They Are Still Slashing Away In The Race To Run Knifecrime Island
So how ‘bout that British election? Wild, wacky stuff! No party won an overall majority, so the next few of days are going to be an orgy of spin and negotiation. Labour leader Gordon Brown has given a statement indicating that he accepts Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s decision that he will negotiate first with the Conservative party. David Cameron’s Tories lead the election and currently hold 303 seats on 36% of the vote to Labour’s 257 (29%) and the Lib Dems 57 (23%), with other parties at 27 seats. (These numbers are not fixed, as some constituencies have yet to report.) Participation in the election was high, to the point that some voters were turned away without being able to cast ballots.
What’s going to happen? A lot of it is up to Nick Clegg, whose Liberal Democrats actually lost seats despite the brief surge of interest during the debates. Clegg wants electoral reform that would benefit his party by changing a system where the candidate who wins the most votes, no matter how tiny his plurality, takes the seat. Brown has offered a referendum, while Cameron has suggested an all-party committee on reform, but depending on who wants it the most-although given the massive cuts the winner will have to enforce, it seems like you’d be better off letting the other guy handle it-there might be a more concrete commitment to change.
I don’t know how many of you watched the coverage on the BBC, but it was as amusing as ever, particularly for those who might not be used to all the gizmos and greenscreens and swingometers and scowls from Jeremy Paxman that are typical of these events. The BBC news sets are like something out of “The Jetsons,” and the heroic awake-staying abilities of the variety of commentators and drunken celebrities gives me great hope for the quality of the cocaine over there. I’ve watched the last four or five of these elections, and I’m always struck how, shiny graphics and futuristic backdrops aside-it’s kind of astounding that the same people make “Doctor Who”-it comes down to the most basic rituals of democracy, where the candidates vying to represent a constituency all wind up standing on the same stage in some horrible high school gym to hear the returning officer read their names and vote totals to the crowd before officially declaring a winner. It is simultaneously touching, archaic, and somewhat eccentric-some of the exact characteristics we associate with Britishness. It’s a pretty good show. Now we’ll see how it ends.