Tuesday, April 6, 2010

UK election

Gordon Brown went to the Áras Palace today, getting the general election in the UK on the road. The Queen gave him permission to dissolve parliament next Monday and the ensuing election will be held on 6th May. As someone who doesn't really follow British politics much I'm not sure what else to say. However, it is going to be pretty much the only story for the next month so I'd best get learning fast.

Labour, after 13 years in office have been looking tired since Tony Blair's retirement. The Conservatives under David Cameron are trying to position themselves as young and trendy, a difficult line to swallow. And the poor old Liberals are stuck as the bridesmaid yet again thanks to the awful first-past-the-post voting system. All roads seem to be pointing to a hung parliament at the moment but a few swings in key constituencies could get either of the large parties over the magic finishing line.

The most interesting thing that I've seen so far about the election is that there will be three debates between all three party leaders, one on ITV, one on Sky and one for the BBC. This is quite like the American system of each of the major networks hosting a debate. I hope that they are not as scripted and formulaic as the American ones though. The leaders should be able to address each other and ask specific questions in order to tease out the issues. Having a debate like the Santos-Vinick one in the West Wing would be awesome.

In the North it will be interesting to see if the more moderate SDLP and UUP are able to make up lost ground on their more radical opponents SF and the DUP. The internal nationalist and unionist fighting is actually far more entertaining than the fighting between those in green and those in orange. I guess that most southern parties will be sending canvassers and leaflet teams up to help the SDLP.

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