What Democracy?

Reading time: 3-4 minutes
Reading accompaniment(s): Something very strong 

Believe it or not, I have work to do. Important and time sensitive work, might I add. But I cannot even begin to consider starting this work before I get to grips with today’s – Friday the thirteenth’s, no less – catastrophic news. I mean, really. What on Earth is going on? 

I thought the vote for Brexit was bad, and that was won by a less than convincing 52%. But to go to bed with the nightmarish news of the exit polls; to hope that this was a practical joke on the side of all of those who really voted against the Tories; and to wake up to confirmation that the Conservatives had indeed won the UK’s gazzillionth general election in the space of four years, by a landslide of seventy-eight seats – their biggest majority in over thirty years, was to be hit by an apocalyptic hangover that no dosage of painkillers will ever be able to subside.

But instead of diving full-throttle into an unabridged tirade into what is wholly wrong with this result and the bleached-blonde buffoon spearheading it, I would like to look a little more closely at the numbers involved. 44% of voters yesterday voted for the Conservative Party, yet in return they were presented with 56% of the parliamentary seats. In contrast, 11% of votes went to the Liberal Democrats, yet they received only a 2% share of seats. Labour, it seems, was the only major party that actually acquired close to what it deserved: 32% of votes related to 31% of seats. 

Though, of course, if you take into account the total size of the electorate, the results appear even more skewed, with the winning party – now basically 100% in control of Britain’s future – having received a vote from less than a third of those registered to vote, and even less if you consider all those who are not registered, plus all of the sixteen and seventeen year olds who, as yet, are not permitted to vote. (Just take a moment to think about TIME’s Person of the Year 2019 who, if she were a Brit, would not have been able to cast her vote. (Nor can she for that matter cast a vote in Sweden for over a year, but that problem I’ll leave up to the Swedes, as I think we have enough on our plates right now.))

While we’re on the numbers game, that brings me back to Brexit (urgh). While I don’t believe that 52% is a big enough majority to pass such a momentous change (which, at the time and perhaps still now, we have little to no idea how it will affect us and indeed others (but clearly no one cares about them)), I cannot deny that it is a majority. But what, exactly, is it a majority of? Those who felt clued up enough on the murky, bottomless, unceasingly selfish pit that seems to be the process of Britain exiting the European Union, to cast a well-thought-through or at least momentarily-thought-about vote? I voted. To remain. But was I clued up? Hell no! How could I have been when even those campaigning on both sides didn’t have the foggiest of what leaving would entail? I just felt something deep within telling me that it was an utterly preposterous idea to even contemplate. And by Jove, I was right! But I could have questioned my gut. I could have thought, “Hmm, I am not one hundred per cent sure about this. I do not feel confident enough in my knowledge of the potential outcomes to vote in this referendum, and do not wish to vote for something I later regret because of this lack of knowledge and foresight.” Perhaps this is how many who didn’t vote in 2016 felt. Perhaps not. But you simply cannot know, unless you ask each and every one of them. But to presume that these non-voters couldn’t care less about Brexit is a very dangerous assumption indeed. Let’s instead assign them the opinion of ‘Not Sure’. Brexit would then have had the following statistics:

Leave: 37%
Remain: 35%
Not Sure: 28%

Even less convincing now, hey?

It seems to me that no matter the question, the policies or the unfortunate hairstyle, the voting system that we currently use is simply not democratic. And if at its core it is undemocratic, how can we ever trust those who benefit from its quirks?

I have yet to step outside or even open my blinds today, for fear of ridicule and abandonment from my adopted Dutch neighbours. But at least I am already here; I escaped with some time to spare. The deadline is looming, but, friends, you still have time. Mass emigration is the only solution I see. Grab your passports and pack a bag, if you move fast you may just make it out in time.

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I’m Still Alive (Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Staying Alive, Staying Alive)

Sincerest apologies for the lack of highly amusing blog posts during the past few months (I hope you have survived without the bi-weekly update, and if you haven’t… my thoughts go out to your family and friends). The thing is… I’ve only gone and bloody emigrated! Yep, I just couldn’t deal with Boris any more. Or Brexit. Or Bangers & Mash. (Linda McCartney, obviously.) (OK so I can’t remember the last time I ate bangers and mash, and would never buy a fake sausage, but, you know, it might be the newest reincarnation of the Johnson and Davis post-cabinet two-piece boyband (both have exceedingly mash-like hair, but I think David would have to take the sausage half due to Boris’ slightly yellow tinge up above).) Am I rambling?

Back to me. (Yay.) I returned home to Blighty in November last year, after my six-month bonanza getting lost in much of wonderful Europe. (The accounts of which, which stopped rather abruptly mid-Porto com Darling Daddy, will recommence – you’ll be thrilled to hear – and will take you step-by-step (bite-by-bite) through the last stages of my trip.) The grand homecoming was great. Aside from the lovely welcome from Mummy Moo Moo at St. Pancras’ exquisite Champagne Bar (the longest in Europe, did you know), I thoroughly enjoyed the proceeding home comforts: the use of non-microfibre towels after showers within which I did not, for hygiene reasons, need to wear flip flops; the comforting feel of the fridge door handle which was never covered in an unidentified suspect stickiness; the ability to dress and undress in peace, and in a space larger than the average toilet cubicle. Oh it was bliss. And then there was Christmas. (I love Christmas.) And then there was the first Valentine’s Day I spent with my new, exotic, European, name-impossible-to-pronounce boyfriend (he came to England and we indulged in some PROPER (greasy) fish and chips). And then there was my birthday (more presents – yay!). And then I thought, “humpf”. “Now that I’m a fully-fledged nomad,” (thought text), “I may as well move to another land, where I cannot speak the language and don’t even own the right currency.” So I did!

For the past couple of months I have been settling in to life in the Netherlands, and settling in to life with an unpronounceably-named roomie. (Both have been testing in their own ways, but I can now officially say that I own a bike (and can ride it with semi-confidence) and can correctly pronounce my boyfriend’s name (at least that’s what he tells me, with semi-confidence). So all in all things are going rather swimmingly!

The language is by far the most difficult obstacle, especially given that I am British and, you know, Brits don’t really do second languages. But I am giving it my best shot. I Het is heel moeilijk. I’m starting to realise that it’s all about the facial expressions pulled while speaking to achieve the correct sounds. It’s the exaggeration of the lips which helps our ‘potato-stuffed’ mouths pronounce these moeilijk words (apparently speaking with an English accent is like speaking with a potato in your throat), and the occasional widening of the eyes for words like watermelooooooon. I am slowly learning to loosen my face muscles in a bid to try to recreate these frankly ridiculous sounds, and in the meantime, while I’m still in the beginner stage, at least people will be captivated by the faces I am pulling even if they can’t understand a word I am saying. (Maybe that’s why everyone finds me so witty?)

Anyway, best get back to the mirror and practice loosening my lips… this language isn’t going to learn itself. But I will leave you with a new Dutch word to add to your one-word repertoire (moeilijk = difficult (if you hadn’t already twigged)). Alsjeblieft = please / you’re welcome, with the ‘j’ pronounced as a ‘y’. (And if you want to say it in a Chinese accent, just for fun, pronounce it ‘asha-bleed’ – I was for a good number of weeks.)