Whoever had the great idea about Twitter I wonder. No, don’t answer, this is a rhetorical question. I was thinking as I was texting my wife this afternoon because on my phone I’ve got 155 characters which equates (almost) to the 140 characters that Twitter allows. We have been changing our car – out with the petrol guzzling 4×4 and in with a more efficient French diesel. We’ve also downsized in terms of cost – our 4×4 cost around £5K two years ago, our new car has cost, wait for it… £750! It’s done 108K miles, but and this is a big but, it’s had just the one owner since its first registration – and he probably never drove it faster than 50 miles an hour – and what’s more, get this, he had it serviced every 3,000 miles. He also used to wash it every Sunday morning, and who knows on other days during the week too. The final straw? piece of the jigsaw? or whatever, was his propensity to smoke his pipe, in the car. And guess what? Yes, you guessed it, as I drove it home from the garage the overwhelming sense that I got was of his Mellow Virginia Pipe Tobacco.
But how do I know all of this? Well the chap lived at the top of the road where I spent my formative years. So I remember seeing Mr — out there every Sunday morning and I remember having to stop games of football as he trundled past, puffing away on his pipe. Priceless memories brought flooding back and that’s why I decided that we’d have the car – the knowledge of the owner and his car valeting habits is worth 30K miles easily.
Here in the UK we have a TV channel called Dave. As from today we also have a Prime Minister called Dave. Interesting times lie ahead. At least he didn’t come over all St Francis of Assisi. I especially liked his point on ‘entitlements’ versus ‘responsibilities’. And he mentioned Society too. I hope that he means it and that he can follow through to ensure that people who expect something for nothing are made to pull their weight, but that at the same time, people who genuinely are unable to contribute are not penalised.
Too much of politics in the UK is skewed by the first past the post system. Votes in neighbouring constituencies don’t necessarily carry the same weight as each other. This time, the system has delivered something which requires consensus – so we will see no nonsense such as the poll tax, which a dominant party was easily able to pass as legislation through parliament only to be thwarted by the will of the people. If we get PR or a form of PR from this current situation it may make Britain a more tolerant place as a result. We shall see.
This is fun. Adam Boulton gets upset when Alistair Campbell ‘tells him what he’s thinking.’ On a more serious note, Mr Boulton essentially works for Rupert Murdoch whose papers all came out in favour of the Tories. Mr Campbell was Labour’s chief spin doctor and is still available for a good quote. Jeremy Thompson does a good job refereeing.
Weekend over, we return to work and school. Son number 3 had his birthday on Saturday so as the chocolate finally leaves his system this morning he’s going to be a little more difficult to shift from his bed than usual. Son number 1 is in the shower – having recently realised / discovered that it’s good to smell reasonable fresh. Number 2 son is currently spilling cornflakes everywhere and then making them soggy with milk.
We have just sold our car – on eBay – and are waiting for the purchasers to make contact to discuss when they’re going to come and pay for / collect it. Once we have the cash we’ll be in the market for a new one ourselves, so that’s gonna be fun with no car to get around! In these days of high(er) petrol prices in the UK (and the rest of the world?) we need something a little more efficient – 25 miles for each gallon of petrol is not good.
With just one seat left to declare the Tories have 306 seats (and are likely to win the last one too); Labour has 258; the Lib Dems 57 with other parties holding the remaining 28 seats. Discussions have been on going between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems – between them they would have an overall majority of 70+ seats over the other parties. So far so good, eh? Mathematically at least there’s a workable (comfortable) majority in the House of Commons – of course Sinn Fein offer no opposition in the House of Commons as they don’t sit so it’s even better than that.
HOWEVER, there are some fundamental policy differences between the Tories and the Lib Dems. Not least the issue of electoral reform. The Lib Dems have long been wedded to the idea of electoral reform – why wouldn’t they be, they’re a party which is capable of winning around a quarter of the vote which translates into less than 10% of the seats. Mmm, go figure. In the constituency that I live in the Tories won the seat with just over half of votes, with the Lid Dems in second with around 20% of the vote. 20% represents around eleven thousand voters who plumped for the Lib Dems yet effectively they have no voice. The Conservatives on the other hand are dead against electoral reform and to be fair, it is a little like turkeys voting for Christmas. For them it would represent electoral suicide – it’s extremely unlikely that there’d ever be another Tory administration. Even Margaret Thatcher in the 1983 election when the Tories gained a whopping 61.6% of the seats, they only had 42.3% of the popular vote. That time, Labour in combination with the SDP/Liberal Alliance took over half of the popular vote, yet ended up with just 35.7% of the seats.
There are other issues of course, the budget deficit (aka National Debt), education, defence, Europe, the NHS, transport and so on and so forth. For my two penn’orth I reckon that electoral reform could be the biggest issue and a potential deal breaker, but then I’m just one voter out of 30 million and no expert to boot – so what do I know?
Well that was fun. I stayed up until 2.30am watching the result roll in. And after all that we don’t really have a result – at least no clear majority for either Labour or Conservative. Because of the system in the UK this is a relatively rare occurrence and it leaves things in a bit of a limbo. One of the major arguments against electoral reform in this country, i.e. the introduction of some sort of proportional representation, is that this sort of result would be more common – it’s all well and good scoring over half of the seats in parliament, but gaining an overall majority of the popular vote is a tad more difficult. Accordingly, in order to get a majority, deals inevitably have to be made, but on an issue by issue basis. Thus any given vote in the House of Commons could mean a defeat for the governing party – and the potential for another General Election. So, all talk by Labour of being keen on electoral reform is just that – talk.