Thursday, April 19, 2012

20 years ago I was allowed to vote in the UK election

I lived in London from early 1990 to late 1992.   On April 9th 1992 the UK held a general election and I was allowed to vote.  I was stunned to be allowed to vote in the election because I am a citizen of Canada and Estonia.  I have no connection to any sort of UK citizenship, but apparently at the time anyone that was a citizen of a commonwealth country was allowed to vote.

My poll card from the 1992 UK election that I found today in  a box of photos
The reality of UK elections is that well over 2/3s of the constituencies are forgone conclusions before the election.   I lived in the constituency of Holborn & St Pancras which is hard core Labour.

The local MP, an utter non-entity that did not seem to have any interest or connection to the people of the area, was Frank Dobson.   He was first elected in 1979, which meant by 1992 he had been an MP for 13 years.   20 years later he is still the MP for the area.
It was interesting to be allowed to take part in the election while at the same time not actually being involved with any political party - I have been active on one level or another with elections since I was in high school in the early 1980s.   It was also very interesting to see how an election is run in a different country.

In the UK election signs were not used, but parties published "tomes" that were their platforms which you could buy at news agents.    Think about that, people actually paid to buy the full platforms of the major parties.   It was also interesting because of the amount of polling going during the election and the seat predictions.   As soon as the election was called books were published with stats and info on the election.

In 1992 my political view was much more anarchist than libertarian.  I was positively predisposed to Labour in the election.  Frank Dobson lost my vote because I met him.   That is enough said about him.

I ended up voting Green purely as a vote for the environment and not for the local flake candidate who has the flake last name of Wolf-Light

Catherine ended up voting Liberal Democrat because their platform was more progressive than the Labour one, though I have always wondered how much the leader Paddy Ashdown influenced her decision.

Later in 1992 I happened to able to observe two more elections on my travels back to Canada.  The first was the September 13th 1992 Thai general election.

Even though I could not read the newspapers or watch the television, the Thai election was interesting because of the threat of a coup.    There was a tension in Bangkok the whole time and people were very wary when asked anything political.   We went out to dinner on election day and found out you could not drink on election day.

On October 3rd I happened to be in Victoria in Australia for the state election.  Even though they have a preferential ballot, it is really only a two party race.   At the polls it was interesting to see party volunteers giving out cards to the public to let them know what order they should vote their preferences.

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