We’re voting for the future of our society and public services here. Do you really want to see the Tories continuing their reckless destruction of all the things that are important to us as British people? This is about all of us, the many and not the few. It’s easily the most important election for many years; please get out there and vote and we might see the right result for everybody…
You still have time to cast your vote – the polling stations are open until 10pm tonight (and you never know, you might see some cool dogs!)
I’ve voted. Have you?
Speaks for itself, really – if you’ve ever seen the first few hours of any of the BBC’s election night broadcasts….
Vote Very Silly!
Today’s election-related film is a bit different. It comes from the British Council film archive and is a short documentary explaining the processes involved in conducting the 1945 General Election from the perspective of one constituency – that of Kettering in Northamptonshire. The film offers the viewer a guided tour around Kettering as the various candidates (including the incumbent Tory MP John Profumo – yes, that John Profumo) valiently attempt to win their contituents’ votes, showing how their campaigns are run and reported and how the votes are cast and counted. Little has changed in this respect – much of what the viewer sees will still be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the way an election is organized in recent years.
Held in July 1945, this was the first General Election in ten years as a result of the Second World War and the results took some time to come in due to the huge numbers of the electorate who were still serving overseas in the armed forces, whose votes had to be returned to Britain from vitually every corner of the globe. This is also mentioned in the film and was, to a cetain extent, probably a factor in the end result – because the 1945 election is one of the most important of the twentieth century, as it returned a large and unexpected Labour majority for the first time.
This came as a real shock to the Conservative Party, who had expected to be carried into power on the back of Winston Churchill’s record as war leader. However, the nation thought otherwise and made their views very clearly known. The impact of this election result has echoed down the years following 1945 – indeed, modern Britain still owes a huge debt to this groundbreaking Labour government, as it was they who introduced the NHS and the welfare state.
Today’s newsreel footage comes from the General Election of December 1923 and features a remarkable FIVE politicans who had been or were to become prime minister in the first half of the 20th century: Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Herbert Asquith, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill (again! He randomly popped up yesterday too…) – plus Austen Chamberlain, senior politician and half-brother of the late 1930s prime minister Neville Chamberlain.
This election was a hugely momentous one in that the result gave Labour their first ever stab at forming a government (with the support of the Liberals, for whom it was the last time they would win over a hundred seats and more than 25% of the vote – although they came close with the Liberal Democrats’ controversial result in 2010 with 22.1%). This minority government only lasted until the following year, but it was the first time that the traditional two-party system had genuinely been threatened in an electoral context.
If you’d like to find out more about the BFI’s National Archive, you can visit their website here.
Some of you might remember that in the run-up to Christmas I posted some seasonal film snippets from the wonderful BFI archive YouTube channel. Since it is now election week, I was pleased to discover they’ve uploaded some bits and pieces of newsreel footage relating to various 20th century General Elections – so I’ll be posting a particularly interesting example every day until Thursday’s crucial ballot…
Today’s choice is very brief snapshot of one of the two elections held in 1910 (January and December – this film is probably from the January one), showing footage of the Labour MP Will Crooks and his Tory opponent Major William Augustus Adams on the hustings at Woolwich in London, plus a glimpse of the then Home Secretary Winston Churchill.
The results of both of the 1910 elections had been ridiculously close and very tense, with Asquith’s Liberals being separated from Balfour’s Conservatives by a matter of only two seats in January and a mere one in December. These deadlocked elections were particularly significant for being the last elections to be held until after the First World War. They were also significant for being the last elections to be held over a period of days, unlike the single polling day we are used to now – this, in many ways, was the beginning of the modern electoral system.
If you’d like to find out more about the BFI’s National Archive, you can visit their website here.
Right. Now that I’ve (just about) caught up on the election night sleep I missed out on, I can now slowly begin the process of getting my head around the result. This could take some time, mainly because I’m not even sure the new multi-party cabinet knows what’s going on right now – let alone a poor confused ordinary voter like me…
The Tory-Lib Dem coalition has provoked a great deal of vitriol from all sides of the political spectrum, and, although I can’t say I’m particularly impressed with the idea of a government led by David Cameron and Nick Clegg in tandem, I intend to wait and see whether they create some tangible benefits for the country or whether they end up shooting themselves in the collective foot. I suspect the latter.
One thing is for certain, and that’s the simple fact that the collapse of the structural organisation involved in this election has had a unnecessarily negative impact on the electorate – so much so that Saturday saw a fairly large rally in Westminster, which demanded fair votes and a change to the current first past the post electoral system.
And quite rightly too. Aside from the unspeakably ridiculous result (which is silly enough, quite frankly), this election has been a farce from beginning to end. The cock-ups seemed never-ending. Problems at one, perhaps two, polling stations could be dismissed an unfortunate blip, but when the same problems kept cropping up at any number of different polling stations across the country, suspicions were naturally raised.
It seemed like exactly the right place to be on election day. Having seen the Democracy Village setting up after the May Day celebrations the previous weekend I was curious to see how far things had progressed, so, with a group of activist friends and my trusty camera, I went to have a look around. Here are some of my favourite pictures of the day….
So it’s nearly all over. This time tomorrow, the polling stations will be open and the nation will be casting its votes. But who to vote for? That’s been a difficult decision this time round. I can’t tell you who to vote for – nobody can. That has to be your decision alone.
However, if you’ve read any of my previous Election Propaganda posts, you’ll be aware that I have made a few suggestions as to who not to vote for. Don’t vote New Labour unless you want another five years of more of the same, don’t vote for any of the far right candidates for all the obvious reasons, and please, please, please, for the love of all that is good and right and true, DON’T VOTE TORY!
Who does that leave you with then?
Everyone’s talking about the Liberal Democrats as the main third choice. Personally, I’m a bit dubious about this. I can see that they would be a better choice than New Labour or the Conservatives, but only just. They seem a little tame for my liking, although this will obviously increase their appeal to disaffected voters from the other major parties who would be unlikely to support a more radical policy programme.
“THE ENGLISH DEMOCRATS: NOT LEFT, NOT RIGHT, JUST ENGLISH”
Hmmm. I guess I must be English. I was born in London, have a tendency to talk about the weather a lot, drink far too much tea, and whinge about the form of the England football team on a fairly regular basis. I’m sure you know lots of people like that. You may even be English yourself.
But there’s more to me than “just English”. No-one is “just” anything, not even the English – despite that famous understatement we’re supposed to have. I may be English by birth, but, like most English people, my ancestry is a bit more complicated than that (Welsh and German, if you’re that curious). That’s part of what being English is. We all have our own version of it. We’re a nation of immigrants, right back to our earliest days.
However, I don’t recognise the version of ‘English’ put forward by the English Democrats, whose slightly upper-case obsessed and shouty election literature is the latest to arrive on my doormat.
“time to put ENGLAND first!”
it announces, although it took me some time to figure that out as the leaflet is also covered in untidy (but just about properly punctuated) block capital marker pen scrawl:
They (whoever they are) say that a week is a long time in politics. And this last week or so has indeed been both long and eventful – as far as the general election campaign is concerned anyway. Thursday night saw the second of three televised leaders’ debates, this time on foreign policy issues. To this observer at least, the debate seemed to be more fiery and bad-tempered than that of the week before.
Voices were raised, impatient interruptions were made, very little of any actual substance was said, and there was much less agreeing with Nick this time – David Cameron publicly accused a sneery Gordon Brown of scaremongering and being an out-and-out liar, and they both laid into Nick Clegg in a seemingly pointless effort to flatten ‘Cleggmania’ before it can become truly politically dangerous.
It is interesting to see Brown and Cameron (as well as certain parts of the media) so obviously threatened by a man previously as politically anonymous as Nick Clegg. Both Labour and the Tories always knew that this was going to be a close-run election campaign, but the (perhaps not entirely unexpected) emergence of the Liberal Democrats has got them rattled now – the fact that the old two-party system is now being blown wide open can easily be read as further proof that the electorate is heartily sick and tired of the current, broken political system.