April 23, 2015 / 12:07 PM / 4 years ago

Bringing home the bacon? Political pig race seeks to predict UK vote

LONDON (Reuters) - At Pennywell Farm in Devon, workers have come up with a novel way of predicting the outcome of a British election too close for any but the boldest pundits and politicians to call — political pig racing.

Five miniature pigs, representing Britain’s main parties, are conducting their own campaign battle on the track as they race every day until the May 7 vote.

With just two weeks to go, neither Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives nor the main opposition Labor party have managed to establish a clear lead in the polls. All may hang on how an array of smaller parties fare.

Each afternoon at the farm in southwest England, the pigs wear tops in party colors for a daily race that attracts dozens of spectators who cheer them on.

Donning blue for the Conservatives is David Hameron while Ed Swiliband, his name inspired by Labor leader Ed Miliband, is dressed in red.

Nigel Forage runs in purple, the color of anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) lead by Nigel Farage, while Pork Clegg, dressed in yellow, represents the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg. A fifth pig, Pork Scratching, is dressed in gray to represent smaller parties.

“They do share several characteristics with politicians, they like to have their snout in the trough sometimes,” Pennywell owner Chris Murray said. “Sometimes they can make you feel pig sick, often they are hamming it up.”

The 150-yard long course, which also has low jumps, leads to a replica of the black door at No. 10 Downing Street at the finishing line.

On Tuesday afternoon, the race got off to a sluggish start before David Hameron took the lead. Nigel Forage took a somewhat unusual approach by going under rather than over the jumps. In the end, Ed Swiliband and Pork Clegg went through the door of No. 10 together.

“Obviously a coalition is an interesting one, but because we have been doing races every day we do have an average, so I am sure the pigs will also be able to predict if we were going to have a coalition as well,” race trainer Sam Bottoms said.

“Who it could be between? Anyone’s guess at the moment, we’ve still got time for the pigs to decide.”

Reporting By Reuters Television; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Ralph Boulton

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