So here we are. On the brink of one of the closest and definitely most interesting election campaigns I've had the privilege to witness. And privilege it is because despite anything I or anyone else decides to share with you the important thing to remember is that democracy is a privilege. That and the fact that if you don't vote you've got no right to whinge about what comes next! So get yourself down there and let X mark the spot!
This is my sixth voting opportunity in a General Election and looking back at my record has been an eye opener for me.
I can happily tell you what I did because I'm not in a position to either influence or discourage anybody. I'm an ordinary constituent just like you - beholden to no-one and interested only in how the lives of those around me are affected. Our system isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but you work with what you've got in front of you and here is where we find ourselves in the global economy of 2010.
Here we go then (with some appropriate annotations):
Age 11 I read Das Kapital - original print, 3 volumes in hardback. What can I say? I was a political geek! In a rather world weary manner which belied my age I came to the conclusion (as did Marx & Engels eventually) that communism could never work when you mixed economics with human nature. This wasn't a particularly pleasant denouement.
Age 18 I was offered a job with a lobbying company by the Dad of a school friend. I went for an 'informal chat' about what was involved and the whole experience terrified me. That much influence wielded by so few people? I declined and went on to earn far too much money doing something that let me sleep at night!
1987 - Jeez I was excited! My first ever vote. Despite all previous political tendencies I went with what meant more to me - I was an individual-ist. And a woman looking for a strong future. CONSERVATIVE.
1992 - By this time I had moved to a wonderful Norfolk village; had married my husband and was thinking that at some point the future may hold something more than just myself to think about. If there had been a Liberal candidate this would have been their chance with me. But there wasn't - it was Labour or Conservative on the ballot. Choice??? Change??? Erm, not really! Basically I cancelled out my husband's vote. I was wrong. CONSERVATIVE.
1997 - Family life under the Tories was a complete nightmare. We had started our own business (for the record I've never claimed a penny in benefit in my life other than 8 weeks statutory maternity pay) and it was quite literally hand to mouth. New Labour came along as a breath of fresh air. This was finally the promise of the society I had dreamed of in the utopian days of puberty. If you can you look after you and yours; if you can't the State is there to hold you. I was a social-ist. I believed in society. And I was a mother looking for a truer future. LABOUR.
2001 - The funniest thing about this election was when we put up a Labour poster in the window of our cottage in the centre of our beautiful village. Within half an hour there was a rap at the door. The Chairman of the Village Hall Committee was standing there asking what we thought we were doing. "If you live here you only vote Conservative!" He declared. Sad little man - ex allotments inspector for Great Yarmouth Borough Council - lived in his council bungalow - stamped on anything interesting with a polished boot. It was only by saying "stop me then!" that I managed to get the whole village planting Spring bulbs all around one Autumn - this became and annual village event. We had a fantastic playing field in that village too. On summer evenings families would congregate there to play impromptu cricket matches and all our kids grew up dodging the dangerous swings and whizzing down the helter-skelter slide. When we left a few years later The Chairman had the Playing Field Committee all to himself. On a visit back to friends we saw a sign on the Playing Field. No Ball Games by order of The Committee. A sad, sad memory. LABOUR.
2005 - My first General Election in Norwich South and my first with a choice of more than the same old three (or two in the last couple of rounds!) Our companies and our family had thrived under Labour and my view about the ethos of New Labour was unchanged. LABOUR.
Various Local Elections: In the last six I've participated in I can remember voting Labour 4 times and Green 2. Last time was Labour. I'd found out too much about the Greens.
So that's me. I have changed and I certainly wouldn't call myself dyed in the wool anything but I do tend towards a benevolence I suppose. It's my duty to society to do what I can so that more is available for those who can't. The difference between this and Cameron's Big Society is that I do it through love and choice NOT because that means the State can save a few bob!
I'm not mad keen on Flash Gordon. He doesn't inspire me in the way that (shhhh...) Blair inspired me and to be completely honest I'd be a far happier red if I woke up on Friday morning to find that the rather delicious David Miliband was poking the big stick.
But there we go. That's my voting record and as for GE2010 you'll not get wild odds on where my X is going.
Still I asked some questions and got fewer answers. Such is life. Merry Voting one and all xxx