Back in 2006, Mexicans went to the polls in what was a contentious, controversial and ultimately very close presidential election. The result wasn’t what roughly half the population wanted. And that half of the population were angry. Very angry. The protests went on for what seemed like years – possibly because it was years. There was even a protest outside my home, which Obrador once visitied to do a little anger-stirring Continue reading
Once upon a time, the British general election was a matter of global importance. The results would potentially have an effect on hundreds of millions of people across the planet. From the landing of British ships on Newfoundland in 1497 to the handover of Hong Kong exactly five hundred years later in 1997, an empire was administered from London. Covering an area greater than one fifth of the land surface area of the planet, it peaked with a population of nearly 460 million people. No empire has ‘bettered’ those figures. Although as a percentage of the world’s population, the British Empire doesn’t even make it into the top dozen. Did ya know that? The First Persian Empire tops the list, consuming nearly 45% of the people of the planet alive at that time.
But anyway, it’s been a few decades since a UK general election really, really mattered to the world at large. Sure, the country is still a major player in international affairs, but no longer a governor. So you are forgiven if you really have no interest in the upcoming election or who wins. Truth be told, new governments do not often attempt to change much. Elections anywhere really only have a great impact outside domestic borders when radicals take the reigns of key nations, particularly in times of economic turmoil. Germany in 1933 for example. Or Greece, potentially, in 2015. Sorry chaps, but Obama is not a radical in any way, shape of form.
This year, though, the UK election could have a wider impact. Certainly on the European stage. The rumble of feet heading towards the EU exit is growing louder. It might be a foolhardy direction to tread, but it has momentum. One fringe party in particular have lead the way, but it is the the current incumbents who are offering to open the door. The Conservative party have promised an ‘In / Out’ referendum in the next parliament. And frankly, a scarily large proportion of the country are stupid enough to vote based on wot they been readin’ in their tabloid poison of choice. It would be a close run affair, and even the bookies are not offering much difference between the two options.
I don’t read tabloids. I will browse through the online offerings of the Guardian and occasionally buy a copy of the Times. But even then, I take what I read with a pinch of salt. Or at least balance off one version of the ‘truth’ with the other. This election I will probably take more time than I’ve done before to read into the manifestos and promises of each of the main political players. I think you know which way I will likely cast my vote. But nothing is set in stone. That’s an important principal for me. Picking your colour and sticking to it through thick and thin is what you do when choosing a football team to support. The country changes, as does its priorities, its needs, its place in the world. Parties change, both in personnel and philosophy. And my vote changes accordingly. What matters to me are the policies and promises offered for the next four years, and by whom. Can they be trusted? Inevitably, no, they can’t. But which of the evils on the shelf is the least bitter to swallow?
The first party to have stuffed literature through my letterbox are UKIP. The early bird catches the worm. Except, in this instance, UKIP is the worm. Having earlier stated that I have an open mind with my vote, that only stretches so far. Sure, I’ll read their document once I’ve fished it out of the scanner. But I wouldn’t even use this insidious document as toilet paper. Though it may well share the same eventual fate, flushed into oblivion. In a single A5 sheet, UKIP demonstrates what is wrong with many politicians, but something they particularly specialise in. Half truths that paint only half the picture. Insert ‘rich, old white’ between policies and people and the message is clearer.
And I strongly suspect that those raised hands belong to people who have the wrong skin colour or nationality, being herded on to transport trains headed for the other side of the channel tunnel, at the end of a shotgun toted by one of the aforementioned rich, old white people. Or maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with itself. Whatever, they’re a nasty lot. One would have to be Sherlock to see through all the half truths, false promises and rosy pictures that the political combatants are soon to bombard us with. Join me over the next few months as I try to do my best. The game is afoot.
The UK General Election has been called, and in a month Brits will go to their local polling station to cast their vote. I can vote too. I checked out the British Embassy in Mexico’s website for details. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Will I vote for the incompent idiots with experience (Labour), the incompetent idiots with no experience (Conservatives) or the incompetent idiots who…well, they’re just incompetent idiots who haven’t formed a government in the last hundred years, and won’t form one in the next hundred. The good old Liberal party.
It really is a tough choice. I don’t think British politics have ever before served up such a selection of wannabes, has beens, wimps, weasels and generally clueless morons. Not in my living memory anyway. Why did Screaming Lord Sutch have to leave us so early?! Still, the party he founded, the legendary Monster Raving Loony Party, lives on, and has at least 35 candidates standing. None in the constituency I am restricted to voting in, sadly.
They have some excellent policies. To combat global warming, all buildings should have air conditioning units on the outside, and all terrorists will be forbidden from having scary beards and will be obliged to travel on special Terrorist Passports. But best of all, ‘newly trained dentists will be required to have three teeth removed, 2 fillings and root canal work done without anesthetic. Then they will know the agony they inflict on the rest of us’. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
You might laugh, but one day I’m going to stand for election as an MP in a general election, and they seem as good a party to ally myself with as any. It only costs a few hundred quid, and if you get 5% of the vote, you get that back. Seems easy enough. Just stand in a crime ridden constituency and run on a pledge to legalise drugs, prostitution and throwing wheelie bins in canals. Oh, and compulsory euthanasia for all idiots. My success will depend entirely on the people voting for me being unaware that they are the idiots I would have put to death.
But back to this election. Really, who am I going to vote for, in the absense of a Loony Raving Party candidate? Well first I needed to see how I would register. Apparently I can download a form, film it out, put a stamp on it, pop it into a post box by April 20th, and….oh dear. A stamp? A postbox? Seems like so much trouble for such a pointless activity. I’ve voted in three of the four elections since I became eligible. In ’92 I gave Honest John Major and his sleazy Conservative party my X, and they duly won. Well, I couldn’t vote Labour that year. Neil Kinnock? Really? The guy is a ginger! We’d have been a laughing stock around the world.
In ’97 I voted for Major again. I was sick of Tony Blair’s grin. And that was before ten years of him as PM. But Major lost despite my best efforts. In ’02 I abstained from voting. William Hague really did look like a fetus, but made less sense, which is even worse than having ginger hair. But I still couldn’t bring myself to vote for Blair. Oh if only Prescott had been the leader of the Labour party. His campaigning tactics rang all the right bells for me. In the last election I did at last decide to give Tony my vote. I felt sorry for him. Really. It was a pity vote. And I was even more sick of the anti war propaganda than I was of the government war justification propaganda.
Not that I particularly agreed with the war. Although I disagreed with the post war party more. And anyway, the Conservative leader, Micheal Howard, was truly an evil looking creature, with policies to match. The Liberals had Charles Kennedy, whom I thought looked and sounded like a total raging drunk. Turned out, he was. Nonetheless, within days of casting my ballot, I fled to Mexico, fearful of the consequences of my actions.
You might be thinking by now that I don’t take this election business too seriously. You might be right. I certainly can’t take the current available options seriously, and have faith that whoever wins, they’ll do an equally poor job as the losing side would have. I’m going to save myself the cost of a print out, and envelope and a stamp, and wait till the next election when there will be a really good candidate I can put my faith in. Me. Still, I’ve sated my curiosity as to how the democratic process works. I also doscovered that the British ambassador to Mexico is a woman, who blogs when she isn’t promoting Coldplay, and that the UK was the first country in Europe to recognise the independence of Mexico from the Spanish. Whom we were probably at war/just been at war/about to go to war with at the time. Although I’m sure that had nothing to do with it…