aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

News from across the pond

I was just watching a snippet of the BBC's coverage of election night in the UK. Fascinating. The TV graphics looked like ours, and the commentators were all punch-drunk and saying the usual inane, repetitive things ours say while they wait for real news to happen. But there were some interesting differences.

At one point, they switched live to Folkestone to see the results announced in the constituency of Michael Howard, the Conservative Party leader. In America, each party lurks in its own HQ, hoping to celebrating, but ready to commiserate -- with its own kind only. But in Britain, all the candidates lined up on stage for the High Sheriff to read the election results. Which means you have to be prepared to lose in front of your opponents, and win with grace in front of the same. And the whole community's political junkies gather in the auditorium, cheering for their candidates.

And the big parties can't banish the little ones, who get their moment in the spotlight. Everybody matters, at least when the vote totals are announced, and your supporters (however few) cheer for you. Of the various minor parties that won only a few hundred votes each, there was a guy from the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, who won a hundred-and-some votes. He was having more fun than anybody. Howard ignored him, but was not rude to him. He was like a crazy cousin at the family picnic. He was weird, but he belonged.

The constituencies for MPs are smaller than those for US Representatives. It all makes for a more intimate, improvised kind of politics. Those who admire the British system and would like to see it here should remember that we are much, much bigger and that what works there wouldn't necessarily work there. But it works there very well, it seems.

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