06 May 2005

That's Democracy, Folks!

An overwhelming majority of 35.2 per cent...

Well, it seems as though the election's gone according to predictions, with Labour's 35.2 per cent getting them 365 seats, the Tories' 32.3 per cent earning them 197 seats, and the Lib Dems' 22 per cent only fetching them a mere 62 seats. It's the best result they've had since the 1920s, but still, it's a bit naff really.

But then, that's what happens when you've single-seat constuencies and a first-past-the-post system. Labour's 35.2 per cent of the vote somehow translates into almost 57 per cent of parliamentary seats, the Tories' 32.3 per cent manifested itself as just over 30 per cent of seats, while the Lib Dems' healthy 22 per cent converted into less than 10 per cent of seats in the Commons. It's democracy, folks, Jim, But not as we know it.

Of course, I've talked about this before. I find it funny, looking at these figures, to think of all those pundits claiming that the British people have spoken to the effect that what they wanted was Labour to stay in power, but with a greatly reduced majority. Er, really? It does seem to me that only slightly more than a third of them actually wanted a Labour government enough to vote for Labour. After all, Blair has somehow manage to get a far healthier majority than John Major did in 1992, albeit with a much smaller share of the vote.

It's grim up North
Meanwhile, closer to home, things really do look as though they've gone belly-up in Northern Ireland, with the province evidently decided that the future lies with gangsters and bigots rather than with democracy. Despite Mark Durkan's triumph in Foyle, the SDLP have again lost ground to Sinn Féin, albeit not much this time, while the Ulster Unionists, who've been tearing themselves apart for years, have finally been wiped out by the DUP, Ian Paisley's horde of seventeenth century throwbacks. Wonderful.

For what it's worth, and there are all manner of ways of reading the statistics, the two many unionist parties garnered 51.4 per cent of the vote between them, while the two nationalist ones got 41.8 per cent. The turnout in the north is now only slightly higher than the UK average too, down significantly on previous years, but what that means I can't tell. It's curious to see, looking at the map, how divided the province is. Back when the British enacted the Government of Ireland Act, creating a six county Northern Ireland, only four counties had Protestant - and by implication, Unionist - majorities. Look at that map now, though, and you'll see how things have changed - Derry, Armagh, Tyrone, and Fermanagh all have Nationalist majorities.
Just a thought really, that when you you hear people claiming that most people in Northern Ireland want to remain united with Britain, it might be worth pointing out that most people in most of Northen Ireland would be fairly happy being reunited with rge rest of Ireland. The ones who want to stay united with Britain are clustered together in just two counties, in the main.
Ah well. Sad times anyway. And Trimble'll be gone in about ten minutes, I reckon.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch...
On the other hand, and on a cheerier note, I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy yesterday, and enjoyed it rather more than I expected. It was far from perfect, but much better than I had anticipated. I reckoned I was in for an evening of bitter disappointment.

If that doesn't cheer you up, wander over here and have a listen to what purports to be the original Louis Armstrong recording of 'Oops I did it again'. Yeah, it's a joke, but it's a good one.

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