In reading The Independent on-line this morning, I was reminded again of why there’ll always be an England.
It ran an article on the Haltemprice-Howden by-election in which David Davis was returned to Parliament by a 15,000 vote majority. In case it slipped your notice, Davis was the Conservative Party's shadow Home Secretary who resigned to protest his party's vote with the Labour government extending the detention period of "terrorism suspects" to 42 days without having to charge them or bring them before a magistrate.
What made me sit up and take note (besides the photo of the strikingly beautiful and distressingly young Gemma Davis, one of the losing candidates, alongside the winner) was the complete list of 26 candidates standing for election and vast array of party affiliations. Mad-Cow Girl of the Looney Party got nearly as many votes as Ms. Davis and her Miss Great Britain Party. I was amazed that 44 people in the riding thought the Elvis Party’s David Bishop should represent them in Parliament. And poor Tony Farnon and Norman Scarth: Receiving only eight votes each probably meant they had more people sign the petition to put them on the ballot than actually voted for them. It reminded me of an episode of The Vicar of Dibley in which Geraldine stood against David Horton for counsellor.
When I moved to Canada, it took me two or three elections to become accustomed to having candidates from four or five parties on a ballot: Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, the Greens and the Bloc Quebecois, which actually only puts up candidates in Québec.
The Conservatives, which used to be called the Progressive Conservatives before it was the Reform Party which morphed into the Canadian Alliance before some smoke-filled room machinations turned it back into the Conservative Party again, run a minority government headed by Stephen Harper. Harper is a dim bulb who idolises George Bush. In group photos at the recent G8 summit, Harper always stood awkwardly at the end of the line, looking a bit like the accountant who came in to tally the books and found himself being invited by accident to stay for lunch.
*When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This...