The Union Jack flew at full mast over Kips Bay last night, as throngs of British ex-pats and Anglophiles crammed together to watch the U.K. election at Stone Creek on 27th Street and Lexington. Lit by candles, the darkened room and flowing Guinness promised a romantic election. David Dimbleby, the silken-voiced veteran of BBC voting coverage, provided commentary with the help of floating red, yellow and blue graphics, the official colors of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties.
Inevitably, the crowd turned raucous and progressively drunker, the television occasionally cut out as the live feed reloaded, and this after-work gathering of suited men and well-heeled women toting Birkin handbags booed as the Conservatives took their first seat, and a floppy haired Prince William look-a-like sporting a royal blue rosette solemnly spoke on his victory. As the BBC’s signature swingometer swung in the new Member of Parliament’s favor, the assembled chorused, “Whey!” More boos followed for Nick Griffin, xenophobic leader of the British National Party, who lost badly to his Labour opposition (he blamed the result on his constituency’s high turnout, which seems a pretty damning absolution.)
“Finally, something exciting is happening,” said Katie Rayden, a Brit now living in New York.
Having voted Labour, holiday-ing Brit Jonathan Erde had some sympathy for the Conservatives, who won the lion’s share of the vote, but will need to form a coalition for a minority government. “I think it’s quite endearing that David Cameron’s wife keeps getting pregnant. Doing it for the cause,” he said. Summing up the apparent consensus, he added: “The American election is much more fun. I think the media’s trying to make the British election exciting, but in the end how much fun is it to debate who’s going to win Norwich South?”
“Watching the election tonight has made me realize how Americanized I’ve become,” said expat John Cogman, who felt saved by distance. “It’s kind of quaint and parochial.”
By midnight only the hardcore politickers remained. One man, hair gelled and eyes glassed over, stumbled to the bathroom and didn’t reemerge.
Telegenic Nick Clegg, who launched the Liberal Democrats ahead of Gordon Brown’s Labour party in the polls with his enthusiastic, man-of-the-people banter, failed to make any progress whatsoever. Though Clegg’s supporters gave a stronger showing in the polls than at the ballot box, Cameron’s did not, and at the last count the Conservatives looked poised to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, with whom they have little but urgency in common. An alumnus of Eton and Oxford and husband to an Astor heiress, Cameron is not one of Pulp’s common people, but at the moment he looks likely to represent them.