Decision time…

So tomorrow, we in the United Kingdom go to the polls to decide who gets to govern our great nation for the next four or five years. We’ve been bombarded with information, the papers full of rumour, counter rumour, news and views. We’ve had three debates between the three main party leaders on television for the first time ever. And tomorrow we have a tricky decision to make.

Do we go with Gordon Brown and Labour? The most left-wing of the three parties (which really doesn’t say much at the moment. At points in the run up to this election it has felt like the end of a game of musical chairs, with one chair remaining, the middle ground. When the music stops, they all dash for it), they’ve been in power for 13 years. In this election they’ve had some good moments (GB’s rousing speech to Citizens UK) and some big problems (not least those caused directly or indirectly by the minions of a certain newspaper owner who’s come down firmly on the side of the Conservative party). At times, though, it has felt a little like the Gordon Brown show….where was everyone else?

Or do we vote for David Cameron and the Conservatives? Cameron’s clever, yes. And he’s slick, heavens yes. But at times I find that’s what’s preventing me from committing to voting Conservative. It’s almost too slick. Too glossy. Too good to be true? As much as I want to believe and feel inspired, there’s a disconnect for me, and I have to say having researched my local candidate too (I do try to be informed), I’m not sure they’ll deliver the things I personally feel are important. I’m not anti-Conservative by any means…if anything in this election I was eminently wooable…it’s just I’m not sure I can sign on to five years of what they are proposing. YMMV, of course. 🙂 I feel I should also add that in my neck of the woods they are running a distant third – we stand on Labour ground, with a healthy dollop of Lib Dem support. The Tories were always going to find it hard here.

Do we then choose the third option, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats? Before I get into that, I think it is worth recognising that before the television debates, it was a two horse race…but Clegg’s performance in front of the cameras changed that. Do I think the Lib Dems can win overall? Possibly not. Could they secure their biggest victory yet? Quite possibly. This would be interesting, and having three parties in the decision making process would be a real change. Whether that’s a change for the better or the worse, of course, is the sticking point. A hung parliament or even a ‘happy’ coalition will mean that decisions could take longer, and certainly it could mean a fair few problems for the economy in the immediate future and perhaps beyond. Hung parliaments are quite scary, but at the moment the polls seem to think this is the most likely outcome.

Having gone through the manifestos of all three parties on the key issues for me (Education, Health, Economy, Immigration, Family, Environment) it was often the case that I agreed with them on some things, but not on everything. There’s no one party that I feel I can believe in, so tomorrow I’ll be voting for the party I agree with the *most*…and I’m still not sure which of the big three that is! The minority parties, I won’t support here – I really hope the Green party achieve their first MP down in Brighton, but here they simply won’t win (from what my research shows me). UKIP I dislike. BNP I despise.

One things for sure, however. Whether Labour, the Conservatives or the Lib Dems win, I really hope that the next inhabitant of Number 10 (whether that’s Gordon, David, or Nick) is ready to roll up his sleeves and apply some elbow grease. The one resounding fact thrown up by this whole election whirlaround is the fact that we have some very big issues to fix.

The economy needs sorting. Education and health need more independence and more direction from those who actually know what they are doing (teachers, doctors, heads, nurses), not another raft of policy changes. We need to make up our minds on defence – what’s our role on the international stage? If we want to play with the big boys we need to commit more funds, plain and simple. We cannot in good conscience send in our troops under-resourced. And if we want to step back, we need to face the fact that we are a small sized, mid population nation. We are not China or the USA. We need to talk on immigration – people *are* angry about this, and yet this has been talking around, not about. And what on earth are we going to do for energy in the next few decades if we don’t commit to nuclear and/or green energy during the next term?

So, Mr Brown / Mr Cameron / Mr Clegg…. good luck. The next few years are going to be hard work. And tomorrow, fellow Briton’s, vote with your heart, vote with your mind, and let’s all just be glad that the circus will be over!
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PS Yep, I still haven’t decided. Writing this post has really made me do some thinking though – might look through those manifestos one last time….


  1. Siobhan
    5th May 2010 / 6:52 pm

    I've realised I'm going to be voting for a party that has policies I think are unworkable when it comes to my sector. But a bit like you said, they are who I disagree with the least. Even if I have one pretty fundamental disagreement. It makes me a little bit sad. But I'm still intrigued, and a little apprehensive, about the result.

  2. Shan
    5th May 2010 / 6:56 pm

    Whatever happens, I hope you all end up with a majority government. We've been under a minority government for the past 4 years and it's not fun. Even though the party with the most votes is the one I don't want running the country and thus it's nice they can't do everything they want to, there is still a feeling of needing some things to get done and for everyone to just stop playing games.

  3. Riot Kitty
    5th May 2010 / 7:01 pm

    Nick Clegg is cute! So sue me :)I hate politics, but I still vote.

  4. PhilH
    5th May 2010 / 7:29 pm

    Shan, one of the things is there's a massive groundswell of support for getting a hung Parliament. It's our main hope of demonstrating how unfair our voting system is and forcing electoral reform.The Lib Dems are going to get more than a quarter of the vote but around a seventh of the seats. The Tories are going to get a little over a third of the vote, but about half the seats. Labour will get about the same share of the vote as the Lib Dems, but get around three times as many seats as them.I'm hoping for electoral reform, and then a fairer election.

  5. Simon Varwell
    5th May 2010 / 8:10 pm

    Thoroughly absorbing to read your perspective on all this – thanks for writing it all down!One thought I have is that Labour is probably not the most left-wing of the three parties. The LibDems are probably to the left of Labour on a whole raft of things including tax, the economy, and so on. It's probably a matter of individual perspective and interpretation though.Secondly, I'm interested in why the fact that the Greens will not win in your seat deters you from voting for them. Surely if they (or another minor party) reflects your views most closely, then you should vote for them whatever their standing? And of course they won't have a chance if people choose not to vote fo them. If you didn't want to vote for a loser, shouldn't you just back the winner from last time whoever they are?Good luck figuring out how to vote!

  6. Christielli
    5th May 2010 / 9:14 pm

    When I vote, I usually vote for who has the biggest chance of beating the one I hate the most. Talk about a negative approach!Good luck with your voting.Hey – do you guys have those fancy machines that they have in US or do you pencil an "x" in a box like we do?

  7. Claire
    5th May 2010 / 9:27 pm

    Siobhán, that makes two of us…Shan, totally see your point, but like Phil I feel electoral reform would be a good thing, and a hung parliament might be key to that being on the agenda.RK, I agree – he's cute for a politician! Kudos on your taste! ;)Simon, I've been pondering that about the Lab/Lib Dems since a hustings we had at school last week – we had a very left wing Labour candidate and a very centrist Lib Dem….I find myself more and more confused as to where they both sit. As to the Greens, their policies on Education and Defence don't work for me, but I discount them with a heavier heart than the other minority parties.Christy, that's quite a technique (and one that many are likely to employ tomorrow)! We have to put crosses in boxes, like you guys. Old skool! Cxx

  8. Andrew_tM
    5th May 2010 / 10:39 pm

    Interesting analysis Claire.One thing I'd personally add is that I'd never want to write off voting for a candidate because they can't win. If it's a cause you believe in, a vote can only help.If enough people think the same way, it can propel them to a significant number of votes, if not a majority. Enough to make a say. If it's a bigger party, it could move them from being a "they can't win here" to "well, they have an outside chance of winning here".We often tend to take the "least worst" choice out of the top two, but this means we take this decision over and over again. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we actually could push our candidates and parties who are the best choice to us up the pecking order, so it is not simply that "least worst" choice every time?

  9. Shan
    6th May 2010 / 12:10 pm

    If a hung Parliament will bring about electoral reform then I'm all for it, because maybe then it will trickle down over here. No matter how much people complain about a minority gov't here, we keep voting one in and no one seems to care too much about it. Even our minority parties seems to be playing along.So I hope that there is a strong enough push for it there!

  10. Sparkling Red
    6th May 2010 / 12:12 pm

    I always find that election times leave me undecided. Isn't it always the case that each party has a few good points and a few bad ones? I wonder if the Green Party in England is the same or similar to the Green Party in Canada. When I am undecided, the Greens get my vote, to send a message to the other parties that they'd better start thinking green, because it's important!

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