Election day is nigh. It has been an interesting campaign, a little bit American-presidential for my liking but that is the way things are now. Nick Clegg has done well out of this opportunity to be seen as an equal of Cameron and Brown. Poor old Gordon hasn’t done so well out of the battle of personalities. Appearance over analysis. Perception over policy.
For my sins I’ve voted for most parties at one time or another. Despite the shame of some poor choices when I was younger, in a way I’m glad I’ve done this as it has helped form my world view – I don’t think anything is ever clear as we’d like it to be. Things change, people change. For the past few years I’ve been a Lib-Demmer – I’ve liked their views of the world, their sensible approach to how to change things and their brave policies on things like drugs, taxation and immigration. Previously commentators have said the Lib-Dems can say what they like as they’ll never get in. Well the TV debates have changed that in an instant. The Lib-Dems could be a big player, maybe outright winners although the money seems to be on a hung Parliament with Labour being the big loser.
I like the Lib-Dems but Lembit Öpik is my current MP. He is a bit of a buffoon and a media-whore and seems a bit eccentric and out-of-touch – although I was impressed with him on the local Welsh TV debates and he has high-profile for a rural and nationally-insignifcant constituency MP, which must be good for the area. He did get quite angry a lot of the time during the deabte though so I guess his numerous TV and media appearances haven’t taught him a great deal about presentation. Montgomeryshire has been Lib-Dem since 1879 and Lembit received 51 per cent of the vote here last time. This is a safe Lib-Dem seat. There is a lot of local anger towards him due to his creative use of expenses (paying a fine for late council tax payment for example), so there may be a bit of a backlash.
As the campaign started in earnest, I emailed the candidates for my area on a few issues such as the digital economy bill and free school meals (which I had at school and I think are really important). The first to reply was the Plaid candidate Heledd Fychan. Living in Wales, I’ve been aware of Plaid Cymru but they never really registered on my radar. I liked Heledd’s response, her quickness and the fact she seemed on the ball and using social media (she’s an active Twitterer). It is good to see politicians engaging with people in different ways and social media enables a real and immediate insight into the candidates – as long as they are using it.
So I was interested to find out more about Plaid’s policies having vaguely remembered they were socially progressive and were against the Iraq war. I read their manifesto and have been impressed with how radical they are for a rural party – in fact for any party. Renationalise the railways, troops out, reign in the supermarkets (take that Tesco!), make positive changes for social equality all sound good to me. Fellow Wales resident, George Monbiot thinks they’re great too! Another case of they can say what they like, it doesn’t matter as they won’t get in? Well I think you have to vote for what you believe in. I don’t go in for tactical voting.
The choices on my ballot paper tomorrow are:
- Lembit Öpik (Liberal Democrat)
- Heledd Fychan (Plaid Cymru)
- Bruce Lawson (Independent) [Essentially a right-wing Tory]
- Nick Colbourne (Labour) [Seems like a nice guy but clearly isn’t made for politics]
- Glyn Davies (Conservative) [A farmer in a suit]
- Milton Ellis (National Front) [What? Are they still around?]
- David Rowlands (UK Independence Party) [UKIP want to take the UK out of Europe and into cloud-cuckoo land]
Like many, I think it is time for change. Sorry Mr Cameron you talk the talk but I won’t be voting Tory; Gordon, I feel sorry for you but that is no reason to vote for you. Nick, I’m on your side but I don’t like your man, Lembit. Plaid Cymru will get my tick. Yet another party to add to my list.