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. 

Leeds set for place in General Election spotlight

With just a week to go until we traipse off to our local polling stations, all politically-inclined eyes will be on Leeds Town Hall tonight as David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg face questions from David Dimbleby and an audience of voters.      

Yes friends, it's the BBC Question Time Election Special and it's taking place right here in t'Yorkshire.

It's a heck of a coup for Leeds, which has rapidly become the UK city of choice for major events outside the capital including BBC Sports Personality of the Year and the Tour de France Grand Depart.

If you're not from the city or aren't familiar with the Town Hall - opened by Queen Victoria in 1858 - then tune in to BBC1  at 8pm to see the iconic building in all its splendour.     

And if you are, then switch on anyway for a televisual spectacular which could have a significant impact on the General Election outcome.

Just remember that it'll all be over soon.  Honestly.

The finger of ill fate

We'll be hearing a lot about photo opportunities between now and the General Election as politicians across the Kingdom seek to portray themselves in the best possible light in the quest for votes.

Yes, if hi-vis jackets and hard hats are your things, then you'll be in luck over the next three months should you choose to open a newspaper or switch on your TV in the quest for "news."

But photo opportunities can go very, very wrong.

To illustrate, whether he becomes the next British Prime Minister or not this spring, it is unlikely that Labour Leader Ed Miliband will ever truly live down his spectacular encounter with a bacon sandwich.       

Poor bloke.  Should've stuck to cheese and onion.

But earlier this week Ed's mishap was arguably matched when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne joined David Cameron on a visit to a cider factory in Somerset.

At first glance, nothing seems amiss.  

But have a look at his other hand - or rather, finger.


It seems most improbable that Mr Miliband ever finished his bacon sandwich.  But it's almost certain that Mr Osborne had a stiff drink after seeing his little faux pas.