Are you looking forward to consigning 2020 to the rubbish bin?
That’s the vibe one picks up everywhere. Not since the year 2016 seemed to be systematically killing off celebrities has there been such a widespread eagerness to reach the first of January. This is perhaps best illustrated by the popular No Such Thing As A Fish podcast. In years past the podcast team have released a highly popular ‘Book of the Year’, containing some of the more entertaining and informative aspects of the year past.[i] This year, there is no book of 2020, given the domination of world news by the pandemic.
Is it time to hand pollsters their notice after the industry embarrassingly failed to spot how close the 2020 American Presidential Election was? After months of telling readers that Democrat Joe Biden was on course to carry an Electoral College landslide, and that incumbent President Donald Trump had no chance of regaining the White House, at the time of writing the contest is so tight that we are not entirely sure when it will be called.
How has lockdown impacted your personal friendships and relationships? It is probably true to say that we are all past the first stage of the pandemic, where confinement was a bit of a novelty, and we were taking crash courses in video conferencing. There was a resolve to show our better side; we advised how to connect with vulnerable neighbours, volunteered for local hubs, and exchanged tips on how to stay entertained while forced to remain indoors.
You may have seen a comment somewhere in your social media during this election campaign along the lines of ‘If Jesus were voting he definitely would/wouldn’t vote for [insert party/politician].’ For Christians it’s easy to understand the logic behind this; the name ‘Christian’ means ‘little Christ’ and we see imitating Christ’s actions as the best way to live – which resulted in the now passé trend to wear bracelets bearing the letters W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?). But those of different or no faith can also identify with the sentiment, whether Jesus is seen as a worthy person to imitate or as the representation of our higher ideals.
The devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral has generated unexpected headlines following the revelation that $600m has been pledged by Philanthropists to rebuild the cathedral within 24 hours of the fire breaking out.
This week twelve Members of Parliament resigned from their party, eleven of them forming the newly designated ‘The Independent Group.’ Other MPs had previously resigned the party’s whip in Parliament, mainly to vote contrary to the party’s stance on Brexit, as was the case with Frank Field (formerly Labour) and Stephen Lloyd (formerly Liberal Democrat). These resignations were notable not just for the sheer volume, but additionally because the MPs indicated that they were not prepared to bring their change of political allegiance back to their electors by contesting a by-election.
If you have ever attended a Carol Service featuring young children, whether in your own formative years or as a proud parent, it is highly likely you have heard the carol ‘Away in a Manger.’ A melody well suited to growing and uncertain young vocal chords, it is a popular choice for children’s choirs and usually ends up sounding as sweet and innocent as the baby they are singing of.
If you live in an area where elections are happening this year, someone you know will probably complain: “I had a politician knocking on my door the other day. It’s typical – they only ever show up when they want your vote!” Indeed, you may not only agree with the sentiment, but have expressed it yourself!
I’m returning to political blogging with a series of short blogs on my experience of standing for election as a new parent. I am persuaded that politics does not need to be as confusing and mysterious as it seems to most people – and I hope sharing my experience this year will de-mystify what it looks like to stand for elected office, and help make politics more accessible. I’ll also be candidly addressing what it is like to campaign as the parent to a young child – a whole new challenge for me!
If the result of a hung parliament has come as a surprise to everybody apart from YouGov, the biggest surprise is the sudden media focus on Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party, the DUP. I know a number of people will be disquieted at the presence of the DUP as a potential party of government – so I wanted to use a quick bit of political science to show how the DUP are in the position that they have an effective veto on House of Commons business.