May 7th, 2010



Parliamentary Frenzy on the North Side
Yes, I just finished watching (checks watch) four solid hours of BBC coverage of the British national election. I have, finally and incontrovertibly, exposed myself as both an election wonk and an Anglophile. I know. Restrain your expostulations of surprise.

Things that occurred to me whilst watching:
  •  I think all the electoral candidates in every Canadian and American election race should have to stand next to each other, wearing badges and ribbons of indecent size and florid design, while someone stands at a microphone with the results, and gives their full name (family name first, given last), and the amount of votes, and declares one of them the winner, while the others look stoic, blank, 'luuded or, in the case of the Monster Raving Loony, etc. Party, gleefully goofy. I think it would do a great deal to advance a sense of humility on the part of North American politicians.
  • British pundits and journalists (at least the live media types) are far more sophisticated, witty and - to the people they're interviewing - heel-rockingly rude than I am used to seeing in election coverage. They also get to interview slightly tipsy aging Tory supporters like gazillionaire once-upon-a-time rocker Bill Wyman. (Tory. Christ.) It was all quite impressive and bracing. And I'm saying that seriously.
  • Those pundits and journalists are also pretty damned sturdy. The same guys (most of whom looked ever-so-slightly professorially frail) just soldiered on, hour after hour - remember, this was at 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and straight on 'til morning their time - with only the occasional stumble or flash of inevitably wittily-expressed irritation, and a just-noticeable growth in some five (a.m.) o'clock shadow. I mean, our television gangs over here have nothing on them.
  • I have to admit I'd never thought of it as a "hung parliament." In Canada, where I grew up, minority governments were, if not commonplace, definitely not rare. And that's what we called them. A hung parliament sounds ... racy.
  • And the turnouts; 68 percent; 77 percent; higher in other places - that's nothing to be laughed at. I kept looking at those percentages and saying to myself, when the hell are we going to start getting anywhere near those numbers? Damn.