I'll admit straight up that I do like a good election night! The uncertainty of the live broadcast, the pontificating and timewasting before anything is actually known, the naughtiness of staying up Way Past Bedtime purely to watch TV. I remember watching with Mum and both of us liking the exuberance of Peter Snow and his Swingometer! I wonder if Snow The Younger will do the same this year? In a close-fitting shirt?
As we are miles from our new constituency of Bristol East, I have (hopefully) arranged proxy votes so we will both be involved. One of my pet hates is people who don't bother to vote, especially those that then still think they have a right to complain about the result, and extra especially if those people are women. Mum's influence again: British women died so I could have the right to vote and there are still people in this country who were alive before the law was changed. It's that recent! Don't waste the opportunity! I was surprised and delighted to see that even TV channel E4 are suspending their broadcast for the day so potential voters won't be distracted by Big Bang Theory repeats and forget to go.
Previous General Elections were a pretty easy choice for me as I lived in Norman Baker's constituency and he is an excellent local politician. Some BBC bod (Dimbleby, maybe) even commented one year that his winning was due to a local thing and so not representative of whatever national trend they were discussing at the time. But we are based in Bristol now so I've been reading up on a whole new set of parliamentary hopefuls. I have six to choose from.
My priorities are:
an integrated national public transport network that includes safe cycle and walking routes for shorter journeys - more buses and trains, less pollution and traffic jams;
sustainable farming of healthy and naturally cared for animals so the world's food supplies can actually support us all into the future;
an NHS that is there for everyone when they need it - not six months later or for additional payment;
effective restraints on huge businesses and corporations so they can't get away with ignoring national laws, ill treating and underpaying workers, and destroying irreplaceable natural resources.
I don't want much, do I?!
From what I've read, my priorities aren't compatible with the Conservatives, and certainly not with UKIP who basically seem to me to be even more classically Tory than the Tories themselves. I'm not happy with the LibDems' sellout either, so they won't get another vote from me. I have spent considerable time reading about TUSC which I wasn't previously aware of despite their significant number of candidates nationwide. I agree with some of their ideas, but have found their approach uncomfortably confrontational and perhaps with hints of Wolfie Smith (showing my age!). Also, I am struggling to understand how many of their policies could realistically be implemented as it would be such a complete about face from how Britain is currently that I can only see chaos resulting from failure to accomplish such change.
Of the two remaining possible candidates from whom I can choose, I was particularly impressed with Labour candidate Kerry McCarthy's response to my questions about humane farming and sustainable food production. I have previously blogged this letter. Kerry is the current MP for Bristol East and has been since 2005 so she must be doing something right! I also like Green Party candidate Lorraine Francis. The Greens' beliefs do significantly match my own and, apart from a couple of dafter ideas like the 14 year copyright limit, I would be happy to support their policies. They have a feel of something different about them too. Perhaps it is the strong female presence within their leadership, or perhaps it is a refreshing lack of career politicians with glib soundbites? While I think I like Kerry McCarthy as an individual politician, I am not sure how much of what she stands for is achievable within the context of Ed Miliband's Labour Party. Their Manifesto for Women is a tad patronising to say the least and I was definitely disappointed to see Blair being wheeled out again. Has he not done enough damage already?
Yes, I have decided that I will choose Lorraine Francis and Vote Green on May 7th.
And whether you agree with my decision or if you feel strongly against it doesn't matter. What is important is that as many of us have our say as are eligible. Whoever you choose, just please do make sure you Vote For Someone next week.
and stock up on snacks. It's going to be a long night!