Tag Archives: Elections

On being right

Mustn’t beat about the bush. I am very worried about the Swedish parliamentary elections on Sunday. The Resident IT Consultant suggested I ought to vote this time, so I have. It sounds dreadful, admitting to not having done so for some time, but the truth is, it felt wrong voting in a country where I no longer knew quite what was going on, or who believed in what.

I’ll tell you about the last time, which was in 1991.

I went to the honorary consulate, and reckoned it’d be good to have a day out, so suggested to Esperanto Girl that she and her son should come along. We could have tea after…

So we stuffed our respective toddlers into their pushchairs and off we went. While the consul’s assistant took me into a side room to vote, Esperanto Girl waited in the posh foyer area of the solicitors’ firm where we were. She watched with some interest as I and the consul’s assistant to-ed and fro-ed a bit, looking more and more bothered.

She knew me to be trouble, giggling as she asked what had been going on.

In my own actual work, not long before, I had been trained to receive votes, so I wasn’t happy when I was told that the assistant would just take my envelope up to the room where they kept the box, and put it in. Later.

I told her I needed to see it go in. Now.

Tightlipped, but forced to do as I said, she took me upstairs and the box and the envelope were duly united in front of me. ‘Satisfied?’

On returning downstairs she asked, as politely as she could manage, while being absolutely furious with me, what she had done wrong.

So I told her, without detailing the three possible bad outcomes of doing it her way. (Since you ask, she could have looked to see how I voted. She could have changed my vote. Or she could have omitted to put my vote in.)

Esperanto Girl giggled some more, I fumed, and then we presumably went for tea at Kendals’.

And I concluded I had no wish to repeat this ever again.

It’s easier now. You send your vote in the post, and all you need are two authors who are willing to witness the deed. Or, I suppose, any two people you happen to have to hand.

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No pasarán

If I try hard enough I’m sure I can manage to write something on the election that somehow has a tie with books. I expect many of you have already seen that piece by JK Rowling in the Times a couple of weeks ago. Along with most others, I was really impressed, but not surprised, by what she wrote. Unlike her I’ve never listened much to the bad things they say about single mothers. Not because I’m not one of them – I’m not – but because I’ve never in my wildest imagination been able to see anything amiss with single parenthood. One of the people closest to me was a single mother, and how hard she worked, and what an upright citizen, and decent human being she was!

Around the time when the JK piece was in the news, there was a programme on television. I read the blurb for it in the paper and it made me really angry. The premise for the programme seemed to be that the children of these single mothers were destined to become failures. So not only are the parents bad, but their children automatically become bad. And this wasn’t even the politicians speaking (hang on, if it’s an election; don’t they want those votes? Maybe not…), but the programme makers. So they dislike us too.

It had never struck me that I might be bad due to mother-of-witch being a single parent. But now that I consider me, well, I’m one of those very bad things – a foreigner. And an immigrant. She clearly failed there. And I’m unemployed. No, I’m not, insofar as I’m busy all the time. But no money paid for my efforts. Not even benefits, actually. And as I began this piece, I hadn’t thought of the fact that nicely British though he may be, the Resident IT Consultant is also unemployed. Can all the voluntary work he does count as a mitigating factor?

The other day on Facebook Bali Rai had a little rant about the BNP who had left a leaflet but not stayed to engage in a discussion with him. I think he really wanted that chat. The same day I received my leaflet, also stuffed through my letterbox. I had hitherto imagined they might phrase their dislike for certain kinds of people a little more diplomatically, but no. It would appear all foreigners are unwanted. So that covers me, then. Don’t have a vote anyway. Daughter came home and read the leaflet, then asked if I would permit her to tear it into little pieces. I had pondered having it framed, but in the end I let her. As Son said when he heard, he hoped we recycled the paper. We did.

I’m writing this while listening to some foreign rubbish on iTunes. ABBA, since you ask. I’m blogging on a genuine IKEA pine table. It’s foreign, too, but maybe IK’s youthful leanings exonerate me?

And then, very serendipitously, a little book by the to me unknown Joe Layburn, called Street Heroes, arrived. It’s about a young boy whose father is leader of a British fascist party, and it deals with the confused feelings he has about his dad’s behaviour and his reputation at school. Basically it’s a quick lesson in fascism for very young readers, coupled with the history of the Battle of Cable Street and Mosley and the Jewish immigrants.

This time round it’s the Muslims who are the target, as well as many other ‘undesirables’ in London’s East End. It’s a very uneven story, and the fact that it depends on a fantasy element doesn’t help. But it deals with such important issues, that I can overlook that. The finishing pages are enough to make your hair stand on end, at least a little bit. Too many young people no longer learn anything about stuff like this.

So far, I’ve never had it suggested to me that I should go back to where I came from. Son has, on the other hand. There was a period when playing out on the street – our very leafy, pleasant, fairly well-off street – his so-called friend suggested he do that. I can only assume he meant the hospital a mile down the road. Do you reckon the maternity ward would have Son back?

These may be election-fevered days, but I’m not suggesting you vote for any particular party. I haven’t voted in a parliamentary election for about 19 years. That last time I took Son in his pushchair and invited a friend with another toddler-on-wheels to accompany us to the consulate. We left the solicitors’ firm, where the consulate was situated, in disgrace. I had had the temerity to tell the person there that her ‘polling station’ routine was incorrect (is it my fault I’d been trained to do her job?), and she wasn’t entirely happy with that. Well, that should teach my friend not to go anywhere with me again.

Anyway, even the best political party seems to go mad after winning an election. We’re all doomed.