SO convinced are UK Labour Party politicians that Hong Kong's British expatriates are all fat-cat Tories, that they've been looking for a new pool of Labour supporters to get back at the Conservatives for giving British citizens abroad the vote. Left-wing Labour local authorities have come up with the answer: they're giving street-sleepers the vote. The only qualification is that they must have a permanent address. This is not a contradiction in terms. British electoral law only requires 'a substantial degree of permanence' at an address. So North London's Haringey Council (where Karl Marx has a fixed abode in Highgate Cemetery) and neighbouring Camden have decided to allow people to put their addresses as 'third park bench from the left' if necessary. Election canvassers have been told to look for people sleeping rough, and postmen will be expected to deliver polling cards to the steps of a church or a bedroll in a doorway if required. Haringey Councillor Craig Turton said: 'If we give votes to expats, who have been out of the country for 10 years, we should give them to all the people who actually live here.' It is not clear whether Labour leader Tony Blair will endorse the move. But it may all be a terrible miscalculation. Most of Hong Kong's expatriate business community will be voting Labour in the next election to get back at the Tories for sending them Chris Patten. Meanwhile street-sleepers have decided that under Blair's leadership the two parties are now about as different as packets of soap powder (you can tell the Tories by the added Blue Whitener), so they may as well vote for John Major. NEVERTHELESS, we were intrigued enough by the idea to ask the Boundaries and Election Commission (BEC) if the same provisions could be made in Hong Kong. After all, the Democratic Party has failed to field candidates for most of the nine new functional constituencies (presumably on the grounds that the working population is not downmarket enough). It might be glad of the street-sleepers' votes in the geographical constituencies. But it seems unlikely the Haringey formula will be followed. BEC spokesman Matthew Leung didn't see postmen combing the parks and doorways for potential voters. 'I don't think we're that advanced here,' he said. HOMESICK Hong Kong restaurateurs indulging in a moment of nostalgia? Or a subtle reminder to the Foreign Office that the final British Governor won't be flying out of a newly completed Chek Lap Kok on June 30, 1997? The airport is the last thing British ministers see when they fly home from one of those parliamentary-recess visits to Hong Kong ('I just want to say what a dynamic, hard-working city this is . . . blah, blah, blah') and the signboard below is almost the first thing they see when they step off the plane again at the Royal Air Force base at Lyneham. By then the humiliating words Kai Tak will have been etched indelibly on their memories; so turning out of the base to catch sight of the name on the only Chinese takeaway in the village will be a shock. The sign must upset Chris Patten and his family whenever they see it. Lyneham is strategically placed on the old London-to-Bath road. Or in their case on the Bath-to-Hong Kong road. The section from Bath to Lyneham has been one-way only ever since Mr Patten lost his Bath seat at the last election and won Hong Kong as the booby prize. DESPITE its pledge to fight the rising unemployment rate, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong is to produce its election posters across the border in Shenzhen. The DAB, which is to field 13 candidates, said this was meant to save money. Grass roots being the sensitive and much-cultivated growth they are in this climate, we'd hate to suggest the pro-China party of the masses was trampling a little heavily on its own carefully nurtured turf. But pundits have been heard to wonder out loud if the use of imports is politically correct. After all, the unemployment issue is expected to dominate the campaign. NOW why would the Prince Consort, Archie Chan, not be accompanying Chief Secretary and Queen-Bee-in-Waiting Anson Chan Fang On-sang to her home province of Anhui in China for the showing of a film on the life of her hero grandfather General Fang Zhenwu? The malicious suspect the real reason may be the First Husband's bare-all attitude to the media. Mr Chan, who accompanied the Chief Secretary on secret trip to Beijing this summer, acted like her spokesman following their return. He told a number of Chinese newspapers, when they got the invitation, where they stayed and what their programme was in Beijing. Whether it is the Chinese authorities who most want to punish him, or Mrs Chan herself, we wouldn't want to hazard a guess.