Tuesday, 20 April 2010

What matters?

I have a problem.  Its getting difficult to hide it now.  I'm embarrassed about it.  I walk down the street and see other people who don't look like they have the same problem and I feel like I'm the only one.  I've decided I have to just come out and say it:

I'm a genuine undecided.

I have a problem on so many levels.  I'm pro-independence - both at national and individual level - which makes me a liberal and conservative nationalist.  I'm green too.  I preach to my students that a General Election is just that - 650 different elections on the same day so it strikes me that I should look at the candidates in my own constituency.  But then this is going to be a close election, fine margins will make the difference and therefore the bigger picture matters too.  Who will form the government?  Will it be a majority or minority - or a coalition?  Will my vote matter?

And so my choice takes stock of the UK level, the leaders, the policies, the TV debates.  But then, not all of what they say is relevant to me - health, education, transport policies are true for England, but not for Scotland.  I'm impressed with "Dave" - though others are not, I find him genuine and fresh - a 2010 Tony Blair (though we know how that ended).  I was impressed too with Nick Clegg in the debate - though he was not challenged too much on policy, he could only play the opponents who were against him.  Less impressed with Gordon Brown - I think he's really had his chance, and made a bit of a mess.  

But should impressions of these three matter?  I mean, yes, one of them will be PM, but I'm unlikely to ever meet them, much less have any reason to write to them.  Yes, they will shape the country for the next 4/5 years (or 6 months if it is that tight).  But they won't shape my local area, and that matters too.

I'm currently represented by a Labour MP, who has - occasionally - voted against his government, but not as often as I would like.  According to the multitude of Lib Dem leaflets I have collected over the past few weeks, only they can beat Labour here.  Which is true - to an extent, but only if people vote for them.  I'm really not a huge fan of the SNP candidate here, and while I appreciate some of what Cameron says about the Tories, I haven't heard anything from their candidate.  I also have the choice of a Green candidate here, and if it were a PR election undoubtedly they would get more consideration, but they are probably squeezed out of my thinking on the back of how tight the whole thing is going to be.

So, I'm asking - what should matter more?  Local or national (or international)?  Individual or collective?  Policy or projection?  Style or substance?  And will it make a difference either way?

I'm in dire need.  Please take some time out of your day to help.

Yours truly, 
Confused, Edinburgh

PS - this supposed to help you decide to vote... and they are all right - it is time to make your mind up.  Easier said than done though!


Caron 20 April 2010 at 16:28  

The closest I an come to empathising with how you are feeling is remembering the short periods of leadership contests when I was deciding who to vote for.

In some ways I envy you, not because I have any doubt at all about my own choice, but because in some ways I'd relish the chance to view an election campaign from the outside, to weigh up everytihng.

The closest I got to that was in 2003 in Mallorca on holiday after the Holyrood elections. They had their Spanish regional elections and much to my husband's despair, I tried to find out as much as possible about what was going on, took photos of all the posters (which are much better than our's) and had long chats with the woman in the shop across the road from our hotel who was an avid Partido Popular hater. The difference with your situation is that I didn't have a say in that one.

For my part I can only say the Nick on the debate the other night is exactly the same, genuine Nick that I first met 12 years ago and helped get selected and subsequently elected in the East Midlands. Thankfully he has better people running his campaigns these days:-). He's a good person and I trust him on a personal level - and I wouldn't say that to you if it wasn't true.

I really like Kevin Lang too - he has got the intellect, the empathy, the energy to do the job and I'm glad he's one of our's.

My advice to you would be just enjoy the undecidedness. Nobody can tell you what to do. Everyone's different, and nobody has exactly the same priorities as you. Stop trying to make up your mind, relax, enjoy the campaign and go with your instincts on May 6th.

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