June 4, 2009

Tonight was my first time

Filed under: A long way from home,misc,Politics and history,Village life — Duchess @ 3:48 pm

I have lived well over half my life in the UK, but I only became a citizen in 2005, weeks before the last general election and too late to register.  Tonight was my first opportunity to cast a vote as a UK national.

It isn’t a proper election, really.  For most of the country it is merely a European election, something even most Europeans, don’t care about — Slovenia turned out less than 17% last time around.  Only for a very few of us was it also time to elect our local representatives.

Even so, my village was buzzing.  It took me nearly an hour to walk the quarter mile from my house to the polling station because I kept running into people and everyone was in the mood to chat.  Each one of us clutched our polling card, sent by the Royal Mail, second class post, and headed in bold capitals: Representation of the People Act.

There are no hanging chads in England.  We are given a piece of paper and sent to a makeshift booth (not so much as a curtain) where there is a nice fat pencil.  We are enjoined to use that pencil to put an X next to one and only one candidate or party.  Then we fold our ballot and put it in a good old fashioned ballot box.  The local election results will be counted out tonight, paper by paper.  The European votes will be sealed until Sunday; by then 375 million people in 27 countries will have been offered a ballot.

I missed altogether the chance to vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party, a regular election contender in the first couple of decades I spent in the UK, but since the death in 1999 of their leader, Screaming Lord Sutch, apparently it’s no longer an option.  Tonight they weren’t on either of my ballot papers though the party is still publishing a manifesto.  (I like the idea of arming school nurses with dart guns to administer vaccinations during playtime – recess to Americans – more fun for the nurses and less stressful for the children.)

Nor have we heard much recently from the Natural Law Party, but long ago, before I had a vote, I paid taxes to fund their election broadcasts about Yogic Flying.  (I’m not complaining: they were very entertaining — I am only sorry I can’t share my memories of them, it seems they were too long before youtube. )

Tonight there were, nevertheless, plenty of other parties on the long ballot paper I picked up at the polling station:

British National Party – Protecting British Jobs.  These people exclude non whites from membership, advocate zero immigration and no imported goods (crumbs! what would we eat, wear, watch, drive?).  Their official policy is to pay all non whites to emigrate to other countries.

Christian Party – “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”.   I never heard of these folks, and don’t know anything about their policies but I am wondering why the quotes.  Is it a rumour? 

Conservative Party.  No tag line, but we know who they are.

English Democrats – Putting England first. 

Jury Team – Democracy, Accountability, Transparency.  Another one I have never heard of.   Jury Team? 

Liberal Democrats.  They wear socks with their sandals, drink warm beer and grow beards all round (ladies and gents).  On the plus side their economic guy knows how to waltz and has a son who is an opera star. 

No2EU – Yes to Democracy.  Foreigners might have noticed that we are just a wee bit ambivalent about Europe.

Pro Democracy: Libertas EU.  Like I said.

Socialist Labour Party.  Back on familiar territory.

The Green Party.  Sandals without the socks.

The Peace Party – Nonviolence, Justice, Environment.  I’m guessing Mom and apple pie too, but I never heard of this party either.

The Roman Party – Ave!  I am beginning to think I made a mistake not supporting them.  They sound like fun.

United Kingdom First

United Kingdom Independence Party – We know about these folk.  They have several MEPs (Member of European Parliament).  Some of them are in jail.

In the end I voted for the party of the guy who married a woman from Kenya and sired an opera star.  I can’t help it.  I’ve heard the kid sing La ci darem la mano.  By their fruits shall ye know them.

More on our elections soon… There’s nothing like British politics.


  1. I think I would have a hard time choosing from that..um…interesting group of parties! Can’t wait to hear the results…

    Comment by Liz — June 4, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  2. You have GOT to love a country that has A) more than two political parties and 2) one of them can be the Monster Raving Loony Party, headed by a Screaming Lord Sutch (every time I read that name I break out into hysterical laughter).

    May the sun never set on the British Empire; God save the Queen.

    Comment by Jan — June 4, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

  3. I’m so glad you voted the way you did, ’cause I still remember the day I put on socks with my sandals and you told me I might just as well go right out and join the Liberal Democrats.

    Comment by Old Woman — June 4, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  4. I can’t believe how much you make me homesick for Britain. The sense of humor, the wackiness, the absolute certainty that…I dunno, just the absolute certainty. I hope you’re saving all these posts because they would make a lovely book. Helen Hanff-y sort of book.

    Comment by ByJane — June 5, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

  5. Just a little late I’m afraid, but well done for a good entry. I voted for the Greens; not the first time I’ve done so, and will not be the last. Hard decision, though.

    Comment by John Bailey — June 6, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  6. You have obviously thoroughly enjoyed your first voting experience, if you have made such a study of the options. I am in and out in a minute and get back to something more interesting. I do make a thoughtful choice though.

    Thanks for visiting my blog, Duchess.

    Comment by Judith Taylor — June 6, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

  7. AS a resident of the infamous county with the hanging chads, what a great way to keep it simple! Not having a politcal bone in my body, I really love how you made your choice.

    Comment by Smart Mouth Broad — June 7, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  8. Well, I didn’t fully confess. I voted for the Lib Dems for Members of the European Parliament. I had decided that in advance.

    Every constituency in England was choosing an MEP. Only a few were choosing local councillors too, but my county was among those up for election.

    When I got to the polling station I found my neighbour two doors down was the Lib Dem candidate in the local election. You can know too much about a candidate. Like the Old Grey Poet I voted Green instead on that ticket.

    Jane — I don’t know whether to be glad or sad I make you homesick.

    And Jan — I think you are right: only England would have Screaming Lord Sutch. His full, legal name is Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow — though he isn’t a lord in the conventional sense at all.

    Well (shhhhhh) some people have been saying I am not a Duchess either…

    Comment by Duchess — June 8, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  9. […] for me, though I voted in the European elections last year, this will also be my first general election.  I became a British citizen a few weeks too late to […]

    Pingback by DuchessOmnium - Island to island » Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? — April 6, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

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