Nick Clegg’s superb performances in the leaders’ debates on tv gave the electorate a credible ‘change’ candidate, and I hope the Liberal Democrats do well enough to make reform of the UK governing system unstoppable.
Whatever happens, this is I think the most crucial election for ages - a real watershed for the United Kingdom. The collapse of the Western world’s banking system has demonstrated just how voodoo were the voodoo economics introduced by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s (and enthusiastically bought into and developed by New Labour).
There was always tension in Labour regards this and Gordon Brown’s response to the crisis showed that Labour’s uneasy relationship with the economic consensus allowed ultimately for a greater flexibility in approach to massive systemic problems. It is clear Brown and Alistair Darling have actually achieved some success here, and I have no doubt that their approach is the correct one as the crisis continues to develop.
By contrast, the Conservatives under David Cameron and George Osborne do not appear to have grasped that the financial crisis has fatally cracked open the whole Thatcherite ideology and show every sign of wanting to repeat the same very damaging policies of Thatcher’s first years in power. Again, I think Brown’s claim that the Conservatives would lead the country back into recession is all too credible.
Labour has come to the end of its term and it is very clear the country does not want Brown as leader. Whatever Labour’s successes in domestic policy, allowing our foreign policy to be set by the Americans has been a disaster, leading us into an illegal war in Iraq and a seemingly unending quagmire in Afghanistan. Both Blair and Brown have introduced, have tried to introduce or are planning to introduce draconian legislation that severely restricts our civil liberties. But I think despite promising to scrap ID cards the Conservatives are likely in time to match New Labour’s disgraceful authoritarian tendency.
The extent of MPs’ greed and corruption was made clear by the revelations in the Telegraph last year. No one came out well, and the worst offenders will be no more after this election. But even in opposition, the Conservatives scored some massive clangers with expenses for moat cleaning, duck houses, etc - with one chap blithely wittering on tv about how his house looked like Balmoral, completely unaware of how the tax-paying electorate viewed this. Other Tory multi-millionaire offspring of inherited wealth seem to think it is perfectly acceptable trying to stand for election to Parliament while maintaining non-dom (non tax-paying) status.
So, together with very many in the country I am hoping for a hung, or balanced, Parliament, which I hope will force the politicians to work together to address the serious issues we as a nation face. I also tend to think that a hung Parliament will arrest our slide into authoritarianism. And I’m not entirely convinced by the economic horror stories the banksters are advancing: rather, a hung Parliament will reinforce the current Labour policy while also bringing forward the necessary banking reforms that only the Lib Dems are proposing now. And even if true, I think the economic issues are not the most important things at stake anyway - our survival as a liberal democracy is.
So, I have decided to vote for our sitting MP Kate Hoey. I like the way despite holding a massive majority she has not taken my vote for granted and has campaigned vigorously. She’s been a great constituency MP, always answering all my letters. Her record in voting against the government on civil liberties issues (and the Iraq War) is utterly exemplary and very brave. Her expenses claims are completely transparent and honest. If we are heading for a hung Parliament, we need as many clear-thinking, independent and forthright individuals as we can get. I am therefore voting for Kate.