Thursday 6 May 2010

I've cast my vote!

I've just got in after casting my vote for this year's General Election. I love voting! I get a little bit of a buzz as I head to the polling station, as I remind myself that I'm engaging in the democratic process, making my feelings known to the political establishment. It's a shame that the actual act of voting itself is so mundane!

To be honest it doesn't matter what the result is tonight/tomorrow there won't be an outcome that will be truly satisfactory for me.

During the last week, most of the national press have come out and stated who they wish to see elected. Most of it was quite predictable.

The Mirror always support Labour, the Sun came out for the Tories ages ago. It's no surprise to see the Mail and Express back the Tories, and for the first time since the 1992 election the Times are backing the Conservatives as well.

What was really interesting was the Guardian's decision. They've decided to back of the Lib Dems which I thought was significant.

With all the papers making their feelings known, I feel that I too should reveal on my blog how I voted.

I should start off by saying that Labour are my party. They're the party I identify with the most. This is in terms of my political beliefs and outlook; and also my own family background and upbringing. I've always voted Labour at General elections but for this election I had a serious choice to make.

I've never voted Conservative, and at this moment I can't imagine ever voting for them. Why is this? I just don't vote Tory!

In terms of my political instincts and background, they're not my party. Some of their policies I dont mind, some of my personal views could even be described as socially conservative, it doesn't matter, I still won't vote Tory.

You like to think you're an intelligent, educated and rational person who will make intelligent rational decisions on such things as voting. Instead you find you're still influenced by irrational and emotional gut instinct!

I envy the floating voter sometimes, the person who can flit from one party to another depending on how they feel. It's more difficult for those of us who feel any sort of attachment with a particular party.

This election is the first time where I thought: 'how do you actively support your natural party when you're not that enthusiastic about them or the leader?'

A year ago I wrote on this blog that Labour should have removed Gordon Brown as leader and replaced him with someone else, and then called a General Election.

We needed an election last year, and Labour would have fared better with a new leader. They didn't do this, and we've had to endure another 12 months of what at times has been Brown's painful Premiership.

At the beginning of the year, I thought about how I might vote in May. I couldn't imagine having Gordon Brown in power for another five years. I think he's a principled individual but has personality traits and flaws which are not suited for Prime Minister.

Secondly, although I think Labour have done a lot of good things, I also thought that their time in office could and maybe should have been a lot better!

The War in Iraq has tarnished the government, I hate stuff like ID cards, social mobility in this country is dead, and although I don't blame them for everything on the economy, you do wonder what they were doing during the good times.

Finally every party has it's natural shelf life in government. Labour needs a period in opposition in order to refresh itself. They've run out of ideas which after 13 years is only to be expected.

I thought about voting Lib Dem as I did in the London mayoral elections of 2008, but Having considered it I still thought I'd end up voting Labour out of some sense of loyalty. My feelings have now changed!

The Lib Dems started to appeal to me more, I respect Vince Cable, and I've been predicting a hung parliament since the start of the year, maybe a Lib Dem vote wouldn't be a waste.

At the start of the election campaign I reckon I was about 60/40 in favour of Lib Dem over Labour, but after the first election debate and Nick Clegg's performance, I thought I'd go Lib Dem.

This is what I did tonight and voted Lib Dem. It won't make much difference in my constituency of West Ham. It's a Labour stronghold and is the sort of constituency where unless you vote Labour your vote doesn't count for much. It's not an exciting marginal.

You wouldn't have known an election was even taking place in West Ham and it's the kind of constituency that makes the argument for Proportional Representation even stronger.

So there it is. I don't want Brown as Prime Minister and Labour have run out of ideas. Can't vote/won't vote Tory, and the Lib Dems won't form their own government. I suppose I'm advocating a hung parliament. The polls close in almost 20 minutes from now as I type. We'll soon find out!

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