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5 May, 2010  
London Calling

Thursday’s election is not about the issues the media insist are important … The real gripe is MPs rorting of expenses … A lot of punishment is to be meted out to those with snouts deepest in the trough … Leverhulme reports

imageThe most crucial election in 30 years is due to take place this Thursday.

An odd day for an election you might think but in a land where it is calmly accepted that a van delivering your new washing machine could turn up any time between nine and five and that you will be at home to receive it, it’s not unusual to have something more important on than work.

Of course, voting is not compulsory so a large number of idiots don’t get a say as they do in Australia, but there is a feeling that there will be a much higher turnout this time.

Young people, thank God, are for once getting exercised as they see their representatives doing little about traffic congestion, immigration numbers and foreign wars.

The leaders of the two major parties forgot the lessons of the past and gave Nick Clegg a free kick. Labour may be forgiven because at the time they were behind the Tories. But now they are even behind the Lib Dems.

imageNick Clegg’s surge galvanised the Murdoch press, but the Telegraph saw the ball earlier.

On April 22, the Tele led with a massive headline about Clegg receiving donations into his private bank account.

A much smaller story on page seven the next day showed Clegg (snap) had used the money to pay for a member of staff’s wages.

Murdoch’s Sun relentlessly trained its guns on Labour.

When the poor old undertaker let fly in the privacy of his own limo about a Rochdale pensioner who had nipped out to buy a loaf of bread, the Sun’s headline screamed Brown Toast.

Sensing rather late in the day that Clegg was becoming popular, The Sun started to bang on about the dangers of a hung Parliament.

Following the third debate the paper trotted out its preferred style of schoolboy, near-pun headline: Scrambled Clegg and Toast.

* * *

imageThe Times has been a bit more balanced. At least it has been publishing the sensible analyses of veteran hack Peter Riddell.

But Murdoch’s telly organ, Sky News, is strident. It parades its chief correspondent, the pompous, dull Adam Boulton (seen here) as having a huge influence on the election.

His show is modestly entitled The Boulton Factor.

Sky’s microphone had been resting quietly on Gordon’s lapel and Kay Burley the afternoon anchorwoman (remember Gina Hard-Faced-Bitch) politely asked Lord Mandelson if he thought Sky would get its mike back.

Not a fair question because Gordon had probably thrown it at a member of staff.

Apart from the odd rent-a-comment woman whom Justinian readers have met before (“I think it’s disgoostin’ I do. And I’ve got 2 children. To think it could happen in my own back yard!”), no-one really gave a hoot about the PM’s outburst.

imageThey know what he’s like. Anyway, shafting someone behind the back after being nice to the face is a deeply ingrained, national character trait.

This leads some to think that the polls might be misleading.

Whatever people have said they intend, come Thursday Brits will do their darndest to boot out as many trough-snuffling sitting MPs as they can.

The pollies would have you believe that the biggest issues in this election are housing or nuclear missiles or budget cuts but it is, without doubt, the Expenses Scandal: the Duck Pond Dodgers and the House Flippers.

Expenses really got on the wick of the Great British Public because folk could understand it.

They don’t particularly follow, nor are they interested, in the media’s favourite subjects like the inevitable emergency budgets, the size of the deficit and massive public sector cuts in the future.

But they do know when their masters are ripping them off … and nobody has forgotten.

It doesn’t matter what people tell the pollsters; in the privacy of Thursday’s booths, there will be a lot of shafting of current MPs going on.

And remember, it’s easier here. Unlike the NSW Senate ticket, the negotiation of which requires a fibre optic gyrocompass, the British voter only has to put a big X next to a name they like.

* * *

As befits the risk-averse, Land of Health and Safety he helped to create, Gordon’s minders have done their best to stop him injuring himself on a voter.

imageOld Mrs Duffy slipped the net last week and then on Saturday, an Oxford dean had the temerity to heckle the PM at a public meeting.

Julian Borthwick (degrees in Theology, Law and Computer Science – seen here), called out “We’re broke” and “What about that bigoted woman?”

He was bundled away by the fuzz. Labour Party officials said he was an idiot.

Bob Menzies once faced a heckler who asked him persistently what he was going to do about ”’ousing”.

Ming replied imperiously, “Well, first I shall put an aitch in front of it”.

Today, Sir Robert would be hauled before a tribunal for hurting the heckler’s feelings.

* * *

imageIn 1997, the then-despised Major government minister Michael Portillo (snap) lost his seat just after three in the morning to the drippy Steven Twigg.

For months afterwards, people would say jubilantly, “Were you up for Portillo?”

This year, my guess is that much of the nation is hoping to have a Balls’ moment. (See my earlier report on this topic.)

“Were you up when Ed Balls lost his seat?”

Punters will reply: “Of course I was! It was only 10.30!”