Budapest to the Black Sea

Budapest to the Black Sea

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Election 2010 - The Thrill of It All

“We should have an Election Night party” I announced at the supper table the other night.


“But we’ve got school the next day.”

“Who would we invite?”

“What’s an election?”

These were the rather dispiriting responses and I realised that a jolly evening with like-minded left of centre metropolitan folk, drinking beer and eating ‘Original Cool’ flavour tortilla chips while watching the results roll in from Billericay and beyond was not an option. “Who would we invite?” was the killer. In 1997 we still lived in London and had the Election night of a lifetime watching the Tory party crash and burn (and oh don’t we get moist when we remember Portillo going down), all courtesy of master strategist Peter Mandelson. Over the intervening years Mandy has had a truly appalling press and I dare say he is in many respects an appalling man but I for one would buy him a drink simply for putting the Conservatives out in the wilderness for 13 years. Basingstoke is different, apart from anything else it is a safe Conservative seat and there is the distinct possibility that anyone we invite might be a Conservative. Another problem is that I have a wife who is not English and she doesn’t ‘get’ the charm of the British electoral system. “why is it on a Thursday?” she asked the other night (every other western European state votes at the weekend) and I couldn’t come up with an answer. She also doesn’t think that it’s fun to sit up until dawn watching a lot of aldermen in full regalia reeling off the results in dingy civic halls in places that she’s never heard of. So what shall I do? Perhaps I will lock myself in my shed at the bottom of the garden and combine Radio 4’s Election Night Special with an all-night railway modelling session. I am currently embarking on a tinplate ‘O’ gauge layout which will be an outdoor affair with a terminus based on the veranda of the shed with branches running out into the garden. For those of you who are interested ‘O’ gauge is at a scale of 1:43.5. Why 1:43.5 I hear you ask. What a stupid question! It is exactly twice the size of OO which is 1:87.

You may think that I am being unduly frivolous about the fate of our great nation but if you think that for the last couple of years the default result for this election has been a Conservative win then anything less than total triumph for smarmy Etonian android Cameron will be worth celebrating. Should the Queen have to invite the Conservatives to form a government, perhaps this time in a whimsical moment, working on the basis that anyone who likes Charlie Parker can’t be all bad, she might invite Kenneth Clark to form a government rather than Cameron, in much the same way that she invited Alec Douglas-Home rather than R A Butler fifty years ago. Fat chance, but we can dream. A more realistic scenario is one in which the Conservatives don’t get an overall majority and that even after buying Sinn Fein lots of drinks they can’t form a government without the Lib-Dems, something that they will not do since the price would have to be the adoption of some system of proportional representation. Any system of proportional representation virtually guarantees that we would never have a Conservative majority in Parliament ever again and all the fringe groups who never get a look in now, Greens, BNP, Islamic, Sikh, Polish plumbers etc would get representation. “Oh my God! We could end up like Belgium or Italy” I hear you say. Well I’ve been to Belgium and to be honest it didn’t seem all that bad, their railways are a bit shabby but none of the Belgians that I met seemed particularly worn down by their endless elections. As for Italy! Well if this country could become like Italy who would complain. Not me. Great railways, a cabinet entirely made up of escort girls and great food.

The only downside of spending the night in the shed might be missing out on Kirsty Wark who will presumably be hosting some sort of TV Election night chatter. This woman bizarrely manages to combine being the worst dressed woman on television with being the sexiest and it’s a hard one to call, Kirsty or track laying? I suspect the iron road will win and if we end up with a ‘hung’ Parliament and I get a few metres of track laid and ballasted I will be a happy man.

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