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'Calm down dear'

We voted in 2010 to elect the party we wanted in power. The Tories lost, Labour lost and the Liberal Democrats lost, but we still had to find a winner. The result meant that two people, who had been bitching about each other for at least two years, had to have a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.

Over a PG and a brownie David Cameron and Nick Clegg ripped up their pre-election manifestos and in so doing, ensured that all those who voted for the three main parties didn’t get what they voted for and a left a nation cloaked in disappointment. Rich people who expected inheritance tax to be scrapped came out in their dozens with placards saying, ‘We’re really quite ticked off now’ and then students relying on a Liberal Democratic party to help with some beer money went to Trafalgar Square to smash stuff up on hearing that Clegg and his gang had sold them out

This outcome of the election was therefore galling even if you are of the view that Cameron and Clegg (sounds way too much like smeg) are in fact that same person, but if you do consider them two separate people you could be forgiven for thinking: ‘Bloody hell, our forefathers died… for this?’

Now, it’s all gone sour. Dave and Nick don’t stay in, curl up on the sofa and watch Pride and Prejudice of an evening any more and have, predictably, reverted back to type. Dave called Nick a woolly woofter and Nick duly responded with a Chinese Burn and then ran off with all of Dave’s best conkers.

The Alternative Vote is the reason for all this discontent and it’s a cheeky little conundrum not least because it’s so monstrously arcane that even Stephen Hawking has trouble unravelling it. This week, like millions of other dopey idiots who simply have no clue about the pros and cons of AV, I will doubtless walk into a small booth, resist the urge to pee and, with a pencil, exercise my democratic right to play Sudoku.

I am not a total moron though. In a bid to educate myself I have listened to countless Radio 5 live hour-long boreathons aimed at the British proletariat explaining the merits of the two voting systems currently on the table. It’s not much fun and I think that if you do consider anything said by a man who thinks the phrase ‘Calm down dear’ a suitable riposte to an eloquently made point with any seriousness you need a CT scan. Conversely, I am not entirely convinced that the argument, ‘Vote Yes: let’s AV a beer’ does the job either.

I might as well turn up at the booth with a set of darts and aim at the voting slip from ten paces because whatever system I think is best for future democracy there’s a very good chance that whoever wins the next election will not have the approval of the majority. I suspect that when the outcome of the next election is finally announced the losers will inevitably point to this very fact.

Democracy isn’t the answer to all the world’s ills: it’s a flawed, imperfect concept but it just about works in whatever form. In Britain we really get by because we rely on tolerance, good humour, forgiveness, understanding and grace. To suggest that we’ll be a richer society because we’ve tinkered with a voting system is foolishness beyond belief.

I like democracy though, because I enjoy the considerable benefit of not getting gunned down for expressing anti-government views. If I were a Libyan national I would not have the freedom to say Gaddafi wets the bed and looks like an out-of-work Boney M lookalike. And here’s a thing: what is Gaddafi’s first name? Like Doctor Who? his Christian name still sits badly for me, and it’s high time this very important piece of information is made available to the masses.

Maybe it’s Reg.

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