General Election – UK 2010

The level of interest in this General Election is unprecedented – in my lifetime, at least. All over the country there have been long queues with some people turning up two or three times before they could get in to cast their vote – and hundreds were turned away when the polling stations closed at 10.00pm. Nobody seemed to have any idea what to do, but surely it makes a mockery of democracy if people are denied their right to vote when they’re registered electors?

It’s particularly noticable how engaged first-time voters are, a welcome contrast to their apathy in previous contests. My kids (16 and 19) wanted to have an election sleepover and stay up through the night.

I’m old enough to remember the night Thatcher first came to power in 1979, which I watched from the Junior Common Room at university in York. And I’ve very clear memories of getting up (on holiday in Pembrokeshire, as it happens) to hear in astonishment that no less a figure than Michael Portillo had lost his seat overnight and we had a Labour government.

But right now, all I can think about is the anger of those people denied their votes…the lack of forethought on the part of the Electoral Commission is truly shameful.

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4 thoughts on “General Election – UK 2010

  1. I was living in Paris in ’97, listening on Radio 4 Longwave in bed… I was dozing around 4 am when a kerfuffle woke me up and I blearily realised that Portillo Was Gone…
    We’re currently sat on the sofa watching on the telly, Skyping, LJing and FBing simultaneously – I need more hands! Though am going to try to force myself to give up in a minute and go to bed, since nothing useful will actually happen for another 2-3 hours.
    Completely agree with you on people turned away from the polling station. My FiL has been canvassing with a friend who is a Labour local councillor in Chester, where the MP’s majority is less than a thousand and allegedly over 600 people were turned away from the poll – he’s going to be incandescent. What is this, Florida 2000?

  2. On the offchance the Conservatives won all the remaining undeclared seats, they would be one short of a majority. Is it any comfort to those that didn’t get to vote that nobody won?

  3. I’ve got two minds over the issue of the people who were denied there vote. My first mind is, the polls are open for 15 hours from 7-10. I managed to pop down to the polling station in my lunch break and got it sorted.
    However, some areas clearly didn’t have enough stations open, because there have been reports of people turning up 2-3 times over the course of the day and not being able to get in for all the queuing. I think better organisation would have helped alot. I know we had loads of stations here, with all of them getting good turn outs and no problems.
    As for 97, well, I was too young to vote, but I remember the jubilation of the whole country when Labour won. It seemed in the run up to the elections that everyone wanted the Tories out and Labour in. This time around, it’s seemed like Labour out, but erm, not sure who we want in. No wonder it’s ended in a hung parliament.

  4. We need electoral reform, this is clear.
    If turning people away from the polling stations isn’t bad enough, what about the places that ran out of ballot papers?  Not exactly the impression of our voting system or our democracy that we’d want to have projected to the outside world, is it?

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