When I was little, the Conservatives were in power. I lived in Reading, 30 miles from London, and I remember Miners wives coming all the way from the Welsh Valleys with their children, to beg. People would do their food shopping in Tesco,then go outside and give those women tins of food and talk to them about their struggles. Unbelievable to think that was just 30 years ago -women begging for food for their families on the streets, in the UK. It’s sometimes referred to in the media, and is an image people think of as a cliche or myth nowadays. It’s neither. I saw it.In 1997, Labour finally won. My parents and grandparents, lifelong Labour voters, whooped with delight when Portillo lost his seat – then cried with joy at the result. Like millions of other families they saw that the bad old days were done with, and perhaps now, the working man had a government that would help him. Then after the honeyymoon, it all turned bittersweet – the Iraq war, David Kelly, the reclassification of cannabis, the lack of affordable housing in southern England meaning my sister and I have to live hundreds of miles from our families,and the absolute arse made of pensions. Those were the unforgivable sins. Over the last year, my angry and disillusioned parents, and grandparents, decided once and for all that they were going to vote Lib Dem or Green in the next election. Cleggmania hit, and combined with Vince Cable’s impressive commentry on the recession,it was a sound combination. I flirted with Nick Clegg, and he nearly had me.But then, I woke up. I realised that many of us are sitting here having come through our teens and early adulthood under Labour and we completely take it all for granted. On a personal level -the minimum wage and tax credits enable my family to have some disposable income. Paid paternity leave meant my husband could be there in the early weeks with our new babies. The sure start centre down the road gives me accessible health clinics, cheap childcare so I can go back to university this year, and helps women in deprived areas learn about nurturing their children, and not just repeating the behaviors of their own mothers. I have personally seen 2 women saved from domestic violence by their outreach workers – a year on, both have a safe home with their children, one in back in education and one is working. Because of Sure start. When I have used A and E with my brood, it’s been a quick, efficient visit – none of the 6 hours bored stiff waits that we endured as children. Same goes for schools – my children’s school is new, and equipped with interactive whiteboards and laptops, a sign of the times perhaps – but a far cry from the shabby facilities and leaking roof of the school I attended in the 1980’s. Free nursery for every 3 yr old, educating and easing childcare bills. Free entry to museums and galleries. Civil partnerships. Record numbers of people applying to university – because despite tuition fees, it is still an affordable ambition even for those on the lowest incomes. I should know, because I am one! My grandparents get free bus travel, and the winter fuel allowance – and they cannot believe how much better off young families are these days.So when my Grandad let slip the other day that he’d been to the betting office and placed a bet on a Labour win, a complete turnaround on his opinions of the last few years – I knew I was justified in going back to the Labour party. Because people will see (the floating voters I hope most of all will see) that they are the only party trying to ‘do the right thing’ by EVERYONE in society. They may have got some things very wrong, I’d never dare to deny that – but what they have got right has changed the lives of the people in my section of society for the better as I see it everyday, and that is wonderful. They should be allowed to continue doing that. Which is why I will vote Labour tomorrow.You can follow her on twitter at twitter.com/rachrahs.
This election has has been remarkable. Cleggmania erupted, and all of a sudden, people around me were talking like their votes meant something. People I had NEVER heard discuss politics.Not all of them were going to vote for the Liberal Democrats. Some had a renewed faith in Labour, some had taken a second look at the Greens, or the local independent candidates. My next door neighbour is 80 years old, and this election made her feel like it was worth voting again for the first time in 20 years.The papers called it ‘Cleggmania’- but I thought people were excited at the possibility of an election that Rupert Murdoch didn’t decide? The possibility of a parliament which was representative of the electorate? The belief that people’s votes counted was enough to wake people up and make them feel involved- wherever on the political spectrum they lay.After generations of a two party system being perpetuated by low voter turnouts= people believed their vote could change things, and in that belief change could actually come. This election could not be predicted and decided by newspapers. It wasn”t just about Nick Clegg, or the Liberal Democrats. It was the increased voter turn out that would bring a more representative government. People making their choices, whatever those choices were.The smartest trick in this election campaign, was pulled off with noone noticing.The talk of Clegg being a ‘kingmaker’, the declaration that this was a two horse race. The endless speculation about pacts, with the Liberal voice becoming the voice of either Cameron or Brown. The Liberal Democrats were painted as the new party of the left, or as a party who would enter into a Conservative pact.Afraid that this new party was a replacement, or a threat to the them, people started to return to long held political allegiances. More importantly they losing enthusiasm for the election full stop. And this is how the stranglehold of a two party system on british politics, is maintained.We are told we are out of ‘hung parliament territory’, and back in the same two horse race. In spite of the fact that the polls have told us absolutely nothing of value about the public mood- or the rise in voter registrations. We are told that Cameron leading by one or two points in the poll means that all that hope is out of the window, and we all need to vote tactically.The excitement this election generated is dissapearing before my eyes. The election where people could change things is gone, and we are down to voting ‘anti-tory’= and the Liberal Democrats are apparently just another party on the left.I understand the temptation to ask people to vote tactically. In the town I live in, a Cons/Lib marginal, where the Conservatives are fighting hard- this has pushed valuable voters back the Conservative Party. Far from supporting a Lib Dem victory- selling this election as one where people need to vote out of fear, one where Liberal and Labour voters are united- has pushed people away from voting Lib Dem, and in some cases, away from voting at all.So I am saying here and now. I am voting Liberal Democrat.Not because I am in a Conservative/Liberal marginal. I refuse to vote tactically.I am voting Liberal Democrat because they share many of the values which underpin my support of Labour, but consider policies on merit and offer dissent when necessary. I am voting Liberal Democrat because they were the voice who said that the Iraq war was wrong, when a Conservative/Labour consensus said it wasn’t. I am voting for the Liberal Democrats because my local candidate, Hilary Myers is excellent. But most of all, I am voting for Liberal Democrat because a hung parliament, or a Liberal Democrat majority, is the best way to ensure that in future, I don’t have to hear about tactical voting.I am not here to tell anyone who to vote for. I have it on good authority that a few of my readers, may even vote Conservative. The more people vote, the better for everyone.The point is this.I don’t care if people vote Conservative(obviously would rather they didn’t).The only way this election still offers real hope of a real long term change is if people know that taking part in it, will do as much as Nick Clegg winning to end this two party system, and it will do as to release Rupert Murdochs grasp . An opportunity to refute accusations that the british people are apathetic.It is important that the people who were excited about this election a week ago, know that nothing has changed. It is only in getting people out to vote at all(regardless of who they vote for), that any change will come at all. 35percent of the vote undecided is a lot of swing voters.(And don’t believe the Conservatives when they tell you voting has been moved to the 7th)
Before this election was called, I despaired. I wanted it to be over quickly, because I felt that the two party stranglehold of two party politics- meant that no matter who I voted for- the same government would be in power. Doing the same things.Then Cleggmania happened. People misunderstood Cleggmania. Clegg mania was never about Nick Clegg- it was about the realistic option of a third choice. An alternative. The polls went haywire, and people thought it was because Nick Clegg was likeable or that people had only just discovered there was a party called the Liberal Democrats.This election gave people hope for change= for some reason people realised that their votes counted. People were now considering Nick Clegg, Independents, and smaller parties in a way that hadn’t happened before. In a more balanced(puke) parliament- a vote for these candidates wasn’t wasted.We found out people were not apathetic- we found out that Rupert Murdoch wasn’t needed to win an election. Record voter turn outs were expected. It was from here that a more representative parliament would come.Since Cameron managed not to make a complete dick of himself for the first time, there has been a feeling taht something has fundamentally changed-and a Conservative victory is likely.Bigotgate didn’t have anywhere near the effect the right wing press would have you believe, and the polls are still split three ways, in an election where the only consistent themes is that polls have meant nothing. And this will continue, if vote f or Liberal Democrats is not seen as a vote to replace labour, or as some kind of kingmaker to the Tories.Personal attacking, scaremongering between the Liberal Democrats and Labour, doesn’t show people that this is the election for change. It shows them that this is the same two horse race, with a different horse. And not only does it split the vote on the left, it stops people who were hoping for something different- coming out.The biggest hope of success for each party in this election, comes from showing people that their votes count. Getting them to come out. The record voter turnout that was predicted. The thing that underpinned the LibDem surge is what will bring success to Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Showing that parties can work together, without compromising political integrity- and that voting is too important to be decided by purely tactical considerations, and political pacts.It just so happens that voter turns outmore likely to benefit the left-but that’s by the by.May I suggest #voteforanyone hashtag.
I just paid 10p for a bun. I paid for all the ingredients. Provided all the equipment. To be fair it was at her dads house, so he paid the fuel costs. I provided the time. And I got charged 10p.Rip off Britain.
Do we really want a Labservative government?It didn’t start with the workers’ memorial but it was compounded by the clap on the back from the Labour Hull East candidate.The memorial was for a friend of mine, Ray Jessop, who died on Dec 7th. He fell from a tall ladder on subcontracted work for Hull City Council. Had he still worked for the council he’d probably be alive: health and safety would have dictated scaffolding for the 30’ job. A victim of privatisation.At any other time of year it strikes me as unlikely that that the two Labour MP candidates (and likely winners, the bookies tell us) would have turned out for this. Ray, given the choice, wouldn’t have had them there (but he did have a soft spot for Caroline Lucas!) Afterwards one of the candidate-barristers went out of her way to introduce me to a London reporter and the other candidate-barrister assumed he and I were on the same side… Now, encouraging me, of course, does no harm, especially if my 1 or 2 thousand votes come from Lib Dem supporters and not Labour ones. And indeed the Lib Dems have targeted Hull North and are putting up a great orangey-diamondy type show.The Hull East barrister and I conversed about the Greenpeace action, last time round, when activists climbed Prescott Towers to hold it to ransom: we’ll go away if you let us put £10,000 worth of solar panels on your roof! Needless to say Prezza wasn’t going to bow to such eco-terrorism. Anyway, the subject of supporting Labour came up so I made it clear I didn’t. And the barrister said: “So you’d prefer a Conservative government? I see.” I said I probably would and didn’t think they (Lab) deserved another term.But the arrogance of the safe Labour seat prompted me to write 10 good reasons to .But clever isn’t it? How our system backs us into a corner to choose one or another false positive, especially after the betrayal of society by Labour in the 90s where now we have our own Pepsi or Coke candidates to choose from.But Ray had no time for them. Ray stood against war. Ray stood against Trident. Ray was sometimes the only person who came up with me to Menwith Hill to protest the American spybase, commended for its service during America’s wars, calling Blair a poodle, wearing his outrageous colours and T-shirts, far-removed from the charcoal suits of the politicians (or the police force). Ray wouldn’t bow down to them or play their silly games of who to vote for.But he did want a different society; one which looked after those who need it; one where riches were spread through the community; one in harmony with the earth; one where even the lowliest animals were respected and, in his case, never eaten; one which never went to war and certainly would not lie itself into one; one where countries looked after their citizens first and even looked out for each other’s citizens; a just world, a sustainable world where we learned where the boundaries were, where we made our own energy and not take other people’s. He could never see it happening though because he knew how wealth, greed and power subvert people.But he never really gave up hope.And neither do we.Martin DeaneGreen Party, Hull NorthInternational Workers DayYou can follow @MartinJDeane on Twitter.
I am in the middle of writing an article about the likelihood of pacts between Liberals and anyone- in event of a hung parliament.My original hypothesis was that the surge in Lib Dem support was a protest about the stranglehold that Labour and Conservatives had held over British politics. I thought that if Lib Dems should be in that position, they should offer support on a policy by policy basis. Support decided by the merit of the policy.Become the party who bridged the gap, bring politics back to the centre. I was hypothesising that a Lib/Lab or Lib/Con pact- would undermine this. I hypothesised that this defeated the point of a third party gaining influence.Then two things happened.First- Nick Clegg declared this was now a two horse race. This worried me. A lot.As I understood it- the election isn’t until next Thursday- and even with the surge in support- this is now a THREE horse race. The voters have not decided, and if the unpredictable polls tell us anything, it is too close to call.Second- The Grauniad came out in support of the Lib Dems. This shocked me, and if I am honest- I was pleasantly surprised. Then I read twitter. I spoke to my friends. My boyfriend. Had a think. Had another think. Then panicked.In Conservative/Lib Dem marginals, this will surely send people who were undecided and are Conservative at heart, back to the right? This is not the two horse race that Nick Clegg appears to now believe it is- and it seems to me that this has split the ‘eft’ vote.Liberal Democrats have nowhere near the margin they would need to assume a victory outright- nowhere near-but now there is the possibility that Labour don’t either.All parties appear to have given #bigotgate much more consideration than the electorate have(voters are quite often smarter than politicians give them credit for). Gordon Brown is not liked, but his appeal was never about likeability.People can’t really vote tactically in this election, because the polls are so haywire- that you wouldn’t know where to vote.Unless Liberal Democrats and Labour start talking, and Nick Clegg stops posturing- then we are looking at a Conservative victory(and I will make no apologies for being genuinely frightened of a Conservative government. Single parents, in northern post-industrial towns will not fare well under Cameron).I cannot bear this election. If this was a movie- I would be flicking through to the end and hiding behind a cushion while my boyfriend reassured me that the gory bits were passing.My vote will be decided on the basis of my local candidates (and I have a choice of at least 3 outstanding AND local candidates), but my concern is national.I know, I’m a hypocrite. My reasons for not wanting a pact between Liberals Labservatives still stand- but I don’t want a Tory government. I am fully aware of the flaws in this thinking.This is why the post is called ‘musings of a swing voter’- I can’t help what is going through my head.A week is a long time in politics-right?