You’ve noticed there’s an election coming up, right? Thought you might have done. You might be quite excited by it by now, especially if you’ve been following the polls. You might spend you days avidly watching the BBC Live Election Feed, and spend your nights poring over the hoards of leaflets stuffed through you letter box. Hell, you might even have registered to vote!
I bet one thing you haven’t done, though, is been asked your voting preference by one of the many polls we have been hearing so much about. Now, I’m sure they do some very clever maths to make them quite accurate, but there are thousands of people whose deep political convictions or knee-jerk opinions simply aren’t being registered! Well, fear not; for the consumer society has met with your desire to make your voice heard.
You might remember the great Thorntons Leader Poll of 1997, where you could buy the head of your favourite party leader formed in chocolate to express your preferences.* Some people even managed to spin news stories out of people’s chocolate voting choices, completely ignoring the fact that of course I’d pick Paddy Ashdown because he had the largest face. Anyway, I was too young to vote. The Thorntons poll was clearly flawed.
But now The Mitre in Cambridge has given us the option to express our political opinions through the medium of buying pints! Yep; no more pesky underage voters screwing up those precious statistics, which Nicholson’s pubs promise to collate and circulate At Some Point in the Future.
I went in last week to find that the staff have coloured the wooden handles of three of the beer pumps in the colours of the three main political parties, and replaced the tasting notes they normally display over the clips with matching pictures of the faces of the leaders, making loosely beer- and politics- based puns. Brown says: “Your round? Thought I’d have to bully you into it!”, Cameron said: “So smooth… No need for air brushing”, and Clegg says “Can’t decide which to go for? No, me neither.”
But they weren’t all the same beer. Brown and Cameron were both stamped on London Pride, but Clegg? He got Adnam’s Bitter! So not only am I making a political choice, but I’m making one on taste as well. And, to top it off, my beer choices make it clear that whilst Conservative and Labour policies are pretty much the same, the Liberal Democrats provide a quite different alternative. So instead of merely expressing an opinion, I am having some associations gently encouraged as I get a bit more tipsy.
I thought this was bad enough, until I returned last night. The three coloured handles remain. Cameron has entirely gone. Clegg’s face is now on the blue pump, on the Adnam’s Bitter. Brown remains on the red-handled London Pride. The yellow-handled pump displayed no face, but was pumping out a Morrocan ale.
Now, I like to think I’ve been keeping a fair eye on political developments, but what on earth are the pumps trying to tell me now? A Liberal-Conversative alliance is on the way, so long as Cameron gets shunted? The Liberal Democrats are about to replace their leader with an African candidate? And is my beer/political preference now being counted based on the handle colour, or the associated face?
It was too much to handle. I went for an independent beer from one of the distant pumps; the Sign of Spring. It had lambs on the clip. But as the pint arrived, I realised that even then I was not free from accidentally expressing political opinions:
Looks like I’ve told that poll that I’m voting Green.
* This was the era of Thorntons novelty chocolates – who can forget the replica of E. Holyfield’s ear, with the chunk bitten out by Mike Tyson?
Topic: Personal Tags: politics, real ale