Thursday, 6 May 2010
If you're one of my British readers, you've probably already voted. (If you haven't yet - please don't forget before the polls close at 10pm!) On the other hand, for my many overseas readers, it's possible that the details of the UK General Election have completely passed you by.
I don't generally talk about politics on this blog, and I'm not really about to start - I'm certainly not going to tell you who I'm voting for - but I've noticed something interesting this year that I wanted to explore.
You see, it's the first election in recent times (certainly the first one in my adult life) where the pundits and journalists are talking seriously about the possibility of a hung parliament.
One consequence of this is that a lot more coverage and air-time is being devoted to the parties who might be instrumental in forming a coalition. In the last couple of elections where I've voted, the newspapers and radio have really only talked about Labour (the present government) and Conservatives (the Opposition). Now they're giving equal time to the Liberal Democrats, and some level of coverage to a number of smaller parties.
I can't help wondering if a hung parliament might become a self-fulfilling prophecy at this rate. The more it's talked about, the more coverage is given to minor parties - and (one might reasonably assume) greater exposure might make it more likely that people vote for them. Also, there's a common perception in some circles that a vote for a minor party is a vote "wasted" - but if the media are taking the idea of a hung parliament seriously, this perception may be diluted enough to influence voter behaviour.
From a linguistic perspective, another interesting fact is that the televised debates (the first time we've had these in the UK!) are being referred to as the "Prime Ministerial Debates" - with a striking implication that here are the three men who could be Prime Minister. And the debates have featured not just the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties, but also the Liberal Democrat leader.
One way or another, this is going to be a very interesting night. Some of my friends are having a party, so I'll be doing my best to stay up for a result; follow me on Twitter to see whether I make it through to morning!
This is a non-partisan blog. Please refrain from party-political comments.