Politics in Britain... The little things that are different

Its a bit gay (except for the BNP)
Stayed up late on Thursday night watching the election results (as one does, although I wasn't wearing an anorak)... Fell asleep at one point in front of the television only to wake up to see lovable Schools Minister and Member for Enfield and Southgate Stephen Twigg concede defeat. He looked very glum. It was a bit of a shock. Mainly because I was so close to the television and I woke up and saw his glum face in widescreen. I certainly wasn't expecting to see that. I sort of met Twigg at the start of this year (I was in the same room he was and he was talking to a friend of mine briefly). My brush with a man with a red box. Smart man, in politics and openly gay. Being gay and in politics in Britain is expected as politics is pretty gay. And with all those Westminster traditions you can't get much gayer than the oldest democracy of them all.

People here can't believe it when I tell them that you can't be openly gay and in politics in Australia. Well at least not in a major party. I tell them you can wear smart suits and dabble in the Arts, but that's as far as it goes. You must have a show wife, force her to live upstairs from you, trot her out for photo ops, then dump her when you are defeated... Whereas at this election in Brighton, all three candidates were gay and trying to outgay themselves. The Tories were playing up just how gay they really were too...

Paxman takes on the grub
There was much talk today about Jeremy Paxman's "interview" of George Galloway. Journalists here love to be antagonistic, but Paxman is the best at this sort of interview. Galloway ran in the East End against black (and Jewish) New Labour Oona King. This electorate has a high proporion of Muslims and so he made it a referendum on the war in Iraq. It was a grubby and bitter campaign so it was nice to hear Paxman start the interview by asking: "Mr Galloway, are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in Parliament?"

Tactical voting
You are elected by a first past the post system here so voters have learned how to vote tactically - and vote for the person most likely to defeat a candidate - even if that means Labour voters who didn't like Blair ending up voting Tory... Backingblair.co.uk describes the process.

Political tv advertising
It doesn't exist. And the debate seems a bit more intelligent for not having it.

When is a 60 seat margin still not good enough?
When you have a core of 30-40 MPs in your own party who will vote against you at (almost) every turn. They are old Labour, and very few of them lost last night. The new parliament will be very different from the last...

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