Thanks to the BBC and The New York Times, I got to watch live Election Night coverage from another country for the first time. It was by turns odd, comforting, exciting, dull, frustrating and satisfying.
Did you know that Joan Collins, the star of “Dynasty,” is a Conservative who pushes a “pro-nuclear family” agenda? I wish all the American Gay bars that held “Dynasty” nights in the ’80s and made this pathetic woman rich had thought about what they were doing.
Fortunately someone on-air made a Botox joke about her afterwards.
One exciting thing that happened was that Britain elected its first Green Party MP. At least one openly-Gay guy got re-elected, and presumably more.
The Christian Party was horribly drubbed, with an average of 100 votes per 50,000 constituency. It made me wonder why they even bothered.
The far-right British Nationalist Party was similarly trashed. The UK Independence Party left my scratching my head; the UK’s already independent. They belong to the EU but don’t use the euro. So why go to the trouble of standing for election 600 times?
The Tories did well but lack a majority. The Liberal Democrats lost seats despite Nick Clegg Mania. Labour under Prime Minister Gordon Brown went down to spectacular defeat, but still have a fighting chance at a coalition government, if Brown can make a deal with Clegg, who has both good ideas and unpopular ones about immigration and Europe.
All three main parties got clubbed due to corruption, with MPs charging taxpayers for outrageous perks (porn rentals, cleaning out the castle moat), in what was politely dubbed the “expenses scandal.” Expenses?
The Lib Dems got squeezed by the two main parties; “you can’t possibly waste your vote on them, it’s like voting for the enemy.” Britain is a multi-party democracy, although the House of Commons is set up as if there are only two.
What’s more, the House doesn’t have seats enough for all 650 members. What’s up with that?
Well, there are too many members, for one thing. It’s a country of 50 million and they’ve got 650 MPs? An American member of Congress has about a million constituents each, but these guys represent 50,000?
Britain’s got a terrible deficit problem; why not slash Commons by half? That way only half as many crooks and liars can steal from you.
The weirdest thing of all is that even by keeping the polls open to 10 p.m., the election officials couldn’t accomodate everyone who wanted to vote. People were turned away all over the country. You can’t have a democracy if everyone doesn’t get to vote.
Or maybe that wasn’t the weirdest thing; counting the votes kept everyone up all night. In the U.S. if we don’t know who the President will be by 11 o’clock we think something’s gone wrong. But British TV had pictures of pols dashing about in aircraft and automobiles at 4 a.m., breathlessly waiting on a bizarre vote-announcing ritual, which goes like this:
The Lord Mayor or some other minor official, once the paper votes are tallied—yes, paper—gets up on a stage with all the candidates lined up behind; not just the big three parties, but the independents, the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, the moonpies, the birders, the nudists, all the lot of them. The local official then reads a prescribed speech announcing the totals alphabetically, so that the viewer has to keep in mind the vote totals of the main rivals while the nudist tally is announced. Only afterward does the TV network put up a graphic that gives the top four totals and percentages. It’s maddening.
And they do this 650 times, once per constituency!
It’s enough to make Tom Brokaw look good. (The BBC also did a terrible job of identifying speakers, one talking head after another and you had no idea who these people were.)
So the net result of all of it is mass confusion and a hung Parliament. They could do worse, I suppose; anyone for a Parliament that isn’t hung?++
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