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General Election: Happily, it'll soon be over bar the tatty posters blowing in the wind

By Claire Harrison

Published 07/05/2015

No shame: politicians use every inch of space on our lamp-posts
No shame: politicians use every inch of space on our lamp-posts

Elections are pretty annoying, aren't they? Apart from the small matter of them being a vital part of the free and peaceful democracy we all enjoy living in, the actual process of electing candidates is a bit of a pain. For starters, there's the party political broadcasts which seem to get more elaborate and cringeworthy with every election.

Does anyone actually decide who to vote for based on watching wooden politicians stroll around, sounding wooden and pointing woodenly at mysterious far off objects floating in the ether?

Then there's the election posters, which should be outlawed by every right-thinking democracy.

It seems to be a particular quirk of Northern Ireland to plaster every available pole-type surface with the smiles of politicians who don't normally smile from one election to another. Putting one poster on a telegraph pole doesn't appear to be enough. There's room for five? Hell, stick them all on before some other candidate fills the space.

Then there's unannounced guests arriving at your home, ringing your doorbell wanting to discuss weighty Westminster issues when you've just sat down to demolish your dinner after a very long day at work.

Actually, we have the opposite problem in our wee Belfast street - no one wants to talk to us and it can feel very lonely. In 10 years, we've had one candidate actually find our front door to the point we joke that the next one to turn up gets an automatic vote. Yet they never do …

Social media is also a no-go zone in the run-up to an election.

It's the place where political messages get shoved down your throat when all you really want is to join the chit chat about Britain's Got Talent. It's where trolls go into hyperdrive over anything they don't agree with, bringing out a nastiness they wouldn't dream of unleashing in the "real world".

I've yet to see a sensible election debate played out on social media, it seems to turn into a competition for who can be the most vicious. (Anyone else remember those pre-Twitter days when candidates used to drive around in cars with an speaker attached to the roof so they could bellow out to as many voters as possible? Can we have those days back please?)

What else really, really, really annoys me about elections?

Using schools as polling stations, for no real sensible reason that I can see, meaning thousands of gleeful pupils get a day off school while their parents scrabble around desperately for childcare.

Why can't they use a church hall? Or any other building scheduled to be empty that day? Or do it on a Saturday? Why go for maximum disruption?

Then there's the last minute canvassers who seem to think that there are actual people walking into a polling station who have not yet decided who they are voting for.

They seem to think it's acceptable to tussle and hustle for votes right up to last second, bombarding unsuspecting citizens with pamphlets which they already have five copies of lying on the hall table at home.

I would love to know if anyone, ever, in the entire history of democracy has changed their mind on who to vote for as the result of effectively getting wrestled to the ground outside a primary school.

So as we go to the polls today for that necessary but irritating old process of democracy, send up a little message of thanks that this time tomorrow it will all be over, bar the tatty posters hanging forlornly and illegally on a lamppost for the next three months.

The politics of when to tighten your belt

In what's been a fairly dull election, we have to thank a teenager called William Carrie for a rare moment of comic relief. The 17-year-old was left a bit embarrassed when his trousers fell down as he asked Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg for a selfie.

William, you see, is a follower of that particular fashion of belting loose jeans somewhere well below they're supposed to be.

Rather than run away in shame at the moment being captured by a television crew, the future voter was worried that he had embarrassed the Deputy Prime Minister by what he swears was a complete accident and asked to apologise to him. Who says teenagers have no manners?

Fantastic day out for Ed's self-esteem

Still in election news, many thanks to the hyper-excited hen party ladies of Chester for the least expected moment of the campaign trail when they treated Ed Miliband like a rock star on tour.

The bride and her party crew appeared to be genuinely over-excited when they spotted the Labour leader's battle bus and insisted on him coming out for high fives, selfies and adoring cheers.

Miliband looked as pleased as, well, a man surrounded by a bevvy of beautiful, adoring women as he duly obliged for the photo moment.

Whether or not they were taking the absolute mickey out of him has never been confirmed nor denied.

Belfast Telegraph

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