Most conversations I have had with Calder Valley voters over the last few weeks have run something like this: “I don’t want Calder Valley to be taken back by the Tories. But I cannot bring myself to vote for the Labour candidate after everything that’s happened. I’d like to vote for you, Hilary, because I know that the Lib Dems have good, green, progressive policies, but can you win? Can you keep the Tories out in Calder Valley?”
If you think about it, this local dilemma is a mirror of the dilemma faced across the country under an electoral system that favours the Labservatives and which seems to have a stranglehold on any real chance of radical reform of politics in the UK. And this dilemma has been getting more acute for three decades now.
But what I say to all those caught on the horns of this dilemma locally is this. Finally, with the 2010 General Election, we have a real opportunity to break this electoral stranglehold for good. And the way it will happen is by people voting for the candidates they want and not against the candidates they don’t want. Polls indicate that there is considerable latent support for the Lib Dems. While at past elections only about 20% of those polled nationwide have said they would definitely vote Lib Dem, when asked how they would vote if they thought the Lib Dems could win, the response is a staggering 48%.
This time it looks increasingly likely that we will have a hung parliament. In that scenario we Lib Dems will hold the balance of power. Never mind the number of seats, it will be the “vote share” in absolute percentage terms across the country that will provide the clear mandate on which we can negotiate (with whoever) for bold and lasting electoral reform.
It will take voting courage. But that has to be the way forward.
Calder Valley is currently a three-cornered fight, with other smaller parties hoping to take votes away from the so-called “main parties”. I understand their frustration too, I really do. But the priority must be to overturn the Labservative stitch-up which has held the country to ransom for too long. The Lib Dems are in the best position currently to mount that populist challenge to the status quo. Can you imagine the future under PR? No more safe seats (where by far the worst of the MP’s scandals occurred), no more tactical voting, real voter empowerment, a world of more factions and temporary alliances yes, but a world of greater political engagement, greater freedom, greater honesty.
We have been under the tyranny of Labservative for too long. Vote for me, vote Lib Dem - if only just this once - and help us all break free of a system that does not give us – the people - a truly democratic and representative voice.