The most exciting thing that's happened to me recently (apart from bagging the latest shoe purchase) is being given the opportunity to vote at the UK general elections on 6 May 2010. Now this isn’t the first time I have voted in the parliamentary elections, but it is the first time where the whole nation was riveted at the goings on in Westminster. The Press were so obviously backing their new golden boy, David Cameron of the Conservative Party, poor Gordon Brown of Labour couldn’t do anything right, and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, once seen as a non-entity was surging in the surveys due to his performance in the televised Leaders’ Debates (and eventually will have the ‘privilege’ of being the ‘king maker)’.
On 06 May, we all voted – and despite all the television and news coverage we still couldn’t quite decide on one particular party to represent our nation to the world, thus we have a hung parliament.
And while the nation waits in bated breath, I can’t help but be slightly worried at this disconcerting series of affairs. At first, I wanted to vote for the Liberal Democrats because their platform was the one that I thought would benefit hardworking people most – increase the income tax threshold to £10,000, smaller class sizes, the abolition of those stupid ID cards…it sounded really, erm, sound. The TV debates also proved that Mr Clegg can handle difficult questions under pressure, and I was more and more convinced that the Liberal Democrats were the real alternative.
I found the Conservative manifesto shallow – the supposed marriage tax which provides tax relief to married couple will not, in my view place more value in marriages. If it did then it wouldn't give the same rights to the civil partnerships as they do to married couples. Their policy on immigration and the economy are flimsy at best, so they weren’t even on my radar. Normally a Labour voter, my view of them turned sour in recent months – what with the recent expenses scandal of top ministers while the country dipped deeply into recession…I was ready for a change.
But as my husband said, ‘People keep on talking about change – but a change from what?’. It’s true the expenses scandal was unforgivable, but in reality, Mr Brown has gotten us out of the recession and was leading us further away from it. Inflation was low and so were interest rates, and his government has introduced a Australian-style points system to manage immigration. I liked the way he called Mrs Duffy a bigot – because that was what she was! And despite Jeremy Paxman’s annoying interview style and unfair accusations, Gordon Brown actually conducted himself well and articulated clearly his plans to continue the economic recovery of Britain in his one-to-one with him. What Brown lacks in charisma and stage presence he certainly makes up with economic knowledge and experience.
So on polling day, I found myself changing my vote back to Labour. But it looks like it wasn’t going to be enough to make it the leading party. Mr Brown is stepping down as Labour leader, the Conservatives are putting the pressure on the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition with them. Today, after all the negotiations, Mr Clegg will make the all important decision – will it be Lib-Con or Lib-Lab? God help the United Kingdom if it happens to be the former. That is essentially Mr Clegg selling the nation’s soul to the devil.