Jolly good show, chaps
We shall miss them. Over the last few weeks, election junkies of every stripe have thoroughly enjoyed the UK election campaign. Of course, election junkies enjoy every darn tooting election which comes their way – ah, those local elections last …
We shall miss them. Over the last few weeks, election junkies of every stripe have thoroughly enjoyed the UK election campaign. Of course, election junkies enjoy every darn tooting election which comes their way – ah, those local elections last year! – but the current bunfight over who gets the keys to the executive washroom in Number 10 has had everything you’d want from an election campaign. Bigots! Media kerfuffles! Posh toffs! Oiks! A well hung parliament!
There must have been many days when David Cameron woke up and cursed his decision to bring the Liberal Democrats into the frame for the live TV debates. It may have made sense on one level (though I’m sure that level has been well and truly bulldozed away at this stage), but it allowed Nick Clegg to enter British livingrooms, say “hello!” (or “hola!”) and sway voters with the novelty factor. Voters knew David Cameron as the posh one and Gordon Brown as the gruff one, so Nick Clegg provided the race with a bit of a spark. Policies? Are you serious? This campaign isn’t about policies, it’s about change yet again.
I finally worked out late last night that Cameron reminds me of Pete Campbell from Mad Men. He exhibits the same oily sales patter, the same unctuous demenour and the same dogged and wrongheaded belief that he and only he deserves the top job. That he’ll probably get the gig is probably not in doubt – c’mon, what’s the alternative? – but he’s going to have to squirm and shimmy for it.
One of the funniest incidents of the whole campaign for me was Cameron’s whirlwind visit to Northern Ireland this week. Yeah, there’s an election on up there too – part of Britain, my friends, no matter what you might think – and, despite Tommy Gorman’s half-hearted attempts to sell it as THE MOST EXCITING ELECTION EVER!, it’s as dull as provincal ditchwater. Anyway, Cameron bounded into town, thumped the podium a few times, cracked a volcano gag and promised he’d be back next week if he became PM. Dude was greeted as if he was Justin Bieber by the grey, grey men of Northern unionism. Well, I found it funny anyway.
Gordon Brown? Ah, jaysus, you’d have to feel sorry for him. After years of brooding and plotting, he finally got the top gig and then, kaboom, the very economy he’d arrogantly presided over collapsed like the Cork hurling team’s bizarre reliance on two lanky forwards. As a result, Brown has been going around for the past few years with a face like thunder and a dark cloud permanently over his noggin. I’d say there’s a part of him which will welcome getting kicked out of the job and shafted by his own party in favour of someone who looks not a little unlike Cameron.
Nick Clegg has had a great election thanks to his SuBo factor. People love novelty and the election campaign is just long enough for Clegg to brillianly exploit all that. The Lib Dems want to change how MPs get elected and, er, other stuff too. Fantastic. Go Lib Dems!
Anyway, they’re currently casting their ballots across the water and up there. The counting starts tonight and the swingometer will be dusted off for another outing. There will be a lot of stories to come out of this election and, if predictions prove right, one of these should be the huge turnout. This is an once-in-a-lifetime election and the British voters seem ready to seize the day and open the door to the wonderful world of coalition governments. Memo to the Brits: coalition governments are great.
Meanwhile, the wait for our own once-in-a-lifetime general election goes on. Given how support for the Lib Dems have jumped on the back of those TV debates in the UK, I’m sure the Labour Party will be clamouring for a threesome on the TV next time around. Given the recent opinion polls, they may well have a point – per the latest Red C poll, it’s actually FG and Labour who are the two biggest parties in the land. Wonder how RTE will react to that one.
If you’re in Dublin and want to watch the counts with your fellow election junkies, we recommend the Leviathan UK Election Special at the D4 Berkeley Hotel. Talking heads will include David “Maccer” McWilliams, Amanda Brown, Harry McGee (The Irish Times), Scott Millar (The Examiner), Mary Corcoran (NUI Maynooth), Killian Forde (ski superstar, former Shinner and current Labour Party councillor) and many more. Kicks off at 8pm and tickets are €15.