UK Elections 2010

This Thursday (Friday, our time), Britons will go to the polls. There they will make a decision that they, and the rest of the world will have to live with for the next three years.

Their choices are rather limited, such is the archaic nature of their FPP electoral system, and are, as efficiently surmised by Stephen Fry, between the same, more same, and something new and untried.

For the first time in history there is the possibility of a hung parliament. Which could lead to the LibDems having a bit of bargaining power. If they do get this, they would no doubt, and I would in fact urge them, to set in motion the wheels of change to updating Britain’s electoral system to a more democratic, proportionally representative system, similar, but not identical to New Zealand’s MMP.

Bandied around the internet over the last few weeks of this campaign there has been a huge amount of internet commentary supporting one or other party. And I’ve been trying to put myself in the position of a British ‘floater’ trying to make my mind up about who I would vote for. And at this point I remain not only undecided, but unable to make an informed judgement call on who I think the winners would be.

British politics is spun in a different way from politics in New Zealand, Australia, and America. In NZ candidates are people, not elites, electorates are small enough for them to be seen and known, they’re not escorted by swathes of body guards and media advisors. They use plain language on TV and have imperfect pronunciation. They appeal to us because of our inherent egalitarianism. In America, politicians are celebrities. They appear on talk-shows and talk about movie stars. They run hugely expensive campaigns that are travelling spectacles. They orchestrate insanely patriotic rallies brimming with balloons, streamers, fireworks. These are broadcast around the country. They have fans, in the truest sense of the word. Fanatical followers who look, to my foreign eyes at least, to be brainwashed slaves, defending ideals the often can’t define or explain. Their press and broadcast media amplify this to the point where it becomes impossible to keep tabs on every announcement and appearance.

In the UK though, there is a gloomy cynicism reinforced by uncharismatic, overanalysing politicians trying to appease using sleepy arguments that no doubt fuel voter apathy in their constituency.

The British economy is royally fucked and there are two ways forward being presented. Gordon Brown can continue ploughing through what New Labour has begun. This would entail being dull, and unexciting. Keeping heads down, being tough on financial impropriety and waiting, conservatively (!), for sunnier skies. David Cameron would work towards the same goal, except with a more fiscally level head. Is the answer to Britains financial problems a party which lives and breathes economics and crunches numbers with their cereal? Possibly. But more likely (and again here another stolen analogy from Stephen Fry) this would be like carrying on in the same car, only with a different driver. Is this a feasible option? The voters will decide. And we’ll find out on Friday.

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