Apparently there were some British elections last week. Which day? I'm not sure, but I think it was Thursday. Who won? Again, I think the Tories won most of the local elections, and a wild-haired philanderer named Boris Johnson won the London mayor's race.
That's pretty much all I know, since unlike in America, elections don't generate nearly as much excitement. These were local elections, for local council positions, and for London, the elected mayor's position. (As opposed to the largely ceremonial Lord Mayor.) Yet for some reason they are said to reflect on the viability of the party in power—Labour. More likely though, they reflect your rubbish collection.
Even the average news junkie here would have a difficult time figuring out what the issues are, and who's running. Campaigns aren't fought in the news media and on the airwaves like they are in the U.S.; they're fought door to door, literally. The only campaign communications I've ever seen is when some piece of literature is dropped in my door. (We aren't registered voters; perhaps I'd get a knock if we were). Television and radio ads aren't allowed, and there isn't much of a local press to speak of here—while several local "newspapers" cover the area, they usually have no more than a handful of actual news stories. A supermarket opening, a post office closing, perhaps a mugging in the Common—if it occurred before the deadline for Thursday's publication.
There's also a Q&A column, where people mostly complain about Americanisms creeping into the local dialect. (I know this because I once angrily replied, and my response was printed.)
The biggest section of our local paper is the real estate section, which sort of doubles as news: house prices are still out of reach for most people, even though they're also reportedly dropping. Residents of semi-rural England follow real estate the way old people in the States read obits.
I mentioned rubbish collection: it's well known that Labour wants you to have biweekly rubbish collection, while the Tories are willing to pick up your rubbish weekly. They'll even come inside and empty that cute little wicker trash basket you keep in your cloakroom (i.e. powder room), if you'd like.
The Lib Dems don't want you to have any trash at all. They prefer you recycle and compost; in fact I'm pretty sure they'd come and sort my recycles for me if I asked.
I live in a pretty solid Tory district, so it's possible I just haven't been exposed to the down and dirty campaigning that goes on in, say, Hull. (Yes, "dirty" was supposed to be a pun.) Also I'm not a voter. If I were, I'd vote Lib Dem. (I actually know a woman here who runs every time as a Lib Dem. She's very nice. I'll have to remember to ask her about composting next time I see her.) That's because they're the only political party that opposed the war. But like I said, these elections weren't about the war, nor were they about libraries and post offices closing, or little old ladies getting mugged on the way home from Tesco.
They were about rubbish, and if you think you can read anything more than that into the results, then I've got a recycle bin full of tabloids with pictures of Boris Johnson's former lover to sell you.