I was going to write a whole series of posts on the election but other events and a general apathy towards the whole campaign have conspired against that. Suffice it to say that I still have no idea who to vote for on Thursday. Here are a few points that have flitted through my mind over the last couple of weeks.
I really can't stand Michael Howard. I hate the way everything he says seems to have been scripted days beforehand. I don't want him to be PM and the Tories to be in government, which is odd, since I am probably more naturally conservative than anything else. Even if I could get past that dislike, I think the Tory intentions towards immigration are ludicrous.
On the other hand, I really don't want Tony Blair to be PM, either. I don't care that he can weasel his way out of the allegations that he lied over Iraq (he didn't - only bent the truth about as far as it was possible to and mislead parliament while doing so). No, what have really turned me from Labour (admittedly, it didn't need much), are the continual assertions that, whether there were WMDs in Iraq or not, it was right to go to war because otherwise Saddam Hussein would still be in power there. So, after the fact, it is suddenly all right for regime change to be the justification for war. I'm sorry, Mr Blair, but that simply isn't the case. Put that together with ID cards, trial without jury and imprisonment without charge and it doesn't matter how well Gordon Brown is handling the economy or how much Labour are doing to help young families - I just can't bring myself to vote that way.
So, then. The Liberal Democrats. In many ways, my current political leanings are most in line with Charles Kennedy's party and there is a bonus in that I don't actively dislike the man. However, there are two main stumbling blocks to me voting for them. The first is that there is no chance of them getting into power unless there is a hung parliament. While that could be interesting from an objective point of view, I don't want it to happen. The second, much larger problem is Proportional Representation. If the Liberal Democrats get into power, either with a majority or in a hung parliament, they will push for the electoral system to be changed from the current 'first past the post' system to a PR system, like they have in Germany, for example. While it seems a fairer way to elect a government, it has one major flaw in this country: we only have 3 major political parties and a PR system would hand the balance of power to the smallest of those parties, which, coincidentally, happens to be the Liberal Democrats.
I have exhausted myself of parties to vote for (I wouldn't consider voting for one of the smaller parties, e.g. UKIP) so how about looking simply at my local candidates instead and voting on their intentions on local issues? Well, I have met our current MP, Tony McWalter (Lab), who has a majority of 3,742, and I have to say that I like him a lot and agree with where he stands on a few key local issues (keeping Hemel Hempstead Hospital open and in its current location; the council trend for closing down youth schemes, which means kids hang around in residential areas disturbing those that live there; building on Green Belt land). However, the Conservative candidate stands for largely the same things. The Liberal Democrat candidate only talks about local issues in terms of how they would be affected by the polices of the party at a national level, rather than confronting the issues that are peculiar to Hemel Hempstead residents.
All of which makes it very difficult to work out who to vote for. Locally, a vote for the Lib Dems is next to useless, as they only got about 13% of the vote last time round, but I don't want to vote for either of the other parties. Maybe I'll just go along and spoil my ballot paper. That, at least, would be a fair representation of my views at the moment.