So - Britain has a hung parliament, and my goodness, it's well hung. Does this mean we can string 'em all up? No; it means even more dither, dishonesty, doom and disaster than usual. Herewith, a cautionary tale.
Green, and proud of it
Green, and proud of it
Sister Euphorbia gingerly descended from the bus outside the polling station, propelled by a sense of duty, but restrained by the butterflies filling her stomach. Sister Euphorbia had never voted before, but the stream of politicians arriving at the door of the convent to solicit the votes of the sisters, and the never-ending television, radio and newspaper messages had finally convinced her that this 2010 British General Election was important; and terribly terribly close.
The convent sat prettily in the village of Upper Woppingham, square in the middle of the sleepy Dorset seat of Bunchester. And this had the unwelcome distinction of being the closest-fought seat in the country. Pubs and hotels were full of newspaper hacks and political hangers-on, and Bunchester wasn't liking it much.
Thirty years ago it had been a safe Conservative seat, but after the long-term incumbent was photographed by a tabloid newspaper, indulging one of his unfortunate habits in his greenhouse, the capricious voters turned in their droves to the Liberal Democrats. Slowly they were coming back, particularly since the age of consent was lowered, and people seemed more relaxed about that sort of thing anyway. Now the race was neck-and-neck, a close battle in a nationwide contest too close to call.
So Sister E, traditionally aloof from the sordid intrigues of politicians, felt the hand of destiny on her shoulder, and breaking the habit of a lifetime1 she took herself out to vote.
Sister E was no shrinking violet, having honed her battle skills teaching reluctant fourth formers French, and rugby. So why, she asked herself, was she so nervous? Could it be that her vote, her one vote, would be the one that made all the difference? Or could it be, that even after all the leaflets and broadcasts and insincere handshakes, she had not the faintest clue where to cast her vote?
Yes. That was it. As she neared the council hall where the polling station was set up, she found herself asking for divine inspiration; a sign. Any sign. But there were no signs; and she queued up to collect her ballot paper, and she signed herself off on the electoral roll, and she headed to the little booths, with a feeling of responsibility to which she was unequal. She hadn't felt like this since the convent had installed Sky TV and put her in charge of the remote control.
Finally at the booth, she opened the folded ballot paper with shaking fingers. In this, the closest-run constituency in England, there were no fewer than twelve candidates; and she began to scan the list of names. But there, right at the top, was the name of Ron Tibbles, standing for the Green Party. It was a sign! Tibbles - her beloved cat! Relieved and thankful, Sister E marked her X for Ron, whoever he was, and headed back to the convent, relieved and thankful.
But Sister E had made a mistake. Further down the list came the name of Einstein Phinbarr Humpty-Dumpty, the Monster Raving Loony candidate. Einstein; her goldfish. Humpty-Dumpty; her hamster. And Phinbarr, who delivered the groceries on a bike on Wednesdays.
So it came to pass that the Green Party, with their one seat, won by one vote, and were able to hold a casting vote in the Mother of Parliaments, because the other parties were exactly tied. And Britain began a new age of eco-socialism, where everyone walked or cycled to work, and the motorways were dug up for flowerbeds, and compost collectives sprang up everywhere, and everyone had to be in bed by nine o'clock to save electricity, leading to the biggest baby boom in human history, followed shortly by the biggest economic collapse in human history.
But most ironically of all for Sister E, the Greens quickly carried out their manifesto pledge of closing all convents and monasteries to make room for wind farms, rehousing the nuns and monks in old nuclear submarines. Come the next election, she intended to go and vote the bastards right out again; but the bus by then was pedal-powered, and alas, she just couldn't be bothered.
And of course, none of this is even remotely true, but I liked the title, and it fitted. Who did you vote for?
1 - And that's the last habit joke. This is serious stuff