Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Tory Raffle

The Conservative Party raffle really is an amazing thing and deserves a blogpost of its own.

Last Friday, at the Ann Widdecombe supper, the "raffle" raised £360. There are probably several Constituency Labour Parties in the South East which do not have an annual income that high!  The £360 represents about £4.50 per person. When you consider that 80% of the people there were "couples" with just one half of the couple purchasing, this indicates that many people must have bought £10 worth of tickets - a very generous contribution.

Now we all know the psychology of a good raffle. Go around before the meal with the pink or yellow tickets (£5 a strip - none of this 20p a ticket nonsense, we're not Liberal Democrats) and send around two nice ladies (in our case Janet Sergison and Vivian Branson) to sell them. No-one will say no to two nice, kind ladies. Then, following the meal, send around the jovial 'salesman' with a book of blue tickets. By this time people will (a) have consumed several glasses of wine and be in a better mood (b) some will think that having both colours will double their chance of winning, and (c) many will have forgotten they have already bought and will purchase again.

Now this "lottery psychology" is one thing - but it's even remarkable when one considers, (a) with perhaps one or two exceptions, the value of the prize is less than the value of the tickets you will have purchased (so, even if you win, you have made a net loss), (b) you secretly hope that you don't actually win as you really don't want or need a tin of Yardley Lilly of the Valley talcum powder, and (c) you have almost certainly brought a prize of better quality that the one you will take away with you.

One of our branches has a formidable Madame Defarge like figure who is always in charge of the raffle. She sits just inside the door like Queen Bee, accepting contributions with a look which falls somewhere between pity and disdain. Each arrival nervously proffers their contribution and awaits her judgement. Anything considered "beyond the pale" is dropped into a box beneath the table and will next see the light of day at the jumble sale. Anything "too good" will be whisked off and will re-appear on the Bring-and-Buy table at the Christmas Coffee Morning. Over the years I have worked out the code; it's based on cache not cash - so Ferrero Rocher and le Piat D'or make it to the raffle, but Louis Jadot or Lindt would be whisked away for Christmas.

Then there is the "winner's etiquette". Regardless of how much you have spent on tickets, or the value of the prize(s) you have brought - you must never go up for a second or third prize. Should you do so, no-one will actually say anything (we're far too polite to comment) but the low hissing noise coupled with numerous sotto voce repetitions of "he clearly hasn't been before" will leave the winner in no doubt that he has erred.  Given most Tory raffles have 20 or more prizes, this will inevitably result in a painful chorus of "draw again" commencing half way through as second-time winners decline to claim their prize.

One of my Associations has developed its own raffle protocol - something I have not witnessed anywhere else. Once you win a prize, you hand the remainder of your tickets to the person to your left, thus doubling their chances of winning. If they win, they hand all their tickets (including those which once belonged to you) to the person to their left, and so on. This neat trick saves you the social opprobrium attached to winning twice whilst ensuring someone else benefits from winning a bottle of Tesco Value Merlot. It's the Tory equivalent of Socialism - better known as the equal sharing of misery.

And when all else fails - you can always re-donate your winning prize to the next raffle ! No-one will mind or say anything - as they're probably doing it too! We once had a bottle of De Kuypr Apricot Brandy that appeared at more branch events than Sir John Stanley (and had been around almost as long as him). It was like an old friend, always there - sitting grandly on the raffle table, its tatty label testament to hundreds of return car journeys. Then one day a random old biddy announced, "Oh lovely, I do like a drop of apricot brandy" and it was never seen again. 


  1. Was the random old biddy ever seen again?

  2. It's funny because it's true.

    Perhaps the single thing that unites every faction within our broad church is raffle protocol.