So, we have just had our first British general election in fifteen odd years. And what fun it was...
But it was interesting to compare it to the Australian elections.
For one thing, one topic of debate here in England was whether one should actually vote or not, which is, of course, something you don't have to think about in Australia, as voting is compulsory. Personally, I think compulsory voting is a great idea, in theory, because it should make people spend at least half a second thinking about who to vote for. However, in practise, I'm not sure it makes a difference - since Tony Abbott got in last time, I can only assume that a great deal of people didn't think about it at all.
The actual act of voting is much less stressful in England. I waltzed down to my village hall, dog in tow, to find it empty except for a couple of men - one of whom cuddled Bonnie/Snoop/haven't-decided-on-a-name-yet - and the other who gave me my voting cards and explained how to write a cross in a box. (thank heaven for gentlemen, eh, don't know where I'd have been without him) I had two sheets of paper on which I could put a total of three crosses and that was it. There was none of the fighting our way to the hall through a crowd of people with placards, all trying to shove leaflets at us or sell us cup cakes. There was no giant sheet of paper with 300 parties to be crossed off in relevant order.
However, I was just slightly cheesed off (to put it mildly) to find that we have chosen to live in the constituency over which the Speaker of the House presides. For some bizarre reason it is "tradition" - whatever that means - that none of the other major parties stand against him, which meant that there was no Labour or Liberal Democrat candidate. Or Conservative, come to that. I am sure that if there had been, the results of the whole election would have been wildly different. So our choice was down to The Speaker himself, the United Kingdom Ignorant Pig party, or Green. No prizes for guessing who I voted for.
Most fascinating to me, is the astonishing arrogance that both the British and the Australians have in common. I am not talking about rich Tory leaders here, who have no idea, or interest, in what it is like for the rest of us who have to rely on government schools and hospitals - though I could. I am not talking about a Prime Minister who thinks that an income of $185,000 a year is "not particularly high" for Sydney families - though I could.
I am talking about the fact that so many Australians, apparently, are convinced that Julia Gillard was personally responsible for the global financial crisis, whilst, funnily enough, the British would like to claim that it was the fault of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The rest of the world had nothing to do with it, or so it seems.
I'm not going to write any more about the election, suffice to say that for the first twenty-four hours, I was so angry I was spitting chips, but now I just feel deeply, deeply sad.
Thank the Universe for Bluebell woods, eh?