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!
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….