Have a look at the list of manifesto pledges below…
- Creating a fairer tax system to take more low-paid workers out of tax
- Holding a comprehensive defense review – including scrapping Eurofighter and Trident
- Restoring the Index-link to pensions, immediately
- Breaking up banks to improve security of the retail banking sector
- Major investment in green industries
- £2.5billion scheme to improve funding per pupil in the most deprived areas
- Reducing testing and giving teachers more freedom in the classroom
- A Higher Education system that is free of tuition fees
- The right to request flexible working for all
- Joint parental leave of up to 18months for all new parents
- Decreasing our dependency on nuclear power
- Stronger european co-operation on trade, crime, climate-change and defense
- A presumption against short-term sentencing
- Treating drug addicts as ill rather than criminals
- Making a positive case for inward migration within the context of a fairer immigration policy
- Scrapping ID cards and biometric passports
- Reduce maximum pre-charge detention to 14days
- Remove innocent people from DNA register
- Introduce a Freedom Bill to protect against intrusion from CCTV
- Introduction of a fully elected House of Lords
- Voting for Over 16s
- Fixed-term parliaments
- Introduction of proportional representation
What party would you think you were voting for? OK, so I admit the final point makes it more obviously Liberal Democrat, but before then? Be honest now, it sounded a lot more like a traditional Labour party manifesto didn’t it? Certainly more than anything I have heard come from the Labour party in recent times.
Through the TV debates the Lib Dems have really found their voice and become a party who feel and look like their time has come. Increasing disenchantment with the two main parties, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the expenses scandal have combined to undermine trust in both politicians and the current political system as a whole. This has led to people searching around for alternatives, and the Lib Dems have become the prime beneficiary of this.
For me it is more than this, of all the manifestos, and I have read them, they are the ones who most convincingly talk about fairness. Fairness within tax, fairness in educational opportunity, fairness in immigration and, of course fairness within the electoral system. They are also the only party who have put in detailed costs against their spending commitments (albeit taken with a large pinch of salt).
On a more personal level I have been impressed with Nick Clegg and his party’s decision not to duck the difficult conversations – to be boldly pro-european and to argue the positives of immigration are but two areas where it would be easier to capitulate to the print-press but instead they have taken the time to argue their case – seemingly with some success.
As a member of the Labour party – voting decisions should be a relative breeze for me, but this time I find myself scrabbling round for reasons to vote Labour whilst all the time a voice in my head suggests otherwise. Being loyal to a party is important, but what if you come to feel that another party better represents your values? Perhaps it is time to change?
At the moment, the current electoral system means that, in my constituency, it is likely to be a straight battle between Labour and the Tories, in theory delaying any voting angst I might have for future campaigns. But then again, the Lib-Dems were only 10 points or so behind last time and, as we know, a lot has happened since then and it is conceivable that they might be in the mix this time around. Particularly when you take into account the sitting Labour MP, Ann Keen is very unpopular after getting caught up in the expenses debacle.
So, 10 days to go and, for the first time in my life I am unsure as to who to vote for… a Labour party that has done a mostly good job over the last 13 years ? Or a Lib-Dem party that feels more in tune with ideals around fairness and, well, liberalism. I’ll keep blogging as I make up my mind – I promise you’ll be the first to know!