Vote in hope or vote in anger: Lib Dems or UKIP

In a recent post, I set out why I think people should vote to bring about a hung parliament, if they can, as the most likely way to ensure that the next parliament will be a reforming one. I indicated that I myself would probably be voting UKIP, nonetheless, because there was no candidate that could realistically beat the incumbent Tory MP where I live and thereby increase the chances of a hung parliament. However, I did say that if the Lib Dems started to significantly improve their opinion poll standings UK-wide, I would maybe reconsider and vote Lib Dem, as they nonetheless have an outside chance here, having gained 32% of the votes in 2005 against the Tories’ 47%.

Before the dramatic surge in the Lib Dems’ poll ratings following last week’s leadership debate, I had revised this position and had already pretty much decided to vote Lib Dem. This was partly in response to the Hang ’em campaign, which is seeking to mobilise the votes of those who want an overhaul of the British system of governance behind getting a hung parliament at this election. The campaign is aiming to pinpoint the best candidate to vote for in each constituency if you want fundamental reform of British (and English) politics: independent- and reform-minded Tory or Labour MPs, or the candidates best placed to defeat incumbent, reform-resistant Tory or Labour MPs – often, but not always, in practice the Lib Dem candidate in England, but also SNP and Plaid Cymru candidates in Scotland and Wales; but strangely and, in my view mistakenly, not UKIP’s Nigel Farage in House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s Buckingham constituency.

When I read about this campaign, I thought I might as well give my vote to the ‘Hang ‘Em’ candidate in my constituency, who I’m certain will be the Lib Dem, although the verdict of the Hang ‘Em jury is still out for my seat. That’s because the incumbent MP has no record of interest in constitutional and parliamentary reform and, as I say, only the Lib Dem could realistically unseat him.

For me, it suddenly appeared to be a question of whether I wanted to vote in hope or in anger: the hope of a hung parliament, however unlikely to be furthered by a Lib Dem win in my seat, but nonetheless more likely if everyone who shares my views gets behind the Hang ‘Em candidate; or the anger I feel towards the three main parties for abandoning their pledges for referendums of one sort or another on Britain’s place in the EU.

I’m sure that many people across the UK, and especially in England, have been going through similar thought processes: moving from a position of outrage about the behaviour and unaccountability of politicians and the Westminster elite towards backing the Lib Dems and a hung parliament as the most likely route to deliver fundamental political reform. I’m sure that’s the deeper reason for the strong upsurge in Lib Dem support over the past week, although Nick Clegg’s capable performance in the leaders’ debate has helped to crystallise it.

The people want their politics to change; and the English people want a parliament that is more responsive to its concerns and priorities. For better or worse, that feeling has begun to coalesce around the Lib Dems. Let’s just hope it’s enough to deliver at least a hung parliament. And it’s in that hope that I shall be voting on May 6th.

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One Response

  1. […] puts me in something of a quandary, though: I devoted my last post here to promoting the idea behind the Hang ‘Em campaign, which seeks to mobilise voters to back […]

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