June 7, 2001
3:34 AM   Subscribe

posted by Mocata (45 comments total)
I got brutally triangulated while carrying out my sacred democratic duty at the local primary school today. Vaguely thinking of voting Lib Dem, Green, Socialist Alliance or whatever, I was suddenly assailed by paranoid visions of every other metro-elitist tosspot in Kensington North / Regents Park doing the same thing and handing the seat to the party of Anne Widdecombe, Save the Pound and 'reception centres' for asylum seekers. So I went with Mr Tony.

So are the Tories going to be wiped off the face of the map, or are their undead supporters going to come out in force and give Mr T. a much smaller majority then he's expecting? And how's everyone here voting?

Thoughts, my fellow MeFi-ists?
posted by Mocata at 3:45 AM on June 7, 2001

I voted Socialist Alliance in the end. The only other choice for me was LibDem for the comedy value of getting the Tories coming third but their candidate just looked too wierd. Remember that guys, if the SA Bolsheveki do get seats in it's because the LibDem candidates have big ears and comb overs.
posted by vbfg at 4:12 AM on June 7, 2001

I can't vote. They refused to send me a voting slip because I, ahem, forgot to pay my council tax.

Would've voted Plaid Cymru.

I wonder if people are more inclined to admit to voting conservative over the web? Perhaps this will mean the exit polls don't need to be adjusted as much.
posted by fullerine at 4:17 AM on June 7, 2001

Its a toughy for me in Northern Ireland - I am in no way Unionist but I am pro agreement, which means I'm voting Ulster Unionist just to keep the lunatic right out.

The problem I have always had with elections is that there are no parties out there that I can identify with and yet I believe strongly in voting - therefore the only choice is to vote tactically
posted by twistedonion at 4:21 AM on June 7, 2001

Here's what my sports-car-driving computer-programming social-climbing Tory friend in Devon blasted me with this morning:

Tony Blair has:
- promised a lot;
- taxed the f&*k out of everyone (including the poor) to fund it;
- spent no more on the Health Service in the first 3 yrs of office then the Cs, then claimed to have spent more in the 4th (it was actually 0.2% more).
- delivered _very_ little;
- coped badly with foot & mouth;
- added _more_ tax to petrol;
- suggested we become part of the European state; :-(
- lied incessantly;
- introduced IR35, double taxation (according to lawyers, accountants, and my wallet) on Contractors (with a capital C);
- been inconsistent on punishing sleaze;
- got the smarmiest, sleaziest, most-spun image of any politician;
- never stopped fancying himself;
- sunk as low as imitating his own caricature by a famous comedian;
- proven by the above that he has no more charisma than... well... Mr Hague, and a far inferior sense of humour.

As you can see, my friend's not happy with this election. But, he took one of those silly surveys someone posted here yesterday and claims he came out Left-Liberal, like normal folk.
posted by pracowity at 4:48 AM on June 7, 2001

Mocata - same quandary - haven't voted yet but will probably end up voting Labour to keep the Tories out - bring on proportional representation when each individual's vote actually means something. And I know the Lib Dems support PR, but a vote for them would be a wasted one in my situation. I hate this "second guessing" and tactical voting that first past the post imposes on us.
posted by johnny novak at 4:54 AM on June 7, 2001

I honestly can't imagine that there's the slightest chance of the Tories beating Paul Boateng in my constituency (Brent South), so I feel free to vote Lib Dem and make no difference to the result whatsoever...
posted by Caffa at 4:59 AM on June 7, 2001

Caffa - are you Lib Dem and if so would you tactically vote Labour to keep the Tories out if you were in a Labour Tory straight race?
posted by johnny novak at 5:02 AM on June 7, 2001

The problem I have always had with elections is that there are no parties out there that I can identify with and yet I believe strongly in voting - therefore the only choice is to vote tactically

Never heard of the SDLP then, no? :-)

My grandparents were founding members of the SDLP. My Gran keeps talking about how "John and Seamus" are going to do, and my mother used to date Alasdair McDonnell...so it's got a personal tinge for me.

I just hope the nasty Shinners don't score big.
Bunch of neo-facists, the lot of them!
posted by tomcosgrave at 5:06 AM on June 7, 2001

Johnny: I am Lib Dem, yes, and I think I would vote tactically if I was in a really close constituency - though I do not believe that a Labour landslide would be a great thing (we could do with a reasonably strong opposition given the efficiency of the Labour whip). But on a local level I'd rather have a Labour MP than a Tory MP representing me.
posted by Caffa at 5:11 AM on June 7, 2001

Tom: my guess is that the elections in NI will be the biggest test of the already-proved-to-be-liable-to-fraud postal voting system, which is going to need a thorough rehashing after the big changes this time round. It's a pity that Florida has, in a sense, taken away our innocence wrt the voting process.

Anyway, I'll just have to wait and see if my registration form got processed. I'll most likely be voting for the Labour incumbent, because he's been a good, committed local MP, and has responded to my persistent questions (via FaxYourMP.com) about US air bases in Yorkshire. (Proving that the net is good for democracy when it acquaints voters with the facts about their representatives.) And since the Lib Dems are a far-off third in a constituency with a fair few Tory farmers, I'm not going to take the risk. As Polly Toynbee said, there can be a self-indulgence in the protest votes of middle-class liberals that ought to be put aside when you consider the attempts of the Tories to muster support around such a xenophobic, selfish agenda.

So: anyone want to make predictions? I'm tempted to offer a gift subscription to Private Eye to the MeFite who comes up with the closest guess of the winning party (yeah, I know) and the size of the majority. And the number of LibDem MPs, which is the thing I'm looking out for tonight.

(Americans might be amused that the BBC election coverage is being hosted by David Dimbleby, while ITV's is fronted by his brother Jonathan. Talk about British aristocracy...)
posted by holgate at 5:30 AM on June 7, 2001

Never heard of the SDLP then, no? :-)

I think the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists are the only 2 parties that talk a bit of sense. At least they are not one issue parties. Living in North Down I have no choice but to vote UU, simply because I don't want Robert McCartney (who bears a striking resemblence to Leslie Nielsen) getting in
posted by twistedonion at 5:32 AM on June 7, 2001

I will probably vote Labour today - but this is essentially a negative vote (to keep the Tories out) - I would rather vote Green or Lib Dem. I was pretty happy with Blair (employment, human rights, etc) until he scuppered the Jenkins report, though I guess if he accepted it he would be the proverbial "turkey voting for Christmas".

I think this next term will see some big changes, probably enforced by the increasingly radical (teachers pay, care for the elderly, etc.) policies adopted by the Scottish Parliament. I think this will precipitate some serious debate about the nature of Westminster and the current party system.
posted by johnny novak at 5:37 AM on June 7, 2001

Twisted onion - Robert McCartney talks a lot of shite - Ian Paisley does too mind, but at least you can understand Big Ian. And yeah he does look a lot like Leslie Nielsen. Still better Leslie than Jakob ;-)

Holgate - yes I agree - the system up there is messed up.
Has been for years and years really. Unionists were big into gerrymandering votes for ages....now it would appear that SF are at it - I guess they want to hold on to their power.

On another topic, I'm voting today as well - I have to decided on the Nice Treaty - a yes I think. The removal of the Death Penalty from the Irish constitution gets a no from me, on the grounds of ambiguity, and the vote on the International Criminal Court will get a yes.
posted by tomcosgrave at 5:44 AM on June 7, 2001

What's the turnout expected to be on the Irish referendums? From my brief visit last month, it felt as if there was a mature debate taking place on the various issues, with Dublin at least well plastered with posters from the different sides. (And, although it sounds patronising, Ireland felt like a European nation: a lot has changed, mainly for the better, in the five years since I was last across.)
posted by holgate at 6:05 AM on June 7, 2001

I just wish the U.S. media would follow the BBC's example:

Polling stations close at 2200 BST, on June 7, followed immediately by the release of the exit poll conducted by NOP for the BBC.
posted by CRS at 6:11 AM on June 7, 2001

Holgate - not sure....there are fears it will drop below 50%, in which case questions will be asked about the relevance for some of these referendums for example, Ireland is the only EU country to have one on Nice....
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:13 AM on June 7, 2001

This election is key for Trimble. I had some dealings with the Trimble camp a couple of years ago - effectively they are trying to tread a fine line between the hawks and doves in the the party - whilst gradually moving the peace process forward. Trimble could be in real trouble in this election and if he falters I suspect the peace process is in for a rocky ride.

Despite the seeming apathy about this election I reckon the next four years will see some pretty radical changes to the political system in the UK, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which will in turn impact on the rest of the Union.
posted by johnny novak at 6:15 AM on June 7, 2001

I just wish the U.S. media would follow the BBC's example:

Applies to all broadcasters, CRS, courtesy of the Representation of the People Act. (It also means that you can't actually broadcast anything to do with the election during the day, other than "the polling stations are open until 10pm".) It's an advantage of being in just the one time zone; though Canada holds off from publishing exit poll data until the west coast closes up.

johnny novak: the NI elections are, in a sense, a testament to the fragility of the Assembly; in comparison, Scotland and Wales are essentially going through the motions this time round, and waiting for their own national polls in 2003. It's ironic, since Trimble may suffer from an election that has no direct effect on the day-to-day running of the province. But like much in NI, the symbolism is everything.
posted by holgate at 6:26 AM on June 7, 2001

Holgate - I agree - basically the regions are going through the motions this time (though Trimble and therefore the peace process may suffer).

What is interesting is that the charge that Blair has done nothing, I think this is a total fallacy.

Devolution is by far the most significant thing he has done in the last four years - and it is only in the next four years that the implications will become more widely apparent.

I may be overestimating Blair - but I reckon he did loads of radical things in the first "honeymoon" year and then went into a holding pattern to make sure he was re-elected - maybe this wasn't intentional but it seems to have worked.
posted by johnny novak at 6:36 AM on June 7, 2001

Well, the standard line is that Thatcher wasn't radically Thatcherite until 1983 (the closest parallel to this year's election); and Blair's been so obsessed over the past with simply getting that second term, it's embarrassing. But I worry that he's going to have more in common with Robert Walpole, who's remembered for his division of England into Court and Country parties, and for surviving on patronage over achievements. Only time will tell. I'm hoping for English regional devolution: the north-east needs a distinctive voice, given the economic disparities between here and the Home Counties. My worry is that it'll just be a new roost for the incompetent local politicians who currently run the Labour rotten boroughs around here.

Oh, I just discovered Posy Simmonds' cartoons on the Guardian site -- another example of how well they've handled the campaign. Not as ascerbic as Steve Bell, but really well-observed: the working sketch of Ffion Hague (who has been a grinning zombie throughout the campaign) is especially good.
posted by holgate at 6:46 AM on June 7, 2001

Walpole was pretty good at shifting with the wind (in his case royal patronage) George II (as I remember) was going to sack him when George I died, but was soon convinced that Walpole would toe his line and kept him on as First Minister of the Exchequer or whatever his title was. Whilst Blair's masters are in the City I can see the comparison.

More concerned about the growing gap between rich and porr rather than the rather artificial one created between town and country.
posted by johnny novak at 6:59 AM on June 7, 2001

Caffa - are you Lib Dem and if so would you tactically vote Labour to keep the Tories out if you were in a Labour Tory straight race?

I've heard something like that before...


Sorry, couldn't resist.
posted by norm at 7:31 AM on June 7, 2001

Not really. Since there are some constituencies which are essentially Conservative vs. LibDem (and some that are Labour vs. LibDem) it can make sense to vote LibDem them even if you are not an actual LibDem supporter (to oppose the other side, whether that's Tory or Labour).

Since I'm in LibDem Southwark, I just voted Green. Sadly no sign of Mars on the ballot paper. As long as the Tories don't get in here, I'll be happy. And if they do ... doh!

Interestingly, the National Front candidate was from Leicester - it's comforting to think they couldn't find a local to do it.
posted by Grangousier at 7:59 AM on June 7, 2001

I cycled right into an BNP march in Bermondsey a couple of months ago - kinda scary at the time but good to see they clearly had no virtually no support locally and the best they could do was hide their faces behind hoods and masks and raise a very half hearted "Rights for Whites" chant.
posted by johnny novak at 8:06 AM on June 7, 2001

Whoa! What a barrel load of lefties we have in this country. I'm not voting.. because no parties support the abolotion of welfare, and leaving the economy to its own devices (nothing beats an open economy folks).. simple as that. Come on Liberatarian Party of America, get something going on over here.

The three main voting choices in the UK this year?

Socialism as current, Even More Socialism, or Slightly Less Socialism but still Socialism anyway.

What a choice. (Note: I'm not right wing)
posted by wackybrit at 8:08 AM on June 7, 2001

Johnny Novak said: More concerned about the growing gap between rich and porr rather than the rather artificial one created between town and country.

Did you see that pathetic 'Politics Isn't Working' programme on Channel 4 a few nights ago which discussed that very topic? It seems that the guy just didn't understand economics (or graphs and percentages, for that matter). The 'growing gap' is, mostly, a bad way of explaining something that isn't as bad as this term makes it sound.
posted by wackybrit at 8:19 AM on June 7, 2001

It seems that the guy just didn't understand economic...

which is strange, given that he's the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In fact, the disparity that the programme addressed is a very real one: that those at the bottom end of the income scale are being given increasingly less access to basic public services. The damage isn't just economic: where children go to school or where the sick receive medical treatment affects basic social cohesion: and I thought we spent the last century trying to challenge the barriers of class in this country.
posted by holgate at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2001

wackybrit: you may not hold illiberal views on soft drugs, sexuality, immigration and so on - but if the abolition of the welfare state is your greatest desire then you're extremely right wing by UK standards.

Or was that, as I suspect, a wind-up?
posted by Mocata at 8:40 AM on June 7, 2001

Mocata: I came bottom right in that Political Compass survey linked to earlier in this thread. I believe in a fully open economy where anyone can make it. Less tax, less government control, and more power to the people who are earning their money. Governments do not need to directly control economies (and when they do, it's often a disaster).

However, I am not racist, sexist, and favour a very liberal society (I'm a practicing Buddhist).. but society is not economics. My views are extremely realistic, if I were an American. The UK, however, is not used to such concepts.

I'm also pro-immigration. That is hardly 'right wing'. I guess you could say I have a left wing social opinion, and a far-right economic opinion. The only party that supports that is the Libertarian Party.

Holgate: Did you notice how, on that program, the age of the people in it was proportionate to how rich they were? That's generally how economies work.

Did you know that most of the 20% poorest Americans in 1975, were in the top 20% of Americans since then?

Of course, 21 year old single mother Bernadette is going to be poor. Of course, the hard working 60 year old couple are going to be rich. Is that an 'unfair' gap? Hardly.

And there's another reason why the 'rich' households earn more per year (percentage wise) than 'poor' households. Rich households are getting larger.. Poor households are getting smaller. Rich households often have more people who earn money in them.

It is this economic fact that has meant the average earnings of a US household have only increased by 5% since 1969.. but real per capita income has risen by over 50%. Why? A major change in family sizes.
posted by wackybrit at 9:24 AM on June 7, 2001

Voted Plaid, probably the first general election where I've voted for the likely winner, Simon 'earring' Thomas.

That Ffion Jenkins picture is spot on, holgate. I bet her parents are proud. Did anyone see her 'break the silence' in North Wales last week? Tory wife speaks Welsh shock.
posted by ceiriog at 10:03 AM on June 7, 2001

(it's a pleasure to see a non-US voting thread. I don't understand a word of it, but it doesn't matter. it's cool to think I'm part of an international forum. - rcb)
posted by rebeccablood at 10:09 AM on June 7, 2001

Wackybrit, even here in Merka libertarian views are rarely considered "practical". Despite being the largest third party, having the most people in office, fielding candidates for a majority of congress seats in 2000 -- the first time a third party has done it since the Socialists in the 20s --, and so forth, we're highly marginalized. The last couple presidential elections have seen first Ross Perot, and now Ralph Nader run relatively effective cult of personality campaigns which managed to gather even a little bit of news time; very few mainstream sources here give any air to the libertarian viewpoint.

Things are improving, but slowly.
posted by jammer at 10:13 AM on June 7, 2001

jammer: I guess what I really meant, is that the USA is generally more Libertarian anyway. Americans in general seem to believe that the government should serve them, rather than the other way around. Americans also seem to like small government, and low taxes. The British, however, tend to prefer the government controlling many areas of life, and will often pay more taxes so that the government can provide better services.
posted by wackybrit at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2001

I had no freakin' idea that there were so many Brits ;) on MiFi. Wow! No that there's anything wrong with that ...
posted by Rastafari at 11:13 AM on June 7, 2001

Oh, BTW, I'm rooting for Tony Blair and the Labour Party to win (even though I'm from the US...)
posted by Rastafari at 11:14 AM on June 7, 2001

Of course, 21 year old single mother Bernadette is going to be poor. Of course, the hard working 60 year old couple are going to be rich. Is that an 'unfair' gap? Hardly.

You're over-emphasising the extremes. Number one: the millionaires weren't 60; they were happily retired in their 50s, having sold their software business. And the gap in lifestyles between them and family number two (the small-business owners) was huge, pointing to the exponential growth at the top end of the income scale, as opposed to the index-linked increases towards the bottom. That's not proportionate by any definition of the word.

I like Dilnot's example: the single mother can't afford to take her child to the public swimming pool; the bus driver's wife can; the small business wife goes to a private health club; the millionaires have their own pool. And short of a lottery win, there's precious little chance of the three non-millionaires earning their way to that private pool. Translate that to something as key as education -- and Tories such as George Walden have pointed this out -- and you create the kind of social "barriers to entry" that are symptomatic of the rise of gated communities and private estates across the suburban USA.

ceriog: it's a shame to see Ffion paraded as the Tory trophy wife. She's an ex-Jesus girl, regarded with real fondness by those in college who remember her, especially for that incident with the ceremonial sword at the Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym initiation ritual which left her requiring the services of the John Radcliffe...
posted by holgate at 11:17 AM on June 7, 2001

Anyway, the crux of the debate is this:

In America, public spending as a share of national income [ie the amount of national income taken in tax] is about 30%, in the UK about 40%, and in continental Europe in many cases around 50%. We cannot have European levels of service with British levels of tax, or American levels of tax and British levels of service.

And I respect those who argue for the American model, even if I disagree with them, because at least it's poilitically and economically honest.
posted by holgate at 11:22 AM on June 7, 2001

It sounds like tactical voting is much more prevalent in the UK. Is that a reality of paralimentary government, or just a more cyncial view of government in general?

Or are the few folks in this thread too small a sample?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:08 PM on June 7, 2001

Tactical voting? Well, yes: 18 years of a split opposition vote to the Tories in many seats, and a system that allows MPs to be elected with less than 40% of the constituency vote and a government to hold a commanding majority with around 40% of the national vote... it sort of concentrates the mind to the alternatives.
posted by holgate at 12:19 PM on June 7, 2001

Capt: there are even tactical voting guides printed in the national papers along with maps of the marginal seats where it will make a difference.
posted by holgate at 12:22 PM on June 7, 2001

holgate said "And short of a lottery win, there's precious little chance of the three non-millionaires earning their way to that private pool."

Did you realise that 70% of the top 1000 richest people in the UK are self-made? That is, they were certainly not rich beforehand.

You are merely displaying a lack of optimism. My father was brought up in an extremely poverished family of 7 kids in the 50s. However, 3 of those 'kids' were eventually, by that programmes standards, in the top 30% of British earners.

Nearly anyone can become financially rich if they want to. I'm not sure why you think that the 'poorer' families in that documentary are any different?
posted by wackybrit at 4:00 PM on June 7, 2001

capt. crackpipe said: It sounds like tactical voting is much more prevalent in the UK. Is that a reality of paralimentary government, or just a more cyncial view of government in general?

It's because we're a three-party state. In the US, the third party is so small and insignificant (compared to ours) that tactical voting is somewhat a non-issue.

Our third-party, however, actually leads the other two in many areas.. so tactical voting makes sense for those who wish to keep the Conservatives (think Republicans) out.
posted by wackybrit at 4:08 PM on June 7, 2001

First signs: this is going to be a tactical election. Torbay's Lib Dem majority increased greatly, on the back of switches from Labour. On the other hand, I'm deeply depressed by the number of people in the Labour "heartlands" who've stayed at home, which smacks of frustration at a government that underachieved. (And makes me more committed than ever towards some kind of regional devolution to inspire the same kind of political engagement that's emerged in Scotland. And PR, please.)

Nearly anyone can become financially rich if they want to.

Luck gave me the brains to be able to win an Oxford education; at the age of 27, I can now earn more in a day than my father, with his seven years' apprenticeship and 40 years' experience, earns in a 45-hour week. If my parents are to buy their council house, I may have to be the one who pays their mortgage. Perhaps I'm a victim of subjectivity, but I don't see people around me getting what they deserve just because they want to (whereas I've seen first hand, those already with privileges benefitting from the opportunities that arise from them.). It's a capitalist history written by the winners, and it's full of shit.
posted by holgate at 4:39 PM on June 7, 2001

holgate: There will always be a tiny elite who survive using their name, inheritance or status. That's natural. However, you are forgetting the majority of the population who, throughout their lives, become richer through hard work.

I can safely say that I don't know anyone who has started their own business and constantly failed. Even if their first or second businesses go down the drain, they always hit it lucky in the end.

These are people who've worked hard (no social life, nearly every day working solid) at their own businesses are have reaped their own rewards.

You generally do not become 'rich' by going into a trade as such. Your father was a hard worker, but trades do not make you rich. Obviously he valued other things above being rich. That is noble in itself.

The real way to making riches in our society is to either work your way up to a high position in a large coporation, or to build your own company. Simple as that. And anyone with a smidgen of business acumen can do it, and succeed.

There are few people who have enthusiasm and who work extremely hard who do not meet their goals.
posted by wackybrit at 4:46 PM on June 7, 2001

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