Sunday, 18 April 2010


It was Harold Wilson who said 'A week is a long time in politics'. How out of date that now sounds - 90 minutes is the new record after Nick Clegg's performance on Thursday night turned our traditional two-party democracy into a true three-party system.

In her analysis in the Sussex Express of 9 April, Susan King predicted that, of the six constituencies in the Express circulation area, five are likely to return an MP of the same party as last time, with only Eastbourne hanging in the balance. That was a reasonably fair assessment before last Thursday's first televised debate, but it's now looking a little less certain.

This was always a difficult election to call, because no-one could be quite sure how the MPs' expenses and cash for lobbying scandals would play out with the public. With the TV debate having firmly established three-party politics in this country, 'safe' seats are suddenly no longer so safe.

What irritated me about Susan King's otherwise fair analysis of the likely outcomes is that it carried an implicit overtone that it’s not worth voting unless you live in Eastbourne. (Credit incidentally to the Express for printing my complaint in this week's paper when they could have hidden behind a pre-election curfew on candidates' letters.)

But that's missing a very obvious point. Just as Manchester United would start at 0-0 in a cup tie against lowly opposition, so all the candidates in all the constituencies start at zero votes, and a rush of apathy or a last-minute reason to switch allegiance could yet produce some shock results.

With Nick Clegg's performance in the TV debate having changed the nature of the whole campaign, that indicates that, even if Charles Hendry represents Manchester United in our analogy of the Wealden constituency, the Lib Dems aren't a League Two side but from the Championship or even Premier League. And the thought of Wealden having a Lib Dem MP isn't quite so far-fetched as it was at 8.30pm last Thursday.

It would still be a major shock if we won this seat, but the Conservatives are no longer a shoo-in for victory. I have met people who have been very impressed with Nick's performance and who are voting Lib Dem having not originally expected to be. A few thousand of those and we really will have a shock result.

I'm also encouraged by Charles Hendry's own slogan 'Vote for Change'. I hope the Wealden voters take him literally, and vote to change the Wealden MP!

But even for those who believe Wealden won't change this time, there is more reason to vote Lib Dem than normal. The overall popular vote – the total votes cast for each party nationally – could have a strong moral role to play if no single party has an overall majority, so even in the supposedly ‘safe’ seats, there is more reason than usual to vote.

And after all, it’s only our corrupt voting system that renders so many votes apparently worthless in the first place. Hopefully this will be the last general election at which we use this discredited system, so there can never be an excuse again that voting Lib Dem - or any other party for that matter - is a wasted vote.


  1. For me, a wasted vote is only ever done by those who don't register to vote or can't be bothered to go to their polling station on voting day. You must always vote for the person you want, no matter how idealistic it sounds - that's how Obama got in.

    I've just had a look at Charles Hendry on, and I can't believe the way he has voted, e.g. he can't decide whether gay people should have equal rights, he can't decide if there should be a transparent parliament. I can't believe this guy is representing me, he has to go...

  2. Hi Chris,

    I am a Canadian expat, living in Crowborough for the past 4 years. As I look at the political situation in the UK and compare with my overseas memories I come to the conclusion that the Liberal Democrats are the party with the most logical and open policies of all major parties. You most certainly will get my vote as well as my wife's and step children!

    As to the hypothetical scenario of a hung parliament, I must tell you that the years that Canada was governed by a minority government were the best ones in terms of prosperity and progress! You see, there is a strong incentive for a ruling minority government to do so with circumspection and balance or else they will be defeated. So what's to be afraid of?

    Finally, I must tell you that I find the English media peculiarly slanted towards the Tory agenda. I suspect that May 7th may come as a rude awakening to many a Daily Mail reader...

    Best of luck!

    Gerry (the Canuck)

  3. Wasted votes. I amazes me how often I hear young women say they will not bother to vote in the Eastbourne and Wealden as their is no point.
    Any vote that reduces the status quo in 'safe seats' can only be a good thing in my opinion.

    Putting aside the suffrage movement as a reason for every woman to vote—or even spoil their vote if they think the candidates are not worthy of the post—I think more people (not just young women) will participate in the electoral process if we have reform and proportional representation.

    Please keep up the hard work Chris. It is appreciated.

    'I believe in Nick'