Never mind the ballots? Count on it being the best bit!

Common sense – perhaps even a sense of fun – won through yesterday, as MPs protected the only guaranteed entertainment of general election. Facing proposals to keep ballot boxes shut overnight and to commence the counting of ballot papers the next morning (it would save money, apparently), our elected representatives opted to amend the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to ensure that the counting of votes will carry on through the night.

In doing so, they have perhaps recognised that at least some sections of a public often generally so apathetic towards politics, find election night quite a thrill. In an earlier blog (Watching the party leaders’ mass-debate), I criticised the idea of television debates. I stick by that but cannot deny that they will add some spice to the campaign. And the same applies to watching the results come in through the night and into the morning, and the forthcoming election could produce some dramatic moments to rival those of 1997.

Anyone devoted enough to stay up and watch the results come in deserves something for their efforts. Being able to say “I saw the Portillo moment” in 1997 was fine reward for those devoted enough to stay up for it. Where better to witness such a moment than at Labour’s official election night party at the Royal Festival Hall on huge screens, surrounded by triumphant young politicos who felt that they were part of a huge transformation of their country? And that’s exactly where I was…

Which compounds the regret and embarrassment I feel at having completely missed the most talked about moment of a historic night, having been taken ‘tired’ in that venue’s facilities. I was, in more ways than one, out for the count. This probably explains why I’m so excited to get the chance to make amends. MPs have given me another chance. No falling asleep this time – I know it sounds nerdy, but democracy can be fun!

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