So thanks to my favourite labour saving invention of all time, the postal vote, the 2010 General Election is a done deal for me.
Caveats: I'm not really a "tactical voter". I find it difficult to bring myself to vote for people/policies that I do not agree with. Obviously I don't agree with anybody on 100% of the issues so I have to base my vote on who I agree with the most. I'm a Liberal Democrat member, but I'm not going to pretend I have always voted Lib Dem in the past nor in the future. I have a brain and an independent spirit (which I suppose is why I'm a Liberal Democrat ;) ).
This time my mind was made up mainly on the strength of the policies (simply because I just don't know my candidates up here in Greenwich and Woolwich).
Our political system is dying. The conventions that underpin our system were fine when no one gave too much scrutiny to them and when events didn't undermine them. But our world now allows people to watch events in detail and live as they happen. And worse, for a system reliant on two party politics, even the smallest of political parties is able to attract members and support thanks to the internet and 24 hour news eager to fill space with talking heads. This has created a great deal of fragmentation and our system may well slip from one constitutional crisis after another unless we work to fix it. The Tories plan just to patch it up and hope for the best. Labour plan to reform it radically but then they always promise that and it never happens. The Liberal Democrats are the only party who have consistently favoured a "great reform" from top to bottom of our political establishment: a written constitution, electoral reform, an elected House of Lords etc. etc. I believe this great reform is the issue of our time. Economic misfortunes come and go... but we must not lose sight of building a firm foundation for the future of our country's Government.
Saying that... I believed the economy would be in good hands with Vince Cable. And the manifesto confirmed that for me. The most important part of the Liberal Democrat economic policy plan is to remove income tax from the first £10,000 earned. That, I know from experience, will mean a lot to a lot of people and will remove the unfair tax credit system and apply discounts to everyone who needs them rather than just those in certain circumstances.
I once read a book called The World Without Us. It really opened my eyes to the real effects our actions have on our planet and on our children's future. And it made me realise that whilst nuclear power might be quite safe and very good for our environment now, it poses untold risks to our world and our children in the future. And nuclear weapons pose an untold risk to the children of whoever our enemies happen to be at a particular time. So the Lib Dem policy against nuclear power and to reconsider, if not get rid of, the nuclear deterrent, is one I can't help but agree with. It might be difficult, it might be uncomfortable but it makes sense.
The Liberal Democrats are also the only party with sensible policies on Europe. Like me they are europhiles. But like me they want reform. And they even go one better than me... they want a referendum on Europe to end all the moaning one way or another. The Tories are eurosceptic but they aren't offering that. Labour can't make up their minds.
And on immigration they are similarly refreshingly frank. You might not like it. But they have a point, either we accept them and let them stay or they stay anyway. Simples. Well there is the third option but that costs billions and we just don't have that money and I think removing all those people might cause a few negative images to be sent out about our country to our international friends and allies.
And top this off with their strong focus on civil liberties, LGBT rights and foreign affairs and you have the reason for my vote for the Liberal Democrats. You might have other priorities. You might want to vote for someone else. I'm not going to tell you how to vote *VOTE LIB DEM*, just vote for what you believe in. ;)
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist