Many describe politics as a dog-eat-dog world, but it rarely gets more canine than this. The Westminster Dog of the Year competition, organised by the Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club, will take place on 25 October in Victoria Tower Gardens, just a bone’s throw away from the Houses of Parliament. Approaching its 20th anniversary, it is somewhat of an institution for MPs wishing to raise their pup-ularity ratings…and for headline writers nationwide.
Giving constituents a rare chance to discover their Westminster man or woman’s best friend, votes are now open to the public, who decides – along with the “high-speed doggie dash” competition and judges on the day – which pooch to pitch first past the post. Or will they be using propawtional representation this year? The single transfurable vote, perhaps?
If for some reason you are still reading this, I will inform you that it is highly unlikely there will be much electoral reform this year. The contest has become known as a rather Tory glory affair, with all but two of the 18 candidates last year being the furry friends of Conservative MPs.
This year doesn’t look much different. There is again a vast majority of Tory representatives, with only three out of the 20 entrants Lib Dems. Sound familiar? Any prospect of a Lib-Labrador pact seems to have slipped away.
Last year’s winner was Neil Parish MP’s Labrador, Wilberforce, whose win was put down to being “very good with people.” It appears that politics nowadays really is a popularity contest.
Who will win this year? There are three rescue dogs entering – two by Lib Dem MPs – who might be in with the chance from voters keen for a hero. Then there is the tellingly-named Boris, who belongs to Alec Shelbrooke MP, or the PR-savvy Popcorn, owned by Steve Brine MP, who “describes himself” as “the perfect coalition dog” as he is yellow with a blue collar.
For those unlucky mutts who miss out on the top position, I’m sure that there is always Chief Whippet. Otherwise they’ll just have to make do with being barkbenchers for another year. Forget the reshuffle – come October we’ll discover who the real top dogs are.