As you may have noticed, we are shortly to have a General Election here, so the politicians are out in force, and, for the first time, there are televised debates between the leaders of the three main parties.
I don't generally get too excited over politics. I vote, whenever there is an election, becasue I feel I have a duty to use my vote, and because if you chose not to participate, I don't see that you then have any right to complain if you don't like the outcome. But I have never really felt that it makes much difference.
It doesn't help, of course, that the constituancy I live in has always, until now, been a very safe seat for the conservatives. The seat has been held by a Conservative MP solidly since 1924, which is a little discouraging if you are not a Conservative.
This year *may* be different. For one thing, the constituancy is affected by boundary changes so there will be a slightly different mix of people eligable to vote, and for another, the national picture seems different to previous elections, with the Liberal Democrats being a force to reckon with to a much greater extent than they have ever been in the past.
Here, the LibDems are the second party in any event, so they are who you vote for if you don't want a Tory - I think at the last election, the votes were roughly
(I can't imagine ver being in a position where I'd vote Tory, but I would have to admit, (a little grudgingly) that if you're stuck with a Tory MP, the one we have is better than most. He has an iffy record on voting for measures which promote equality for gay people, but voted against going into the war in Afghanistan, in favour of an enquiry, and seems to have avoided the worst excesses of the expenses scams.. I don't like his party or what it stands for, but as a human being we could do a lot worse.)
Following on from the first two leadership debates, it is looking increasingly as though the LibDebs may be able to pick up a lot of votes across the board, and we could end up with a hung parliament, or with a situation where, as a result of the First Past the Post system, Labour or the Tories could end up with the majority of seats but a minority of the popular vote, either of which outcomes could lead to electoral reform and a change to a proprtional representaiton or single transferable vote system.
Me? I'm really hoping that the LibDebs get a big slice of the votes and of the seats. I'm not overly optimistic that they will - I suspect that there will be an awful lot of people who are not engaging in the debate and who will simply vote according to their traditional alleigance, so I'm guessing that a Tory win, but with a small majority, is more likely. But it will be interesting to watch, and either way, if the LibDems, who have to date appeared to be much more ethical and egalitarian that the Tories, much less inclined to erode our civil liberties than Labour, get a significant proprtion of the seats they may be able rein back the worst excesses of whichever party ends up in power...
I was also happy to hear Nick Clegg, in response to a question about the Pope's visit, state that he has no religious faith himself. Icould go on at length about that, but I see that Nick Harkaway has already said it, here more eloquently than I could..