Saturday, May 08, 2010

Election Night 2010: The Best and the Worst

OK. Here we go.

The best:

1. The fact that we don’t have a majority (Neo)Conservative government, and the truly frightening prospect of fanatical neocon warmonger Dr Liam Fox as Defence Secretary may still be avoided.

2. The likelihood that we’ll get a move to a more democratic voting system, which will lead to the break-up of our traditional parties and reinvigorate our political system, as I argued here.

3.The re-election of the solidly anti-war John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and some other genuinely leftist Labour MPs.

4. The conduct of Gordon Brown. As regular readers will know, I'm no fan of Brown's neoliberal policies, but I must admit to admiring the way he has conducted himself over the last 48 hours. His speech outside Number 10 yesterday was very measured, and politically, very astute. (on the subject of Brown, here is a very interesting piece on the Blairite plot to replace him with David Miliband in the event of a Lab/Lib coalition).

5. Er, that's it.

The worst.

1. The defeat of George Galloway in Poplar. The neocon warmongers, who are itching to either attack Iran or destroy the country through the imposition of swingeing new sanctions, will be gloating that their strongest critic in the UK won’t be in the next Parliament.

2. The way that the cult of celebrity has infected election night television coverage. Did you want to hear the views of Bruce Forsyth, David Baddiel and 'property guru' Kirsty Allsop on a hung parliament? No, me neither.

The BBC spent £30,000 of OUR money on a freebie junket for millionaire celebs and hangers-on, all of whom were perfectly capable of paying for their own wine and champagne. All at a time when we’re told that the state must drastically curb its spending. It's beyond parody.

3. The contestant from ‘The Apprentice‘- I didn’t catch her name- who seemed to imply that public sector workers should be disenfranchised because they don’t vote the way she wants them to.

4. The way that working-class voices are nowadays almost totally excluded from election night, and indeed during the election campaign. Solidly upper middle-class presenters, introduce solidly upper middle-class analysts and then interview solidly upper middle-class politicos. If you’re working class you can sod off- unless your name is Mrs Gillian Duffy, make comments about Eastern Europeans ‘flocking‘ here, and have a spat with Gordon Brown.

It hasn’t always been like this. I recently re-watched the BBC’s coverage of the 1979election night, the last election before the neo-liberal era. There were regular interviews with Trade Union leaders, and interviews with workers and ordinary people (including a cleaning lady), about how the result would affect them. Today all the talk is about how ’the markets’ will respond, and what ’The City’ thinks of the result. And what's the end result in this most upper middle-class of elections?: two upper-middle class public school Oxbridge-educated politicians from elite backgrounds discuss how they're going to form the next government. Welcome to the 'classless' Britain of 2010.

5. The election of the solidly middle-class Blairite carpet-bagger Luciana Berger, (a candidate who didn't even know who Bill Shankly was) , in the solidly working-class seat of Liverpool Wavertree. If only Ricky Tomlinson had stood against her. Let's hope he does in October.

Anyway, that's my 'best and worst'. How about yours?

(This piece also appears over at The New Statesman).


Exile said...

I doubt if Ricky would have made any difference as all the small parties got stuffed apart from one Green in Brighton. People's Voice, Respect, the independent who stood against hospital closures, they all lost.

PR is now the issue of the moment. How can you have a PR system that allows independents to run, rather than everyone on a party list?

Nick said...

Good summary Neil not forgetting the election of a Green candidate in Brighton.

I particularly agree with your comments on the BBC coverage. I barely saw a reaction or interview with an average working person. Only millionaires like David Dimbleby passing us back and forth between himself and "the hardest man in journalism" millionaire Jeremy Paxman and their "liberal" buddies. They did let Tony Benn speak though - for about 2 minutes.

The BBC and the mainstream media in general aim to marginalize working people from democracy because they're considered the underclass and should just shut up and get on with it. It's completely dominated by middle class interests and as you say, a look at election coverage from 1979 makes this patently obvious.

I switched off when Bruce Forsythe gave his reaction to the exit polls in the style of Play Your Cards Right.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Ken,

Yes, it was interesting, and disappointing to see how the guns of the big parties managed to blast away the independents and the smaller parties. Of course, a part of the problem was the pressure put on people to vote either Tory or Labour to keep the other one out, and not to 'waste' your vote.

Nick- The BBC's coverage was outrageously elitist. I think the most nauseating moment of the whole evening was when we had the very upper-middle class Oxbridge don Vernon Bognador,, a supporter of the Henry Jackson Society, waxing eloquent about his star old Etonian Oxford pupil David Cameron and what he had taught him. A 'classless' society? They're having a laugh.

olching said...

Hi Neil,

This is turning out to be quite an election. And it is great that the toffs didn't have their 'God given right' fulfilled.

I really like Peter Robinson's ousting in Belfast at the hands of cross-community party The Alliance's Naomi Long.

I also liked Nick Griffin's face when losing votes in Barking.

I also like the fact I didn't vote LibDem. God, that must feel so dirty now.

The celeb boat was utterly ridiculous and decadent, though Martin Amis being barely coherent was a titbit.

DBC Reed said...

As regards the class aspect of this,you have to remember that with any luck they would have had Tony Blair (Fettes)running against
Cameron (Eton) and Clegg (Westminster)in the kind of sham party system that Hilaire Belloc was making fun of post-war (post First World War).
Dunno about you but the present plotting between the Tories and the Lib Dems has the look of a coup against the British state,
the post-war British state being founded on a mixed economy which they appear to want to use the present crisis to dismantle.

Anonymous said...

Exile - in the Single Transferable Vote system independents can be elected. This is the system used in the Republic of Ireland and the Dáil has a handful of independent members.

What annoyed me most about the BBC coverage was that it was missing the whole point of what it was supposed to be doing - that is giving us the detailed results and instant analysis with experts spotting patterns.

Like you I recently watched the 1979 coverage which I recorded a year ago and that was much better and two the point.

Douglas said...

You already know I'm no fan of George Galloway, but I'm noting Exile's comment that small parties did badly in the election. I'm open to the possibility that it was something other than Galloway's views on the Iraq War that led to his electoral defeat.

I think it was the cat impression that did him in.

Zoo Lark said...

It was much easier in Hungary after '56. Following the necessary execution of a few hundred criminals, we had an excellent government for thirty years.

You British have it all wrong, why bother with elections? Still, at least Arthur Scargill thinks Poland's Solidarity movement was an attack on socialism. And my husband and I would have voted SLP if the party had put up a candidate in West Oxford and Abingdon.

In pursuit of reviving the workers' democracies, no attack on Nell or myself should be permitted on this blog.

Neil Clark said...

phildav76- yes, another thing that struck me about watching the 79 election programme- and I wonder if it struck you too, was the much higher level of debate from the politicians. They had much more intellectual depth than the politicians of today.

'Zoo Lark' aka wikipedia editor and obsessive Neil and Zsuzsanna Clark cyber-stalker 'Philip Cross':

You've tried to post repeatedly here- but I think it is best to publish your comment as your obsession with me and Zsuzsanna says far more about you than it does about us.
If you want to criticise us, why don’t you do so in your real name? And why don’t you, as a great ’liberal’ allow comments on your own blog? I think readers can come to their own conclusion about someone who hides behind an internet alias to attack and smear people he has an obsessional hatred of.

I have a very, very strong suspicion who ‘Philip Cross’ is, but if other readers can help ‘out’ this cyber-stalking, mentally-unbalanced obsessive, then it would be a very good thing.

Here's the background to his obsession with me:

Here's his wikipedia user page:

He's also been active editing the page of Seumas Milne, someone else he has a pathological obsession with

And here's his IP address:

Domain Name (Unknown) IP Address 79.73.25.# (Tiscali UK Limited) ISP Tiscali UK Limited Location
Continent: Europe
Country : United Kingdom
City: Reigate

Let's out him and make sure every newspaper in Britain knows the story of wikipedia editor 'Philip Cross'.

jock mctrousers said...

Well, I suppose my worst was my local Labour Battersea MP Martin Linton losing, though not unexpected since his lead was only 165, and he's been a prominent supporter of the Palestinians since he resigned from the government (private secretary).
Friend-of-Israel Berger getting elected would be high on my list of worsts too - not to mention the possibility of a coup by friend-of-Israel 'Hasbara author' Milliband. Shame to see Galloway go. He's lost his Talk Sport radio show too. I think there's a chance that if he drops out of the limelight for a while they'll (chose your own 'they') do a David Kelly on him - let's not forget him!

Neil Clark said...

Hi Jock- great to hear from you after quite a long absence.
Prospect of a Miliband coup, engineered by the Blairites, is sadly very real. If Brown does go, and I see no reason why he should, there are quite a few more suitable candidates than Miliband- particularly Alistair Darling and Alan Johnson, but it seems that Mandy and Tony are determined that Banana Man is promoted as the only viable candidate.

Greengoodness said...

"I think readers can come to their own conclusion about someone who hides behind an internet alias to attack and smear people he has an obsessional hatred of."

Go for it, Citylightsgirl! Well said Green Goddess!!