How I will vote…

It’s none of your business. How you will vote is none of my business. This country cannot proceed along any lines that make sense or promise hope unless we can all get along no matter how we vote and unless we respect the primacy of the secret ballot. Having said which, open and free discussion of the people, parties and policies up for consideration is all part of democracy too.

© Tony Husband 2010 for Stephenfry.com

What Right Have I to Blog?

Should I even be writing this blog? In a free country under the new dispensation of social networking is my ‘influence’ so disproportionate that for me to be revealing my voting intentions (which I am not quite going to do, by the way) in some sense inimical to the democratic spirit? I have about a million and a half Twitter followers, most of them I should think of voting age. If I changed the mind of even 1% of them would I somehow be cheating?

There are arguments for and against my involvement at such a level. One argument is that columnists in newspapers who have absolutely no more legitimacy in terms of influence, education, knowledge, understanding or right to persuade and interfere than I have are attempting to do so every day and with far more vitriol, conviction and absolutism than I would ever dare to exhibit. Which will not stop them from having a go at me were I to presume to pop my head above the parapet and suggest a voting preference. The screams of “Labour Lovie!” or “Lib Dem Lovie!” would be heard from here to hell. ‘It’s all very well for a pampered celebrity to parade his so-called caring credentials …’ blah-di-blah-di-bleugh. In ideological wars of this nature the first casualties are consideration, mutual respect, sense, proportion and dignity. Fair enough, one must be tough I suppose, although I’d much rather not be.

Another argument to propel me to write may be that the very weight of Twitter followers and website traffic behind me ought to bring with it some sense of civic duty. Maybe, there is a chance at least, this election matters. I don’t question whether or not it matters to the candidates, of course it does, but whether it matters more than most historically, socially and individually to us, as Britons. If this election does matter then surely my ignoring it would put me in the position of one of those rather silly people who is content to jeer from the sidelines, ‘they’re all the same anyway’ and ‘it makes no difference’ – which believe me I understand, for we are all tempted to be one of those. ‘Lord, what fools these voters be,’ we say to ourselves, if we are the kind of pompous Shakespeare quoting arse that I am at any rate, ‘you won’t catch me committing myself or risking a vote, much better for me to rely on the acuity of my vision which sees through the lot of them.’ Believe me, I do understand how tempting that position is. But I think we all know, in the innermost chambers of our heart, that such a position is unworthy of us.

The nailing of my colours to the mast might just encourage some of you to vote. I really do not mind how you vote, but I think you should. The ‘I can’t make a difference’ assertion is neither true, nor impressive, nor amusing, nor worthy, nor dignified. It is lazy, cowardly and inane. In Australia and some other countries voting is compulsory. Maybe it should be here too. At the very least the poverty and inadequacy of my arguments or assertions may at least propel you to the voting booth to vote against everything I believe. That at least would be something.

To sum up. What business do I have to ventilate my psephological dispositions for the Great Choosing that will take place on Thursday?  Do I think that my electoral intentions are relevant, important, worth more than anyone else’s, of national interest? None of the above. On the other hand, I have been approached by all three major parties who have sensed that I might be more of a floater (in every sense of that unfortunate epithet, I suspect) than I ever was in previous general elections. And on the other other hand some of my Twitter followers seem to think that my coyness in refusing to reveal my intentions amounts to a kind of cowardice or failure of citizenship. So I have decided to write this piece of bloggage in the hope that it will at least acquit me of apathy or irresponsibility. But I will preface it now with this insistent motto: do not let anything I say influence you. Vote with your heart, vote with your head, vote with your gut: your heart, your head, your gut – no one’s else. I just hope you have courage, style and charm enough not to hate me for what I am about to say, for I assure you I will not hate you if you say the exact opposite. Trollers, resentful maniacs, weirdos and abusive beasts can stop reading now, I have no interest in horrible and offensive meanness of spirit. You must believe me when I say that I have never hated any fellow countryman or woman because of how they vote or how they express their voting intention.

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141 comments on “How I will vote…”

  1. R2-D2 says:

    Such indecision is what will lead us inevitably to a hung parliament. But I suggest that Stephen (and we) would enjoy that. Especially if it were well hung.

  2. Wyndham says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I agree with your comments about revealing your voting intentions but hope that I can persuade you to use your influence to persuade people to vote.

    I don’t mind if they are going to vote for parties I don’t support, as long as they go out and cast their vote.

    Best regards.

  3. Neal Collins says:

    What worries me is how many people will read this start to end. As a single structure, it sings. But too many will take the abridged version: Fry says vote… I know it’s not fair and it’s not right… but that’s the attention span of the modern man/woman isn’t it?

  4. Marshy54 says:

    BRAVO Sir

  5. HMStack says:

    A tantalizing and mischievous tweet that leads to a rousing delcaration to action, which, after an initial dissatisfaction (lid and does, and all that), is actually rather salutary. But a far nobler spirit emerges than I can lay claim to – sometimes the most heated disagreement and debate can arise from political difference, and indifference.

    My ex-husband, once, in fond discourse, claimed that if my head was cut off, blue blood would spout from my body. Ah, sweet memories.

    So, to action we must.

  6. tarbs says:

    As ever, you provide a haven of reason and reasonableness in a sea of media spite and spin. I only wish that you had written this a week or so ago so that I could have printed and shown it to those I have met during the election campaign who seem positively gleeful in their wish not to vote this time around.

    Personally, I will be taking ‘Vote Two’ from your options. I see in the Conservative leadership a genuine wish to change things in our country for the better – particularly education – and I hope they succeed. I make this decision in the hope that they will be able to withstand/head off the views expounded by some of their more fringe supporters, much in the way that Tony Blair had to when he came to power in 1997.

    Good luck with the Sharpie on Thursday!

  7. Erynn says:

    Being from very much elsewhere, all I can say is good luck. I hope things work out better there than they’re working here in the US at the moment.

  8. Guy Grobler says:

    In not saying who you will vote but calling for all to vote, you are doing the dignified act of embracing all voters, while not being paternal in preaching whom to vote for.

    I think it best be said that you are voting for Democracy, and calling for all of us to do the same.

  9. iDemonix says:

    Great post, Stephen. It’s nice to finally read a piece on a well-read blog that doesn’t condemn you for voting Convservative, cuss you for voting Labour and tell you that your vote is wasted if you vote Lib Dem.

    Personally I think I’ll be voting Lib Dem for a lot of reasons, one big one being because I’m a student and could do with tuition fee’s! But whatever you choose should be exactly that, what you choose, I feel votes are often far too influenced by the ramblings of bloggers that have amassed followers and feel they can ‘play God’ with the voting system.

    Thanks for finally writing something about the elections worth the read x

  10. kathryncann says:

    Excellent commentary Stephen. It is of course your right to keep your voting intentions to yourself, and I am sure you have followers of all political persuasions. You can’t please all of the people all of the time and all that, so keeping your cards close seems to me to be wise. I am sure at the same time you can understand WHY your followers want you to share your intentions. :-)

    I absolutely agree with your concerns about the Tory party and their record on gay rights (and human rights in general for that matter) The Labour Party have made huge strides forward for the beautiful people of our country in the former, but I believe they are regressing and have lost their way in the latter.

    None of the parties represent my views on all of the issues, and I expect this is the same for many or even most people. For me, as for many other Liberal Democrat supporters this time around, this election has to be about reform for our politics. Yes the economy is important, but we got here into this mess partly because of the overwhelming power of the party within the two party system. For this reason it is time that the British People were given a voice – their own voice! That is why the choice is clear for many of us. The choice is Liberal Democrats.

    Electoral Reform Now
    Disobey Rupert Murdoch

  11. andy_steve says:

    Well, what to say? A really well thought out and balanced view of the current situation facing many thousands of peeps up and down the UK. I am a ‘returning’ Labour Party member who quit over Blair’s version of Thatcherism but returned to the fold recently, impressed by the solidity, compassion and determination to see things through to the sunnier upper slopes of economic recovery of Gordon. The only worry I have about a LibDem vote, understandable though one would be under the inequity of FPTP, is that that very system will deny ‘progressive’ voters what they most desire and, instead, gift No. 10 and all the levers to wreak destruction to Dave, Gideon and his PR puffed old style Tory chums.

    Good luck on Thursday Stephen, I wish I could give you my certainty, but I can’t so Sharpie in hand you will decide ;)

  12. robeaton says:

    Very well put – as always!

  13. @kevplugz says:

    Quite possibly the most interesting and accurate election commentary I’ve read so far, I too am hovering between Vote One and Vote Three which is unusual for me usually being a Vote One person, but I am genuinely undecided.

    Vote Two really doesn’t appeal, I don’t know if I could put my finger on a single definitive reason for that, as it’s more a combination of a multitude of little niggling doubts about what lies beneath the freshly applied veneer of Cameron’s ‘change’ – something about it just doesn’t ring true and has a tinge of desparation like he’s trying far too hard to ride the coat-tails of Barack Obama’s win in the USA. The trouble is, we aren’t voting for a leader, we’re voting for a party and I think this is something that increasingly younger people in particular have forgotten.

    Two days to go and while I know I will definitely vote, I still have not yet come to my decision about for whom that vote will be cast.
    Thanks for the food for though, all seven epic pages of it!

  14. alisha.irish says:

    Until a few weeks ago I didn’t know I could vote in the general election as I am an immigrant, but because of my visa status and I come from a Commonwealth country, I can.

    So I will be making use of my vote. This country is now my home and I am proud to be able to contribute to it.

    Thank you for your post, for giving everyone reasons to think about voting. The more of us who dream, the more of us who seize that dream, the more change can happen.

  15. iainmay says:

    An excellent read and synopsis of the choice we (all) need to make.

    Thanks Stephen.

  16. red1hols says:

    You are right, of course. The application of influence on voters does in some small way undermine the principle of a free vote.

    Sadly, people do try and apply influenece. Those that do it through personal conviction and a belief that their influence may bring about a better world I can forgive – as long as they provide a reasoned argument to support their claim that allows people to choose based on reason.

    Then there are the others that use their influence for personal gain or career enhancement. Those that forsake reasoned argument and use fear, uncertainty and doubt. Those I think we can do without.

    I have already voted by post. It took me an absolute age to decide where my little ‘x’ should land. I hope I chose wisely. I hope I chose because of conviction and belief rather than through fear. I am convinced I was not swayed by columnists, sub editors, celebrities or by self serving open letters from ‘special interest groups’ – although I can never be sure.

    Like you, I hope that everybody eligable voter in Britain will make the effort to do the same – and place their ‘x’ based upon the messages they believe rather because a famous face or media outlet told them it was the ‘right’ thing to do.

  17. Osbad says:

    A thought provoking and typically sensitive observation!

    As a voter in a former “safe seat” currently under threat from only one other party, I find it incredibly irritating that my vote will count so little towards democracy. I find it immensely irritating that I am not offered a candidate from any of the smaller parties, who’s views often more closely mirror my concerns than those of the monolithic “big 3″.

    (I should mention that I am actually also offered a candidate from the BNP, and do find it worrying that many protest voters, disaffected by big party politics will offer him their vote and thus be potentially perceived as lending legitimacy to their cause. For all the obvious reasons I couldn’t support the BNP, but do support their ability to stand in elections so that at the very least their level of support can be guaged by more responsible parties)

    Anyhow, back to the point. My opinion is that the largest single important issue in these elections is not the economy and the scale and rate of expenditure cuts, but rather parliamentary accountability and the nature of our democracy. The reason being not that I think the former is unimportant, but that it is SO huge that I really cannot see any of the three main parties differing to any huge extent in the final outcome. The level of swinging cuts that are inevitable means that we will be arguing over relatively minute details – a £100 million here, a £100 million there, when the cuts that will inevitably come will be measured in the 10’s and 100’s of billions. I can’t help feel that whichever party is in power, the level of devastation will probably look pretty much the same!

    That being the case, I would argue that in such times it is essential that our parliamentary decision makers become as in touch with their local supporters as it is possible for them to be. In order for the country to retain anything of value, we have to have confidence in our elected representatives. And in order to do that we have to see some sort of improvement in the way our politicians are elected.

    Personally, I would love to see huge, massive, enormous change. I would love to see much greater local democracy and accountability of representatives. In the modern age it is possible to track voting records and correspond with MPs via email instantly. Lets leverage that and make it count!

    At the very least, lets get PR!

    And that way, when eventually, as they will, the fogs of economic depression lift, we may have as an outcome a political system that is once again the envy of the world and that can be a source of pride and aspiration, rather than a source of mockery.

    It won’t relieve the pain, but it may give us some strength to endure.

  18. shanethehat says:

    Marvellous stuff…vote for who you think best, but most importantly VOTE.

  19. KateFully says:

    Stephen, I can totally understand what you are saying and I admire you for it. But isn’t there a teeny bit inside you that realises you could actually have some influence on real change in this country? Isn’t that an exciting thought? And is there one chance to do it? I suppose it’s very easy for me to say these things, as I have no comparable level of influence and I have always known where my heart is, thankfully my head is there too.

  20. xecutey says:

    My vote will be for a hung parliament. In my constituency that means voting for the Liberal Democrats.

    Lets make them work together for the better of the country, for us, instead of working for themselves pushing through crap like the Digital Economy Bill which no one wants.

    The Internet is a true democracy and is even nominated for a Nobel peace prize this year. It should be a fundamental human right to have access. But Labour and Conservatives want to be able to restrict our access and even pull the plug rather much like China does over its citizens. The debate was not even a debate, it was a wash-up after secret lobbying (which also should be abolished) with us having no say whatsoever in the matter at all.

    Only the Liberal Democrats are against debill and say they will repeal it straight away and bring it up for proper discussion (but in no way can anyone be cut-off the Internet). They are also the only ones who are saying they will get the long term sick back in to work via treatment such as detoxes and those with mental health problems seeing professionals (not just throwing them off on to job seekers no matter how ill they are simply to save money as Labour & Conservatives want).

    Throwing the ill on jobseekers mean many will be made homeless (when they lose there housing benefit due to not being able to find work due to ill health, but at same time being classed as “healthy”, Drug & Drink addicts mugging & burgling to get the money for there habits (instead of being in detox) and mental health patients being pushed over the limit and committing suicide, or even worse, murder.

    Vote for real change – Vote for a hung parliament!

    Lets face it. Nothing will change under Labour or Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats won’t get in. So let them fight it out and compromise.

    Half the time they disagree with each other just for the sake of it.

    In a hung parliament they can cherry pick the best ideas from each and combine them in to what is best for the country, me and you.

    It works in New Zealand and has benefited them greatly.

    My gran told me it benefited the country during the World War II.

    It can benefit us now too I believe.

    The websites progressiveparliament.org.uk and voteforachange.co.uk advise you on the best way of achieving a hung parliament from your constituency.

    Follow the logical step which is a hung parliament for the benefit of the nation.

  21. EllieK says:

    Thank you so much for writing this Stephen, not because I wanted to be told which way to vote, but because I needed someone older and wiser to outline the current situation and available options in a clear and (relatively! ;-)) unbiased fashion – something which is incredibly hard to find almost anywhere else at the moment.
    It’s great to see you back on Twitter again :-)
    Happy StarWars Day!
    Ellie

  22. rachellucie says:

    your views on the election are as we would expect eloquent and measured and morally correct, that we all have the right to vote for who we feel and think we should, to use our own minds, and not be ‘tribal’ about it.
    Thank you :)
    Rachel

  23. blifil says:

    As always (apart from when talking about PCs) well argued and balanced. One gripe, though. What are the Lib Dems offering other than charisma? The worst decision Brown made was to agree to the televised debates, not exactly beauty contests, but the questions are not far off from being ‘How would you change the world if you were to win, Nick? And, by the way, you look fantastic in that fuschia one piece with matching peep toe heels’? We’re now lumbered with these bloody things forever. We need politicians, not presenters, otherwise we may as well have Adrian Chiles, Eamon Holmes and the bloke from the Right Stuff up there. (I’d vote for Adrian as we always get 6 points from WBA).x

  24. azrael says:

    A great and at times inspiring article, thanks Stephen!

    This will be a funny election for me, because never before have I been a member of a political party, and this year I am. Yet the party I am a member of cannot afford to put a candidate up in my constituency. So the first General Election that I am a member of a political party comes around, and I will vote for someone else.

    Of course it doesn’t help that it is a safe seat for a party I am not planning to vote for. But I will vote because, as Stephen wrote, my vote matters. Even if my candidate loses, my vote will be counted, it will go towards a percentage that will be permanently on record, and it will tell my next MP something about the people he represents.

  25. biscuitcrumb says:

    First of all Stephen, welcome back. It’s good to have you Tweeting again after the purdah. As for voting, I think your blog is very well considered and intelligent on the subject, a world apart from the partisan hacks and ‘activists’ all over the place. Mr Izzard could take a leaf from your book. Of course should you ever be compelled to run for Prime Minister, you’d get my vote and I suspect a lot of others, although frankly I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! My head, heart and gut are pointing in different directions, floating quite a bit, but to be resolved very shortly I guess.
    Keith
    aka @biscuitcrumb

  26. wildman73 says:

    I come from a long line of Labour supporters, and it was well known in the area, when I turned 18 I had formed my own opinions I listened to all parties, because I dared to show support for another party my neighbours all had a go at me, they told me that my Grandad would be spinning in his grave because I didnt support his Labour party, many years on people are still upset with me. I think my Grandad would be proud of me because I am clued up enough to have my own opinions!!
    Thanks to The Great reform act of 1832 which gave every man the right to vote and thanks to the Suffragettes and the Womens Social and Political union gave the women the right to vote.
    http://twitpic.com/1hs20x
    I appologise in advance for my poor spelling.

  27. Tony Lloyd says:

    Someone said “in a democracy we are all politicians”, or something like it. It really is important that people vote and I’m very glad to see someone with your influence calling on people to do that.

    Now, you have over a million followers on Twitter. “Nagging” tweets, from you, periodically through Wednesday evening and Thursday might get more people voting. “Have you voted yet?”, “Remember to vote?” and “Get of your arse and down the polling station” are all under the 140 character limit.

    Please do it.

  28. danielsamuels says:

    This year I will cast my first ever vote, having turned 18 in November. For years now I have supported the Tories with a passion but after watching the debates, reading through policies and viewing past votes cast by their members, I have decided to vote for the Lib Dems.

    I feel that the Tories’ arrogance towards their lead back in November/December has stayed with them throughout this current campaign, their words and actions lead me to believe that they think they have already won; I do not feel this is the case.

    One thing that always interests me is the ‘polls’, they all seems to give marginally different forecasts on how the votes will go. But there is a different thing that interests me about them – out of the hundreds, potentially thousands, of polls which have been cast, I have never been asked my opinion on the election. I’m not entirely sure what the odds are on being picked for polling, nor do I know if I’ve just been unlucky. The one thing I do know, however, is that no-one will know until the votes have been counted.

  29. furmatte says:

    God bless you, Stephen Fry (or the deity, or non-deity, of your choice depending upon your religious preference).

    I have been engaged in an often vitriolic and venomous online political discussion for the last week or so and I shall be posting a link to this blog on the forum (I hope you don’t mind).

    This is the best political post I think I have ever read, though I respectfully disagree in some areas. In fact, I might go even further and claim it as one of the best posts I have *ever* read in any category.

    Sound thinking from a sound man. Keep up the good work, you beauty!

    Rob

    (that’s my name and not a subliminal instruction)

  30. Doc Robotnik says:

    Excellent Blog entry. I found myself agreeing more than I expected.

    I’m also floating between options One and Three, but because of the unfortunate structure of the voting system I think I will be forced to vote tactically, rather than for my preferred party.

  31. Alih says:

    Really interesting perspectives and commentary here. I live in a Tory stronghold practically the only place in the country to increase the tory vote in 1997 but still hopefully record a Labour vote and think it worth it regardless of my inner voice telling me it is waste of time. Good to have you tweeting again and urging people to vote!

  32. biscuitcrumb says:

    Oops! @biscuitcrumb8, that’s me
    Keith

  33. Thor-Dale says:

    Stephen, as per usual you bring clarity and common sense to whole situation. It’s refreshing to read such a balanced piece in amongst the continual mire the media throws out.

    I know which way I’m voting and have done for some time but your blog has reinvigorated my spirit to engage with the political process.

    Your blog = sound and sage words from a man I admire. If only the PPC’s and the parties were so erudite maybe Parliament would be a better place.

  34. ChrisG says:

    Thank you for an insightful read, Stephen. As a first time voter, this politics malarkey is all rather overwhelming, and it’s difficult to see what options there are without being cynical about the whole affair.

    Personally, I’m finding myself leaning towards voting Tory not out of any sense of loyalty to a particular party, but simply because the Tory candidate is the best choice in my constituency, both as a means of ousting Alastair Darling and, most importantly, as someone I’d be happy representing me in Parliament. At the end of the day, that’s how the system is supposed to work, isn’t it?

    On a wider political sense, the Lib Dems are certainly a tempting option, but to this day I’ve no idea who the Lib Dem candidate in my area actually is, other than a name amidst other names on lists of candidates. I couldn’t in good conscience vote for someone who’s not made much of an effort to campaign for my vote. Then we have Alastair Darling, who’s leaflet has his face plastered on the front cover with the most sickeningly smug expression on his face. Normally I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, but that went in the bin pretty quickly. :P

    Happy Star Wars Day!

    Chris

  35. Jafafa Hots says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a member of an oppressed or underrepresented constituency voting for that party which will best represent his or her community, or at least hinder it the least.

    That sort of voting in one’s self interest is perfectly proper, even necessary.

  36. capricorn1 says:

    Hooray for this blog entry sir, it really has filled my heart with joy. I’ve become sick and depressed over the last few weeks of the whole thing because of the general nastiness which elections always bring up. I’m not talking about the parties themselves but the supporters, people who are normally friends falling out because of their differing politician views, articles in the media of places like Twitter or Facebook.

    It warms the cockles of my heart to read your message of vote for who you want but make sure you do vote and respect each other!

    Wonderful stuff

  37. Sheumais says:

    How you vote is indeed none of my business, nor would the knowledge of it be likely to influence my own decision in the slightest. Following the day-to-day utterances of politicians as I do, I feel suitably well informed to decide who may be worthy of my support and who may be casually discarded, but the ostensible promise of the manifesto does crystallise the vague intentions offered in the various and numerous “debates”. I am wary of the presence of the “celebrity” in the political midst, as the wisdom accorded to celebrities is generally assumed, irrespective of the reason that individual is considered of note.

    Last week we witnessed the unedifying spectacle of Gordon Brown voicing his frustration and not, in fact, being nearly as rude as the media frenzy suggested to Mrs Duffy. My main problem with this incident was not that Mr Brown mistakenly described her as “sort of bigoted”, but that Mrs Duffy had unquestioningly supported the same party up to that point. Had she then told the frantic reporters that she would vote for someone else, this change of mind would have been leant a profundity it was unworthy of. The same is true of celebrity involvement in politics. For example, why should a singer or actor automatically possess any particular insight?

    It might be argued the intellectual status of one Stephen Fry is beyond challenge, yet judgement is required to usefully apply intellect and there have been one or two examples of ill-considered reaction to news reports leading to a hysterical outpouring from the dedicated following. That confirms there is a responsibility to consider the implication of expressing an opinion that will be accepted without question by those with a desperation to follow something. When Stephen Fry expresses an opinion, it should no more be accepted without question than that of anyone else.

    Whatever it is that fuels the need to have a massive following, wielding an influence over so many when intellect is considered a particular individual strength, demands a standard of thought that would fracture the weakest argument. I can only applaud the notion that you should not influence others in the casting of their vote and that they should vote, though I would prefer something more than the gut makes the final decision.

  38. 4thxjuly says:

    As a British Subject living overseas masquarding as a wild colonial Northern Irish boy in ‘Seth Efrika’ ,I commend your blog to the house! here here here…*Waves order paper vigorously*

    However you vote is your business Stephen , every vote counts to stop the political system we call “The Parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” falling into apathy and conjecture. We know the world looks to the United Kingdom as a model of democracy and honour.

    Alas ,with the expenses scandals the apathy of the citizens is there for all to see. I applaud your call to vote and if nothing else let the Political patries of all traditions clean their act up and give us mere quisling voters our respect back for the greatest Democracy in the world !

    Have a Lekker week and get your proposterously sized backside down to Cape Town soon so we can be enlightened by your vast theological ethos ..lol

    Les.

  39. professoryard says:

    I like this post, it’s nice not to be disappointed by the political choice of someone you admire.

    It’s easy for a celebrity to endorse a political party, but would they really vote in the same way if they were bankrupted by the recession, bullied at work, or worried about retirement?

  40. Andy_R says:

    I should start by declaring my interests, I’m party leader for one of the ‘forgettables’, the Pirate Party UK, and I’m a candidate for the seat of Worcester. Having said that, I’ll spare you the seemingly inevitable pleas to consider granting the minor parties more influence and say something else that I think matters a lot.

    Remember that you are voting not for a party, but for a local MP. If you still can, I highly recommend attending a hustings events and seeing your local candidates in action. Write the candidates an email, with a question in it (any question at all, it doesn’t matter) and see who bothers replying, and who ignores you or replies with a cut and paste speech not an answer.

    Having attended (and of course spoken at) a number of hustings events, my views of the parties have not changed, but my views about which of the other candidates would make good, bad, appalling or great MPs have changed quite a bit. You may well discover that an open minded, well intentioned persuasive speaker of a different political creed might be a better MP for your area than an overconfident, substanceless manifesto regurgitator from your own preferred party. If I wasn’t one of the lucky few who can vote for themselves on Thursday, I would now be voting for someone I’m impressed with despite his (or her) party, rather than on party lines.

  41. MitchMitch says:

    Thank you for writing this Stephen. Can’t wait to vote on Thursday. Not said that before!

  42. RoyE says:

    Something in me wants to applaud you for not declaring your intentions – quite – but I am tempted to agree with the person who asked you if you didn’t feel just the teeniest bit tempted to use your influence to help to bring about a change.

    That said, I also agree that what you’ve actually voted for is democracy itself. Yes, maybe voting should be compulsory – it should certainly be seen as a duty, an obligation.

    At least the three-way closeness of the polls has galvanised voters with the belief that all of our votes, collectively, do count – even if one vote on its own won’t actually make a difference.

    If we all vote for what we believe, instead of, as political commentators, voting for the party we think has done the best job of convincing other people – am I the only one who’s noticed that in recent elections? – the political landscape will be very different on Friday morning.

    ~Roy

  43. donty says:

    I have to admit to being a long term LibDem voter. Given it’s history of power (or rather lack of it) I was always able to graciously accept that Libdems didn’t have ownership of all the right answers, other parties had good ideas too. This is still the case and I hope that other parties’ interests will begin to feel the same strength and commitment that flows from logic, humility and passion.

    As to this election and the future of this amazing country, I have more hope. Currently our electoral system can produce a government from a party with the lowest share of the votes yet bizarrely wins the most seats. It can, and has proven, to rule with partiality and near impunity. It can ignore the majority, even the party with the highest share but least seats.

    Our next government needs to make decisions that are war-like in its effect on the population. We need a government that reflects all our society, one that can balance the load from the debt we carry and take truly rational decisions to get Britain back on its feet.

    Only when a body’s parts move in unison for a common goal (in this case standing up) can it achieve it. For Britain that must now include our left wing, right wing, centre and our considerable collective ass!

  44. chrisbassist says:

    Thank you for making me register to make my comment, had I done it straight after readinig my comment may be less considered.

    I can’t help but wonder, this issue of a hung parliament. Would it be here if no one had said about it? was it a tactic used by a party to draw votes away from the lib dems? and by drawing the votes actually made the possibility of a hung parliament?

    I am 24 (but will be 25 soon after the election) and this will be my first election I have participated in. Why? Because I never knew how the system worked, as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of tv or read many newspapers, I’m not made too aware of the parties. and while this is great for not being too affected by the personalities, it’s also fairly bad because I don’t know much about the manifestos. all I see is propaganda put through my door.

    I for one would like the voting age for the local election lowered to 16, and for last year school children to be taught about the system, how it works, and what power their vote does and can have.

    Maybe if it had been like that before, more of the younger generations would have voted.

    Personally I will be voting for Dr. Evan Harris. Not because you have suggested such a thing, but because where i live has the best public transport i’ve ever seen, it has parks for my daughter play in, which (for the most part) are kept clean and tidy, He stands up for the NHS, and many other reasons. Obviously he has done a better job here than most MPs have in their areas, so I think he should stay.

  45. lyekka says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I agree with all of the above, well said. I have to say that I am in the particular Oxford West and Abingdon constituency you mention and I will be taking option 3. Its nice to live in a constituency where we actually have an all round decent guy running for election, far too many of our candidates are all words and no action when they are elected and fail to make a real difference (for the better) to our country like this man has.

  46. nathankw says:

    A superb, thoughtful and well reasoned peice.
    Perhaps my only disagreement is that you’re somewhat too soft on Labour in terms of the banking crisis. Yes, the crisis was a worldwide phenomenon and would have happened whoever was in power in Britain. But the UK did play a major role in the crisis and it was allowed to happen because of the huge wave of banking deregulation that started with the Conservatives and continued with Labour. Add to that the eye-watering levels of personal debt built up under Gordon Brown’s stewardship which has made us even more vulnerable.

    Vince Cable on the other hand was an almost lone voice calling for the banks to be controlled and warning of future problems. So I can’t really agree that Gordon is the safe-but-boring pair of hands we need. Rather, he’s the captain who steered us into the iceberg, following the course set by the tories before him. It’s definitely time for a new skipper.

  47. turquoisefloyd says:

    That is a beautiful post, Stephen. I hope everyone reads it.

  48. BrokenBiro says:

    Like you, I am swithering (great word!). It can be unwise to vote positively for the party you want to see in government if you live in a marginal constituency where a vote with your heart would give more strength to the party whose values are not your own. So I’m voting with my head this time – the heart shall have it’s say one day!

  49. kissmychakram says:

    Excellent bloggage Sir, I thank ye. By dint of being in Australia for this last month I have managed to avoid the vast majority of the electioneering and fear-mongering articles from our esteemed organs of the press. This is not to say that I have not thought a great deal about how I will vote.

    After much consideration – I cannot stand Brown for various reasons, mostly to do with his tenure in the exchequer – Cameron seems to me to be pretty much a dick, and my concerns re the arts and Gay rights mirror your own – Clegg impresses me and by nature my personal politics fit best within the Lib Dem ethos. A hung parliament at this stage of our economic woes bothers me though.

    At this moment, I am leaning towards ignoring the party leaders and voting to re-elect my current MP, who has done a pretty good job for his constituency and a reading of his voting, expenses records etc. at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ gives me a measure of comfort.

  50. nonoyesyes says:

    Hello Stephen. Bravo: I admire the spirit of your blog. Written with an intelligent approach to something that must give, for any thinking, caring individual, pause to listen to some calm, good sense! Moreover, very sound advice, given with great pride I imagine, because it is so right!
    [quote] “do not let anything I say influence you. Vote with your heart, vote with your head, vote with your gut: your heart, your head, your gut – no one’s else….”
    No wonder I admire you so…. and being in such a broad public arena, you handle it beautifully!
    I would not like to think how I’d go about keeping everything in “apple pie” order, for instance, in such circumstances!
    And, in a chaotic world, and one which is badly in need of competent, and intelligent order to bring things forward, there is obviously much to think about, for any voting person who happens to live on this wild, wilful planet!
    Thanks so much: a wonderful blog.
    Of course I feel like saying `Good luck with the outcome of the election’ here at this point. I know how I feel when we are having one!
    Cheers
    nahatsu