The following was written for an American audience, namely, whoever reads this.
If the British could vote for their next king, it’s likely William would win in a landslide over his tired papa Charles, but the modern game of thrones has certain rules, one of them being you have to wait your turn.
We do of course get to vote for Prime Minister, except we don’t quite. We mark our quaint but reliable paper ballots for a member of parliament representing our constituency.
The head of the party that collects the most votes becomes PM and gets to live at 10 Downing Street along with Larry the cat, the current unelected Chief Mouser charged with “greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defences, and testing antique furniture for napping quality.”
It’s a position which has been filled since the time of Henry VIII, when I’m guessing the cats fared better than some of his wives.
There are two main parties and various smaller ones whose only real shot at influence is finding themselves in a position to throw in with either the Tories or Labour when neither gets enough votes to hold a working majority. Thus Theresa May’s government only holds power because in the last election the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland offered—some would suggest were bribed—to prop her up.
For light relief there’s the Monster Raving Loony Party, who I believe have a US branch called the Republicans. I mean Democrats. (Flip a coin.) That party got started in the early 80s by Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow, though he wasn’t actually a peer of the realm and needless to say wasn’t born with that name.
An early goal of the Loonys was to abolish the income tax introduced as a temporary measure during the Napoleonic Wars, which sounds respectable enough, if a tad unrealistic.
Recent “Manicfesto” policy proposals include augmenting leap years with hop, skip and jump years, allowing anyone over 5 years old who can hold a crayon to vote, and legalising broccoli in Wales. Whatever your view of cruciferous vegetables and the preschool franchise, their promise that “should we be elected will will not initiate any of our policies” is refreshing in its candour.
You won’t be surprised to learn they never got close to an electoral upset, their chief success being ruffling a few feathers amongst the sense of humour impaired. Lord Sutch himself lost over 40 elections, so he deserved a medal for perseverance if nothing else.
Just like in the States, a lot of people here feel that voting is pointless, standing with Emma Goldman in the belief that if it ever really changed anything, governments would make it illegal.
The more passionately partisan will further burden you with backing the right candidate, preferably the one that’s likely to win, otherwise why bother.
It’s not unusual for a “red” Labour supporter who lives in a “blue” constituency, where a majority are Tory and victory is all but assured, to either just stay home, or if they’re already at home contemplating a bleak field of candidates, spoil their postal ballot, perhaps by giving it to their 5 year old with a box of crayons and threatening broccoli for desert if they don’t choose wisely. Naysayers think this is how we ended up with Brexit.
If you want an example of voting having a gigantic impact, look no further than the 2016 referendum. Never have so many caused so much upset with so few talking heads predicting it. A lot of worried people have been wanting a do-over ever since: a vote on the vote, if you will.
While technically non-binding, both major parties are committed to honouring the result, or so they claim. To do otherwise might invite their own extinction.
’Tis once again the season for editorialists to plead with you to do your civic duty. By all means vote: I would suggest Janet Garrett, because my mom likes her, and Rachel Crooks, as her name provides added motivation to stay on the straight and narrow, given what a boon it could be to headline writers. I don’t know enough about any of the other candidates to give an informed opinion.
Now to something really important: Who would win a popularity contest, Meghan or Kate?