strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
Well, this election aftermath story is certainly throwing up some surprises, isn't it? I was a bit downcast about it all on Friday afternoon. I didn't think the LibDems had a strong enough hand to make electoral reform a central tenet of a coalition with either of the other parties. And if that couldn't be achieved, I couldn't really see how any of the three most likely outcomes (Con-Lib coalition, Lab-Lib coalition or Tory minority government) would ultimately do anything much else other than damage the Liberal Democrats in the long term - and hence damage the prospects of them having any serious input into the formation of government policy in the future. Like a lot of people, too, my immediate instinctive reaction to the idea of a Con-Lib coalition was "ugh!".

But I clearly underestimated Nick Clegg and his negotiating team )

What will actually happen is still anyone's guess )

Not everyone is happy with the outcome of this election )

I've got to say that I'm not seeing horror and betrayal in my corner of the internet )

Personally, I'm pretty OK with Con-Lib if it's going to achieve the implementation of as many of the LibDems' key manifesto commitments as it looks like it might. It's not going to be 'Torygeddon' - that wasn't the outcome of the election, and it's not how the Tory party would be able to behave while held on a tight leash by the LibDems in the context of a formal coalition. I'm not sure Lab-Lib is as workable - but if it can be made to work, I'd be perfectly happy with that too on the same grounds. It's a pity that the particular type of electoral reform that's being talked about by both Labour and the Tories at the moment is alternative vote, when single transferable vote is a lot fairer - see [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat's excellent discussion for details. But that any kind of electoral reform is being seriously offered at all is amazing - never mind all the other issues surrounding the economy, taxation and education which are all clearly going to end up being resolved in ways that are much more to my taste than either the Tories or Labour could have managed alone.

Everything could still fall apart, of course, without any of us really getting anything we want - no matter what we voted for. But one thing is for sure. Between the outcome of this election, the priorities of the Liberal Democrat party, and the activities of groups such as the Take Back Parliament coalition, the issue of electoral reform has become a central part of the political discourse. People are talking about it all over the internet, and yesterday evening the BBC News channel provided a detailed outline of the differences between FPTP voting, AV and STV. It feels to me as though this issue won't just fade away again now. And that is one of the main reasons why I voted LibDem in the first place.

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Polling night

Friday, 7 May 2010 05:04
strange_complex: (Tick my box)
Well, it's nearly five a.m., well over half of the seats have declared now, and so far it's a pretty depressing picture. There have been a few surprising results, but no sense of a big swing of popular opinion; no big shocks or iconic defining moments. Just a slow but steady trickle of seats of all sorts falling to the Conservatives.

Far more depressing, of course, is the spectacle of thousands of voters being deprived of the chance to cast their votes at all because of an inexplicable failure on the part of polling stations across the country to predict that they might want to. I'm particularly bothered to note that most of the places where the polling stations ran out of ballot papers or didn't have time to process everyone who wanted to vote before 10pm were urban constituencies - that is, exactly the places that are most crucial to both Labour and the LibDems.

My silver linings about this are two. One - it has already clearly produced widespread rage, and we have been promised a thorough enquiry by the Electoral Commission into exactly what happened. Some results may be declared invalid, and if the overall situation is a hung parliament, it may be yet another argument for basically have a re-run of the entire election in the very near future. Two - this issue, along with high voter turn-out in general and large numbers of postal votes, seems to be contributing to delayed counts in a lot of the seats where it happened. As I've said, they are generally the types of seats which are most likely to come out as Labour or LibDem. So as their results do come out, they may start to show that the real Tory lead is actually smaller than it currently looks like it is going to be - at least if they are held to be valid, anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for my current constituency, Leeds North West, to declare. I note with pleasure that Bristol West, where I lived in 1997 and cast my first vote, has seen an increased LibDem majority. But that pleasure is distinctly tarnished for me by the news that my more recent former constituency, Oxford West, has fallen to the Tories, causing the wonderful Dr. Evan Harris to lose his seat.

Elsewhere, it's a pretty depressing night for the LibDems. They've lost a few here, gained a few there, but generally look on track to do what the exit poll predicted, which is retain more or less the number of seats in parliament which they already had. I'd like to know what their overall share of the vote nationwide is - has that gone up? I hope so, as it will strengthen their ability to claim that they should be able to have a decisive input into whatever happens in the wake of this election. But it's disappointing after the support they've been enjoying lately, and far short of what I'd hoped for them.

Ooh, this just in, though - Charles Clarke loses out to a LibDem candidate, and has a face like a slapped arse! That was fun.

Anyway, dawn is breaking, and David Dimbleby is sounding pretty tired and fed up now. I guess most of us feel much the same. I'm not too tired myself, as I have been deliberately time-shifting myself over the past week in anticipation of this evening - as the time-stamps on my last few posts will make clear. This is still rather later than even I'm used to staying up, but I can do another hour or so. If you're still up too, or even getting up early to check in on LJ before you go to work, drop me a comment and let me know you're out there!

ETA (05:30): excellent! Leeds North West holds, with an increased LibDem majority! Now why couldn't that have been repeated nationwide, hmm? I could go to bed now, especially since it will still clearly be a good 24 hours before we really have the slightest clue what this result will actually mean. But I'm still anxious to hear what has happened in Sheffield Hallam (Nick Clegg's seat, and clearly badly affected by polling station problems).

ETA the second (06:40): Clegg's seat now declared, and I'm very impressed by his speech emphasising the utter unacceptability of people being deprived of their votes first, and then saying we shouldn't rush into anything without taking time to think it through. Sensible man. Apparently the Queen is a sensible woman, too - she said early on that she wouldn't see anybody before 1pm. This seems to me like advice for life; and besides I don't think she's in much danger of being disturbed today at all. I could go to bed now, but still don't feel much like it. I will pay for this later.

ETA the third (09:00): OK, the BBC are closing down their election night coverage, it's still not completely certain that the Tories won't win an outright majority but it's pretty likely, and now I think I really am going to have to go to bed. Annoyed that the LibDem's share of the vote seems to have gone up slightly overall, but their number of seats has gone down. FPTP the post is clearly never going to work for them - so here's hoping that there is enough willingness now for them to push successfully for electoral reform.

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strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
So, here we stand on the eve of what is clearly going to be one of the most ground-shaking elections in living memory. I believe the closest I've seen to this level of excitement and sense of change before was in 1997, when Labour overthrew an eighteen-year-old Tory government to begin what has turned out to be a thirteen-year stint in power.

I actually voted last week, because I choose to have a postal ballot for the sake of convenience. Unlike a lot of people in this country (even still at the time of writing), I was never in any real doubt about how I was going to vote in this election, so didn't see any point in delaying the process. I'm certainly never going to vote Tory, so that wasn't an issue. Labour have, in all fairness, done some pretty good things since 1997 - for example, the minimum wage, granting control over interest rates to the Bank of England, and civil partnerships. But they've done some pretty shitty things, too - tuition fees, illegal wars, the campaign for ID cards, and of course lately cutting HEFCE funding so badly that my subject and my own job are now under threat. So there's no way I am going to vote for them either.

Anyway, I never really was. Ever since the first election I was eligible to vote in (which was in fact the 1997 one), I have consistently voted Liberal Democrat. Well - apart from the 2005 election, that is, in which I was disenfranchised because a letter I didn't know I was meant to be expecting got lost in the post. THAT was upsetting, and one hell of a strong reminder of what a precious possession the right to vote actually is.

Why I vote LibDem )

Why I don't vote tactically )

What I think / hope will happen at this election )

Anyway, tomorrow night I shall be having a few friends round to watch the results as they come in. It's fun to play drinking games involving sips of appropriately-coloured boozes as each seat is declared, of course - but that's also a strategy liable to cause you to cease caring and slide underneath the coffee-table before the night has advanced very far. Some might say that that would be for the best this time - but given that I do actually want to know what is happening, I have chosen an alternative, sugary method of marking the results. After extensive research in town on Tuesday, I concluded that M&Ms offered the best balance of good, strong primary colours, reasonable price and relatively minimal wastage. So I purchased five large packets of them and spent a happy quarter of an hour today sorting them out into their respective colours, like the roadie in Wayne's World.

If the contents of the packets are any indication of the election result, I can report that there will actually be a surprise Labour majority with the LibDems in second place by a narrow margin over the Tories:


If that's how it turns out, just remember folks - you heard it here first!

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Holiday!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 01:34
strange_complex: (Silver Jubilee knees-up)
There will be no research leave updates this week, because the master plan advises that May is 'probably a good point at which to take a clear, structured week off'. And this week I am taking that advice.

Holiday Tiems actually started late on Friday afternoon, when I set off for the station to catch a train to Tunbridge Wells for the wedding of [livejournal.com profile] swisstone and [livejournal.com profile] ladymoonray. I'd never been there before (and of course its reactionary reputation precedes it), but it is all very idyllic and leafy and Edwardian-looking. I stayed at The Royal Wells hotel, where allegedly Queen Victoria liked to go in her youth, but I expect her room was a little bit bigger than mine.

The setting and the ceremony )

The people )

As for the rest of the week, I have spent today busy doing nothing at all. Well, no - I have caught up on LJ, Facebook, emails and the weekend's TV, in between watching the snooker. That is still going on now, and looks like it could go on until about 2 in the morning. Both players are clearly very tense, and playing quite scrappily as a result. At the time of writing I think all of about 6 points have been scored in the last half-hour - or that's how it feels, anyway. But I do not care! I am on holiday, and can stay up as late as I like!

Snooker spoiler under here )

My main goal for the rest of the week is to de-blue my kitchen. Currently, it has duck-egg blue units, bright blue tiles, a pale sparkly blue floor, pale blue doors and blue walls. Even if I liked blue, that would be a bit much. Meanwhile, for some reason, someone has at some point chosen to paint the door-frames and skirting-boards a shade which the half-empty tin left behind in the shed reveals is called 'urban grey'. It's about as attractive as it sounds. So the blue walls and the grey woodwork are going, in favour of pale creams of the type which will complement the remaining blues without overwhelming the room.

I'm also having some local chums round for an election 2010 all-nighter on Thursday, in honour of which I shall be popping into town tomorrow to buy an assortment of red, blue and yellow sweets for consumption when the relevant parties win seats. It should be a good night - clearly it's going to be a very close-run election, and probably also one which has a major long-lasting effect on the political landscape in this country. It's not like the snooker, of course - it's our collective future at stake, not a shiny trophy. But all the more reason to go through it in the company of friends, I think.

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strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
This only works if people are prepared to tell a stranger's data-collection gizmo how they intend to vote at the election - but if you're happy enough to do that, it's fun to see how your friends are lining up.


Help purple_pen and get your own badge!
(The Livejournal Electioniser was made by robhu)


The spread there so far is no particular surprise to me - but it could do with more data! Apparently, the graphs get updated periodically, so you can still change how mine looks by submitting your voting intentions.

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Early results

Friday, 6 May 2005 06:59
strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
Well, given the hopes expressed in my last post, I can't complain too much about the results as they stand this morning: Labour 351, Conservative 192 and LibDem 59 at the time of writing.

This basically meets all my criteria for happiness: Labour have had a kick in the teeth, but not to the extent that the Tories have actually got in, while the LibDems have increased their majority. My only complaint is that more of Labour's lost seats didn't go to the LibDems instead of the Tories. But it still constitutes a good consolidation of their existing position: hell, I remember the days when they had all of 18 MPs, and were proud of it. It's also nice to see a) that their share of the vote overall is now standing at around 23% and b) that many of the places where they made really significant gains have large student populations. This latter means that young, and in most cases presumably first-time, voters are choosing the LibDems, which as those people filter up through the population pyramid should mean a steadily increasing share in the vote overall.

Naturally, all three sides are claiming it as a victory: Labour on the grounds that they won a third term at all, and the other two on the grounds that they increased their holdings. I think Michael Howard has every right to expect his party to keep him on after this, and I'm certain Charles Kennedy is safe. So the most interesting question now is whether Tony-boy will jump or get pushed before the next election.

I'm also very pleased to see three independent candidates winning their seats - apparently the largest number since 1945. We have George Galloway for the anti-Iraq War "Respect" party in Bethnal Green and Bow, Dr. Richard Taylor kept Wyre Forest, which he originally won in 2001 on his "Save Kidderminster Hospital" ticket and Peter Law, a Labour rebel who left the party due to his opposition to all-woman candidate short-lists, has won Blaenau Gwent from the official Labour candidate. I realise that the party system allows effective governments to be formed, but it's always nice to see that it isn't 100% dominant.

In other news, splorfle, splorfle, Mr. Kilroy-Silk, but I do wish more BNP candidates were losing their deposits... :-(

Early indications

Thursday, 5 May 2005 22:18
strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
Cor, I hope the BBC's exit poll doesn't turn out to be accurate. I'm all for seeing Tony's majority slashed, but barely any change for the LibDems? *grumble*

Last election:
Labour - 413
Conservative - 166
Lib Dems - 52
Other - 28


Exit poll predictions (c. 20,000 voters):
Labour - 356
Conservative - 209
Lib Dems - 53
Other - 28


My hopes:
Labour - 370
Conservative - 150
Lib Dems - 100
Other - whatever's left


Of course that's not my dream parliament. But it's within the bounds of plausibility (or appeared so before the exit poll came out), and would see everyone going in the right direction (according to me!). Labour still in power with a slight majority, thus giving us the better of two evils until the LibDems are really ready for a full attack next time round. And meanwhile the Tories impotent, and the LibDems in a position to kick some serious ass as an opposition party, and fight from a solid foundation next time.

Well, we'll see. Right now I'm off to cheer on Sunderland South in their attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records by being the first seat to declare four elections in a row.

EDIT: They did it! Results as follows:

Monster Raving Loony Party - 149
British National Party - 1166 (yuk!)
Liberal Democrats - 4492
Conservative - 6923
Labour - 17982

Swings:

Labour -5%
Conservative +2%
LibDem +3%

Ook!

Thursday, 5 May 2005 12:53
strange_complex: (Penelope Pitstop)
Apparently, the UK consulate in New York has been bombed. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rentaghost31 for the tip-off). Nothing too serious, but erk!

It's fairly obviously election-related, but I suppose in a way we can be paradoxically reassured. It suggests that whoever is behind it (presumably al-Qaeda or similar) doesn't have operatives capable of doing the same in the UK itself, and, at least on this occasion, wasn't able to mount a particularly effective attack.

I mean, these are still only small comforts, but you know... I'm just sorry that the attackers obviously do have operatives in the US.

Disenfranchised

Wednesday, 4 May 2005 12:26
strange_complex: (Default)
I chased up the issue with my election card, and the news is bad. They did receive my application to be registered, but then apparently sent me a letter asking me for proof that I'd been at my current address for more than three months. Except I never got any such letter, so obviously I didn't know to send them any proof of residence...

.... so that's it. I'm not registered, and I can't vote.

To say I am fucking pissed off about this is a serious understatement. I was already feeling 95% disenfranchised over the fact that I can't even vote for the party I actually want to vote for (LibDems) in this part of the world anyway, because they, like most of the other major parties, don't actually run candidates here. But now even my chance to vote for the only remotely sensible party in Northern Ireland (Alliance) has been taken from me.

I like elections. I get excited about them. I think they're important. And I like to participate. I am the kind of person, in fact, who even votes in local elections. So I did want to vote, very badly, even if I couldn't vote the way I really wanted to.

Reasons to be Angry (Her Name is Penny) )

So all I can do now is sit back helplessly and let everyone else decide on the country's future for me. I feel completely and utterly stripped of all social and democratic power. I'll follow the results, of course, but I won't be able to think at any point, "I helped make that happen". Which is what I really feel it's all about.

All I can say is, if you can vote, please get out there and do it on Thursday. I don't care whether you're going to vote the same way as I wanted to or not. Your very right to do so is precious. I always knew that, but I certainly see it with a new and painful clarity now.

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