British Expats Watch the Election Results Roll In
HOST I: As you heard earlier, the British election was expected to be a nailbiter.
HOST 2: But after the exit poll came out in favor of the conservatives yesterday evening, the uncertainty faded – fast. Ariel Ritchin spent time at a bar where 90 British expats were watching the results roll in.
Upstairs at Slattery’s Pub in midtown, the UK election watch party is in full swing. Peter Bellamy sits round a table with a group of fellow conservatives, or Toris. He’s from Wales, originally.
Peter: I only came for 3 weeks to New York. And I’m still here 10 years later.
Bellamy runs Big Apple Brits, a group of 2,500 expats in the city. Several dozen gather at Slattery’s every other week.
Peter: The Brits in New York get together and we basically drink. Yeah that keeps us going. Keeps us a little bit English. Helps us to maintain our accents. Keeps our sense of humor going.
That’s what it’s generally like. Camaraderie abound, he tells me. But not this time. Bellamy is looking to rub it in.
Peter: We’re going for the jugular tonight. We’re looking for non-voters. We’re looking for labor voters. And we’re going after them.
Ian Williams, chairman of the New York branch of the Labour Party, is an adequate target. He found the exit poll results.
Williams: Pretty disturbing. I was almost considering moving back to Britain. If I did it would be to sort of take up arms against the new government.
Williams says if it wasn’t for the Scottish Nationalist Party, the SNP, his party might have won. That’s wishful thinking. The combined SNP and Labour votes came in at 44%.
Williams: The Scots Nationalists are winning. Because they don’t like what London’s been doing to them. Which is an entirely rational response. And they feel like the Labor party let them down. Which it did.
Down the bar, Alisa Gonzalez, an American, said she didn’t know much about the UK election. She was at the bar with her friends.
Alisa: And listening to them gasp about the SNP for ages and ages. Which is apparently a huge shock. But I didn’t know what it was until 2 minutes ago…
Gonzalez says she was embarrassed.
Alisa: I feel shockingly culturally uneducated.
Barnes: I think Americans should be more interested in Britain. And what’s happening in British politics. This is a very important day because well, we were hoping that their political system might change significantly.
Helen Barnes, also a Labour supporter, says these elections have real implications for Americans. David Cameron will stay on as Prime Minister, and he’s promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership in the EU.
Peter Bellamy is fine with that. He is still trying to rub it in after the Torey victory. He approaches Barnes and a group of Labor supporters who moved to New York after the Toris won last time.
Peter: They left Britain because of the diabolical government that was in place, and tonight unfortunately it’s all going downhill as it looks like continuation. Sorry guys, you’re stuck here.
But he’s trying to be sympathetic.
Peter: The least we can do is get them a bit of beer. But it’s not a good night for those guys // Can I get a Stella please? And can you do me some shots.
The Labor supporters are thick skinned. About a dozen get together to sing the Labor anthem: Red Flag.
SONG: RED FLAG
The Brits planned to gather again later this month and made a promise: Next time, no politics.
Ariel Ritchin, Columbia Radio News.
SONG as BUTTON: RED FLAG