Power to the people

The United Kingdom is going to the polls today with turnout already appearing likely to be significantly higher than the 2010 General Election when only 65% of voters exercised their democratic right.

Of course, the outcome is seemingly less predictable than any British election in modern times.

The final clutch of opinion polls indicate that the Conservatives are likely to emerge as the party with most seats, but well short of the 326 required for an overall Commons majority.  

And with the Scottish National Party - set for a landslide north of the border - having made clear that they won't do business with the Tories, there is now a very real chance that Labour Leader Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister as head of a minority government.

Whatever lies ahead in the coming days will certainly be dramatic.  But, for now, there are still lots of votes to chase and no shortage of political careers on the line.  

There can be only 650 winners once the final declaration is made at some point tomorrow, leaving 3,321 candidates with shattered dreams.  

In an era where the reputation of politics and its practitioners is "less than positive," one might wonder why anyone would choose to put themselves in the firing line in the first place.

Some undoubtedly do it because of the perceived glamour or opportunity to enhance their personal status.  But, in my experience, the vast majority choose to stand because they believe they can truly make a difference and want to test their ability to effect change for the better. And for that they should surely be commended, not denigrated. 

Churchill famously said: "Democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment, except for all the oth­ers."  And as with most of his other pronouncements, he was right.

But my favourite election-related  quote comes from US politician Dick Tuck following his defeat in the 1966 California State Senate election.

"The people have spoken...the bastards!" he announced from the stage after his result was formally declared.

I would have every sympathy should any shunned candidate here express similar sentiments in the coming hours.