Okay, hands up if you’re in the UK.
Now, keep your hand up if you voted on Thursday.
Now keep your hand up if you crossed a box saying ‘hung parliament’.
Anyone still with their hand up? Didn’t think so.
Sure, a lot of us figured that a third party having more influence is a good thing, even if that’s starting to look messy thanks to the maths of the situation. But ultimately we vote for our local MPs, and more often than not, with that comes the hope that the party we vote for gets a majority and forms a government. It’s fairly straight forward. What this meant in practice last week was that no party actually flat out won – the Conservatives got the greatest share of the vote per party (36.1%, which of course means, if you add up the share of all the non-Tory votes it comes to 63.9%), and the most seats, but they don’t have a majority. Meanwhile, Labour are constitutionally still in charge, although without a public mandate, and the Lib Dems are in the position of kingmaker but aren’t going to make anyone happy. And that’s before the various nationalist parties start making demands. It’s all a bit complicated – as Paddy Ashdown said, "The people have spoken, we just don’t know what they’ve said yet."
I think what it does tell us is that confidence in politicians and politics is at something of a low ebb and that, if we’re going to vote in such a way that makes a hung parliament likely, if not particularly desirable, there needs to be ongoing public involvement in the political process. Fair enough, and that’s what, say, the campaigning website 38 Degrees is trying to achieve, as its director David Babbs tried to explain to Kay Burley on Sky News.
However, the interview took an insane turn.
Now, there’s such a thing as tough questioning. That’s not tough questioning. That’s shrill histrionics. It’s also hard not to make the connection with the Murdoch press’s support for the Conservatives. We can only hope that the British media isn’t going the same way as other News Corporation outlets like Fox News (which I suspect would lead to me doing an Elvis on my TV).
Of course, you can trust the British public to be fairly uncooperative, and ‘Sack Kay Burley’ is trending on Twitter. Also when Kay Burley was conducting another interview, the whole thing got drowned out by a protester (warning – that link contains swearing). Maybe the lesson is that, if you’re going to be biased in the media, don’t be so darn blatant.
The other lesson is… Watch the BBC!