Thursday, April 30, 2015

Election 2015

This time next week it will all be kicking off. I'll have dropped my kids off at school and gone to another junior school to cast my vote - walking past the elderly party workers bonded in their duty of checking who has voted and who hasn't over a flask of tea.
In 2010 I lived in Hackney which was a very safe Labour seat and consequently one of those constituencies where you would hardly know an election was taking place. There were few flyers through the door, not many posters in windows, and not a lot of fuss about the event. Not until election night + 1 when footage of one local Hackney polling office was constantly replayed to show how some people weren't able to vote due to poor management/people arriving too late, or whatever.
It's not like that in Colchester where the election campaign has been a lot more noticeable with huge numbers of flyers (especially from Tory challenger Will Quince), letters from the parties (again mainly from Team Quince), flying visits from party (and at least two from the PM), multiple hustings, extensive local media coverage and a flurry of social media activity.
It's actually been quite exciting, not least because the outcome is so uncertain. That's not to gamify the election - I realise that there is more at stake than my entertainment - but with a clear result unlikely come Friday morning, that's when the real power struggle will start, and when the masks will slip.
Where will our next coalition of chaos come from?
I don't believe that the SNP will have the clean sweep that pollsters predict in Scotland. I just can't see Scots wanting to live in a one party state. They will do well though and they will exert an influence on whoever is in power. Given the way that they are already being demonised by the right wing press, the next five years could be very turbulent as British parliament struggles to learn to operate with a minority government. Whoever walks through the door of 10 Downing Street in a few weeks will need to do so with a great deal of humility because they will have won little more than a grudging admission that they are the worst of a bad bunch.
It will be fascinating to see how the next election - whether in 2020, or a lot sooner - will be fought. In the medium term, perhaps the door will start to shift to let in an alternative to first past the post (FPTP). Although it still serves the big parties disproportionately, it looks unlikely to give them a mandate this time. Maybe it is time to try something fairer and more representative.
It is ironic given the kicking the the Lib Dems have had that FPTP, which they have long opposed, may yet save the party due to it localised strengths, not least in Colchester, an island of yellow in a sea of blue.