Well, it’s make your mind up time; we vote today and I can’t say that I’ve reached any sort of conclusion. We’re about past the novelty of having the Liberal Democrats soaring above the moral high ground and the polls have settled. The euphoria of ‘yes, these guys really are saying something new’ has gone and, typically, we are at the ‘hmm, do I really want to change things that much?’ stage. The Lib Dems are mostly shown in third place now, albeit with a greatly increased share of the popular vote, but very close on the heels of Labour. So now we’re faced with an unpalatable situation where their soaring popularity appears to have taken a significant amount of the ‘where do I place my vote’ electorate – the floaters – and spread them like cheap marmalade across the political front. This has left the analysts warning us that a hung parliament is almost a certainty. Well, one thing about politics is that nothing is certain but, based on the number of seats each party will win according to the latest polls, neither Conservatives nor Labour will have an overall majority. Both will need the Lib Dems or the other minor parties to turn any policy into legislation.
That eventuality will leave us with the possible nightmare scenario of Labour being patched up with a motley crew of minority groups and Gordon Brown being Prime Minister again tomorrow. Perish the thought of that fake smile on the front of The Times. A coalition will, of course, represent the change that everyone has talked about but will it be a change for the better? Our last coalition government was formed in 1931 and steered us through the effects of the Depression and the Second World War. People didn’t want change then, they wanted leadership and as soon as the war was over politics went back to normal. This time around we want change, but we want it because we’re all fed-up to the back teeth with the untalented and dishonourable shower that represent us today. Things aren’t quite as bad as they were in 1931 although some bankers may not agree with me when they receive their bonus cheques.
I remember when, as a young lad with an awakening interest in politics, I sat up all night eagerly watching the declaration of results in obscure constituencies during a general election. Loose-tied and bug-eyed candidates making ‘thank-you’ speeches in front of a few dishevelled party faithful at 4.40am was fascinating then. It was a long haul that gradually lost its interest over the years but that was a lot to do with my growing cynicism with politicians. As I became older Election night became more bearable for me with support from an excellent single malt and, in the Middle East, an election breakfast next morning with champagne, eggs, bacon, tomatoes and baked beans. Tonight the events will be broadcast live in High Definition for the first time but, if I were a gambling man, I wouldn’t bet on it being very different. Older and wiser now, I won’t lose a lot of sleep over it. I would, however, like to be a fly on the wall when David Cameron or Gordon Brown call Nick Clegg and start the process of thrashing out how they can keep the gravy train moving with the extra weight of the Lib Dem contingent in the rear carriage.