I just voted in my fifth general election. I haven’t been this interested and engaged in an election since 1997, when I was totally in love with New Labour and drawn to the fresh face and bright hope of Tony Blair. Oh, how bitter when that love affair ended.
This time, I voted Lib Dem. I live in a very marginal consituency, where the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have been super-close (around 300 votes in it) for the past two general elections. Labour’s nowhere in this bit of Surrey, which is kind of a relief because there’s no real dilemma for me about who to vote for. The result I’d be happiest with is another thing.
In any case, I fairly SKIPPED out of the polling station, singing (in my head, I’m not a complete loon) in the manner of Mrs Banks from Mary Poppins:
‘We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for woman’s votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they’re rather stupid!’
I have realised in the past couple of weeks that I’m practically the only left wing person among all my friends and family. Many of the people I work with and lots of my professional contacts are raging Socialists, though, as you might expect from media types. What I think is most interesting is that for the first time I can remember, people seem quite happy to talk about who they are voting for, which has led to some interesting debates. I am loving the buzz on Twitter, especially. And even Grazia has been full of political interviews.
I’m not worried about a hung parliament/coalition government. It might be only chance for a very long time to force electoral reform and I think its impact on market confidence might be a bit of a red herring. I also think that despite lots of people getting all swoony over the lovely Nick Clegg (including me, on Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine after the first debate), when they get to the polling station they may well chicken out and stick to Conservative or Labour.
I have to say I do actually like Gordon (and although we’re not electing the wives, I LOVE Sarah Brown – she’s doing amazing things for the health of mothers around the world, as well as children’s charities in the UK). I think Labour have done fantastic things for parents and families since they came to power – the country is a completely different place now, and apart from the major cock-up of Iraq and the financial situation, I’d say that it’s a better place as far as parents are concerned. After all, how many of us take Childcare Vouchers, the minimum wage, paternity leave, Sure Start centres, child tax credits, and Child Trust Funds for granted?
I would also much rather have Gordon or Vince Cable (aka ‘Yoda’) steering things economically than George Osborne, who makes me shiver, but I’m not sure a fourth term for any party is a good idea. And he does look knackered.
Before the TV debates, I was thinking there wasn’t actually that much to choose between the three parties and Dave wouldn’t be such a bad idea, but after listening to all three I have realised that in my heart I’m just not a Conservative.
It’s a funny thing when at last it strikes, the realisation about where your heart and gut lie in politics. I’m not sure any of the parties fit my values and ideas exactly – I probably straddle Labour and the Lib Dems with a bit of Green swished in – but I know what doesn’t sit comfortably with me. Although I did vote Tory when I was 18, because even I couldn’t stand Kinnock, and at home we still got the Daily Mail, horror of horrors, so I really didn’t know any better.
So what’s influenced your vote this time? Big societal issues, how you will benefit or lose personally, the parties’ policies around families and children, or who you trust to sort out the economy?