British election update

No news! This is the slowest election coverage I’ve ever tried to watch! And they keep bringing up some poorly dressed person on the screen to read the detailed numbers for each district, “George Schnapps, Conservative candidate for Swyndholm and Leevers, 19,267 votes.” Really, just announce who won. And the thing where, during this announcement process, the candidates all stand on the stage wearing State Fair produce ribbons on their chests?

Apparently George Schnapps, the Conservative candidate for Swyndholm and Leevers, is also the 5th best cucumber presenting at the State Fair.

I went to an election results party, stupidly, at 10 pm. It was fun for a while. I asked many stupid questions of the locals. I gave up at nearly midnight. It was clear that this was an investment and that my having to actually work tomorrow (albeit in the afternoon most importantly, thus my being awake at this point just past midnight) meant that I could not afford to sit there until 3 am or later. I’m following it now, past midnight, but I’ll give up soon.

I admit, I love that this election campaign only took a month, I still managed to get tired of it but not nearly like an American election. I admit that. The result here is so close that anything could happen, and we know how well that works from history–it is usually a mess. I faced a number of jokes about ‘hanging chads’ even though I am not from Florida, and when I’ve voted the results were always computer-counted. So the voting methods here, involving paper ballots and actual counting of votes by people, seems quaint. But interesting.

A Florida-like outcome is likely, since there was a large turn-out and a number of people were turned away from voting. Lawsuits have already been mentioned. It all sounds very American. And no party appears likely to gain a majority, so things will be contentious for weeks or even months. The precedent has been set. And I’m going to bed with only a handful of seats decided and no clear outcome but a “hung parliament” likely. Things are interesting in Britain right now. The election and the economy are a mess. So goodnight.

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8 responses to “British election update

  1. Oh the ritual reading of the results by the Returning Officer is the best bit. The tension, the listening out for how the looney parties have done, the reactions of the local crowd in the dingy hall…it’s what makes staying up great. And the swingometer of course.

    • I guess it’s like so many things to do with the country in which you grow up, you see fondly the things that have nostalgia for you, where an outsider coming in thinks “WTF?”

      • Indeed. Though I have to confess I hadn’t realised our Declarations were apparently so odd.

        • It’s just not what I’m used to. In the US the newscasters announce that a seat has been called and show the color appearing on the map, and the numbers might appear on the bottom of the screen. We only see the declarations for important things like Florida with the Hanging Chad incident results.

  2. Tradition is important here. We could have computer voting and speedy results of course but it wouldn’t be the same …… It’s the first time I have ever seen queueing to vote in the UK – normally the process goes smoothly. I was in the USA during the Bush-Kerry election and I was shocked at the long queues to vote there ….. especially in certain districts. Hope that sort of nonsense doesn’t start here!!

    • We may queue in the US, but if the polls close when you’re in line, you still get to vote. And it’s not just me scoffing at the old-fashioned nature of the system: (from http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/may/07/general-election-2010-results)

      9.21am: Jenny Watson, the Electoral Commission chair, has also been on GMTV. She described the current system for elections as “Victorian” following problems in various areas including London, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. The watchdog will be making recommendations to change it after carrying out its review, she said.

      We’ve been calling for better coordination, for power of direction for us to tell people what to do, for some time. We haven’t been successful in persuading government and parliament to take that up so far. I hope that last night’s experiences will persuade them there is a real need to look at our Victorian system and modernise it fit for a 21st century democracy.

      This is one of the places where England confuses me. I like tradition, I value tradition. But when tradition trumps progress, I’m flexible. Technology could help here, and isn’t it key in a democracy to keep the voters from feeling disenfranchised, as happened last night?

  3. People turned away from voting? Gosh, I’m missing all the excitement.

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