They’re off!

Yes!  May 6 is the day of the General Election in the UK.  And you’ll be excited to know that Stella has a vote. It may be her last vote in the UK.  After 15 years, ex-pats can no longer vote.

I’ve voted Labor all my life.  And thought I would always be able to say that.  I was euphoric to vote Labor in the 1997 election and end the misery of three centuries of miserable Tory rule, primarily under Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher, especially after the heartbreak elections of 1987 and 1992.  The 2005 election hit my radar too late to vote.  So now I’m going to savor 2010.

Things to remember about UK elections:

They are parliamentary, so we vote once only for a member of parliament and the leader of the majority party becomes Prime Minister.

The vote is effective immediately, with no transition period.  Parliament was dissolved on April 10, 2010 and on May 7, the new PM will move in to Downing Street.

There are very few political appointments in government agencies so there is not a huge turnover of administration positions.  Civil servants are supposedly the neutral worker bees of every government, which leads to incredible continuity and significant resistance to change.

No political advertising is allowed.  Parties are given a number of limited television broadcasts, which are usually a big snooze, but you cannot buy airspace.

The Prime Minister has the privilege of calling the general election within five years at his or her pleasure.  The election campaign period is a minimum of three weeks, which most people find quite tedious and too long.

What’s new about the 2010 election?

There might be a hung parliament!  I’m so excited.  Breaking the two-party system in the UK would be revolutionary.

There are three televised debates for the three main party leaders!  One just happened last night.  This is new and very “American.”

Stella’s Dad, who has voted Conservative all his life, is thinking about voting Lib-Dem! And tried to pass it off as normal because his father was a Lib-Dem, which was the first Stella had ever heard of that.  Stella’s Dad’s long-time MP is retiring after expense scandals and the new Conservative candidate is a Mormon…Stella wonders if her Dad and his friends could bring themselves to vote for a teetotaler and that may be why he’s swinging wildly to the center.

What is Stella reading?

I know you always wonder that.  Apart from Mary Worth and Mark Trail, I’m appreciating these sites:

The Daily Telegraph’s electoral maps—and  let us note that I find it hard to believe I now turn to the Telegraph for political news—did I get very old or did it swing wildly to the center?  I like the listing of most vulnerable and target seats.

For an even better swingometer and more politically appropriate commentary The (Manchester) Guardian – I had to say that because it hurts my heart when people say the London Guardian.

To track individual candidates—and Stella is voting in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green, which apparently turned Lib-Dem in 2005 without her knowing—go again to The Guardian.

And voting records at this lovely site.

But, most importantly, we must all read each party’s manifesto before May 6.  I have barely started.  I watched the animation on the Labor Party’s site, which is smart but told me zero about their policies.  Will download full document asap.

I love that they are called manifestos because that’s what they are.

Your homework:

1)   Read Labor, Lib-Dem and Conservative manifestos.

2)   Find any good commentary on the UK election? Please share!

3)   Make a case to Stella on whether to vote Labor or Lib-Dem.

4)   Check back in on April 30 to see if Stella’s postal ballot has been mailed back!

God Save the Queen!

6 responses to “They’re off!”

  1. Dave says:

    Isn’t voting Lib-Dem just throwing your vote away? (Although I understand the impulse to wash one’s hands of today’s Labor.)

  2. swells says:

    No political advertising allowed? What a utopia!

  3. LP says:

    Yes, and how about this: “The election campaign period is a minimum of three weeks, which most people find quite tedious and too long.” How civilized!

    Also, Stella, did you really write that you voted for “Labor”? Was that a write-in?

  4. Stella says:

    Doh! Agh! Did I really write that in the whole post? Maybe I don’t deserve to vote.

    Dave…that’s complicated. Traditionally it was a throwaway for the whole election but you might still end up with a Lib-Dem MP in your constituency if not in power. Now, it looks like a swing from Labor to the Lib-Dems might result in a hung Parliament which would revolutionize British politics. But I’m conflicted…

  5. Dave says:

    Okay, after reading this Crooked Timber thread, I think you should vote Lib Dem, especially as there is apparently no such thing as the “Labor” party due to orthographic hijinks.

  6. Stella says:

    Except I’d die if they formed a coalition with the Tories. I would have voted in a Tory government.

    Also, British people are prone to say one thing and vote another. In 1992, according to the exit polls, no one voted for John Major and yet he somehow ended up as Prime Minister.