Thursday, May 05, 2005

Anyone Got A Nose Peg?

Well, I voted. As much as I think a vote is a private matter, I'm prepared to admit that today I held my nose and voted for the Lib Dems. I feel pretty awful about it, really. If I thought for a minute they had a chance of getting into government, I wouldn't have voted for them. My suspicion is that they would cause severe problems economically speaking. But my options were limited. The way I saw my ballot paper:

Labour: Vote for lies
Tories: Vote for racism
Lib Dems: Vote for nothing
Greens: Vote for lunacy
UKIP: See Greens

So there wasn't even a protest party of sufficient irrelevance to me for vote for without feeling that I would in some way be validating their policies. So the yellows got it, on the basis of their defence of civil liberties, and the fact they are the only party making remotely encouraging noises regarding education. But I had to hold my nose as I did it. I am particularly fearful my voice will be seen as a vindication of their anti-war stance, and I will in the next couple of days write to Charlie to let him know that my vote was on a different basis.

In fact, if my conscience had allowed me to spoil my ballot paper, I would undoubtedly have done so. But when I think of the historic signifiance of the 5th of May, and the image of the Iraqis and their joy at being able to vote for the first time in January, it would have been an insult not to vote. On reflection, I actually hold that as a very strong position.

Yet, having casted my vote for the first time in a general election, I am left thinking - is this how freedom feels? Should I really be in a position where, no matter where I placed my cross (or indeed whether I placed my cross), I would come away from the ballot box wrestling with my conscience? I may be militant, but I remain firmly a moderate. There isn't a good reason why I should feel so ill at ease with all the main parties. Apathy is the luxury of the complacent, but it is only too easy to see why it is an increasingly attractive option for many.