Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday, 17 April 2010

It's an ill wind..

No sign of volcanic ash here in London. The sky has been more or less cloudless all day - indicating, apparently, high pressure preventing all that volcanic ash from moving on at any speed, which in turn means that the skies have been quiet. No stream of jets lining up to process up the river past us into Heathrow, no smaller prop-jets and the like circling round into City Airport - and no helicopters either.

However, as if it weren't bad enough that the ice-cream vans and their jingles are now making their tinny appearance, this morning I saw what I had thought a forgotten breed - an election loudspeaker van. And not for one of the major contenders, either. This was for the English Democrats, a somewhat Poujadist outfit demanding a parliament for England, and a mishmash of various populist eyecatchers (if UKIP is the party for Poujadists who don't care for foreigners, the English Democrats is the party for Poujadists who'd rather not notice them). What's more it wasn't hired for the occasion, nor was it an ordinary car with the passenger leaning out of the window with a handheld megaphone. This was all painted up in party colours, and a website address for the local party organisation (so, apparently not a van that's on loan around the country). One wonders where the money comes from, given that they'll almost certainly lose their deposit.

For this constituency, once considered safely working-class Labour, with just the occasional protest vote for the extreme right, is now considered highly marginal.

The demographic changes around here (that is, lots and lots of expensive rabbit hutches for bankers and City workers) have fuelled an upsurge of support for the Tories, who now hold the local council seats for this end of the constituency. The Liberal Democrats, who for a time held the local council, were strong in the Borough's other constituency, but not here, although they're putting up one of the party's stronger campaigners.

The Tories' hopes have been encouraged by the prospect of Labour losing votes to the egregious George Galloway and his rum collection of perpetual oppositionists, who for some reason have decided to move on from the neighbouring constituency, for which he was elected (though you wouldn't know it) last time, and devote their attentions to us.

And as if that weren't enough reason for this to be one of the constituencies to look out for, we're also to be asked to vote on whether we should have a directly-elected executive mayor for the borough.

But for all the hoopla, and the apparent sudden opening up of the national campaign after the response to the first leaders' debate on TV, there really only seems to be one option for my vote, here, since I don't want Galloway or a Tory government.

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