What the Final Debate means to me

30Apr10

The third and final Leaders Debate (I always worry about whether there ought to be an apostrophe in there somewhere… that is the pedantic editor in me talking) was shown on the BBC last night. It marks the end of the campaign for many as the postal votes have begun their Royal Mail journey home to Returning Officers and minds are already being made up.

Doubtless the release of the manifestos followed by the debates gives the electorate a good overview of each party, nevertheless, the buck doesn’t stop there – it comes right down to your little home town.

People seem to forget that the voting system counts on a local level before it is tallied up on a national level. Needless to say, the debates have made an enormous impact on the country’s opinion of the so-called underdog, and we must look at the parties on a national level before bringing our focus in on who our vote really counts towards on home soil.

After Clegg galloping into first place after the first debate, I think in hindsight it was fair to assume that after a very healthy boost in popularity (and recognition), he has plateaued on a consistently high rating in the polls with many putting him in first place, the remainder in second.

I do not think that this is an anticlimax for the Lib Dems, after all, one of the first Tweets during the opening credits of ITV’s flagship debate broadcast was “who’s this guy?” when the cameras panned to Clegg for his opening speech. I hope the Lib Dem’s popularity has risen not just because of Clegg’s photogenic media appearances (and lack of skeletons jumping out the closet – always good), but because of their policies and manifesto.

I remain ambivalent about Labour. Without having to mention a certain Gate this week, which in my opinion was non-news and merely a tactless gaffe on behalf of a man who ought to know better but hardly deserving the rigamarole of splashes it achieved given that it was a relatively innocuous exchange, voters are still divided.

I am not against Labour in all principals. And I would not vote Conservative however I do not treat them with anywhere near the same vehemence as some. I have aligned myself with a party that I agree with the most which is the Liberal Democrats; for Europe, for maintaining a link to the Euro should we see to gain from it in the global marketplace, for electoral reform, for a progressive approach to immigration and protecting helpless refugees even if they got here illegally, for smaller class sizes, tax breaks for low-earners, alternative systems for defence namely nuclear weaponry projects and of course for their hard line on banks and bonuses and taxing the very rich.

I am not going to go into the ins and outs of why I wouldn’t cast my vote in the direction of the Conservatives but apart from the fact that the Thatcher Government ruined life for much of my family in Scotland, the party is crammed with Euro-sceptics and career politicians who like to feather their own nests, and don’t even get me started on George Orsborne – they aren’t a party I score highly.

Labour, like I said before, I am ambivalent about. Unquestionably, Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are equipped for dealing with the recovery (however no more than Vince Cable), but pussy-footing around the banks and neglecting defence reviews to the fatal detriment of our troops have put me off. Doubtless, the education system has flourished under Labour. I am lucky enough to have seen the schools improve drastically under their government including better science equipment and happier teachers – I am conversely lucky to have escaped Top-Up Fees (take a point off for them there).

Similarly, the child of the Labour Party, the NHS is a jewel in the British system. I couldn’t speak against any party you know will nurture and protect the valued healthcare model we run in this country.

However, these last few years has been a challenge, despite being in a considerable amount of debt which comes to a figure way over my current salary, I have been victim to the fact that the government did not make room for graduate employment even though it is a thing that ought to have been anticipated.

Gordon Brown said last night that Labour created 200,000 apprenticeships. That figure does not come anywhere near the figure that was needed to keep the vast majority of school-leavers and graduates out f the Job Centres.

I so, however, admire the strength of the Labour Party and the promises they make to those who need their help the most, however I am more in tune with the Lib Dems.

Voters should remember, also, that their vote is counted on a local level. The voting system needs to change but we must acquiesce in the meantime to first-past-the-post voting. Voters should take a good, hard look at their local candidates and the general consensus within the constituency.

I attended a debate between five of my local candidates on Wednesday. It was excellent because it gives the public a clear idea of just who they are voting for. For instance, out of the five candidates the only two with any real power in their public appeal was Lord of the Manor, Alan Duncan MP (whom you all know I am sure, batting for the Tories) and Grahame Hudson for the Liberal Democrats.

The independent candidate was strong but I will not be using my vote as a protest this time around. The Labour candidate was very weak, disagreed with many of his party’s policies and jabbered constantly with vacuous rhetoric, and the UKIP guy was out of his tiny tree.

Let me quote.

“The sun never sets on the British Empire.”

And

“Notable scientists such as David Bellamy dispute climate change as a myth built on lies.”

Ha!

In this instance, to combat the Tories (or Alan Rations Duncan), the Liberal Democrats are by far and away Rutland and Melton’s best chance of getting an MP with integrity and intelligence, who is not a career politician and upholds everything we have seen from the party in the last few weeks.

On a nationwide level, the Liberal Democrats work exactly the same way. Labour is withered at the moment, it is a strong party with an excellent history with fewer chequers than the Tories, but the Liberal Democrats are offering a change, something different and something powerful.

I have cast my vote; it is in the letterbox right now.

Whether you are voting through the post or joining the ranks in the polling booths, remember that aside from the debates it is about who you vote for in your own constituency and how that vote can best be used if you aren’t utterly encamped in one party’s garden. Otherwise, follow your instincts and vote for the party you know will stick up for not only you, but those who need the most help.

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