THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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May 2010

An Election decided in the courts?

Mrs Paine woke me by telephone with news of frustrated people clamouring to vote as the polls were due to close. She was watching people being allowed in to vote even as the first results were being declared. Those votes are invalid but will be impossible to distinguish (unless the officials were at least smart enough to use a new ballot box) from valid ones.

It will therefore be open to losing candidates to challenge those results. It's a telling (forgive the pun) story in a few respects. We have conducted elections in this simple way with pieces of paper thrust into boxes for centuries without problems. The turnout may be high, but postal votes were made generally available, reducing the pressure of the "live" vote. None of my family actually went to polling stations this time. There is therefore no good reason for queues if polling stations were properly organised and adequately staffed.

Yet as is typical in Britain, what was once easy is now difficult. An education system in which not only is bad behaviour tolerated (or actively rewarded) but poor performance is never critiqued has resulted in a population that can't distinguish sloppiness from competence. The "self-esteem" of modern Britons is such that piss-poor performance simply doesn't shake it.

It's also interesting that voters would insist (aggressively according to Mrs P.) on being allowed to vote contrary to law. There is so much law in Britain now (and people are so used to being constantly in breach of it) that the emotional significance of Law itself has been diminished. Peelite "policing by consent" is only possible if most people self-enforce, which only happens if the Law itself is generally respected. The alternative, as we have seen, is policing by ever-increasing force. From Mrs P's description of the scenes, it would certainly have taken more force than was to hand to hold the would-be voters back. There was a time when they would have tutted at their misfortune and walked away.

Challenges to results, leading to re-runs of the relevant elections, would be morally justified if results were close but they might be legally justified regardless. Perfectly good results could be overturned on a technicality and the elections re-run because of this incompetence.

Results from affected constituencies are likely to be skewed by more than the direct impact of the votes that should not have been cast. I have always thought it ridiculous that elections are conducted on a working day in Britain (unlike everywhere else I have lived). The unemployed, pensioners and under worked government employees have all the time in the world to vote, but the private sector voters who will fund the government have to fit it in with earning a living. Postal ballots (not least because of the corruption that their introduction seems almost to have been designed to facilitate) will tend to favour Labour. The voters turned away at 10pm however, probably included more Conservatives. Those who work hard to pay the piper tend to be more critical of his playing, after all.

Happy though I always am for my fellow lawyers to make an honest living, I hope the result is clear enough that the courts don't have to decide who won. I can't predict what mischief minor parties might attempt, but the main parties will be embarrassed to resort to law, unless individual results are close. It would certainly be a disaster if we had the equivalent of embittered Democrats in America arguing that the election was stolen in the courts. The next government has dreadful duties to perform and will need all the popular support it can get.

Depression, or forgiveness?

Depression – Counting Cats in Zanzibar.

I started to write a brief comment over at Counting Cats, where blogger NickM is depressed about today's election. One of his commenters, IainB, said that Labour would not be destroyed as it deserves because of its "client vote". I am sure that hardly alleviated Nick's depression and I tried to weigh in gently. My comment grew and grew however, consuming my blogging time budget for the day, so I am recycling it here.

Many bitter words have been said in the past few weeks. I defer to no-one in my contempt for the Labour Party, but today - as we try to influence our collective future - we should be one nation. We must try to hate the sin and not the sinners, at least as far as Labour voters are concerned

...even those on the client payroll must know in their hearts that this can’t go on. I feel sorry for some who will vote Labour today out of fear for their non-jobs or the future of the lame “services” on which they depend. Apart from the underclass (probably less than a million individuals) they are not willing parasites. They simply have no experience of providing for themselves. More to the point, given the economic destruction wrought by Labour and the lack of any clear, honest solution from the Tories, they understandably have no confidence that any likely government will ever leave them enough of their own earnings to do so.

Of course I am disappointed in anyone who votes for fairyland politics today, but I accept they are not deliberately destroying our country. They are clinging to its wreckage, with no idea what else to do. Most (if they are honest) know in their hearts that they are stealing from their children and grandchildren. They are familiar with the concept because it’s just what their parents and their grandparents did to them with their unfunded Welfare State. It was only during Blair’s time in number 10, after all, that we finished paying America back the money our grandparents borrowed to fund their great “vision” in 1946. Their “stamps” didn’t pay it all. We did.

None of this is Gordon Brown’s fault. Blair concealed his motives well, but Brown has been openly, honestly intent on reducing us to the living standards and civic culture of the former East Germany. He sincerely believes in “equality” and seriously thinks that we will be poorer but happier in social solidarity under firm government. Under his leadership, Labour has once again been an honest party of losers, for losers. It has openly promoted loserdom as a lifestyle. No, the fault for today’s impending fiasco lies entirely with HM Opposition for failing to sell reality to the deluded and/or terrified voters.

My wife says Cameron had no choice. The voters are hypocrites; complaining that no-one tells them the truth, but punishing anyone who tries to do so. She thinks Cameron will imitate Blair in substance as well as style; pretending to be ideologically close to the outgoing government but then introducing by stealth every aspect of his true agenda. I am not convinced, which in a way is a compliment to Cameron. I don’t think he is that warped.

It has come to something, has it not, when our only hope is that David Cameron is a despicable liar? Just like Blair.

The ordinary people of Britain have never had a greater enemy than the Labour Party and, like Nick, I long to see it fatally crushed today. But too many of my friends and family are Labour voters for me to hate them for their political errors. They are my fellow citizens too and today I simply hope against hope that their folly does us all less harm than that of their predecessors in our parents' and grandparents' generations.

Whatever you do today, vote. I am disenfranchised as a long-time expatriate, so if you weren't planning to do it for yourself, please go vote for me. Good luck.

It ends here

For every promise broken, for every lie told, for every soldier sent to war ill-equipped, for every child's future blighted by Marxist educational dogma, for every pound seized and squandered and - most of all - for every freedom lost, Labour must pay tomorrow with its political life.

If we have self-respect as a nation, we must not dodge this choice. Voting for someone who will decide for us later whether David Cameron or Gordon Brown should be Head of Government is cowardice.

If you have a Libertarian candidate to vote for, go ahead with pride. Start us on the long path to a real change that can restore the nation. For the rest of you alas only the Conservatives - flawed as they are - can end this.

Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion

General election 2010: How the eyes of the world see a very British contest | From the Observer | The Observer.

I approach The Guardian daily in the spirit of Don Vito Corleone; keeping my friends close, but my enemies closer. The linked article, however, struck a chord. A regular commenter named Chuckles recently asked me (speaking of my perspective on Britain);

Do you think long spells spent in foreign climes under different jurisdictions and compulsions contribute to this?

Yes, I do. Since I left to work abroad in 1992 I have learned that our national self-image differs greatly from the perceptions of others. We see ourselves as the nation of fair play, but we are widely perceived as dishonest, for example. That's a perception worsened by our political correctness. That nasty curdled version of our once-famous politeness causes Brits to approach issues crabwise for fear of causing offence. It comes over as fake and - frankly - it is. When I discuss issues with foreign friends in a direct way, I wince at the inevitable "compliment" of being told that I am "...not at all like an Englishman..."

The foreign correspondents reporting our election are, delightfully, not as mealy-mouthed as their PC British counterparts. Here's the correspondent of El Mundo speaking of some of the campaign's main characters;

We all miss him [Tony Blair]. All the foreign correspondents ... He's such a greedy guy! And a liar. You know he was just a real politician, an actor, a multimillionaire. He was just such fun ... Whereas Gordon Brown is dour and boring, nobody cares about him...He gets on well with the Spanish prime minister but this is because they are both in a terrible position ... they are like two drunks who are holding on to each other in the street to stop themselves falling over ... my favourite is Mr Mandelson. He's the most grotesque character. I absolutely adore him. He's so funny. And he's such a drama queen. He exaggerates everything. But he's very intelligent – he's the first one to come up with a new catchphrase. And he's always in tune with the mood. He smells the mood around him. Yesterday he said: 'Flirt with Nick Clegg and you'll end up married to Cameron.' Which is brilliant, isn't it? He's just so funny. Funnier even than Lembit Öpik.

He has those guys nailed. The France 24 correspondent, however, seems determined to live up to her national stereotype;

The Conservatives have been giving the best press conference breakfasts; good croissants, excellent pains au chocolat…

As a long-time resident in Russia, I smiled at the perspective of the Moskovsky Komsomolets correspondent:

What is hard to explain is how a couple of phrases from Nick Clegg, about the two other 'old parties', seems to have changed the mind of so many of the electorate. The Russians would find it intriguing that the British public could be so persuadable.

But what of the Germans? Though our ethnic brothers, they are after all the most foreign of foreigners to the English, perpetually in opposition to our barbaric culture and Anglo-Saxon values and with no decent food to compensate for their disdain. Yet the London correspondent of ZDF makes some perceptive observations. She is genuinely puzzled by;

...the fact that Nick Clegg has the same type of background as Cameron and yet he manages to be the Robin Hood of the poor. How did he do that? I think he must have very good PR...

She gets into her stride however when giving our democracy a well-deserved Teutonic kicking: one can understand in Germany why Clegg's party is gaining around 30% of the polls but will only gain 15% of the seats in parliament. I have to say that I think our system is more democratic. Which, considering it was Britain that gave the system of democracy to the world, is quite unbelievable...

The main truth of this election however, is also the main truth about us. Like the British people themselves the campaign is self-absorbed, inward-looking and has an air of unjustified superiority. The campaigners preen and strut as if they were taking part in the world's only democracy. Even the pro-EU LibDems don't dare to mention that there is more to the world than our islands. Our Spanish friend Eduardo Suárez of El Mundo (whom I would love to buy a pint someday) nails both that and the world's response to it: are only interested in yourself. You don't care about anyone else, any other country, you just spend all your time looking at yourself, this is very funny...

Funny, yes. And also sad. No-one is impressed guys. They are laughing because this childish self-absorption is just another sign of a great civilisation dwindling.

The quote (and the smear) of the campaign

Secret Christian donors bankroll Tories | World news | The Observer.

The Labour Party was once a movement of muscular Christians. Now it's a smear to report that Christians have donated to their opponents. Since all the major donations are public (no real journalism was therefore required to research the linked article) the word "secret" is certainly nothing but a smearing innuendo.

Since religions prosper under persecution and poverty - Labour and its fellow travellers seem intent on creating the conditions for a great Christian revival in Britain. Though I am an atheist myself, it would not particularly bother me. I share most of the Christian values in which our civilisation was marinated for centuries. At least, unlike the Liberals, Christians would return with the same values as when they were last influential.

I had to smile, rather sadly, at the observational comedy of one Conservative donor, Christian businessman Michael Farmer:

Labour's idea of a family is three people who share a fridge.

Amen, brother.