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When was the last time a general election happened without you realising?

In my case, 1970. Then again, I was three at the time.

However, the ippr has given the bane of Newmania's life, Emily Thornberry, a platform to argue for fiddling with electoral dates and processes. The Pericles of Islington South (and, let us not forget, Finsbury) thinks that "A straightforward way to achieve this would be to move elections away from a regular workday. The most obvious option is to have elections on Saturdays – but we could also consider holding them on Wednesdays, and making election day a bank holiday".

Right. Saturdays - not good for people who keep shabbat, substantial overtime for council staff manning the polling booths, plus there are plenty of things that people choose to do on Saturdays - shop, go to football matches, gardening, lounge around reading the papers etc etc, whereas on school days there is less time for that part of life that is entertaining.

A Wednesday bank holiday. Here's Em's argument: "An unusual day off in the middle of the week would draw attention to the election, and it would give more people the time to vote, yet without encouraging them to take the day as part of a long weekend". The first clause is staggering - is it within the realm of possibility that anyone could be unaware of a general election until such time as he or she realises that he or she does not have to go work? Seems a tad unlikely, does it not? Time? The polling stations are open until 10, postal and proxy votes are easily obtainable (far too easily, frankly) . Furthermore, urban seats - as a rule - have weaker turnouts than more rural seats, despite there being many more polling stations per square mile

Back on Planet Reality, which is a long way from the lower numbered London 'N' postal districts, a public holiday for a general election would be hugely expensive, and the indolent and demotivated would be unlikely to be any more filled with zeal for democracy than on any normal day, and doubtless sickies would be pulled for the days leading up to the weekend. Should this come to pass, and I doubt that it will, stand by for the argument that the same status should apply to by-elections and council elections too....

If there is one absolute moral that can be drawn from the French election, it is that turnout increases when voters think that there are things at stake that are worth voting for. Thornberry's constituents managed a pitiful 53.6% turnout in 2005: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"


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Blogger Newmania said... 10:37 am

Now I `m going to drive you up the wall here C whilst I despise Thornberry for her Green dissimulation , general mendacity and invidious finagling of the system to get her kids into a School in Potters Bar this look a good idea to me . The number of people working on Saturday is large but the great inconvenience to the working population of a weekday is far greater. This would benefit the Conservative cause and I approve. You are self employed last I heard and will not know what a pain in the rear end it all is if you are commuting and working for a master .

Sorry C...  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:43 am

No need to apologise for disagreeing...

The broader point is that as urbanites voting necessitates maybe a half hour round trip - if that - if going by foot. Anyone who thinks that is too much hassle once every four years almost deserves to be disenfranchised.

I have also voted as a wage slave, and it did not exactly spoil my year having to make a sidetrack to the polling station on the way home in '92 and '97 (I was a student in '87 and was self-employed in 2001 and 2005).  

Blogger Newmania said... 12:33 pm

Anyone who thinks that is too much hassle once every four years almost deserves to be disenfranchised

Everything is to much hassle when you have no choice. I still think that this function should fit our lives and not the other way round. I like the idea of a Bank holiday as well. You are being a bit of a kill joy ...really C you have to control this Monkish ascetism that keeps breaking out .  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:42 pm

Fie, fie and thrice fie.

I would give you a lecture on the struggle for the universal adult franchise, but I do not think I would convince you. For we merry freelancers, bank holidays are just a bloody nuisance.  

Blogger Guthrum said... 2:12 pm

Lets have them on Sundays, Church, Lunch,Pub, Vote, then riot- thats the way we used to do it in Northampton in the 1840's  

Blogger hatfield girl said... 2:19 pm

I like your Sundays proposal Guthrum, but not church first. All those priests- the Church has no view on how you should cast your vote; it is enough that you vote for a christian party and a democratic party -.
Vote, church, lunch, pub, riot?  

Blogger Newmania said... 2:51 pm

Sunday it is then I say pub lunch pub pub foget to vote then pontificate abaout political engagement for the next year,. Perfick  

Blogger Croydonian said... 3:16 pm

G - You Northants types had all the fun. I don't think my geographical antecedents in these parts had the vote at the time, or come to that, the ancestors.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 3:33 pm

Voting plus pub sounds good, doesn't it? Eatanswill revisited, perhaps?  

Blogger hatfield girl said... 4:20 pm

'..don't think my geographical antecedents in these parts had the vote at the time,'

It was 1928 before we were really deemed to have the balls.  

Anonymous dis guy said... 4:49 pm

Shabbath wd be OK in winter but not summer. I was going to say you can easily get a postal vote but...

Any thoughts on Eire (May 24)? I presume FG will get back the lost seats partly caused by the leprechaun swing to Green in '02.
The Greens seem to be less lefty than is usual in Europe. Might as well check that out. Slaunch.  

Blogger Guthrum said... 4:56 pm

Its agreed then, pub pub pub vote pub riot pub ! Then send in three postal votes.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:03 pm

DG - I'll keep an eye on it. Wasn't aware that Hibernian Greens had a bit more sense than those elsewhere, but the Irish are no fools, are they?

G - A fine plan. As a wise friend once put it, 'People who don't like pubs don't like life'.  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 9:13 pm

A fine set of comments and a fine post.

But so old fashioned; surely the modern vote could be conducted via text and email over a 3 day period.

Why inconvenience people at all in the 21st century?  

Blogger hatfield girl said... 9:37 pm

City, you find pub pub vote pub riot pub an inconvenience? I was looking forward to it.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 8:43 am

I've commented before somewhere or other that I am big on the whole ritual of voting, and I would be most cheesed off by a move away from polling stations for voting.

Doubtless electronic voting will be with us soon enough, which I can live with, but not the loss of draughty church halls, scout huts, schools etc.  

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