Friday, May 02, 2008

This is a local election for local people

I won’t try a proper political post-mortem, particularly as the corpses are still dropping (and some unexpectedly rising from the grave), but here are a few extremely idle thoughts on my local experience:

  • I’d forgotten how much I love counts. Even though people’s hopes and dreams are competing to avoid destruction, it’s all very good-natured. Election days generally seems to be the best way of making political opponents get on well. And there really is something mesmerising about watching ballot papers being counted into piles by someone who’s really good at it.

  • Although it does seem to take for-bloody-ever to get from a fully counted set of ballots to the announcement of a result.

  • A lot of Tories are lovely people. I mean, obviously they’re evil, but they’re quite nice with it. Especially the ones that know full well they’re not even coming anywhere near second place – although that generalises across parties. I like the mindset that takes futility and turns it into a sanguine cheerfulness.

  • The Lib Dems have a fair bit of talent. I mean that not in the highbrow political analysis way, but rather in the crude, slack-jawed, objectifying way. Sorry. Doubtless they’re lovely people too, and with fine ideas on transport policy.

  • Respect activists, or Left List or Listing Leftovers or whatever the faction that does and/or doesn’t have Galloway in it, are a bit odd. When one of their candidates mutters that the proceedings of a local election are a “charade” and another talks about “all three parties”, you have to wonder what they’re in it for.

  • Personal votes don’t accrue automatically: in the ward where my parents were standing, there was a City Council election and a County Council byelection. The City seat was being defended by a Lib Dem who’d held it for ten years; the County seat was being contested by a Lib Dem who hadn’t lived in the area long and had never stood for election before. The Libs both won (my folks were both pretty good seconds), but the stalwart got just ten votes more than the neophyte. One personal vote per year of service – just enough to fill a nomination form. Conversely, in another ward, the city’s first ever Green won by sheer dogged personal effort put in over years.

  • Democracy is a wonderful thing, both in theory and in practice. Reams have been written about how it develops and the conditions needed for it to survive, but I think it boils down to one thing: the willingness on all sides to be a good loser. Isn’t that right, Bob?

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