Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal of Lynton Charles: Chancellor of the Duchy of Durham. (Columns)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal of Lynton Charles: Chancellor of the Duchy of Durham. (Columns)

Article excerpt

Friday Phew! Three hundred seats lost but no meltdown. In fact, not even a problem. Biggies Clarke has been all over the media doing his bluff bloke act with great gusto, but actually it's been an easy wicket to bat at. The Wing Commander has made minor inroads into Essex, and that's it. Lib Dems? Nowhere.

True, the BNP has won some seats in one of those mill towns. I know it's not politically correct to say so, but I just think that many of those people in Burnley will never integrate successfully into a modern, liberal, industrial society. And I'm talking about the whites, here.

Good to know that some of the voting gimmicks worked, too. Postal ballots were a big success, and the text message voting was way cool, I'm told. Well, there are plenty more ideas where those came from. There is even a rumour that someone at Old Queen House is actively researching telepathic voting -- in which the voter in the pub, the shower or on the loo, beams his or her vote to a telepath seated somewhere in the town hall. I'd simply be worried that, at the vital moment, the elector would lose concentration, and that the poor psychic would find herself inundated by unwanted images of packets of crisps and slow bowel movements.

Seriously, the fact that turnout is up is a big relief. It is good for democracy, of course, but the truly wonderful thing about it is that it has stopped all those items being made for the BBC, in which academics and journalists berate us for being out of touch with the young and alienating the voter. Who is it, I'd like to know, who goes round knocking on doors and being threatened with the inhabitant's Doberman? Who spends time leafleting shopping centres on Saturday mornings? Who roams around on polling day in an old Astra, shouting pleasantries through a crackly old loud hailer? …

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