Saturday, May 08, 2010

Greetings from the People's Republic of Oxford East

See that little red island in the middle of the vast blue sea that now makes up the south of England? That's us, that is. Constituency swing: 4.1% to Labour. The Guardian thinks we are extraordinary. We're very proud. I love not conforming.

But, as allotment S put it on Friday morning, what were the rest of you doing? Oxford West now has a 12 year old Tory as its member of Parliament. She beat Evan Harris - Lib Dem, fan of atheism and evidence, loathed by homeopaths, homophobes and evangelists - by 176 votes. Her website tells us what she did on her gap year, and that "she has volunteered with aid projects in all sorts of exotic places like Mozambique, Rwanda, Bangladesh and a few less exotic ones like Birmingham and even Blackpool". I didn't vote Lib Dem, but if I'd lived a couple of miles west, I would have. What a disaster.

Elsewhere, lovely Lancastrian places like Morecambe, Lancaster and "even" Blackpool North were all lost by Labour to the Tories, though I am heartened by the socialist 14 year old who voted Lib Dem (tactically) in Wyre & Preston North, having gone to vote disguised as a Tory, on the grounds that nobody would expect anyone under 18 to be a Tory so he might get away with it.

It wasn't all bad: Caroline Lucas's victory in Brighton was great leap forwards for the Greens, and the BNP's annihilation in Barking and Dagenham was both just reward for the sterling work of Hope Not Hate and a great leap forwards for humanity. Whatever the world's problems, fascists are never part of the solution, and I'm glad Britain has said that more clearly than it had this time last week.

And I am greatly heartened by the fact that even with 13 years of new Labour, an illegal war, an undeniably unpopular Prime Minister, the expenses scandal *and* global financial meltdown, shiny Dave and his posh boy friends didn't get a majority. I loathe him and everything he stands for, can't help myself. But the overall outcome is a bit... WTF? I wanted a hung Parliament, but I was hoping the Lib Dems, who I basically agree with about many things, would have more seats, and more choice about who to get into bed with.

I don't think a 'progressive coalition' is going to happen, the maths are too shaky, though I would be happy to be proved wrong. So the next best thing would be a minority Tory government, which falls over by Christmas, while Labour get a new leader, then we have another election, shortly followed by a referendum on electoral reform, which might deliver something approaching the sweet moderation that this country is supposed to be good at. We might get a couple of fascists into the bargain, but I think that would be a price worth paying.

It's all kind of fascinating though, in a scary kind of way. But that's enough politics for a Sunday morning, I'm off for a bath and then to pick asparagus with Plumbing S.


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Blogger Ben said...

Also the 12 year old was home schooled and her website STILL has an online petition for calling an immediate general election. Which, come to think of it, she might as well leave there.

I tried for Evan. I really did.

9:15 am  
Blogger Jo said...

My understanding is that a) there were various forces of lunatic-fringe evil ranged against "Dr Death", and b) the Lib Dems felt it was a safe win, so they focused on Oxford East.

One of the interesting things about this election is seeing how much impact local campaigning can actually have. I think we'll all be taking it a lot more seriously next time round...

I shall go and sign her petition forthwith.

10:53 am  
Blogger Andy said...

I'm very sad Evan lost his seat, and I'm no fan of the Tories.

However, I think you may be being a little harsh on the candidate, based on her experience. On the one hand we generally decry the fact that politicians never do anything but politics. So, when someone who's got extensive (perhaps) field experience of global aid projects is that not potentially a good alternative to a PPE student?

I also don't understand the "12-yr old" dig. She's 31 - that's good enough life experience, surely? And youth has the benefit of thinking a little more radically than the older people. In any institution, you need a good balance of young/old (radical/conservative) to make the best decisions. In fact, I remember you at 31 - you certainly had the passion, knowledge, and insight to be an MP!

Yes, she's a Tory, and she's ousted a great MP, so my hackles are raised too, but I think your arguments against her are a little unfair - doesn't she actually tick a lot of the boxes of what you/we want from an MP? Apart from the big "Not-a-tory" box, of course.

[ps - having problems with posting comments, this morning...]

12:10 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Demographics-wise, I agree there should be more young women in Parliament, though I think the Oxbridge box is WAY over-ticked already. But I don't see anything particularly radical about her, and I don't buy the youth = radicalism argument, especially on the right.

I made the 12 year old dig because her website reads like it was written by one. I think it's beyond patronising to refer to countries like Mozambique and Rwanda, where people live (and too often die) in some of the most difficult circumstances in the world, as 'exotic', and by 31, if you're serious about your politics, you should know that. And I'm not sure the residents of Blackpool see themselves as aid recipients, exotic or not. It has overtones which I found reminiscent of Miss World competitors who say 'well, I want to help poor people and old people'.

But to be fair, I haven't met her. She probably didn't write her own website, and she might get her biog re-written now people are likely to read it. And she might make a perfectly good MP. She can certainly sing, and I agree with her about Post Offices.

9:07 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Also, this - via Jeremy's blog. There is no 'family values' box on my form. So I think basically there are 31 year olds and 31 year olds. It's not because she's 31, it's personal.

11:44 pm  
Blogger Andy said...

Good replies, Joella. And I have no comebacks at all that can counter your points - you're right. Particularly in light of the links in your second comment: young women in parliament does not mean radical if they have viewpoints so opposite to yours and mine.

9:13 am  
Blogger Miles said...

I know nothing about this woman at all other than my daughters were both there with her at the count (counting, and recounting) and were in tears when she got in. That's enough for me to make up my mind.

8:09 pm  

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