I voted at lunchtime today. As I entered the polling station, I thought I might at least try to gem up on the various candidates, and was horrified to find there were no brochures or posters anywhere. No one was standing with a rosette, or a clip board, just a couple of women behind a trestle table. I didn’t need proof of identity. I simply gave my address and agreed when she said “David Till?” I was handed three pieces of paper; one to vote for the mayor, one for local councillors, and another which I didn’t understand, which simply listed the main political parties. I assume this was something to do with the London assembly.
I had contemplated making some kind of dirty protest. I thought about spoiling my ballot paper. I also considered basing my decision entirely on who the best looking candidates were. Something arbitrary like that would match the arbitrary way that we’re governed in this country. Sadly, there were no photographs anywhere. But how do I know what these councillors stand for? I have nothing but a name to judge them by. Why even bother with a name? I'd rather have put a tick by my favourite shape. These people don’t have fliers, they haven’t knocked on my door. They’re just names. Why should I give them my vote? In the end I decided to go Lib Dem. I think Brian Paddick is wet, but I’ve always been hugely impressed by our local Lib Dem MP, Lynne Featherstone, who seems to be doing good work both locally and on a national level. For my second choice, I’m afraid to say I voted Green, which is a hideously middle class thing to do, but I couldn’t vote for Boris or Ken.
I received a phone call this afternoon from a chirpy -ounding bloke who told me he was phoning on behalf of Boris. “Have you voted yet?” he asked hopefully, “yes” I said. I could hear that he instantly wanted to bring the conversation to a close, but he carried on, “may I ask how you voted?” I told him, and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. I felt secretly quite pleased.
350 years ago, London was basking in a heat wave and Pepys took Lady Sandwich and the well-behaved, well-to-do children of Sir Thomas Crew to the Tower of London to see the lions. It’s hard to comprehend that the tower in those days was not just a prison, but its menagerie was world-famous and it was also home to the royal mint.