21 April 2010

The UK general election of 2010: a play in three acts

A few days ago, Iain Dale, one of our most high profile and prolific bloggers, complained that he was finding the election so boring that he'd got writer's block. I'm having a similar problem - even though I've been following elections more closely than average since I first started to collect recordings from them back in 1979.

As regular readers will know, I've been concerned for some time by the way that British media coverage of politics, aided and abetted by the politicians themselves, has more or less given up on filming proper speeches at proper rallies in favour of interviews, pointless photo opportunities and exegesis of the gospels according to the opinion pollsters.

It's a trend that's now culminated with three 90 minute television programmes.

Tragedy, comedy or farce?
As a result, election coverage - and you could say the whole election - is rapidly boiling down to a narrow and obsessive focus on a three 'act' play, with each 'act' preceded and followed by endless literary criticism in the form of commentary and analysis by reporters, pundits and pollsters about who did how well, which one should do what in order to do better in the next one and what effect they might be having on the opinion polls.

Meanwhile, the politicians seem to be just as preoccupied with the play, both on screen and behind the scenes as they rehearse for the next performance.

Last night, I tried, yet again, to find some semblance of excitement and/or enthusiasm on the television news programmes, but had to endure yet more footage of politicians walking around high streets, with a word or two to a reporter here and there - plus lots of authoritative sounding stuff from journalists about what (according to them) is actually going on out there - illustrated, of course, by ever more flashy PowerPoint style slides showing each party's progress in the polls.

Thankfully, I haven't time to go on about it - because you really do have to get your priorities right. And my most pressing one at the moment is to do a bit of preparation to pose as a drama critic for a media piece on Act II tomorrow night...


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The United Kingdom general election of 2010 was held on Thursday 6 May 2010 to elect members to the House of Commons. The election took place in 650 constituencies[note 1] across the United Kingdom under the first-past-the-post system. None of the parties achieved the 326 seats needed for an overall majority. The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, won the largest number of votes and seats but still fell twenty seats short. This resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was only the second general election since World War II to return a hung parliament, the first being the February 1974 election. However unlike in 1974, this time a hung parliament had been widely expected and therefore the country was better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result.
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