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General Election called in the UK
April 6, 2010 4:22 AM   Subscribe

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for an election on the 6th of May. Parliament will be dissolved on April 12th.

The Conservative lead in the polls has been cut in the last few months, and while they still lead overall according to some surveys, a hung parliament is looking increasingly likely. This may or may not be a good thing for the UK economy. Of course, polls can be misleading.

Some members of the current cabinet are particularly under threat.

From the second link, there will be further TV debates on the 15th, 22nd and 29th of April.
posted by iso_bars (105 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am so glad I'm no longer working in live subtitling. An eight hour shift of News 24? With every other item being about 'Sam Cam' or smooth-faced Dave?

You should all register to vote. Do it NOW. We don't want a repeat of the European elections.
posted by mippy at 4:31 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yet they're still trying their hardest to alienate voters by rushing through the Digital Economy Bill before the 12th.
posted by rory at 4:32 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was tempted to be the first to say 'Don't vote, it only encourages them!' but then I'd have to stab myself to death on a party rosette for being tedious.
posted by mippy at 4:33 AM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Weirdly, a status update I made on Facebook earlier, linking to the site with information on registering to vote, got deleted along with various comments! Very strange.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:41 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Parliament dissolved? Oh! When will the people of Britain learn that a WATER-RESISTANT legislature is required for the good governance of her sceptred isles? As the sugar-formed walls of the Palace of Westminster fold and flop into the mighty Thames, every Honourable Member will curse the day they were elected to an institution built out of meringue; each noble Lord will weep to see their ermine robes shrink and disappear into a frothy sludge. It's the inevitable end for a nation built on the proceeds of its rich sugarcane production, but I wish that Her Britannic Majesty had insisted that her Parliament was protected by some hydrophobic prophylaxis, e.g. a coating of hard chocolate, such as Ice Magic.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:44 AM on April 6, 2010 [44 favorites]


Following the long Easter weekend, Mr Brown will formally announce the date of a general election as 6 May, but only after he has made the required trip to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 12 April.

I have this running argument with my Scottish brother-in-law. I insist that the British Queen is not just a figurehead, but that she has a constitutional role in the government - citing as example (as above) that the Queen dissolves parliament. He says "Yes, but she can only do it when Parliament asks her to do so." I reply, "Yes, but the Prime Minister must ask her."
posted by three blind mice at 4:49 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never understood the UK's phobia about coalition government. It actually - eek! - requires the parties to talk about what they want to put through.
posted by scruss at 4:52 AM on April 6, 2010


I'm actually looking forward to this. Not the blizzard of idiotic photo ops, jibbering media spin & annoying twats on the telly but the fact that I can campaign & vote for a Green Party candidate who is a) smart, hard working & a good politician & b) in with a great chance of becoming the UK's first Green MP.
posted by i_cola at 4:55 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You should all register to vote. Do it NOW. We don't want a repeat of the European elections.

Can resident foreigners vote? I know we can vote in council elections, what about national ones?
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:56 AM on April 6, 2010


Of course, polls can be misleading.

The polls may also be underestimating the Tory vote. It's quite likely that there is a proportion of the electorate who are considering voting Tory but unwilling to admit it publicly, or unwilling to admit it to themselves until that final moment in the ballot booth.
posted by acb at 4:57 AM on April 6, 2010


I have been eligible to vote for the past 16 years and never once cast my vote on account of me being utterly disgusted with every single party. I'd have voted for John Smith's Labour Party before his untimely death but not a single party since has seemed to have the sense of decency that he possessed.

This year however I will vote. My choice is between the bad and the worse. It's tough but I finally see why people have to hold their nose and pull the lever. After spending my earliest years under a Conservative government dominated first by Thatcher and then by Major I am loathe to let David "Wormtongue" Cameron gain control of the reins of power and drive our country further into the ground.

So long as the Conservatives stay away from the NHS, the Armed Forces and, frankly, anything that will have any effect at all on the day to day running of the nation we'll all be fine.
posted by longbaugh at 4:57 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can resident foreigners vote? I know we can vote in council elections, what about national ones?

Commonwealth nationals resident in the UK can; not sure about others.
posted by acb at 4:58 AM on April 6, 2010


When will the people of Britain learn that a WATER-RESISTANT legislature is required for the good governance of her sceptred isles?

We like a government that comes up with solutions.
posted by Phanx at 4:58 AM on April 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


Can resident foreigners vote? I know we can vote in council elections, what about national ones?

Commonwealth nationals resident in the UK can; not sure about others.


Thanks. Checking direct.gov (which I should have done first) tells me UK, Irish, Commonwealth and EU residents can all vote.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:01 AM on April 6, 2010


For anyone who's interested, 538 is doing a series of posts on UK polling data ahead of the election. Not as much as I'd like (grumble grumble), but better than nothing. I wish we had our own Nate Silver. Anyone feel like setting up sixfortysix.com?
posted by him at 5:02 AM on April 6, 2010


Or, for that matter, sixfifty.com? Damn constituency boundary changes...
posted by him at 5:06 AM on April 6, 2010


The things we choose to (or choose not to) spend money on every single day have a far greater impact on the world than how we vote every four years. Imho.
posted by memebake at 5:06 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


When will the people of Britain learn that a WATER-RESISTANT legislature is required for the good governance of her sceptred isles?

Serves you right for electing a Parliament of Wicked Witches.
posted by briank at 5:10 AM on April 6, 2010


Excellent. Four weeks of non-stop coverage of vile, duplicitous cocknoses trying to persuade us to let them to be the next ones to piss all over the country while telling us it's raining lemonade. I'm so looking forward to this campaign.
posted by reynir at 5:18 AM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm eligible to vote but cannot process not having the ability to choose a Prime Minister. I'm intrigued by my local Tory candidate, but a vote for him is, whether I like it or not, a vote for the oleaginous David Cameron. It would be like marrying a pretty woman but having to live with your harpy mother-in-law.
posted by stuck on an island at 5:24 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vote Saxon!
posted by schmod at 5:26 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nay! Vote Pict!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:27 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Checking direct.gov (which I should have done first) tells me UK, Irish, Commonwealth and EU residents can all vote.

I'm not sure where you get the EU bit from, for alas, we cannot vote in general elections:
provided you are either [...] a British citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Irish Republic (living in the UK)
I'm a bit bummed out as I am going to apply for citizenship, but decided there was no rush... but I didn't think of elections. My colleague who started at the same time as I has her ceremony in a few days. Hmph.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 5:27 AM on April 6, 2010


Spare a thought for those of us who are active in smaller parties and who have to endure weeks of the media claiming there are only three people you can vote for. None of whom are standing in my constituency.
posted by imperium at 5:29 AM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


As an American with no familiarity with parliamentary processes: Are there rules around when a Parliament can be dissolved? The US always has the threat of a budget not being passed because of obstructionist congresspeople. Are there similar risks of business 'not getting done' because no Parliament is seated?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:30 AM on April 6, 2010


Also from that direct.gov link:

Who can’t vote at a general election

At a general election, the following people can't vote:

•anyone under 18 years old
•members of the House of Lords
•European Union citizens
•citizens of any country apart from the Irish Republic and Commonwealth countries
•people serving a sentence in prison
•anyone found guilty of breaking election law in the last five years
posted by biffa at 5:32 AM on April 6, 2010


ClarissaWAM: I got it from here, but on re-reading it looks like EU citizens can only vote in local elections, not national. Apologies.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:34 AM on April 6, 2010


Stuck on an island - FWIW, if you're interested in having a voting system where your vote actually reflects your wish to elect a party, a leader AND a local representative you're best off voting anything but Tory, preferably directly for a LibDem, and hope that the end result is a hung parliament in which reform of the voting system is the price extracted by the LibDems as support for a minority government.

Don't hold your breath, though
posted by cromagnon at 5:35 AM on April 6, 2010


Knowing next to nothing about UK politics but being, I'll admit, a little impressed by this speech by David Cameron, I'm wondering if someone could explain to me what people don't like about him? Thanks!
posted by lunit at 5:43 AM on April 6, 2010



Excellent. Four weeks of non-stop coverage of vile, duplicitous cocknoses trying to persuade us to let them to be the next ones to piss all over the country while telling us it's raining lemonade.


Count yourselves lucky. Our election process in the US starts the day after the previous election.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:54 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an American with no familiarity with parliamentary processes: Are there rules around when a Parliament can be dissolved? The US always has the threat of a budget not being passed because of obstructionist congresspeople. Are there similar risks of business 'not getting done' because no Parliament is seated?

Dissolution: in the UK, general elections must be called within five years of the opening of Parliament from the previous election. In practice, they might only be four years apart (see list) - the Prime Minister will call an election at a time advantageous to themselves (there were strong suggestions that Brown was going to call an election in early 2008, but he changed his mind).

Budgets not being passed: I can't speak for the UK. In New Zealand, this situation simply couldn't arise. The government must have the support of the majority of the House, on confidence and supply. This means that (a) the government can survive a vote of no confidence, and (b) the government can pass a budget. If these conditions aren't meant, the Prime Minister would have to call a new election [or potentially the Governor-General could invite the leader of the Opposition to attempt to form a government]. Before the Government was formed, the main party would extract specific promises from support parties (if any) to vote for it on confidence and supply, in exchange for certain concessions from the government. Budget negotiation then becomes something that happens within the government, not parliament as a whole. [In the UK, I suspect it would be easier because typically one party has an absolute majority, so it's easy to pass the budget]
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:01 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have this running argument with my Scottish brother-in-law.

Hmm, interesting. I was going to suggest that a letter / spirit distinction would be useful here - ie that under the letter of the law, she's not a figurehead and holds real powers, whereas under the spirit of the law, she is a figurehead, because she doesn't really wield any powers.

But now I think about it, I don't really know. Could the Queen unilaterally decide to eg. dissolve Parliament if she really wanted to? Does she actually have the legal power but tradition dictates that she (or whoever the reigning Monarch is) would never do it? Or does she not have the power and the whole thing is just tradition?

If only there was some sort of... global online information resource where one could look these things up...
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 6:10 AM on April 6, 2010


lunit: let me try to put it in terms that will make the right kind of visceral sense to someone from the USA: Cameron is King George, asking to be voted back. The image may now be professionally styled, the rhetoric may be attractive; he may even have some good points to make; but we know what he is, and we got rid of all that.
posted by Phanx at 6:10 AM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Knowing next to nothing about UK politics but being, I'll admit, a little impressed by this speech by David Cameron, I'm wondering if someone could explain to me what people don't like about him? Thanks!

People in the UK get to watch Dr. Who for free so they know that David Cameron is actually a reptilian alien with a plan to subtly alter the formula of marmite.
posted by srboisvert at 6:20 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Could the Queen unilaterally decide to eg. dissolve Parliament if she really wanted to? Does she actually have the legal power but tradition dictates that she (or whoever the reigning Monarch is) would never do it?

I was going to say that such an idea would be almost unthinkable. But of course it happened in Australia (the Governor-General, acting as the Queen's representative, dismissed the Prime Minister).
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:25 AM on April 6, 2010


UK Polling Report has good, detailed analysis of the opinion polls.

They have an article on the Shy Tory Effect that may have led to the polls being wrong in 1992. The pollsters seem pretty confident that they can correct for that now, by assuming that a certain proportion of the "shy" voters will actually vote either for the party they did last time, or the party they're inclining towards.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:26 AM on April 6, 2010


And as the race starts, a clever piece of guerilla marketing by the Tories as Gordon Brown travels to ask permission from the Queen to dissolve parliament.

Note: I like the picture, not the rather odious blog on which it's hosted.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:27 AM on April 6, 2010


Knowing next to nothing about UK politics but being, I'll admit, a little impressed by this speech by David Cameron, I'm wondering if someone could explain to me what people don't like about him? Thanks!

Google Cameron 'and Eton'. then 'and Bullingdon Club'. the 'and Opportunist'.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:28 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


General Election called in the UK

Did he answer ? What did they call him about ?
posted by Webbster at 6:36 AM on April 6, 2010


Knowing next to nothing about UK politics but being, I'll admit, a little impressed by this speech by David Cameron, I'm wondering if someone could explain to me what people don't like about him? Thanks!

In no particular order:

- he's a Tory. This means a lot to many people, particular those whose communities were shattered by the last Tory government (79-97, and particularly those years under She Who Shall Not Be Named, friend of torturers. They might loathe Brown and all of his works, feel that New Labour is not the party they once saw as theirs, but even so, they could no more bring themselves to vote Conservative than they could wrap up a giant steaming turd and leave it under the tree for the kids at Christmas. For many people, voting Tory is simply, viscerally, wrong.

- he's all style and no substance. Yes, even for a politician. All glib, platitudinous soundbites and precious little on actual policy, he is seen by many as smarmy and superficial. Which makes people worry what his policies actually will be if he gets in. Especially because...

- if he becomes Prime Minister, so what, big deal, it's not really about him. He's only leader of, and in thrall to, a party which is still stacked full of crusty anti-European bile, swivel-eyed wonks from think-tanks who masturbate feverishly over pictures of Milton Friedman, and stuffy old reactionaries from the shires who think that homosexuals should be flogged, along with pretty much everyone else.

-...and a party which owes its existence to the big business that funds it. Q.v. Lord Ashcroft, for a perfect example. Billionaire businessman, ennobled at the craven request of the party he owns, I mean funds, most of his business off-shore, wants to set tax policy in the UK but not pay any of it because that's for the Morlocks. Many people think that big business pays the Tories lots of money precisely so big business can get what big business wants. They are of course right in this.

- so because of this, people expect a Cameron government to slash and burn its way through the public sector, to trample as much as Brown and Blair have done on our civil liberties, and to do everything that they can to enrich the already grotesquely rich people who are funding them, at the expense of the kind of people who do useful things like drive buses and look after sick people and make things and teach children.

- step outside, posh boy. While it's not Cameron's fault his parents sent him to Eton, and who can blame him for going to Oxford, he decided that joining the Bullingdon Club would be an absolutely ripping idea, which means people now look at pictures like these and wonder whether his claims to understand the ordinary working families of the UK are maybe a little suspect.

Also, he's a Tory. Did I mention that?
posted by reynir at 6:37 AM on April 6, 2010 [45 favorites]


Dissolution of a Commonwealth parliament by the Sovereign acting against the will of the sitting government.
posted by overyield at 6:39 AM on April 6, 2010


Opportunist

I didn't read the article attached to that link, but wow, is that ever a cute puppy in the photo at the beginning. This David Cameron fellow seems OK.
posted by grouse at 6:43 AM on April 6, 2010


Tory Vs NuLabour... Whoever wins, you lose.
posted by Artw at 6:47 AM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


In previous years I recall websites (plural) where you answered policy questions and it told you which parties most closely aligned to your opinions. Does anyone recall any urls...?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:51 AM on April 6, 2010


I didn't read the article attached to that link, but wow, is that ever a cute puppy in the photo at the beginning. This David Cameron fellow seems OK.

That was just before he eat it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:53 AM on April 6, 2010


Whatever happens, at least my MP will cease to be George Galloway.
posted by rhymer at 6:57 AM on April 6, 2010


reynir: it's am matter of opinion (isn't most politics?), but I'd dispute a lot of what you say about Cameron.

Like Blair, who was also upper middle class, soundbitey, fairly policy-free pre-elecdtion and supposedly shackled by party funding from reactionary dinosaurs hellbent on returning the country to a former era of glory, Cameron is smart enough to realise that he can't get a mandate to govern until he negotiates the middle ground and doesn't scare the horses on either end of the voting spectrum.

On slash and burning the civil service - well, yes. It's a moot point as to whether this is a nefarious TORY POLICY or just an economic reality to reduce national debt given how hard Labour have recruited to build up the public sector.

For all his faults, Cameron's been far more vocal than his Tory base on the NHS. Far more vocal on progressive values, and not built his shadow cabinet from frothing anti-EU haters.

On funding, there's no denying the bias of big business in Tory funding nor the unsavoury way in which the Conservatives still make room for Michael Ashcroft at the table, but any implicit inference that Labour and the Lib Dems don't receive substantial donations from big business would be misplaced.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:01 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


- if he becomes Prime Minister, so what, big deal, it's not really about him. He's only leader of, and in thrall to, a party which is still stacked full of crusty anti-European bile, swivel-eyed wonks from think-tanks who masturbate feverishly over pictures of Milton Friedman, and stuffy old reactionaries from the shires who think that homosexuals should be flogged, along with pretty much everyone else.

This is why voting Tory is wrong on many levels. Bring on the hung parliament!
posted by patricio at 7:11 AM on April 6, 2010


According to the Electoral Reform Society, at least 382 of the 650 seats are essentially "safe for life", and will not change "even with a landslide on any conceivable scale".

I am fortunate enough to be able to vote for an MP who opposes the Digital Economy Bill. In all other elections, I've been stuck in safe Tory seats.


Webbster: whoops. I was aiming for a flawless first post, too. I was so excited that nobody else had posted the news. Full errata will be published soon...

posted by iso_bars at 7:14 AM on April 6, 2010


and stuffy old reactionaries from the shires

Wait, wait...there are actual shires in England? I thought that was something Tolkien made up.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:14 AM on April 6, 2010


In previous years I recall websites (plural) where you answered policy questions and it told you which parties most closely aligned to your opinions. Does anyone recall any urls...?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:51 AM on April 6 [+] [!]

I'm enjoying Vote For Policies best. Nicely made too, except for not having a separate page for the by-policy breakdown.
posted by imperium at 7:15 AM on April 6, 2010



Could the Queen unilaterally decide to eg. dissolve Parliament if she really wanted to? Does she actually have the legal power but tradition dictates that she (or whoever the reigning Monarch is) would never do it?

The current Queen also had a role in the controversial appointment of Alec Douglas-Home as UK Prime Minister in 1963, essentially choosing between the candidates of two factions of the sitting Tory Party (the grandees v. the rank-and-file MPs). See the Wikipedia entry on Douglas-Home's appointnment as PM.
posted by Jakey at 7:15 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Knowing next to nothing about UK politics but being, I'll admit, a little impressed by this speech by David Cameron, I'm wondering if someone could explain to me what people don't like about him?

Dear AskMe,

RelationshipFilter question! My ex-boyfriend says he's changed; should I take him back? [more inside]

Ex and me were together for a long, long time, years and years. To be honest, it wasn't a great relationship. We had our moments - what couple doesn't? - but long story short, things ground me down so much that I started to accept all the abuse, lies and shitty behaviour as normal, and it took me years to wise up to the idea that there were great guys out there who wouldn't treat me like he did. I finally decided to DTMFA in 1997, and let me tell you, the relief was overwhelming.

Since then, my ex has resurfaced from time to time trying to win me back. He wasn't very convincing, and I saw through all his wheedling poster campaigns. Yay me!

Anyway, recently, he's shown up again claiming he's turned over a new leaf. He says he's done a lot of thinking about what went wrong with us, and he's a changed man now. He seems to be interested in all the same things I've developed an interest in over the last few years, too! For example: I've got really into sustainable energy recently, and Ex has actually put a wind turbine on his roof! in response. I know he was calling wind turbines 'giant bird blenders' to all his annoying friends a few years before, but I'm sure he didn't mean that. Also! I see him cycling to work all the time, and I just think that's really sweet :) (Although I noticed after a while that someone in a car behind him was carrying his briefcase and shoes, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

Anyway, he seems to have had a real transformation! He used to be awful to all my gay friends, but now he says he got that wrong and he's really sorry. (He got all confused and contradictory when I asked him more questions about that - not sure if this is a red flag or not?) He used to be the kind of man who was really really rude to the waiter while sucking up to my uber-rich boss, but now he's all about making sure the waiter gets a decent wage and says he's not going to be a mouthpiece for people like my boss any more! (Another potential red flag here, because I'm not sure how he's actually going to do this and my boss just sniggers when I mention it, but maybe he's just finding his feet - transformations take practice, right? I'm sure his heart is in the right place.)

He just seems to have changed so much - it's like he's a different man! Honestly, it's almost like he's grown a social conscience pretty much overnight, right after he realised I wasn't kidding about taking him back. And now he says he's just like me! I guess you really can change people :) But my friends keep telling me he's insincere (or ruder words to that effect) and that once he's wheedled his way back into my life, it'll start all over again. They seem pretty sure about this and really seem to hate him. I don't know who to believe.

What should I do, Metafilter?

(p.s. - not sure if this is relevant or not, but he used to work as a spin doctor. Should I take this into consideration when he tells me how much he's changed?, y/n?)
posted by Catseye at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2010 [76 favorites]


If anyone here cares about the local elections in Tower Hamlets, we've been building a web site called Tower Hamlets Councillors Compensation which details precisely how much Councillors cost taxpayers, among other metrics.

While the web site itself is dead simple (WordPress & the Atahualpa Theme, enhanced by wp-table-reloaded plug in services, hosted on Debian & Apache), it is the data that has taken so much time and effort to collect.

Tower Hamlets is one of three boroughs in London that fail to publish the details of Local Councillor compensation online, even though by law this information is public record. Instead they publish it annually, in the rear of a local newsletter. In 2009 this information was published on page 48, without so much as a mention in the table of contents.

It took us about two weeks - asking folks at the council - to track down an issue. We followed up by filing almost 100 Freedom of Information Act Requests, asking this published data be verified by the council themselves. The council have been incredibly slow to date to confirm this data, blowing far past the twenty working days response time mandated by the relevant statutes.

Shortly before going live we sent an email to all 51 Councillors asking that they review their own data; only two have taken the time to reply to date, although we've had a few call to discuss the site, with some actually trying to explain to us why this web site is a bad idea. WIthout going into details, the argument made about as much sense as why voters in Tower Hamlets should not directly elect a mayor (yep; some Councillors here feel the locals are incapable of such basic, democratic actions).

Response from local taxpayers and folks in other parts of the country have been very, very positive. We're got well over 100 very nice emails on the subject, some effusive.

Needless to say, we've got a very lengthy list of additional data we're planning to add, as soon as time and resources allow, starting with motions advanced by Councilor and the number of training days & courses each receives. We've been told the site is loathed by some councillors, which we've taken to mean we're doing something right then.

If you're looking for a quick summary: the average councillor in Tower Hamlets costs the taxpayer £15,555, with the "average" by party running at: £18,077 (Labour), £12,126 (Conservatives), £10,976 (Respect) and £9,965 (LibDems). The most expensive ward in Tower Hamlets is Bow East - the three Councillors there cost the taxpayer a total of £60,504 pa, while the cheapest ward is a tie between Millwall & Mile End East, where councilors cost the taxpayer a total of £29,895, or a difference of about 102%.

One final note: these numbers are understating true cost of a Local Councillor to Tower Hamlets taxpayers. While we can't publish some of the more sensitive data we've been tipped off on yet (lots of people are telling us stuff, and there will be many more FOIA requests filed to confirm what we've learned), we're currently not including NI and pension contributions.
posted by Mutant at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


MuffinMan - sure, as I was writing I did sometimes think well, this applies to Brown as much as to Cameron. Is true enough about donations from big business, it has been sickening to see people like Mandelson chasing the obscenely wealthy like a little puppy dog yapping for scraps off the table, but I think there is a difference in kind, and that the tories are in bed with business in a way that Labour isn't...quite. Yet.

I disagree about the public spending issue - it's more than just the civil service I mean by this, and although any politician's hand is forced by the economic circumstance (which happened on Labour's watch, it's fair to say, but the Tories were hardly pressing for greater regulation of the City).

You're right in that Cameron is very much ToryBlair, but I fear that his middle-ground approach will only last until a secure majority is in place and the pandering to the various interest groups which dominate his party will begin, with the Mail and the Murdoch press cheerleading all the way.
posted by reynir at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2010


This country has £1 trillion national debt, a £250 billion hole in its pension system, a ballooning retired population, a collapsing working population, a macroeconomic dependence on oil production which is halving every 10 years, a culture of chronic welfare dependence and crippling public sector debt. We have the highest excess winter mortality in the whole of Europe and a power generation system on the verge of failure after two decades of "market efficiency", and facing billions in investment money to keep warm in winter that we don't have. We eat more food than we grow and are three meals away from anarchy in a world in which high oil prices will shortly disable globalism, with a host of ne'er-do-wells queueing up to fill the vacuum. Our financial system is holed beneath the water line while we remain apparently powerless to curb bankers greed. Our fate lies in the hands of people who have an incurable appetite for expense fraud and classify themselves as "taxis for hire".

I don't see much on the manifestos of Labour or Conservative that might address those things. Liberal Democrats seem to have some idea of the rough beast, its hour come round at last, which slouches towards us.
posted by falcon at 7:25 AM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wait.... that www.direct.gov.uk link says:

Who can vote in UK general elections

You can vote in UK general elections once you are on the electoral register and provided that you are also:

* aged 18 or over on polling day
* a British citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Irish Republic (living in the UK)
* not legally excluded from voting (for example, if you are in prison)



I have dual citizenship Canada/US. Canada is a Commonwealth country, can I really vote in UK elections?
posted by edgeways at 7:26 AM on April 6, 2010



Wait, wait...there are actual shires in England? I thought that was something Tolkien made up.


Little known fact: the current conservative emblem (this) was rushed in as a hasty replacement for the one chosen by the party (this).
posted by reynir at 7:27 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have dual citizenship Canada/US. Canada is a Commonwealth country, can I really vote in UK elections?

Yes. I voted as an Australian resident in the UK in 2005.
posted by rory at 7:34 AM on April 6, 2010


If you're actually resident in the UK, that is, and on the rolls.
posted by rory at 7:35 AM on April 6, 2010


I have dual citizenship Canada/US. Canada is a Commonwealth country, can I really vote in UK elections?

You could, if you lived in the UK.
posted by randomination at 7:37 AM on April 6, 2010


According to the Electoral Reform Society, at least 382 of the 650 seats are essentially "safe for life", and will not change "even with a landslide on any conceivable scale".

This is further highlighted by the fact that around 30% of seats (allowing for boundary changes), have not changed hands since 1945.
posted by Jakey at 7:39 AM on April 6, 2010


Canada is a Commonwealth country, can I really vote in UK elections?

It doesn't look like it. I'm a Canadian who was born in the UK, but can't vote, according to this.
posted by woodblock100 at 7:45 AM on April 6, 2010


Does anyone recall any urls...?

You might be thinking of Political Compass? It's not party-specific, but it's more sophisticated than plain old left/right.

They might loathe Brown and all of his works, feel that New Labour is not the party they once saw as theirs, but even so, they could no more bring themselves to vote Conservative than they could wrap up a giant steaming turd and leave it under the tree for the kids at Christmas. For many people, voting Tory is simply, viscerally, wrong.

That sums things up very nicely. I left the Labour party in 1995 over the 'modernisation' of Clause IV, so you can imagine how I feel about certain aspects of their record in government. But in my constituency, which is a close two horse Labour/Tory race, I will still vote Labour to keep the Tories out.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 7:51 AM on April 6, 2010


hey everyone, remember in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall there are awesome civic nationalist parties to vote for! If we have a hung parliament or some ridiculous, undemocratic coalition, having good MPs from the nationalist parties is the best way to make sure Not England gets a fair shake in the rapacious cuts-regime that the Tories/Labour/LibDems are going to impose on us.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:52 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


being, I'll admit, a little impressed by this speech by David Cameron, I'm wondering if someone could explain to me what people don't like about him? Thanks!

He's a Tory.
posted by mippy at 7:58 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/camerons-cronies-the-bullingdon-clubs-class-of-87-436192.html

Well, if you want the next Cabinet to be mostly made up of people who went to Oxford and Eton...
posted by mippy at 7:59 AM on April 6, 2010


I just saw this news on the BBC website this morning. I haven't voted since 1997, the first election I could vote in, through a combination of frustration and living outside the UK. I still don't live in the UK, but the moment I saw the election called I went over to the myvote website and am in the process of registering for a postal vote. I've also sent the information along to an Ex-pat friends I can think of. Much as I hate Brown I really, really want to stop Cameron and his bunch of Tory goons from getting in.
posted by ob at 8:00 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, wait...there are actual shires in England? I thought that was something Tolkien made up.

Shoot me if my irony-detector is switched off, but you Americans really know nothing about your former owners.

*adjusts redcoat*
posted by mippy at 8:02 AM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, all the Tory whining about benefit cheats/the long-term sick makes me want to become Marxist. You'd think the country would learn that it's tax dodgers (oh hai thar Bono) and expense-fiddlers that are fucking up the country, but no, it's easier to blame the council-estate dwellers and the brown people.
posted by mippy at 8:05 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Simple rule for politics: you're allowed to complain IF you're doing something to make it better. With that in mind, I'd like to remind people of two fantastic resources for UK voters:

TheyWorkForYou.com - a complete, well-organised, searchable and annotated record of everything that has gone on in Parliament. Tell it your MP's name (or where you live, and it'll tell you who your MP is) and it'll tell you their attendance history, voting record (which you can filter by topic e.g. gay rights), committee membrships, expenses records, etc. It also links to transcripts of everything they've said in the House, often with links to video clips from parliament TV. Seriously, take a look - it's an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to know what their member has been up to.* It's also one of many sites where you can find their contact details for all the things you want to nag them about.

DemocracyClub.org.uk is an effort to make a searchable database of candidates' and parties' publicity shots and campaigning efforts. The goal is to monitor what promises they're making to whom (partly to look for contradictions and to hold them to their word) and to make sure that they're sticking within the relevent laws. They've already found a slew of breaches of the law before today's announcement. Given the arrests around attempted vote fraud in recent elections (and, presumably, they were only the ones stupid enough to get caught), we all need to do our bit to keep the candidates honest. Their simplest request is for us all to scan / photograph any election leaflets that get pushed through our door, for upload to their database.

Additionally, the Channel 4 fact check blog did a good job last time of keepng up with politicians' claims and rhetoric, and doing the research to see how much of their claims were baseless nonsense or outright lies (SPOILER: most of them). It'll probably be well worth following this time around.

*Tee hee, "member".
posted by metaBugs at 8:15 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


By The Grace of God: hey everyone, remember in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall there are awesome civic nationalist parties to vote for!

That's a great idea! I wish we had an English equiv... oh, wait.
posted by him at 8:16 AM on April 6, 2010


Wait, wait...there are actual shires in England? I thought that was something Tolkien made up.

Well, yeah. I'm from Bedfordshire. Not pronounced Bedford-Shire.

They tend to be Tory-leaning.
posted by Artw at 8:18 AM on April 6, 2010


him - that is why we call them CIVIC nationalists, to distinguish from the mouth-breathing Nazi scum :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:19 AM on April 6, 2010


also, why do frustrated people not vote? Other folk are voting. It doesn't help to abstain, whatsoever.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:20 AM on April 6, 2010


If you live in a marginal seat for fucks sake, vote Lib Dem.

Neither NuLab nor Tory nightmares appeal to me. If the lib dems actually grow a spine, and we get a hung parliament, MAYBE some nice reforms will be enacted as the price of forming a majority govt.

Downside to hung parliament: weak govt, divide-and-conquer by interest groups, individual MPs or small groups of MPs can pitch hissyfits and derail good legislation.


In short: we're on the shit-train to assfuckshire.
posted by lalochezia at 8:22 AM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Cornwall there are awesome civic nationalist parties to vote for!

Cornwall is solidly lib dem at the moment, with all 5 MPs. This accounts for ~10% of lib dem MPs, and there is the potential for a sixth with a new constituency in the general election. Undermining the LD vote does not seem a good strategy to me. Also, Mebyon Kernow are a bunch of lunatics.
posted by biffa at 8:30 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait...there are actual shires in England? I thought that was something Tolkien made up.

They're generally like Deliverance but with worse music.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:33 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


From my point of view, a realistic best-case scenario at this point would be a coalition government where the Lib Dems act as the conscience of a chastened Labour party. I wouldn't be too upset to see Brown stay on in No. 10 if he had Vince Cable living next door.
posted by him at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or do LDs tend to have completely different politics based on where they are? They do my head in, they support referenda everywhere and on every topic except Scotland on independence...!
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:40 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm torn about who to support, since the British music scene is always so much better under a Tory government.
posted by rocket88 at 8:43 AM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


the British music scene is always so much better under a Tory government

And Cameron's right behind you, with his homage to the Smiths and his heartfelt memories of listening to the Jam! Eton Rifles meant even more to him because he was one, you know.

(My favourite comment on that was Billy Bragg's, bless his heart: "It’s all lies. I can spot a Tears For Fears fan a mile off.")
posted by Catseye at 8:55 AM on April 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


By The Grace of God: Is it just me, or do LDs tend to have completely different politics based on where they are? They do my head in, they support referenda everywhere and on every topic except Scotland on independence...!

Good point – even the most ardent referendum-ite gets cold feet when it comes to running the risk of losing Scotland. On the other hand, wouldn't PR-flavoured electoral reform benefit the SNP?
posted by him at 8:59 AM on April 6, 2010


David Cameron is also a man with no actual connection to the sharp end of the world, having never actually had to work in a "real" job. His comments about nursing alone mark him as an utterly vapid pandering tool, too intent on stoking the fears and prejudices of Daily Fail readers to actually have the slightest idea of what reality actually is.

RNs have to have somewhere in the region of 2300 hours of hands-on experience which they must gain whilst at the same time meeting all the targets of their (extremely difficult) degree course and he decries them as being "too academic". The utter knobhole that he is.
posted by longbaugh at 9:34 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, why do frustrated people not vote? Other folk are voting. It doesn't help to abstain, whatsoever.

Well, based on some of the things I've heard here and on other sites, there's a fair-sized population of very bitter Brits who won't be happy unless there's a full-on coup or revolution (preferably Maoist) and everybody in the government is lined up and shot. "Well, a third of the population has starved to death, but at least The Colonel isn't one of Those Cunts."
posted by happyroach at 9:34 AM on April 6, 2010


From my point of view, a realistic best-case scenario at this point would be a coalition government where the Lib Dems act as the conscience of a chastened Labour party. I wouldn't be too upset to see Brown stay on in No. 10 if he had Vince Cable living next door.

From a policy point of view (and as a former member of the Lib Dems) I too, see this as the least worse realistic outcome. The capital markets will however hate it, the pound will go into free fall, the triple A rating will be a goner as institutional investors flee gilts in droves and it will cost an additional £5bn a year just to service national debt (from memory - can't find a link right now).

I fear the realistic outcome is small but workable Tory majority - the 'Shy Tory' link upthread should be required reading but as someone who has commissioned seriously expensive polling work, I'm not convinced that the pollsters have got a handle on this. This weekend, we saw a YouGov poll giving the Tories a 10 point lead and an ICM poll making Labour the largest single party albeit without an outright majority. We are deep in 'margin of error' territory and every prediction you read from here on in should be filed under 'opinion' not 'news'. What I think is most interesting is the way in which the Murdoch press has abandoned any pretence toward impartiality and is now openly cheerleading Cameron. See p.1, story 1 from The Sunday Times (4/4) for a case in point.
posted by dmt at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think is most interesting is the way in which the Murdoch press has abandoned any pretence toward impartiality

They never do. They overtly came out against Kinnock. They overtly came out for Blair. What is interesting is that they do pick a side relatively early. A brave move, perhaps, when in 1992 and now in 2010 the result isn't carved in stone.

Even if Rupert Murdoch is the devil spawn.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:07 AM on April 6, 2010


I've never been much for following politics in the UK, but from the thread the Tories in the UK and the Tories in Canada seem like kindred spirits (hence the nickname, I guess)... a bunch of free-market thinktank types mixed with a bunch of grumpy reactionaries from rural ridings.

Working strictly on that basis, my advice is run from the Conservatives as fast as one can... the current crop of Canadian Tories has been the worst government in our history -- and this is really saying something.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:31 AM on April 6, 2010


there's a fair-sized population of very bitter Brits who won't be happy unless there's a full-on coup

Reflexively hating Labour or the Tories is a national sport. I take a small amount of enjoyment from reading the Guardian at my family's home, where my folks are fairly steadfast small "c" conservatives and reading the Telegraph at the leftish, right on cafe round the corner from where I work.

The Lib Dems desperately want to join the fun on the basis that the only thing worse than being hated is being ignored.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:32 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is Britain progressive enough to elect a Brown Prime Minister?
posted by Damienmce at 10:36 AM on April 6, 2010


the Tories in the UK and the Tories in Canada seem like kindred spirits (hence the nickname, I guess)... a bunch of free-market thinktank types mixed with a bunch of grumpy reactionaries from rural ridings.

Deep Dish - yes, exactly that. Which causes some interesting tensions in the party. At election time, those tensions tend to get sat on somewhat. Come a victory, I think they would play much more of a role.

Mutant, just wanted to say that is some excellent stuff you are doing there in Tower Hamlets, holding councillors to account.
posted by reynir at 10:55 AM on April 6, 2010


Well, based on some of the things I've heard here and on other sites, there's a fair-sized population of very bitter Brits who won't be happy unless there's a full-on coup or revolution (preferably Maoist)

Yes, absolutely, because dissatisfaction with two centrist parties with records of failure in government, and persistent and flagrant abuse of the positions and privileges of power (bribes for votes, fraudulent expenses claims, whoring themselves out to lobbyists, perjuring themselves in court), and a wish for a better standard of politics and politician is just one short hop from re-education camps and firing squads.
posted by reynir at 11:01 AM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've never been much for following politics in the UK, but from the thread the Tories in the UK and the Tories in Canada seem like kindred spirits (hence the nickname, I guess)... a bunch of free-market thinktank types mixed with a bunch of grumpy reactionaries from rural ridings.

Bear in mind the blue may not give the most balanced perspective in the coming election.

Also bear in mind that the free market thinktank types have pretty much captured the debate over economic policy in the UK, and that this element of your description could easily fit both sides.
posted by biffa at 11:28 AM on April 6, 2010


"IF I LIVE OVERSEAS, CAN I STILL VOTE?

Yes. You can register as an overseas voter if you are a British citizen and have been on a UK electoral register at any time within the past 15 years. To do so, you must be registered in the local authority area where you wish to vote - although it is now too late to do this for this election."
Emphasis mine.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/election_2010/8497014.stm#overseas
http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections/register.cfm
posted by Feisty at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2010


Just for the sake of saying it: If you are not on the electoral register in your current constituency (because you have moved house, or because you have never registered), you now have fourteen days to get a registration form to your council's Returning Officer, otherwise you will not be allowed to vote. Get a form at the Electoral Commission website.

Deadline: 20 April. Don't lose your right to vote.
posted by athenian at 3:42 PM on April 6, 2010


So, no luck for those of us who have never lived in the UK then, correct? I am a British citizen but have always lived in the Netherlands.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2010


I've been following Billy Bragg on Facebook (I know!); apparently he'll be spending the runup to the election in London doing a show a few Tube stops away from where he grew up in Barking--where the head of the BNP is standing for election.

The Guardian on election issues in Barking. The Independent interviews Bragg (touches on his new show and the election).
posted by immlass at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2010


Goodnewsfortheinsane? If you haven't ever lived in the UK you don't qualify (you would qualify if you had left the UK as a kid, less than 15 years ago, and your parents had been registered).

On the flip side, if you do go and live in the UK for a while (not sure whether there's a minimum limit), you will then be able to vote for fifteen years.
posted by athenian at 12:01 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoops, rogue question mark there.
posted by athenian at 12:02 AM on April 7, 2010


They're generally like Deliverance but with worse music.

Or exactly like Straw Dogs...
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:53 AM on April 7, 2010


I work for a political party running in Northern Ireland, so this is going to be a busy few weeks.

At least I don't have to contemplate choosing between Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats though.

(Although the Conservatives have engaged in an ill-advised electoral pact with the Ulster Unionist Party here, resulting in a new grouping which they initially called UCUNF. The main result of this decision has been for the UUP's single MP to quit their party and run as an independent - because she's "not a Tory".)
posted by knapah at 4:07 AM on April 7, 2010


Telegraph - UK General Election 2010 political map (hexagonal magic!)

The Times' map and swooshy business
posted by Cantdosleepy at 5:54 AM on April 7, 2010


metaBugs: "TheyWorkForYou.com - a complete, well-organised, searchable and annotated record of everything that has gone on in Parliament."

Thanks for that link. I found out that my (Labour) MP has been reasonably okayish, which has unfortunately made me feel more conflicted about the horrible choice between voting Lib Dem and hoping, or holding by dose amd botib for Labour.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:11 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought so, thanks athenian.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2010


I know there was some excitement about Vince Cable having spoken with civil servants, but is there really any chance of him becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer (Secretary of the Treasury, effectively, for our American chums) in a hung parliament? The dominant party would have to have it feet put to the fire to surrender one of the Great Offices of State (the four most senior appointments - Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Foreign and Home Secretariats - very roughly, President, Treasury, State and a sort of amalgam of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and bits of the Interior and Labor), and I can't see what could put their feet that close - consider what the Ulster Unionists got when they became the only way for the broken-winged Major government to prevail in Commons votes.

Vince Cable is indubitably a popular choice, both for his experience in actual finance and his turn in Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars, but you probably got that one), but if Labour survive this election in any form Ed Balls is going to be locking in on Number 11 Downing Street, and there's no way that Cameron could not make Osborne Chancellor now without looking supine, given the decision by Labour to target him as a potential weak spot.
posted by DNye at 1:29 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


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