Friday, April 29, 2005

MarathonMum Election Special

That’s right sports fans, we’re talking politics today. But before you switch to another channel, or worse, to another blog, please give me a minute or two of your valuable time. You all know how I love a good political discussion.

Here in the United Kingdom, voters will go to their local polling stations on Thursday for the national general election. The national general election in the United Kingdom is similar to the U.S. presidential election, but it’s not the same. It’s like the language here, it’s the same but different.

First and foremost, as a voter, you don’t elect Tony Blair to be your prime minister. You vote for your local MP—that’s Member of Parliament, not military police. When the election is over, they tally up the number of MPs from each of the three parties—Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. The leader of the party with the most members in the House of Commons becomes Prime Minister.

So while some American commentators would like to make the U.K. general election like a presidential election, it’s just not. This is also why it doesn’t matter AT ALL, nor is it newsworthy, that Bill Clinton endorsed Tony Blair. (A piece of news I learned from my father-in-law, despite reading two newspapers and listening to two news radio shows a day). Nobody gets to vote for or against Tony Blair. It’s just not how it’s done.

This is why I find it so curious that the Conservative party is now trying to shape the election into a “character issue” about Tony Blair, mainly, about why he decided to send British troops to Iraq when such an action may have been illegal. First, the Conservatives were never against the war, so it’s like they’d like to have it both ways: support the war effort, but at the same time, question Blair’s judgment about sending in troops. Second, it’s not as if anyone who opposed the war would suddenly decide to vote Conservative—I just don’t think there are that many single-issue voters out there.

Finally, and most importantly, I find using the “character issue” in an election just plain lazy. It’s the sort of thing that makes people uncomfortable and makes them think about possibly changing their mind, but it’s just so low. I would be far more impressed if they actually stuck to the issues and said, “Vote for Us because of X, Y, and Z” rather than “Vote against Tony Blair because you just can’t trust him.”

The Conservative’s election slogan is “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” My answer is No.

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