How I will vote…

The choices

Forgetting the forgettable, there are three parties we can choose from. They represent, so far as I can see, the Same, Another Same and something New and Untried. There are powerful, in my opinion, reasons for believing either that the last thing we need now is discontinuity or for believing that we need fundamental change. In other words, I can see why we might want to plough on through the debt crisis that faces us with a reliable, if unexciting administration and I can also see why we might want absolutely to alter direction and experiment with new ways of hammering out consensus, compromise and pragmatic reform. What is harder to envisage is a new driver in the same car, a change that satisfies tribal loyalties but actually achieves nothing.

Britain is in dire straits financially. We are, not to put too fine a point on it, shafted six ways from Sunday. As always, those who will suffer most will be the already disadvantaged. No matter who wins or commands a majority on Thursday there will be appalling cuts in public services, terrible depredations made that will hit first and hardest those who can least afford it. Twas ever thus, you might think. But the ripples in crime, discontent, infrastructure decay and quality of life degradation will affect all, even those who least care about the destiny of the destitute.

Vote One

If there is a way out of it, it will require dullness, concentration, probity, focus, geeky financial fanaticism and an almost horrible obsession with economic detail and technique. Sound like anyone we know?  The last thing that is wanted, this vote might suggest, is an untried chancer who makes promises that we know, with the best will in the world, he cannot keep.

Hands up anyone, anyone who believes that the Osborne/Cameron nexus will honestly punish or regulate the City as they need to be punished and regulated? Whatever noises they make about it, you know, you know as surely as you know that turkeys would never vote for Christmas, that somehow, by perfectly reasonable and unforeseeable routes, any manifesto promises to be tough on financial impropriety will somehow get lost and the smarting chastisement that the short-selling creeps who got us into this mess deserve will never be forthcoming. (In fact you can pretty much guarantee that even a Labour vote will not guarantee the regulation that wise financial insiders know is necessary ) ‘Oh it will just cause a mass exodus from the City.’ ‘Oh, alienating the wealth creators is the surest route to bankruptcy.’ ‘Germany hasn’t done it, nor has the SEC in New York.’ ‘We have to compete. Cut our banking houses off at the knees and you hobble the British economy, perhaps fatally.’ Gosh, how convincing that all sounds. As a result insane bonuses and horrific financial instruments will rise again, a debt dependent economy will boil once more into life and dozens of journalists and commentators will rise to their feet to applaud.

I don’t mean to be sneery or negative about this, it is what the Tories stand for and there are arguments one can subscribe to which convincingly defend their nature and their instincts and their outlook. Goodness knows there’s a huge part of me that is libertarian and contra-dirigiste enough in outlook to look with longing at the certainties of the Reasonable Right. But you would have to be naive or dishonest to deny the certainty of the outcome of a Conservative government in terms of its friendship with bankers, financiers, fund managers and those who manipulate and massage capital for a living. I do not for a minute concur with some visceral Labour views of Tories as being automatically and genetically uncaring or socially illiberal. True, there are dozens and dozens of Conservative candidates whose repellent stupidity and vulgarity would make even a Daily Mail reader blush and stammer, just as there are dozens and dozens of Labour candidates whose bigoted, dull-witted asininity would embarrass a Guardian reader into dribbling delirium. And there are plenty of Tories whose hopes for the poor and the dispossessed and the outcast are as sincere as that of any socialist or liberal.  Vote One, if I were to cast it, is all about a belief that – despite the rather obvious and predictable PR choruses to the contrary –  continuity, solidity, sound management, a lack of interest in anything but the economy and a bone-headed refusal to pay much attention to image makers and spin doctors is what is required now. Far from All Change, let’s go for No Change and weather the storm that is coming with a dull, intelligent, responsible, proven and determined pilot at the helm. One who won’t ask for relief when the waves batter  but will plough on, head down, until we find calmer waters and sunnier skies. That is Vote One. In case you’re very very dim, that would be a vote for Gordon Brown and Labour. It isn’t very exciting, you might think, but it might just see us through.

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141 comments on “How I will vote…”

  1. Laurie Dudley says:

    Stephen
    It’s really a delight to read your thoughts and it’s wonderful to have you back. As a noobie blogger, it is very daunting to be attempting to contribute to a medium you so articulately dominate.

    Keep doing what you do so wonderfully
    x

  2. weirdsis says:

    Oh my God how I missed you while you were away! Admonishing us to think for ourselves… what a novel idea.

    I’m an American, and my feeling is that the major parties in this country – and I daresay in Britain, too – are separated by less than they share. If you took a poll asking the top ten most important issues to people, we would share six or seven of them. It is the parties that wish to polarize us because they can gain power only if we hate and/or fear The Other Side. I suspect they are behind much of the nastiness and the stereotypes of party voters.

    I enjoy listening to BBC radio online and am following your election closely. Though the political infrastructures of our governments are vastly different, the politics, I find, are much the same. I suspect the Tories will win simply because the pendulum has swung that way. It will swing back. It always does.

    Encouraging people to think for themselves… you’re such a rebel!

  3. SarahEShelton211 says:

    My response to your personal and complex blog is personal and simple:
    “rancor, resentment, spite, viciousness” – I can’t fathom feeling any of those for you, or EVER typing them – especially over a little ballot.
    As I do everyone, I love you very much. That has nothing to do with politics. I don’t know how it could.
    Happy Voting Thursday.
    -Sarah x

  4. roy thomas says:

    YOUR THE MAN DUDE!!!!!!!

  5. eahcmad says:

    I can’t help feeling rather envious that you have so much choice when it comes to casting your vote. I live in Northern Ireland where tribal politics is taken to an extreme and where political leaders don’t even bother engaging in debate with leaders from opposing “tribes”. Our political system is dominated and controlled by religious leaders – still too many DUP politicians have the title Rev., for example.

    At least this time round, we do have the ability to vote Conservative after their link up with the Ulster Unionist Party though why the collaboration has resulted in a party name that includes the words “New Force” is completely beyond me (and my vote).

    Nevertheless – I have yet to miss a vote during my 21 years of eligibility to do so (including Westminster, Europe, Council & Assembly elections). Tomorrow will be no different even though it feels like I’m putting an ‘X’ beside the least worst candidate.

    BTW – Mr. Fry, I think you would make an excellent Prime Minister. In fact, a cabinet made up of Quiz Show panellists sounds like a mighty fine idea to me.

  6. mferrari says:

    Thank you for this, Mr. Fry!

    As people are constantly writing about who and why they’re voting for a specific candidate, your commentary is a very welcome reflection; a reminder to voters that a democratic election must praise, above all else, the supremacy of the secret ballot.

    This is an ever increasing problem in the United States as well; where political alliance acts as a moniker of sorts. Celebrities in every recent election want to ‘rock the vote’ and adopt the slogans of the candidate they support as their own. Political pigeon-holing has, unfortunately, been the result of this personal ‘outing’ of political allegiance. This continues to be part of the sociopolitical makeup of American culture (since its conception) and remains a constant threat to the democratic process. Even George Washington was worried about the rise of political factioning. In his farewell address, Washington warned against the growing factions that were emerging in the early stages of the United States.

    Also a challenge facing democratic tradition is ignorance. Believers in democracy need to ensure that voters are properly educated as to the basic tenets of political philosophy. This again, has become an increasingly worrying problem in the United States. President Obama, for example, has been accused by his being a ‘socialist’ holding court over a ‘totalitarian government’ – accusations that no ideological sense whatsoever. Likewise, opponents of President Bush accused him of being a ‘fascist’ – which, again, is an example of incorrect application of the political ideology.

    Thank you for helping to uphold the finest traditions of democracy!

    Mike the American Voter

  7. BlindingPhil says:

    Good morning, Mr Fry. I’ve just signed up to become a member of your site so I may post reply on this blog entry. I have met you a couple of times at signings, and have tweeted towards you and your business partner Andrew on various occasions. Sometimes even with response! :)

    So. Firstly, regarding the Brown video you posted. I’d be more impressed if he sounded like that any time other than election-week. It’s easy to get genuinely enthused about almost any topic when you’re working in such a high-paced and exciting environment. The result here will affect the rest of his life, let alone the next few years. It’s not only Brown’s life, but that of the people who work with and under him. He has huge responsibility and he has been elected in-party to do the best he can for all of these people. If he is unable to become excited about this at the most gripping time, then he certainly would have been a very bad choice indeed. I would not expect any less than that kind of impassioned speaking from anyone.
    My view of Brown is more to do with the debacle which surrounded his ‘Bigoted’ comments. My understanding is very simply that an aide of his picked up a Labour supporter who was supposed to be a good show for the party. Unfortunately she appeared to fox Brown on most issues, quick-firing questions at him (and dropping the immigration thing in very clumsily with seemingly no warning or relevance to her prior questions). She was the kind of woman who needed to be sat and spoken to – not a quick chat on the way to the car. I can understand Brown was flustered and frustrated. I can understand he needed to release that frustration, but I don’t believe the woman was bigoted. Her question about immigration was fuelled by economical issues, not racial ones. Brown should never have made the comment, but I understand why he did. He will not get sympathy from me, but he will also not suffer from any harsh words.

    Further on the subject of politicians actually being people, I was quite lucky to work on a Nelson/Trafalgar anniversary some years ago. It was being held in the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, and I was able to film John Prescott giving a speech. Not a political speech, nothing public, just a speech for the occasion. He was a very funny and personable man. I may not agree with his politics, but I could very happily hold a conversation with him.

    Considering Cameron and the Tories, now. There is a website called ‘VoteForPolicy’ (http://voteforpolicies.org.uk) which shows you blind policies from six parties on eleven subjects. You vote for whichever one you like best. On a policy-only basis I’m hardly surprised that I’m turning out as mostly Conservative (but not an overall majority!). It’s what my upbringing is and what my ingrained values essentially are. But on each topic for which I voted Conservative, it was always a toss-up between that policy and the Liberal one. Add my essential mistrust for the party and we know where my vote is headed!

    I’m not going to try and influence your vote, Stephen, or anyone else who may be reading this. As you have already said, we all have our own minds to make up. Up which to make? Whatever. I will urge you, however, to not be swayed away from a potential vote because people are vehemently telling you to go for it. I don’t think your posting fans are generally those kinds of people, but I’m not reading through the 100+ comments to find out!

    Have a good day, and vote for what you want.

    Regards,

    Phillip.

  8. Marcello Carlin says:

    I must heartily second your endorsement and praise of Evan Harris; I lived in West Oxford for some twenty years and had the privilege to know him, both as an MP and on a reasonably personal level – his father was our local chemist! – and he has always been fully committed, ever ready to attend to the needs of his constituents, and has never wavered from his core beliefs. The big picture has always mattered more to him than personal advancement.

    In my present constituency we have a very able and decent Tory candidate who I am sure will do a more than good job and I fully understand that many voters – probably considerably more than is usually estimated – will be basing their vote on what they think of their local MP rather than on party lines. However, the general situation is now I believe sufficiently bad and unworkable for change – as in change to enable a future, rather than change back to the old, failed ways of doing things – to be a realistic, if not vital, option, and to my mind the only practical way of realising that is to vote, as I have previously done in West Oxford, for the Lib Dems; not for tactical reasons, but because I genuinely feel that they would best be capable of running this country.

  9. swissbob says:

    With the demise of intellectualism amongst the political class, people such as yourself are the last reserve of rationalism in this country.

    My heart, my head and my gut tell me that I don’t have a clue who to vote for and would value the advice of someone cleverer than me.

  10. TLC says:

    As a Labour supporter I enjoyed your comments, I wouldn’t hate anyone for voting Tory or LibDem, but having thought about the options I have decided to vote Labour again. I do firmly believe that Gordon Brown is an honest man with the welfare of the country as his main concern & as such his party deserves my vote. The main thing that I have disliked about all the online comments & opinions is the vitriol & hateful things posted about Gordon Brown, David Cameron & Nick Clegg. The internet is a wonderful tool, but the personal name calling etc. is really sickening & unnecessary. Giving an opinion about one politician or another should not descend to that level & the fact that many websites (Sky being the site I saw most of them) is disgraceful.
    Just thought I’d put in my tuppence worth!

  11. LadyPage says:

    Wonderful, thoughtful, fair, wise, verbose and charming. If only we could vote for you!

  12. Sair says:

    So good to have you back Mr.Interesting. Thank you for continuing to boo. I love your above writings. Well done Sir! =D

  13. noisylittlemonkey says:

    Simply wonderful. Thanks

  14. peter86 says:

    After reading this, I am ever more convinced that it is a great shame that you have no interest in public office yourself, Stephen.

  15. fendawg says:

    How good to read such a reasoned, thoughtful contribution to the debate (shame The Guardian editor is incapable of such skills!).

    As a Labour Party activist, I agree with your point about tribalism, indeed for many years I co-organised an annual charity fair with a prominent LibDem in my constituency, and have for almost all of my political lifetime been friends with the recently retired Conservative Group Leader on my Council. I do find myself however unable to be anything more than minimally civil to the troglodytes from the BNP who are sadly are force (albeit an apparently declining one in my hometown).

    I also associate myself with your comments about Dr Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon – his contributions to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (in which you might say I had a personal interest as someone with a genetic disability) were beyond genius, and should there be a coalition government after tomorrow, either Mr Cameron or Mr Brown could do much worse than to give the Health portfolio to Dr Harris!

    May I humbly encourage you to plump for One when your Sharpie touches the ballot paper? More importantly though, may I also commend all your UK readers to follow your urgings and exercise their hard won right to vote for whomesoever they choose (except the BNP!).

  16. Dewnansek says:

    Clearly, there should be an eve-of-election non-Party Political broadcast by your goodself to present the nation with this excellent résumé of the current political situation. Making voters actually THINK about what their vote means is the key – and your blog goes a long way to achieving this.

    Presumably the beeb would have to edit out your actual preference and the SNP/Plaid Cymru would launch an injunction as you didn’t include them as Three or Four…

    Thanks you for the sanity you have brought!!

    Have you thought about being Speaker? ;-)

  17. tinalouiseUK says:

    Superb writing & fascinating view. My respect for your fairness and intelligence just keeps on growing.

    Namaste,
    Tina Louise
    @tinalouiseUK

  18. Quilth says:

    As usual a wonderfully entertaining, articulate and objective discourse Mr Fry. I wouldn’t have missed reading this blog for the world, despite disagreeing 100% on the conclusion you seem to have reached regarding what’s best for our dear old country…. but after all that’s what this democracy thing is supposed to be all about, isn’t it!

  19. Sheumais says:

    On revisiting your extensive meanderings through the options available for consideration, two thoughts occurred, you don’t seem to appreciate the Fry Following might be considered a tribe and the reasoning behind Vote 1 collapses under even passing scrutiny.

    You, Stephen Fry, are the leader of a tribe, which is why you were badgered to provide guidance as to what your followers should do in this election. Surely you must appreciate there are those who tremble at the thought of your most meagre contemplation, considering you a paragon of sense and sensibility, so even the most casual of remarks is beyond challenge. That is not to say you believe this yourself, as you seem to be fond of the notion you have an eager and willing audience for any occasion and that the relationship need be no more complex or dependent than that. Nevertheless, the glue that binds the tribe together is a common belief or desire for social conformity and the comfort that being soundly led provides. The Fry Following is a tribe and that has been tested by challenges to its continued existence.

    As far as the argument supporting Vote 1 is concerned, you might have placed more importance upon what can be definitely said and what is supposition. The failure of financial regulation and economic slump has occurred under the stewardship of the one you might wish to retain that stewardship. It might have occurred under Cameron and Osborne, but it did happen under Brown. It is extremely difficult to heap praise upon Brown for presiding over a massive increase in spending, fuelled by borrowing, and claim no responsibility is attributable to him for the subsequent “credit crunch” which was the direct result. You cannot reasonably claim it is only a global recession and the good times were enjoyed by our country alone, as that is a simple lie. Both boom and subsequent bust have been enjoyed and endured across the World, it is just the effect varies.

    When you head this blog “What Right Have I To Blog”, you might bear in mind the increasing desire of Mr Brown’s party to centrally control access to the very medium you choose to communicate with and that thought crime is now a reality. Should you continue to consider Vote 1, then you must also accept you are threatening your freedom to continue expressing your opinion. You may have the generous spirit that allows or even encourages others to disagree, but perhaps you should ask Walter Wolfgang if he remembers his feelings after being ejected from his own party’s conference. Perhaps you should ask the man who lost his job after being accused of racism for describing something as niggardly. Never forget, it is not the intention or the actual offence, it is the perception of offence for which you can be prosecuted. Try defending yourself against that accusation.

    One further thing to bear in mind in consideration of Vote 1, a manifesto pledge “is not subject to legitimate expectation”. These are the words of Gordon Brown’s QC in a court of law, confirming Mr Brown rejects the implied contract a manifesto should represent.

    I will not be voting for any of the larger, more established parties, mainly because of the inexcusable consensus on environmental issues, and reject out of hand that Nick Clegg offers anything new. His party has been around for many years and was ignored for good reason. I also believe there is a yawning chasm of principle between Labour and Conservative and that is the culture of blame against the culture of responsibility. I accept responsibility for my own actions and expect others to do the same.

    I remain of the view “celebrities” have a duty to recognise why it is they are celebrated and if it is not related to the subject they are offering their opinion on, then it is best they refrain from trying to influence others. I do not believe there is sound reasoning behind your opinion on votes 1 and 2 and have no reason to be familiar with Dr Harris, therefore his personal qualities are irrelevant to me and the vast majority of readers of this blog. I ultimately believe this blog to be ill-considered and irresponsible because it does seek to do the very thing you claim not to desire, influence the actions of others. I hope it does not succeed.

  20. piefinger says:

    Excellent post, Mr Fry … be conservative, vote labour

  21. Ikkle_Miss says:

    Hi
    I was directed to this blog by a friend and how grateful am I I really enjoyed reading it and it has give me something else to think about before I vote tomorrow.
    cheers again
    Kathy

  22. Margretjane says:

    Thanks so much for so eloquently helping me to crystallise out the essence from the slurry of muddied thinking I’ve been wallowing in. I wonder how many of your followers are UK voters. A British election is such a strange spectacle viewed from the outside.

  23. claudi says:

    Just registered to say that i am in awe of your writing. Very thoughtful article about a subject that usually leads to name calling in the first paragraph.

    As a German, I am only an onlooker in these elections, but I have lived long enough in Britain to deeply care about it and to not want it to decline further. Strangely enough, in my home country I am an unwavering supporter of the Green party, while my pick in Britain would be Cameron – as you wrote, personalities matter and Brown and Clegg just don’t do a good job (higher taxes and spending cuts will come no matter what party is in power anyway).

  24. hannahfarrant says:

    I decided not to read this blog until I had chosen who to vote for and had sent off my postal vote. I’m glad I did, but I am even more glad that we share a lot of the same political views! As an Engineering student one of my fundamental beliefs is that science is of infinite importance to society.

    Also, I think I surprised myself by voting LibDem despite being a first-time voter.

    Thank you for your insightful and quietly intellectual musings- I think I’ll hover around this corner of the interwebs more often!

  25. Augusta says:

    Firstly, Thank You Stephen for igniting my daughter’s new found passion for Wilde. I’d tried so often in the past to interest her to no avail. It was only when she heard your ‘Dorian’ on audiobook that she became curious – and now she devours all things Oscar. Many thanks.

    About the vote: Of course you must vote your conscience, but, my advice to undecided voters, when asked, is to not allow emotion to prevail over common sense. Emphasize Freedom of Speech, Fiscal Responsibility, Personal Accountability, Wealth Creation, Borders and Culture when choosing your candidate. In this way, the individual is king, opportunity is plentiful, economy is stable, and there’s enough to sustain any necessary social programs. This may be the quintessential American view, but I think it’s universally workable.

    Government can do something for the people only in proportion as it can do something to the people. — Thomas Jefferson

    Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. –Thomas Jefferson

    Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries. — Ayn Rand

    I wish you, and Britain peace, prosperity and liberty.

  26. Allan Mackie says:

    I’m posting this from Ukiah, Northern California, and it is one of the most trenchant, personal and beautifully written op-ed pieces I’ve been privilaged to read in a long time. If there was ever a more eloquent invocation to get out and vote then I’d like to see it.

    Let’s hope and pray that common sense prevails as Britain goes to the polls and that we have a Labour Government returned – even with a reduced majority.

  27. KChavda says:

    Very well written (and thought-out) essay, Stephen! My compliments, as usual.

    Now I’m not British, but I do follow world politics on the assumption that these days one must keep abreast of global happenings as they indirectly (or directly) affect everyone.
    For democracies to function efficiently, truly it is our duty to vote! Everyone complains that their right to do such and such thing is being trampled upon, yada yada; rarely does one hear anyone say, “This (i.e. voting) is my duty and I must fulfill it”.

    I loved the thought: “don’t moan about it, change it”. And truthfully speaking, sometimes I question myself too i.e. Why vote? All the politicians are the same, blah blah. But I agree with you here: “When the house is a ruin, go for solid and unglamorous damp-coursing and roof relining – you can worry about the wallpaper, furniture and carpeting later.”

    Also very well put in the blog is the paradoxical expectation that we as the public have of politicians: “…they are not allowed those very qualities of eccentricity, originality, colour, life and surprise that we claim to want in them.”

    xoxo
    KC

  28. Marieme says:

    Excellent piece! I love it!

    Marieme

  29. Laurarara says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Great blog as ever. I’m a first time voter, but have been interested in politics since my mid-teens, so I’ve had a long time to think about this vote!

    If anyone’s interested, I think this song is great and puts the election into perspective: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UNBX2SRYJc

  30. IriSiri says:

    Dear Stephen,

    England is becoming (almost) a normal, European democracy. Three options…That is a good, no, a great thing. The Dutch will vote in june and it will be at least as exciting. Britain will get the ruling party & leader it deserves. The Netherlands will have to wait for weeks and as ever it wil be a compromise of some sort.
    It’s good fun, politics.

    I believe snooker & horses spoil the fun of broadcasting QI. Can I vote about that?!

    Bye

  31. Mxdp says:

    Stephen, I wish we had someone like you here in Belgium. I have to sit back and watch many as many of my age (and older, let’s face it) refuse to go vote. Belgium is quite messed up at the moment and now that the government has fallen (again) and everyone seems to have given up (understandable). But not going to vote a stubborn and childish reaction. That one vote is all we have-better use it!

  32. F A says:

    Not a single newspaper here in France explains it all clearly. They just keep stating that because of how the constituencies are drawn, the majority party (in votes) could end up with a minority of MPs.
    They sneer… but at least it seems you don’t suffer from the record abstention figures we have here.

  33. MerkinFTW says:

    Mr. Fry-

    It is a shame about Mr. Harris’s defeat in the Oxford West constituency. On the whole, however, despite a few speed bumps regarding disenfranchisement due to poll closures (which seem relatively minor compared to the election snafus we have had here in the States over the last decade), I must salute you and your countrymen for the (comparatively) spectacular way in which you run elections in the UK. I have been following the UK elections quite closely, by sneaking illicit glances at such fantastic programs as Question Time, as well as reading the online editions of the papers. As an American, I could only dream of an election where ordinary average citizens are as concerned about wonkish policy details as they are about personalities and sound bites. Your post here is very indicative of a major difference between the state of politics on our respective sides of the pond. Perhaps it can be chalked up to an inherent “Britishness,” but your election process is far more based on reason, respect, and actual debate than ours. No American pundit with as much influence as you have in the UK would dare to write a piece like you have here. Uncertainty is anathema to the American condition. I salute you, sir, for being willing to publicly announce to the world that you have (or, as the case is at this point, had) doubts, questions, and a bout of indecision.

    If you ever find yourself back in the state of Kentucky, I at the very least owe you dinner as royalty payment for all of the fantastic programming of yours that I have no way of watching except via bit torrent and streaming sites.

  34. cazd says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful blog which so echoed what I had already said to my sons when urging them (successfully) to use their vote.
    So. Now. Do we want N.Clegg to form a coalition with D.Cameron or do we want him to hold back and vote bill by bill until the inevitable implosion created by thwarted egos forces the next General Election?
    I look forward to your next blog sweetie.

  35. Lesley Bell says:

    Stephen please continue to blog and speak out because some of us out here simply cannot. It is people with a public voice that can make a difference. I have no faith in any of our politicians, the expenses scandal did annoy me but did not surprise me. Such is life, nothing is certain except death and taxes but it is nice when the tall man speaks up for the small and encourages him to grow.

    I am in a situation where I want to work but have been told I will have to refuse work if offered it as I would end up worse off! I get £64.50 a week job seekers allowance but have been assured that if I take employment I will be in even greater financial straits than I already am. I would love to be back in employment and it is fairly disheartening to keep on applying for jobs that you will have to turn down if offered, mad system.

    Kindest regards and looking forward to QI new series, or how about Stephen Fry in Europe?

  36. Prof_Plum says:

    I find the comments on here a bit sickly sweet.

  37. kevin monk says:

    I agree with Prof Plum. The comments are sycophantic.

    Why must you vote? I voted but I think that many people should probably refrain. A general election requires many people to make an unqualified decision. It requires you to have a deep understanding of politics, sociology, economics, anthropology and history. Why is democracy held up in such high regard? Why is the tyranny of a simple numerical majority so sacred?

    If you decide that you are mentally equipped enough to deal with the gargantuan task of matching a party’s ever-changing policy with your view of an extremely complex world then please use your brain and not your heart; your brain is far better suited.

    I’d much prefer a country with a strong constitution where the democratic process was reduced to a minor administrative function of appointing guardians.

    I agree about the need for politeness though.

  38. Texas Skald says:

    Wow…I have a hard enough time understanding my own country’s government. Not to mention trusting it now that we’re headed for hell in a hand basket…

    But VOTING is a great right. Heck, people die for it. Democracy, even as skewed as it is, is better than outright dictatorship. Why not participate?

  39. biggertigger says:

    clegg…what a shambles…3/4 of the country have voted for progressive politics but it looks like clegg is going to sell us all out for a few pieces of silver…and not even get PR!..what a fake. what a charade and what a disgrace he is to my home city of sheffield…just embarrassing

  40. Mrs C.J. says:

    Darling Stephen, I agree with you heartily. I haven’t felt so fired up about politics for years as, agreeing as I did with Neil Inness who said many years ago now “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in”, I’d long since lapsed into a torpid state of indifference to the whole boring pointlessness of it all. But for once the government hasn’t got in, and for once there is someone in the form of Nick Clegg who, if he can only keep his nerve could deliver us from the evils of the two party monopoly. Now we see the true colours of the Red and Blue giants. Labour MPs it seems would sell their own grandmothers down the Swanee without a second thought just so that grovelling Gordon can stay on in his dream home. While the Conservatives would have us locked into a one Tory party state forever. I’m outraged! The good of the country? They don’t give a monkey’s about the country. What would be good for the country is freedom of choice, an electoral system that awards a party who gets 23% of the vote 23% of the seats, a ruling body that sees the prospect of a coalition as a positive thing instead of referring to it as a “hung parliament”. Coalitions have been very successful in many other countries from France to India. So what are they so afraid of these two power crazy giants who never fail to resort every polling day to the slogan “A vote for the LibDems will let the other side in”? As if we didn’t know. So come on Nick, stand firm, don’t jump into bed with Gordon, he’s had his chance and you’ll only feel dirty, and don’t let those self-serving Tories deny us, The People, the right to a referendum on PR.

  41. johnneyred says:

    It was with great delight we learned on our return from holiday early last Friday that Peter Robinson N.I first minister had been soundly thrashed and lost his seat to the Alliance. I believe his traditional DUP followers saw him and his wife for the pigs in the trough they really are and had the courage to vote for change. They had been double dipping on their expenses and failing to declare interests in local property deals. Hopefully next crop of M.P’S here will be looking over their shoulders before they think of abusing the system.