffed the beer equivalent of a Grand Committee.

"I come from cider country, so I shouldn't vote for any of this lot," he told us.

"But the Wallace beer is the best of the bunch."

When we told him he'd just voted Scottish Nationalist, Englishman Peter was unrepentant.

"I support the Campaign for Real Ale - so I suppose in a beer vote I should stick with the independents."

Rab Hutton, 63, tried Tony's Tipple and Major's Mild. But his politics weren't going to be swayed by his palate. "The Major's Mild isn't a bad drop of beer - but when it comes to the polling booth, I'll go with Blair," he said firmly.

Alex Morrison, 53, liked the Tory ale, but not their policies.

"I'm sticking with Tony," he said.

The oldest man we polled was sprightly 85-year-old John Crawford. Why was he looking so fit?

"I humphed coal up stairs all my life," he smiled as he took his first sip.

"We did all right with Major before and we'll do so again," was his prediction.

Some folks were just too busy shopping to stop on the street. But we gave them a bottle to take home anyway. Nan Young, Marion Dewar and Maisie Happer said they'd test the beers later when they'd got home.

"We're not all Tony Tipplers, but we're not Major-ettes either," laughed Maisie, who hinted that the Nats would get her vote.

Nan and Marion wouldn't say how they'd vote on May 1. In fact, they wouldn't even tell us how old they were.

Mum's the word, girls

But the very last word went to a cheeky youngster who thought we were party workers doing a bit of liquid electioneering.

"Free beer? I don't know who you are - but you get my vote!"

HOW THEY VOTED

The first ROPEY poll confidently predicts Stirling will vote like this:

Tony's Tipplers (Labour)

1997 - 39%

1992 - +0.5%

Major's Mild (Tory)

1997 - 30%

1992 - -10%

Wallace (Scot Nat)

1997 - 19%

1992 - +5.3%

Ashdown's Ale (Lib Dem)

1997 - 11%

1992 - +4%

Others

1997 - 1%

1992 - -

SCOTFACT

Winston Churchill enjoyed a double brandy for breakfast.

Paddy Ashdown prefers water. Alcohol, he reckons, is not good for you.

Tony Blair likes tea, herbal tea. But he once said: "My favourite tipple varies with time, place and company."

Margaret Thatcher has been pictured often with a glass of her favourite tipple, whisky. Usually there's a balloon coming out of her mouth, saying: "Now, just let me finish."
COPYRIGHT 1997 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Shields, Bob
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 19, 1997
Words:856
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