Thursday, 7 May 2015

VOTE VOTE VOTE

Today is a momentous day in British politics -- the first general election in which it is impossible to know how people will vote. In the old days of Tory, Liberal and Labour parties it was much easier. The Liberals, having self-destructed by their association with the current Conservative regime, could be ignored. The swing to the left or right, applied nationally, was a fairly accurate predictor of the outcome.

This election is complicated by the additional presence of UKIP (United Kingdom Independence party). UKIP, for the benefit of overseas friends, is essentially a single issue party. Normally such a thing could be swiftly discounted but, such is the potency of that message to some socioeconomic strata, there is a realistic possibility, if the papers are to be believed, that they may hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. There is even the spectre, however remote, that they might be elected.

I suspect tonight will be an all nighter, watching as the results come in on the drama unfolds. Although we have never had proportional representation, the UK prides itself that its "first past the post" version of democracy allows for strong government and prevents electoral extremism. Today will be the toughest possible test of that tenet.

Although only a small island in northern Europe, the UK remains disproportionately influential on a world stage and we will not be deluding ourselves when we say that the eyes of the political world will be on us today. Our position in Europe and the world, indeed our credibility as a democratic country, is at stake. It is not melodramatic to say that the future of world democracy hangs in some way on the actions we, the voters, take today.

Today is the day for serious decisions. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and the family of nations to use our vote wisely. Whether we vote for the status quo, a step into the unknown or any point in between, we should do what we have to do with our heads held high. We may look back on today, either with hope or fear, as the day which changed the world. It's that important.

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