Blog : Posts tagged with 'elections'

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Humility

In which Yorkshire and the Humber turns nasty


This is just a quick note; I didn’t intend to write another political post so soon again. But I felt it needed saying, as someone who was born in the now-deceased Humberside and was a registered voter in the Humber region until last year. I’m ashamed, to come from a region in which a six-figure number of people are willing to vote for a party with no real policies other than removing citizenship from non-white people. The elected candidate has claimed that he “heard a rumour” that the Prime Minister has considered annulling his election result.* No doubt his party would love for that to happen. What is more important: this election result happened because of a drop in turnout. It shows how vital it is that we have an open democracy where voters are able to make an educated choice, and exercise their right to make it.

* in his acceptance speech, if you want to go and check.

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The Politics Show

In which FP goes through a few voting-related topics


I’ve been quiet about politics here lately, save for that post about revolutions the other day. The more noise there is about politics in the press, the less I want to add to the “debate”. All I feel like doing is pointing out the endless opportunism and hypocrisy of all, and that’s so plain it doesn’t need to be said.

We did vote, though. However apathetic I might get about politics, I still keep an eye on the news and the policies; and voting’s important. To get back on to the French Revolution, it’s one of the rights that Robespierre fought for even as he was also fighting for the right of the government to purge anyone he considered to be in the government’s way. I know I keep harping on about the French Revolution, but it’s still rattling around in my head a lot and I’d like to get it out of the way to make room for normal things again. Getting back onto the topic: lots of people would say that the European Parliament isn’t important, that despite the laws that emanate from it, most of the work done there emerges from the back room of the Commission. To that I’d say: voting for part of a partly-democratic system is better than voting for none of it. Moreover, I have my own view of Britain, and how I’d like Britain represented in the wider world,* and the MEPs that represent us form an important part of that.

The city elections made the news, being the one yellow blob on the map surrounded by a sea of blue; but we didn’t get to vote in those. Due to the city electing by thirds, only two thirds of the city wards participate in each election. This year, we were one of the wards which took a holiday from electing.

I did hear, a few months back, of a campaign to end the “by thirds” system in Bristol and move to all-out elections. It seemed to be a Labour Party led campaign: at least, I first heard about it via a now-former Labour councillor, who had started a petition for it on the council website; and it emerged just after the council’s minority Labour administration had resigned. I could see partly why the Labour party might be attracted to the idea: although they only held about a quarter of the seats on the council, at the elections, over a third of the seats up for election were Labour seats. They lost heavily, as they were predicted to do, at a time when they were the party with the most to lose. What goes around comes around, though; at the next election, things will be a little more balanced, and Labour will only be holding about 20% of the seats up for election.**

I’m not convinced that there’s any need for all-at-once elections. It might make it hard for some parties, some of the time, to gain control of the council; but often those parties find themselves in the position they deserve. Moreover, it can be a good thing for it to take several elections for a party to gain control of the council, and the overall time taken is no longer. All-out elections would only make sense if proportional representation was brought in at the same time; and I can’t see the local Labour Party being in favour of that. Maybe they will be after the next council elections, though.

* not to mention the regions I have particular attachment to

** still a higher percentage than they now hold across the full council.

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Running The Place

In which we consider the blind spots in people’s xenophobia


People I come across, for once, seem to be getting themselves interested in politics. The local elections, and the soaring cost of petrol,* are for once getting people interested in who runs the country, or things like that.

Sadly, most of the people I come across at work and day-to-day aren’t the sort of people you’d trust to run the country. Trains of thought go along two lines. “Wouldn’t it be nice if things were a bit cheaper,” and “there’s too many foreign people about, you know.” They then say to our Token Polish Office Temp: “I don’t mean you, of course, but you know what I mean. There’s too many foreign people about.”

They don’t really mean that he’s white; it’s just that people everywhere seem to have an enormous blind spot when it comes to “these dirty foreigners.” The sort of people, at least, who say there are too many foreign people about, always have one big exception: foreigners they know personally. They don’t count. They are decent people, unlike the rest of them, the great mass of indistinguishable and interchangeable Foreign People who are here to steal their women and marry their jobs (or something like that). “Oh no, I don’t mean you, I mean all the ones who you read about in the papers.” Why is it that they still believe what they’ve read in the papers, have heard from a mate in the pub, will pass on in a “joke” text message, when all their personal experience goes in the opposite direction?

* it is a Rule Of Clichés, apparently, that any time the cost of petrol is mentioned, the word “soaring” has to be attached.

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Voter Participation

In which there is still nobody worth voting for


About a year ago,* I wrote about local elections, and why I wasn’t going to bother voting. I didn’t think it was a particularly good post myself, but it was good enough for the Guardian to quote it, so more people probably read that post (or that part of that post) than anything else I’ve ever put on the site.

Well, this year, I’m going to vote anyway, even though I have no idea who the candidates are, or what they are standing for. In fact, I’m not really sure why at all, other than a vague feeling that, you know, really, I should make the most of my rights. As I said last year, though, we get the politicians we deserve. I might not have managed to set up the Symbolic Forest Party in the last twelve months, but I’m going to go out and vote for someone today, and then (if they get in) I’m going to see what they do. I’m going to keep an eye on them and see what good (or otherwise) my voting has actually done.

* in fact it was a year ago tomorrow – I used a bad Star Wars related pun in the post title

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End of the week

In which we’re glad it’s Friday


Hurrah, it’s Friday again. I have a busy busy weekend ahead, though, so I’ll probably be more tired on Monday than I am now.

I haven’t bothered to find out how the local elections went, but I have discovered one thing: one of the Labour candidates round here is Colleague M’s ex.* If he’s won, I’ll have to tell you more about him some time.

Tip for you, if you’re thinking of buying a digital camera: don’t get a Samsung. Big Dave did, and frankly it just didn’t work. It would crash, lock up, or just not take photos – when you went back to look at the memory card, nothing but blank black images. So it’s back at the shop now, and Big Dave has his money back. I tried to persuade him he should buy an expensive SLR, but he wasn’t having any of it.

I was thinking that my post about Flann O’Brien hasn’t made it onto the site yet – but then I remembered that neither has my planned post about the late Jan Mark. The problem with literary posts is that I feel I need to reread all the relevant books first, which really acts as nothing more than a delay…

The Plain People Of The Internet: Hang on a minute. If Jan Mark is the late Jan Mark, why isn’t Flann O’Brien late also, as they are both equally as dead as the other?

Myself: Shut up, you.

Anyway, time to get away and get on with the rest of the day. The sooner Friday’s over, the sooner it’s the weekend. I’m going off to a certain club again tomorrow** – hopefully I’ll talk to people this time.

* Recent readers might not have come across Colleague M – I haven’t heard much from her at all since she became Ex-Colleague M.

** Yes, that one.

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May the Fourth be with you

In which FP isn’t apathetic


Local election day today, and, as I said on Saturday, I won’t be voting for either of the two candidates I have.*

No doubt the politicians would write me off as an Apathetic Non-Voter. That’s because, whenever someone chooses not to vote, the politicans write it off as if it’s the voter’s problem. They never seem to consider what everyone else is telling them: that it’s the politicians who have the problem, not the voters. Politics is the cause of low turnout, not the result of it.

Having said that, we get the politicians we deserve, and clearly right now we don’t deserve much. So, even if you don’t vote today,** go out and do something less boring else instead. If, like me, you think voting won’t make a difference, go out and do something that will.

* Is it legal to say that, or should I be waiting until after the polls have closed? When I saw that there were only two candidates, incidentally, my first thought was: “Bah, why didn’t I think to stand myself?” Vote for the Symbolic Forest Party – a genuine choice! Vote for the Symbolic Forest Party – the local party for local people! Vote for the Symbolic Forest Party – we hate politicians as much as you do! I’m strongly for more independant members in local government.

** Although of course only about 50% of British adults will be eligible to vote anyway today, depending on where you live.

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Vote early, vote often … so long as it’s worthwhile

In which there’s nothing to vote for


As I said yesterday, I’ve been pondering the rather rubbish choice we have in the forthcoming local elections. Checking the candidate list in the local paper, I discovered that in our ward there is a grand total of two candidates for the available seat: one Labour and one Tory. Oh, what a choice I have.

At least, if I don’t vote, I don’t have to worry about letting in any of the Nasty Parties in this ward. The reason we only have a choice of two candidates is that we currently have a hung council governed by a Tory-Liberal coalition. To try to ensure at least some slice of the pie, the local Tories and Lib Dems have agreed that neither can beat Labour on their own.* They’ve also agreed not to compete against each other; each seat has a Labour candidate, and a Tory-Liberal Coalition candidate, although of course they’re careful not to say that out loud.

Now, I know that local politics is important, and should be all about local issues, nothing to do with national politics. The current Tory-Liberal council was elected on local issues – largely, the enormous deficit run up by the previous Labour administration. Nevertheless, on Friday morning, all of the party leaders will be trumpeting their results as being a vote of suppose for their national policies. I can’t bring myself to vote for a party that wants to bring in an expensive and repressive identity-tracking database; and neither can I bring myself to vote for a party run by Norman Lamont’s old sidekick. Right. That’s my vote out of the window, then.

People always complain about voter apathy, but I’m not being apathetic here. I’m making a deliberate choice to abstain, because my choices range from bad to worse. The problem is: I want the parties to realise that I’m not apathetic. So, the plan** is: write to the candidates and tell them why I’m not voting for them. Write to the local Lib Dem leadership and ask them if they really think that their effective merger with the Tories is really a good thing for local democracy. Write a sarcastic letter to Lib Dem head office applauding their “let’s not stand against the Tories” attitude, and asking if they plan to continue it at the next general election. Above all, make sure they all realise that just because I’m not voting, it doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that I’m not interested in local politics. Let’s see if I get any replies.

* The local council follows the standard county-wide voting pattern: red on the council estates and in the Victorian terraces; blue as soon as you get anywhere near fields or big gardens; odd patches of yellow in suburban villages.

** Assuming I am not too lazy

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