I am not a political animal, never have been but until I moved to France I voted in every election. I did this mainly in thanks to the suffragette movement but also because I believe that unless you register your choice you have no right to grumble afterwards. I suppose I was brought up to vote Conservative and I did that right up to 2001 when I was swayed by New Labour. I voted for Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone and then left the country. In retrospect I now know that the latter was far wiser than the former.
I suppose I really believe that in the western world there is not a huge difference between the main factions. It seems to me that one party gains office for a few terms and after a while they begin to look sleazy and incompetent. The population then decides it’s time for a change and the other side takes over only to follow, more or less, the same path. The whole process then starts all over again, a sort of pass the constitutional parcel.
When I first came to live abroad I had no wish to influence the politics of a country that, quite honestly I had more or less finished with so I gave up voting. Now I feel that enough is enough, I want this lot out and I have registered for a “vote by post for a British citizen living overseas”.
It is very easy, quick and painless. Just log on to www.aboutmyvote.com , download and complete the very simple forms then post them off to the office of your last ward – voila.
Now, all this talk of politics brings me to that bête noire of all sane people – political correctness. Don’t get me wrong, I am a self confessed feminist but I concede that there are basic differences between the sexes just as there are national traits, which to my mind are irrefutable.
I know it is considered wrong but this week I couldn’t help comparing two families staying in our holiday lets, one German the other English. The Brits booked in the normal way by internet with no great ceremony and they stayed for 4 nights. The surprise came when our cleaning team went in to tidy up for the next arrivals. The place looked as though either a bomb had hit it or perhaps the family had been ordered to leave in a great hurry, probably at gunpoint. There was no particular damage or disrespect of our property, it was just so untidy. There had been no attempt at all at trying to leave the place in some kind of order.
The Germans on the other hand booked by phone and were very precise with their enquiries. The man wanted a lot of information and was rather brusque. In fact I felt as though I was being interrogated even though I thought his questions entirely reasonable. I was to meet them at the cottage and he told me that he would arrive at exactly 5pm! On arrival they were very charming, paid up promptly and smiled a lot. It was on their departure that I was totally amazed, the cottage was absolutely spotless. OK we still gave it “the treatment” but it was interesting to note that there are fundamental differences in national behaviour. We should not generalise but on balance is it not true that there are good and bad qualities in all of us?