Election 2015 @ After Nyne: The People will Decide..Well Some of Them Will

uk election

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With just a few days to go before the election the parties have little time left to make an impression or to swing public opinion, writes After Nyne’s Josie-Anne Gray. I suspect that most people who intend to vote have now made up their minds and unless something seismic happens then there is little any politician of any party can effectively change.

The biggest success story of the election is likely to be the SNP in Scotland and that will be at the expense of Labour. Although there seems to be limited support for the SNP in England there should be no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon is a formidable and admirable stateswoman.

She has withstood a tirade of antagonistic reporting from the media, 74% of which is resolutely and unashamedly right wing and she has maintained dignity and composure throughout. I have great sympathy with the Scots and the SNP but as a northerner from a forgotten and abandoned small town I am sorry to see the erosion of the Labour movement in Scotland and I am fearful that the north of England will be ever more marginalised and adrift after this election than is currently the case.

Unlike many of her detractors I have admiration for the way Natalie Bennett has conducted herself in this campaign. Eschewing adversarial antics and the bear pit traditions of the main parties she has simply answered questions as best she can, improving each time she appears and taking a direct approach. I find her quite refreshing.

She is in a lucky position in a way because she can speak the truth and offer an idealistic set of policies because she is not going to find herself in power. At least not this time. I suspect the Green Party will have its day later rather than sooner and probably only after some catastrophe makes everyone wake up and realise that The Greens have been right all along.

With regard to UKIP it is looking as if the purple plum has peaked too soon and gone off Certainly in Grimsby it is looking highly likely that Melanie Onn will take the seat for Labour. Victoria Ayling has alienated the business community with her ludicrous views on climate change and renewable energy.

She has also underestimated the strength of support for not just Melanie Onn and the Labour party but also for Marc Jones and the Conservatives. Jones has a steady and loyal basis of support and he comes across well in debate and discussion. He is community and constituency focused and doesn’t give the impression of being after the power. Ayling certainly gives that impression.

My personal support for the Labour party has taken many blows over the past fifteen years.

Liar Blair and the illegal war dented most of what faith I had in the party and when it was obvious that the party was a shadow of its former self and had all but abandoned socialism I – like many others I suspect – voted Lib Dem in 2010. How I have regretted that decision.

Clegg has been unable to stand up to the Tories and if he has tempered them in any way I am sure the food bank users, homeless and those suffering under benefit sanctions and the bedroom tax have not noticed. The Tory war on the poor and the coalition’s utter contempt for sick, disabled and vulnerable people may just be its undoing in this election.

Too many people now at least know of someone whose life has been ruined; when suffering gets close to home, people start to notice. Labour is not offering an alternative to austerity, which is disappointing, but they are likely to go easier on those who have the least and take some of the pressure off. Labour’s support for Trident and its ridiculous stance on immigration -outnastying the nasty parties – stick in my craw and its refusal to reject fracking and take environmental issues seriously also irritate me. So, why am I voting Labour when my heart has most definitely turned Green?

The answer is simple and in two parts. Part one = Victoria Ayling and UKIP. Part two = http://www.voteswap.org

With a neo fascist camped out on the doorstep and what looked until last week like a very real chance of a UKIP win in Great Grimsby, I felt I had no other moral choice than to vote Labour. I have great respect and admiration for the local Green Party candidate Dr Vicky Dunn and my heart is with the Greens but they are not going to fare that well in this constituency.

Grimsby has been a Labour town for seventy years but a combination of factors has moved old loyalties across the floor to UKIP. I can understand the frustrations but not pitching a tent with such an unpleasant candidate who has only the thinnest veneer of respectability covering a very nasty, overtly racist core. And in spite of my reservations about Labour nationally I like Melanie Onn.

She was selected form an all-woman shortlist, something of which I personally approve but which did not play well with the old guard, but she is local through an through. She is also clever and capable and she will be an excellent MP. I have no doubt and that is as important for us here in Grimsby. She won’t let us down. And she won’t follow in Austin Mitchell’s footsteps with silly and embarrassing antics and unreconstructed, reactionary ideas.

So part two then, http://www.voteswap.org. This is an innovative idea and it has gained a lot of support. The basic principle is that Green and Labour voters can work together in marginal seats to vote tactically to keep the Tories (and UKIP) out of power. You can register on the site and pledge your vote in the hope that someone elsewhere will do the same creating a quid pro quo arrangement.

I pledged to vote Labour instead of Green and received a message telling me Labour voter in Shropsire is voting Green. As of today the site’s stats are thus: Total pledges: 14863 | Total swaps: 12358 | Awaiting matches: 2505 which is impressive. I am sure detractors would say I am just salving my conscience or that the practice is unethical in principle. The site’s very existence is evidence of how unsatisfactory the current voting system is and furthers the argument for the need to change to a more proportional representation based arrangement.

In an ideal situation the Green and Labour parties would find ways of working together, there is much common ground. At present Labour is too afraid of UKIP and cheap populism to re-embrace socialism in a meaningful way but if it wants allies then it may have to move a little further into the red.

Nothing is certain for next week. All the respectable polls are predicting a very close call. Depressingly most of them seem to be saying that the Conservatives will take most seats but not have enough for an overall majority. That means there could be unpleasant deals afoot.

However, things could change, especially if ‘Call me Dave’ continues with his casual indifference routine. The man would clearly rather be doing anything other being prime minister so it would be nice if the country would grant him his heart’s desire and let him disappear into the home counties with his flat cap and his Range Rover to trouble us no further.

Clegg is beaten and knows it. Farage is flapping. Only Ed Miliband truly looks like he wants to be PM but he has not won the PR battle and has not managed to capture the imagination of the electorate in the way Blair managed back in 1997. It remains to be seen on May 7th. The people will decide. Well, some of them will.


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