Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to choose an MP for your (hard-working) family

Now the date of the election has been confirmed, causing gasps of surprise all over the country, many people, fed up to the pre-molars with politicians of all stripes, are wondering who to vote for. To make this process a little bit easier, let us draw a parallel with choosing a pet. Many of the same factors impact on both decisions: financial resources, work situation / time available, size and location of property, how long you expect them to last, and allergies.

Some quick pointers:

Dogs – ‘man’s best friend’, loyal and undiscriminating, happy when simply walked and fed, maybe when Balls[1] are thrown for him to chase. Warning – not all breeds are suitable for children. Or schools or families. Those attracted to dog-ownership by the What-Amess[2] books should be mindful that the accident-prone main character cost its owners approximately £400 a week in food[3].

Cats – supercilious, demanding, often active in the dark hours, fond of dragging in half-dead smaller animals, and of which it is often said that “you don’t own them, they own you”. See Mandelson.

Small animals – cute, furry, fat-cheeked little baggages that bite often but with little impact, and swiftly lose their appeal; on the upside, they tend not to last too long. See Hazel Blears. Guinea pigs make popular classroom pets, but have been known to die of fright, which could cause problems when facing Jeremy Paxman. See Nick Clegg[4].

Fish – the claim that goldfish have only a seven-second memory seems to be a myth[5]; it seems more likely to be one to three months. Perfect for most politicians ‘reviewing’ policy, although a Grayling[6] is believed to have a much shorter memory span.

Reptilesway too easy. Note: Contrary to common belief, a Griffin[7] is a combination of a lion and an eagle, and doesn’t actually have scales. You can try to buy one, but the pet-shop owner will laugh at you. Some species of chameleon can change colour[8], which enables them to avoid predators – although sometimes this can backfire – see Quentin Davies[9].

Birds – ducks have had quite a bit of MP-related press[10], but the key species to consider is the parrot, as their focus on repetition, repetition, repetition makes them a shoe-in for interviews, and therefore a good chance of a cabinet role. See in particular the Greater Crested[11] and Lesser Spotted[12] Milibandi, both of which have rather dull plumage. The former tends to migrate, rather aimlessly, in search of greater influence; the latter just stays here and waits for it to get warmer.

Other – Badgers may be able to count on the support of Brian May, but they are facing dangerous times – most media focus has been on the Welsh Assembly’s plans to kill badgers in west Wales, but a smaller, more targeted cull is an outside possibility in Edinburgh South West[13].

The range of animals out there may seem wide, but sadly only a few species will actually be available in most constituencies. Any further animal-husbandry tips gratefully received.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Balls
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What-a-Mess
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Amess#Expenses
[4] http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2008/09/transcript-jeremy-paxman-asks-clegg.html
[5] http://mythbustersresults.com/episode11
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grayling_(genus)
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffin
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chameleon#Change_of_color
[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/election_2010/england/8597240.stm
[10] http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jun/19/mps-expenses-win-duck-house
[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Milliband
[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Miliband
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alistair_Darling