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2 May 2005

Dear Doctor Ballot . . .

Suffering from election stress and strain? Don't worry, the New Statesman campaign doctor i

By Charles Nevin

Dr Chad Ballot has been keeping a firm finger on the pulse for more years and prime ministers than he cares to remember. Many a troubled voter – and politician! – has been helped by his breezy approach, delivered with a kindly twinkle.

Dear Doctor Ballot: I moved to Watford from Worcester a few years ago. My husband used to drive a Mondeo and now has a company BMW. I recently purchased a Land-Rover Freelander. I am 38, and I have given so many reactions to policies, been in so many focus groups and been asked about my voting intentions so often that I keep getting these dizzy spells, and have a recurring nightmare that Robert Kilroy-Silk is leading a minority government with the support of Sinn Fein and the Raving Loonies. Can you help? AB (nee C1)

Doctor Ballot writes: Go up to your bedroom, kick off your shoes, lie on the bed and relax. You will begin to get drowsy. Very drowsy. Now I want you to think hard and tell me what’s going to win the 3.40 at Towcester.

Dear Doctor Ballot: Can you prescribe anything for a fierce, stabbing pain in the wrist? Name and 133 addresses supplied

Doctor Ballot: Stop filling in postal votes immediately.

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Dear Doctor Ballot: Should I be worried when Jeremy Paxman sighs? MH, Folkestone

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Doctor Ballot: Only a little. The time to get really worried is when he sighs, looks at his fingernails, puts his hand to his cheek, sighs again, does that goggle-eyed bit, gets up out of his chair and starts coming towards you. Remember that he’s a public-school boy, so he’ll feint to head-butt first before aiming the most tremendous kick at the balls.

Dear Doctor Ballot: Why are all these lying bastards lying to me? JP, Shepherd’s Bush

Doctor Ballot: They can’t help themselves. Next time, just get out of your chair and head-butt the bastard.

Dear Doctor Ballot: The other day, I was reading a magazine where Stephen Bayley said that Michael Howard dresses like a psychotic dentist. Now I can’t get it out of my head. What shall I do?

PW, London SW1W 0AU

Doctor Ballot: Don’t worry. That is what we doctors call a very accurate description. Just remember not to look your tooth-wallah in the eye when he looms over you at your next check-up, as it’s difficult to avoid laughing when that happens at the best of times.

Dear Doctor Ballot: I’m having increasing difficulty distinguishing between a lie, dissembling, deliberate deception and the truth. Well, sometimes. Not absolutely always. Can you help? ALB, London SW1 2AA

Doctor Ballot: Yes and no.

Dear Doctor Ballot: I’ve just noticed that about him, too. BS, Hackney South

Doctor Ballot: Try the Lib Dems.

Dear Doctor Ballot: Are there any worrying side effects to fake tan preparations? R K-S, Bucks

Doctor Ballot: Nothing much at first, but after a time your support drops off. And there is the sniggering.

Dear Doctor Ballot: I’ve noticed the sniggering. ALB, London SW1 2AA

Doctor Ballot: That’s not the tan.

Dear Doctor Ballot: Could you please explain Lib Dem policies to me? I’m having some difficulty keeping a grasp. CK, Ross, Skye and Inverness

Doctor Ballot: Frankly, I’m not surprised. Even their leader’s having difficulty. Hang on a minute . . .

Dear Doctor Ballot: For some time now, my boss has been acting strangely. Although I’m nominally his number two, I have been reduced to travelling around remote country areas where the locals are not always friendly. What shall I do? JP, c/o Battle Bus, just passing through Dolgellau for the second time

Doctor Ballot: Don’t worry. Soon there won’t be any remote country areas: some crackpot wants to build all over them.

Dear Doctor Ballot: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability! GG, Bow

Doctor Ballot: Stop inhaling.

Dear Doctor Ballot: G’day. I’m very busy at the moment, running the election campaign for the right-of-centre political party, which hasn’t been in power for the past eight years. But I can’t sleep at night. Can you help? LC, London SW1H 0DL

Doctor Ballot: Count asylum-seekers.

Dear Doctor Ballot: I don’t remember anything that happened between 7 March and 17 March 2003. Can you explain it? Lord G, London SW1A 0PW

Doctor Ballot: The injection, probably.

Dear Doctor Ballot: Can you help? The combination of cynicism, manipulation and apathy that is overpowering any sensible democratic debate during this current election campaign is really beginning to get me down. “A voter

Doctor Ballot: Try Florida.

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