Well it looks like my mind is made up. After what has been a very strange and sometimes uncomfortable 4 weeks I have completed the journey from Labour to the Liberal Democrats. Anyone who has read my previous posts will know this has not been an easy decision, and I am aware it is something that will disappoint some of those I know who are still fighting for a Labour victory, but I am convinced it is the right one.
The Lib-Dems have put together a radical, reforming manifesto and, through the leadership of Nick Clegg, have delivered a positive and energetic campaign. Central to this campaign is one word – Fairness. Fairness in our tax system; fairness in the way we deal with immigration and, of course, fairness in how our political process works.
I am one of the lucky few – I live in one of perhaps only 20 or so seats that is a genuine 3-way marginal. It means that I am free to vote for whoever I feel is best, whilst also knowing that it has a decent chance of actually counting towards something. More likely you live in a two-way marginal where, frequently, you have to make a compromise choice – voting to keep a party out, rather than voting for the person you actually prefer. Of course, you might live somewhere like Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill where Labour register something between 60-70% of the vote at every election. In the early 21st century can it really be right, or fair, that for the majority of people voting on Thursday their vote would have meant nothing and benefitted no-one?
I understand that for a lot of people a change in the way we vote seems abstract and something that gets in the way of more pressing issues like the economy or public services. I understand, but still those people miss the point – in order to face-up to the very real challenges this country faces we need to first fix the way we are represented. To engage people in political debate they first need to feel that their vote, and through that vote, their views are going to be heard and represented. Effective solutions to climate-change, global instability and, of course, the economy require a cultural shift in British politics – one that puts co-operation above confrontation, that values long-term vision over short-term soundbites, a political culture that rewards positive government rather than scare-mongering and the compromise candidate.
There is only one way we have a chance of getting an electoral system we deserve and that is to maximise the Lib-Dem vote. The higher the share of the Lib-Dem vote, the more ridiculous the current system looks. If you put today’s You Gov poll through the BBC’s seat calculator
the Lib Dems, on 29% of the vote, would finish with about 90 seats. Labour, on 28%, would have 3 times as many with 270. It is clear to me that this should not and cannot be sustainable. It is for this reason above all that over the next few days I will be going around my neighbourhood putting leaflets through doors and encouraging as many people as I can to vote Liberal-Democrat.
I fully endorse and sign-up to the Liberal Democrats fairness agenda, I believe we should invest more than ever in our education system, including university students; I believe that our tax system should be reformed to ensure those paid the most pay the most and I believe that a one-off amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants is a sensible solution to a problem others refuse to acknowledge. But most of all I believe the best way to start is by hard-wiring fairness into our electoral system. Join me on Thursday and vote Lib-Dem – it is a vote for democracy.