It feels like this election has been in the news forever. Since they changed the law last time to make a 5-year fixed-term parliament, everyone has known the election was going to have to be held this May and both the politicians and the media have been exploiting that knowledge, for months it seems. There has been campaigning and TV debates (and debates about the TV debates!), so many leaflets through the letterbox that I could have re-papered the spare room with them, but so far none of it has made me decide whose box I want to put my cross in tomorrow.
There is a school of thought (albeit a somewhat defeatist one, some might argue) that the area where I live has such a strong tradition of voting for one specific party that a vote for anyone else aside from them is nothing more than a protest vote. If I support them, I can vote, or not, because everyone else will likely vote for them so my one extra vote won't sway the result. On the other hand, if that's not the party I want to support, it exercises my democratic right to protest against them by voting for someone else, even if that someone else doesn't stand a chance of actually being elected.
I decided to do a little research to make sure I was making a truly informed decision about which candidate to vote for. I started out by looking into who is actually standing for election here. (No point pledging my allegiance to a party with no representation where I live!) There are eight candidates. Two are standing for parties I've never heard of; two are standing for parties I know I definitely do not support the political views of. That narrows it down to four. A bit of poking about online brought me to a website that I thought I would find really useful. Voteforpolicies.org.uk offers a survey to help you to decide which political parties you sympathise with. OK, I thought, let's give this a go. You pick which (or all) of a number of policy areas you are interested in (education, environment, health, economy, etc) and then the site gives you a list of anonymous policies to read through. You pick which ones you might consider and eliminate the ones you disagree with, then, from that short list, you choose which one you support the most. After completing that process for each policy area, you are presented with a pie chart showing what proportion of your answers aligns with each political party, and it also reveals which party's policy you had actually picked in each area.
I read the policies, I made my choices, the program gave its verdict. My allegiance seems to lie with.......all of them. In equal measure. It appears I believe in one party when it comes to the economy and welfare, a different one for health and the environment, a different one again for immigration and education, and so on.
So now I'm no more decided than I was. All I know is that I am apparently some kind of weird political mishmash of ideas, with no obvious sympathy with any one of the current mainstream parties. Who I'm going to vote for tomorrow is still a mystery, even to me! I guess I'll have to decide between now and tomorrow.
In case anyone's wondering, I definitely intend to vote. I might not know who I want, but I do know who I don't want, so I don't want any apathy on my part to mean I don't get the chance to vote out someone whose party policies I don't believe in. In the meantime, I'll just float along here and we'll see how I feel tomorrow.