A X for Liberal Democrats is Two Fingers to the Daily Mail & Friends

So. Here we are on the eve of the election and I’m nervous – pretty much for the first time – about the outcome. I’ve always voted Liberal Democrats because the only party I’ve known since voting age has been a Labour party pursuing an increasingly Conservative agenda and before voting age I lived through the sleaze of the Conservatives. I voted Liberal Democrats with the expectation that people would be surprised, that they would see it as ‘wasting’ a vote on a party that couldn’t possibly win the election. However, I never saw it like this. I always viewed the tactical voter or the voter choosing only a party that they thought might win as wasting their vote. For what can be more of a waste than voting for the party that you do not really want in power?

Before the first TV debate I asked a question on Twitter along the lines of ‘will anyone be voting Lib Dem, because I’m sick of people saying they would like to vote Lib Dem but they then do not because they won’t get in’. I received a lot of responses suggesting that they would be voting Lib Dem, largely because Labour had let them down and the Conservatives are a terrifying alternative. However, it wasn’t until after the first TV debate that a Liberal Democrat vote really started to vote for something, and after that point the right-wing press constantly attacked the party to confirm that perhaps they were a realistic option after all.

Now, suddenly, it seems as if people who once merely claimed that they would like to vote Liberal Democrat, might actually vote Liberal Democrat when the time comes. I’m genuinely excited at this prospect. However, because of the electoral system in this country Labour and Conservatives may not gain much more of the overall vote, but still seem likely to win a huge amount more seats than the Liberal Democrats. This system is likely to either create a hung parliament with a stand off between Labour and the Conservatives, or it will provide the Conservatives with a narrow victory.

I am dreading a Conservative victory. I work in Further Education in one of the most deprived areas in Wales and one of the target zones no doubt for Conservative attacks on the long-term unemployable, disabled or just poor people in general. During the third TV debate Cameron launched his evening with an attack on the welfare state, and there is every reason to expect he would launch any Conservative victory in exactly the same way.

I’m extremely distrustful of Cameron’s glib pledge to ‘fix Broken Britain’; firstly, because ‘Britain’ isn’t broken, it just seems that way if you read certain dreadful right-wing newspapers; secondly, because any parts of society that do require fixing – such as the vicious cycle of poverty, crime and failure – are not going to be fixed by hollow phrases about ‘getting people back to work’ or ‘giving responsibility back to volunteer armies’; and finally because the Conservatives seem to believe that small government can fix big problems, but haven’t explained in anyway how. All we do know is that the Conservative candidates have no experience of how the vast majority of people live in the UK, and they couldn’t give a damn about the poor.

I also cannot talk about voting without mentioning the disgraceful behaviour of the press telling us who we should vote for and why this is the best reason for us to vote Liberal Democrat. Think of it this way: Tony Blair cozied up to Rupert Murdoch for his support and then bent over for Murdoch after he was elected. Likewise, if the Conservative Party are elected they will owe the press for turning their newspapers into extended Conservative leaflets for the past 3 weeks, if the Daily Mail doesn’t agree with a progressive policy (this is hypothetical, I know I’m talking about the Tories here) then they will do all they can to force Cameron to back down – much like they did with Labour over drug classification.

Now, imagine that Nick Clegg is in power and wants to force through some progressive policies that has Dacre and other shit-stained editors frothing at the mouth. He and his party have already received every possible attack from the right-wing scare-sheets during the run-up to election, so not only does he not owe them anything, he can also safely ignore their opinions. If the Liberal Democrats can get elected without press support, why would they want to court it whilst making policy decisions? Wouldn’t it be lovely to have scientific policy, for example, dictated by scientists and experts rather than the constant interfering, lying and badgering of the Daily Mail?

I hope I wake up on Friday morning to find out that Cameron hasn’t won. However, if he does scrape a majority then I know his slash and burn policies, his elitism and his total lack of appreciation of how powerful the ‘little people’ are will lead to civil unrest. At the end of their term – if they even survive this long – the Tories will be thrown out by a landslide to give way to genuine electoral reform and they will never govern again. Every cloud and all that.

That, though, is a long way off. For now I will be voting Liberal Democrat and urging others to not vote for a Tory party that really does offer them nothing, unless they just happen to be very rich.

See this wonderful guide for more details on the ‘evil’ Tories.

Your Local Candidates: who are they?

This election is supposed to be exciting because we have seen the leaders on TV having a carefully staged discussion. A discussion that allowed some pretty inane questions to be asked and answered without any further questioning from the person asking the question or others in the audience. It says a lot about the state of British politics that such a rigid and unrevealing ‘debate’ has caused such a stir amongst the voting and non-voting public.

Whether it has actually changed anything remains to be seen in terms of votes cast on May the 6th, but I imagine for many of us we are more interested in meeting our local candidates, and here for me lies the problem: so far in this election I have not met any of my local candidates.

This isn’t to say they haven’t been visible locally or even called on my house whilst I am out, it is merely to say I haven’t heard of anything happening locally and I haven’t answered my door to a single candidate. I have received a Plaid Cymru leaflet from Danny Clark, a Liberal Democrat leaflet from Jackie Radford and a Conservative leaflet from Emma Moore (I think I got something from Labour but have misplaced it). All of it pretty uninspiring and in Emma Moore’s case, a disgraceful mish-mash of lies, implied racism and contradictory drivel.

So, how am I or any other voter supposed to choose between candidates based on one leaflet? Perhaps the problem is that many politicians feel just as apathetic about politics as the general public. If they know that an area normally votes Labour, irrespective of whether Labour has abandoned its roots by making the rich richer as well as getting involved in illegal wars and torture, then they send out a leaflet to simply go through the motions, they do not expect any vast change in voting patterns, so they do not bother really trying to win votes.

However, all of the candidates have put contact information on their leaflets and this includes a website. So I visit them to see what else I can find out.

The Liberal Democrat Candidate website is pretty uninspiring on a local level, just six mainly short paragraphs of information about Jackie and an invitation to click on the Liberal Democrats website. No details of what Jackie is up to, whether I can see her or whether she’ll be in my area in the run up to the election. I find out a bit more about what Jackie has done in her career, but I don’t find out anything more about the kind of person Jackie is.

The Conservative Candidate website is a more personal affair, with more details and a few photos of Emma and South Wales. However, the political priorities are the same as on the leaflet so I’m still not finding out a great deal more. She does have a Facebook page, and this does get updated quite regularly with comments on a range of matters. It is these opinion pieces that give me a better idea of what kind of views she has – this is the kind of stuff as a voter I’m looking for.

The Plaid Cymru Candidate website is not at all personal and you have to dig around to find the one paragraph dedicated to Danny, and no contact details are given (nor are they on the leaflet) this is a huge minus for this candidate. If I cannot easily contact you when you want my vote, what chance I have got if you actually get in?

I guess my point is, on a local level I am still as much in the dark as I have been during previous elections. I might have seen the three party leaders on TV, but on a local level I know nothing more about the actual person I would be voting for to represent my area.

After my previous post on Emma Moore’s leaflet campaign I emailed Emma to offer her a right to reply, to which she has not responded. I also emailed both the Liberal Democrats and Labour. The Liberal Democrats responded quickly that they would be forwarding the email on to the relevant team, but I have heard nothing since. Labour have yet to issue any kind of response. I’m pretty disappointed with this, and it seems to dent any spirit of public activism.

I spent a couple of hours of my time pulling apart some lies being delivered to thousands of houses by the Conservative candidate and I don’t have a single proper response from the three main parties on this matter. As a user of social media perhaps my expectations are too high. I kind of expect my candidate to have a blog, a Twitter page, a decent website and I expect them to check their emails regularly. I kind of expect to get a real feel for the candidate through the open sharing of their views on a range of matters. Apart from Emma’s Facebook page I don’t get any of this from the candidates. I am no wiser than before.

It is clear politics is changing and social media will play a huge part in this – I genuinely believe we will start to learn an awful lot more about local candidates in the next few years as we expect them to share more of themselves with voters. However, at the moment most of us will have to make do with staged TV debates in a studio far, far away.