I'm a natural Labour voter. As I explained several months ago, I went in to this election thinking I may vote Labour. It's now become clear that my vote will be going to the Liberal Democrats. More than that, I will be joining them.
I want to explain why - without resorting to attacking the other parties.
As I've said, I was raised in a Labour household. I went to university expecting to vote Labour. Yet in ever constituency I've ever lived, the Labour Party haven't fielded a viable candidate. It costs a lot of money to run an election, so naturally parties only focus on where they think they have a realistic chance of winning.
Because of the ridiculousness of "First Past The Post" any vote for a minority party would be wasted. So I never got to vote Labour. Instead, I read the Lib Dem and Conservative manifesto and picked the LibDems.
I dare say I would like to vote Labour again in the future, but I want to do it when my vote will matter. If the only thing a LibDem coalition / government bring about is voting reform, I'd be happy.
I was always taught that you shouldn't vote for the party that benefits you personally - you should vote for the party that provides the best for society. I would probably be financially better off under a Conservative government. Their plans for tax (assuming they or any other party stick to their promises) would help me out.
But this election isn't about me. It's about everyone. I am a big fan of reducing the tax burden on people who aren't as lucky as me. Essentially, the LibDem plan would eliminate income tax for anyone who was making the minimum wage (£5.80 * 35 hours a week * 52 weeks a year = £10,556. The LibDem plan is for the starting rate of income tax to be £10,000).
While I may profit slightly from this tax break - imagine how it would benefit hundreds of thousands of families who could then afford the things I take for granted. Better educational opportunities, entertainment to keep their kids from running wild, the occasional holiday, better and fresher food, a computer, broadband, and reduced stress from financial hardship.
Digital Economy Act
So much has been written about the Digital Economy Bill / Act, it feels pointless to rehash it. Despite the best efforts of some brave Labour politicians, the bill passed. The Conservative front bench said how much they despised the bill - yet they voted for it anyway. The LibDems were the only party to fundamentally oppose the bill. I felt they could have been stronger. Their performance in the House of Lords was very dispiriting, with LibDem Lords inserting a clause written by the BPI.
The bill was written and debated mostly by people with no grasp on modern technology. The LibDems are the only party that I have seen who have embraced the Internet and are trying to find positive solutions for some of the challenges it presents.
As a child of the eighties, I was spared most of the horrors of "Protect and Survive". I don't want to live in a country where - by accident or design - we could kill billions of people with a push of a button. Maybe I'm a softie with no experience of how the real world works - but I think the world would be safer without a nuclear deterrent.
Traditionally, the Labour Party has been closely allied with CND - the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - but you wouldn't know it from their actions.
The LibDems are committed to not renewing Trident. However, they do want to replace it with a smaller nuclear arsenal. I don't think they are going far enough. We should join South Africa and completely disarm.
Regardless of whether Trident is scrapped or replaced with a cheaper option, the money saved can be better used for other things.
In October 1952, Britain successfully tested a nuclear bomb. It can be argued that our nuclear "deterrent" has been in place ever since. We cannot know which countries haven't attacked us because of our bomb, but we do know it hasn't deterred....
- Korean War (1950–1953)
- Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960)
- Cyprus Emergency (1955–1959)
- Suez Crisis (1956)
- Brunei Revolt (1962)
- Dhofar Rebellion (1962-1975)
- Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation (1962–1966)
- Aden Emergency (1963–1967)
- Northern Ireland Troubles (1969-mid 1990s)
- Cod War Confrontation (1975–1976)
- Falklands War (1982)
- The First Gulf War (1990–1991)
- The Bosnian War (1995–1996)
- The Kosovo War (1999)
- Sierra Leone Civil War (2000)
- The Global War on Terror (2001-Present)
- The Afghanistan War (2001–Present)
- Iraq War and Iraqi insurgency (2003–2009)
In each of those conflicts, our nuclear arsenal hasn't been enough to stop British troop being killed, British interests being attacked and infringement on our sovereignty.
With the rise in Christian terrorism and Islamic terrorism, there is a strong argument that we have no one to use these weapons against. Would we ever be justified in staging a nuclear attack on a location from which terrorists may have originated?
I could fill another several pages with my thoughts on ID Cards, civil liberties, libel reform, press freedom, sustainable energy, the environment, the recession, the wider economy, live music, Europe, Parliamentary reform, expenses. Suffice to say, after reading and comparing the manifestos, I feel more closely aligned with the Liberal Democrats on most - but not all - issues.
What Do I Want?
Because of our unfair voting system, I think it's highly unlikely that the LibDems will form a majority - I doubt they'll even be hugely strong minority. I want them to govern but - more than that - I hope newspapers, politicians, people and institutions will realise that there's more than two sides to every argument. That the UK deserves the best government possible. That our votes must be counted fairly. That there is another way of doing things than flipping between two parties again and again and again.
I want the next government to set politics in a new direction.
I think that the Liberal Democrats are the only realistic choice for me. Both in the area where I live and nationally. This isn't a protest vote - this is a commitment.
I Agree With Nick.