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Posted by: John Brace | 8th May 2016

What is the Willy Wonka metaphor for the election of 23 Wirral councillors?

What is the Willy Wonka metaphor for the election of 23 Wirral councillors?

                       

Willy Wonka as played by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory [1971], but who is Willy Wonka in this metaphor for Wirral's election?

Willy Wonka as played by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but who is Willy Wonka in this metaphor for Wirral’s election?

I’m going to use a rather strange metaphor to describe the last set of Wirral Council elections, which may seem odd to start with.

It’s a scene from the film version (called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) of the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Sadly I couldn’t find an HD version that includes the part before they enter the tunnel and just after as the lower quality versions don’t have the same impact. This is from the 1971 version (I’m showing my years now), not the 2005 remake with Johnny Depp.

The background to the scene (apologies here if you are familiar with the book or film for telling you what you already know) is that each of the children have won a golden ticket to tour Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory accompanied by one family member. All of them, along with Willy Wonka at the head of the boat are travelling in a paddle boat paddled by some Oompa-Loompas down a river of chocolate.

Just as at the start of every election everything seems rosy and wonderful and things are going to get better, then the boat enters the tunnel.

The tunnel scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Inside the tunnel, people on the boat are scared and frightened by the scenes that are displayed on the wall of the tunnel and some want the journey to stop. I might point out that people in an election vote for irrational reasons, which is why fear (of what’ll happen if they vote for the “wrong” candidate or party) works so well.

Some of the people on the boat think Willy Wonka played by Gene Wilder has lost the plot and don’t know how to react to what he says (or sings).

The boat abruptly stops at the end (the end of the election in this metaphor) and they find everything is back to normal and they are outside the Invention Room.

So (as all Roald Dahl stories have hidden meanings), I look forward to people’s interesting comments identifying who the people in this metaphor represent and what I truly mean!

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Responses

  1. I do not think that things happen that quickly in Wirral. What has it to do with the recent elections? No idea? Maybe you could tell us who is the Wirral equivalent of the strange man trying to frighten everyone? As far as I am aware most people regard the council as a minor irritant rather than a boat ride to nowhere. Sorry not to give any interesting comments. However a question. Is the reason that you ask what you truly mean because you do not know? Or is it a quiz? If it is a quiz, is there a prize? Maybe a life pass to leisure centres?

    • Thanks for your interesting comment.

      You ask what this has to do with the recent elections. Here are some quotes from two leaflets I received, "TORY MONEY GRAB £2000 EVERY HOME ON WIRRAL HIT, "Tories introduce 2% tax on ALL households to pay for elderly care" (sorry off the top of my head I can’t find a leaflet to hand that mentions the Lib Dems).

      I might point out the last bit about a 2% tax is somewhat disingenuous for Labour to blame the Conservatives for as this was part of Labour’s budget.

      My point is that instead of setting out a positive vision of what people should vote for, the election seemed to be mainly negative campaigning (by more political parties than just the example above) of what people shouldn’t vote for.

      As to the Wirral equivalent of Gene Wilder’s character I felt that was somewhat open to interpretation.

      The boat ride to nowhere is partly a dig at the many references over the past few years to Wirral Council being on a journey.

      As to the reason I ask. I have my own interpretation of this metaphor, the golden tickets being polling cards, the people on the boat being the voters, the Oompa-Loompas being Wirral Council employees and the rest I think should be clear.

      Sadly it’s not a quiz and there isn’t a prize and yes, ex-employees of Wirral Council are still cheesed off by that issue over the life passes to the leisure centres.

  2. John, in my metaphor, the boat has rigging.

    • I have a few more stories planned about the elections.

      It’s not really my place to make pronouncements over whether they were run fairly or not as that’s up to the courts to decide on such matters.

      However I will point out the problems with that approach briefly.

      Election petitions (which are legal challenges to elections can be brought by either losing candidates or 4 electors in the area) are rare because if lost those who bring election petitions could be stung for costs of around a million pounds. The Tower Hamlets election petition is a rare example.

      For a legal challenge brought by individuals it has to be proven to the criminal burden of proof. Losing candidates don’t like to be seen as “sore losers” and they have to generally be filed within 21 days of the election result.

      Take for example the overturned election of Phil Woolas. Because he appealed the decision, by the time of the byelection the second placed candidate didn’t win and an alternative Labour Party member was elected instead.

      Matters can also be brought within 12 months of the result (although a court can grant extensions to this) in the Magistrates Court. However as politicians decide on senior police appointments, which police officer would blot his copybook by putting a councillor/s and political party activists in the dock?

      The Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions also have a role in some matters.

      In theory any private citizen with proof could bring an action in the Magistrates Court. I have in the past brought a civil action against a local councillor and his party in the civil courts. I won, but that’s on the civil standard of proof.

      However in practice if a private citizen or organisation were to take this bold step the Crown Prosecution Service can make an application to take over the case and have it discontinued.

      You’d be surprised how far the political tentacles of political parties can stretch.

      So to summarise political candidates and agents know the chances of having to answer at a court hearing is minute, the media know this, the police know this and that is why despite stories in the press about dubious election practices they rarely go anywhere. Unless someone puts into action a grand scheme to get the mailman to deliver postal votes to you of people you’ve falsely registerd for a postal vote and as a candidate you get caught red handed by the police in the eve of polling day in a warehouse filling out postal votes for yourself, the chances of there being personal consequences for what you’ve done to democracy are very slight.

    • Have a read of Who wouldn’t want you to read this story about the election of 4 Wirral councillors?

      Is that enough or do you want forensic examination of election expenses returns too (which can’t happen until the deadline for submission has passed)?


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