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PostUpcoming UK Elections (7 May 2015) (John Heelan, UK, 04/30/15 3:30 am)
All is well here. I have been very busy lately with family celebrations, preparing entries for photographic competitions and, of course, following the machinations of the UK national and local electioneering in preparation for May 7th. (The following are personal views and opinions.)
This election on the Isle of Wight would provide a script for a "Dynasty"-style soap opera. There has been bitter open warfare between the local Conservative organisation and the sitting Conservative MP (and now candidate), alleging expenses scandals, a break-up with his long-term partner--a strong lady whom they regard as the main power behind the throne--and suspicions of failing health. He has not helped himself by running a flawed campaign and is now on his third Electoral Agent. Nevertheless the conservative (small c) nature of the Island electorate means that he is still odds-on favourite to win.
His competitors have their own problems. The LibDem candidate has been parachuted in from the mainland and has run an aggressive campaign attacking his opponents in a way that has won him few friends as well as his party having earned a high level of distrust from it coalition in the Cameron government. The Labour man often appears out of his depth on policies. The Independent (an ex-leader of the Island Council) is almost invisible. The UKIP candidate appears to be error-prone, and some dislike him due to his being an ex-investment banker. That said he is likely to do well, capturing votes from Tories disaffected with their local party's recent pejorative actions against the well-liked MP. The candidate for the Green Party is an intelligent lady who has apparently won a lot of local support for her policies in this so-called "eco-island."
As a check on my own views of the candidates, I sent a copy of a video of a local hustings to a long-term friend who was CEO of a large international high-tech company, asking him whether, on the strength of the candidates' performances, he would have hired any one of them. His response was:
"The Tory bloke would fit in to a re-make of Dad's Army or Grace Brothers (note: two popular TV series of yesteryear with elderly actors). The Independent needs to go back to school to learn fluency in the English Language, The Lib Dem seems to have learnt the skills of fence sitting. I didn't realise Labour were so sure of a coalition that they have already sent their SNP representative. And UKIP....oh what a joy to have only one issue to think about (no, not think about as his thoughts have long since been decided)."
In a nutshell, he encapsulated the dearth of quality in our local candidates. I wished Nigel Jones luck in his candidature--although our politics differ--and have commented to him that I wished he had stood for the Island instead and brought some quality to our local political process.
At the national level, the electoral campaigns have descended to the "smearing the other party" level. The polls suggest a hung parliament with neither main party receiving a clear mandate and thus needing to go into coalition with one of more minor parties to gain power. Labour are likely to join with the left-wing Scottish National Party (SNP), despite Miliband's protestations that he would not. The Tories with the more right-wing UKIP. While the Liberal Democrats are pimping their potential 20-30 seats at both main party leaders and will go with the one that offers them the best deal.
However, the electorate is both confused (some polls suggest that 40% are still "Don't Know") and fed up with politics and politicians, believing that there is little difference between the parties and thus their votes will make little difference to the governance for the next 5 years. Some polls are forecasting a low turnout of voters.
The fallout on May 8th after the votes have been counted and the manoeuvring of the parties subsequently will be interesting to watch.
JE comments: My thanks to John Heelan for this excellent overview. Seen from the humdrum two-party perspective, it's exciting to have four or more parties in the contest. WAISer extraordinaire and UKIP candidate for Eastbourne Nigel Jones has been very busy on the campaign trail, but I hope he'll send us a comment when time allows. May 7th is in exactly one week's time.
Separated by a common language: "Hustings" is/are a meeting at which candidates address potential voters. Does the word take a singular verb, like data or United States, or plural?