Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Election Blog (21) - Final Round Up

I've now woken up after replacing the lost sleep on election night. Yes, but what about the other three days, you ask? Well, I have very thick bedroom curtains and didn't set the alarm. (Old wartime music hall joke which I'm really too young to remember). Anyway, here's some brief final comments.

First, the TV coverage:
I started election night with Sky News where a young woman was speaking from a helicopter. There were more choppers in this election than at a lumberjacks' convention. "We're above the sky over Sunderland!", she shouted.
I'm no astrophysicist but if she were above the sky it must have been the first helicopter to go into space, in which case she might have been expected to see the asteroid that was about to smash into Labour's majority. But in fact the Sky helicopter was about to pursue white vans through the streets as they took the ballot boxes from polling stations to the count. Why? I've no idea, unless it was to persuade the non-political that this was some kind of game show.

I spent the rest of the night with BBC1 although the programme was rather shambolic and David Dimbleby is definitely past it, frequently making irritating slips of the tongue. Of course we knew that when he said 'Labour' he meant 'Conservative' and when he peered distractedly over his glasses at the banks of monitors in his desk we hoped that Matron would soon arrive to put him to bed before he tried to interview Clement Attlee.

The worst howler came the following day when an academic from Manchester was asked about the Tory succession. They might, he said, opt for a younger leader and then struggled to think of any names, eventually settling on the odious Tim Collins, the only problem being that Tim Collins had lost his seat the night before. Don't study politics at Manchester.


One of Blair's early comments on the result was that the British people had voted for a Labour Government but with a smaller majority. This was the first untruth of his new administration.
Firstly, only one in five of the electorate had voted Labour.
Secondly, he was making the common conceptual error of speaking of the 'British People' as a concrete rather than an abstract noun with the implication that millions of voters had acted as a single individual might - deciding on a desired outcome and voting to bring that about. Whilst it is true that the result was what many people wanted (although millions did not), it was a purely contingent result of millions of individual votes.

There's an old saying that Oppositions don't win elections, Governments have to lose them. That was proved true again, with the small but significant difference that the Opposition didn't win and the Government is still there.
Obviously this was because the Government had an unusually massive majority to start with. It was also the result of a resurgent third party. But in other circumstances with a strong Opposition and an attractive Opposition leader, the Government, with only a 36% share of the vote, would have been defeated.

The Conservatives were also big losers, hardly increasing their share of the vote and gaining seats only because of the Lib Dems.
The election also leaves the Lib Dems with a big problem because it exposed their claim that they are neither right nor left but 'progressive' as the nonsense it is. Everyone knows that on most issues they are to the left of Labour and that's why they gained Labour seats but struggled to win any Tory ones. Logically, this means that Labour is the party they must aspire to replace, not the Conservatives.
The great problem with replacing either of them is that both main parties have a remarkably stubborn core vote especially amongst the elderly who always vote but always for the same party, in the same way that they always buy Typhoo tea - because they always have and it saves thinking.

Since the election, the most vivid proof of Blair's poor judgement and failure to learn from his mistakes is bringing Blunkett back into the Cabinet. There are many reasons why this is a mistake but the over-riding one has nothing to do with the nanny's visa. The real reason that Blunkett should never hold public office again is that as Education Secretary he wasted millions of pounds on a half-baked scheme for an internet university. Try perpetrating an expensive fiasco like that in any other public sector post and see if you ever work again. It's a kick in the teeth for anyone who voted Labour and consoled themselves that at least this most sickeningly arrogant, authoritarian and publicity-crazed politician was no longer in Government.

Against all expectations, my readership increased during these election blogs. But now it's time for their ceremonial dissolution and the ancient ritual of sending the ballot box logo to the recycle bin.
Thank you for joining me on my battlebus. Now it's back to the usual Mystery Tours through the prejudices and passions of one Middle England psyche. Window seats usually available on the day.


At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

Agree about the Blunkett thing. Odious for many reasons. Agree also about the (wrong) idea of the people acting in concert to reduce his majority. People vote only in their own interests. They have no cohesion or plan whatever.

Glad you've woken up at last, was getting worried. Desperately sorry to hear about your elderly father's plight, and yes - the election is now a dead topic. Robin of Speaking As A Parent was very good - a blog you might not know yet.

But it's all so last week already.

Josh from Alaska (an influential blog pioneer) is coming to Britain nest month. It's so exciting.


At 8:23 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Thanks Peter. I'm not so unfailingly regular as yourself, but then few of us are. (Sorry if that makes blogging sound like a bowel movement).
Yes, I know Robin's excellent blog and should have a link to it.
Anyway, it will be nice to write about some different things again.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

What news of young Carlo?

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Carlo is in a state of suspended animation. He might spring to life again if the spirit moves me (I don't mean the Holy Spirit). But it's difficult doing both the Carlo stuff and the usual blogging miscellany.


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