So, today is the day. General Election 2010. This time tomorrow we’ll have some idea of the outcome, and whether we’ll be stuck with the same old government, a majority government representing a minority of voters, or perhaps a chance for something new.
Over the last few days I’ve been looking at various policies from all the major parties, trying to figure out who should get my vote today. To be fair I had a pretty good idea before I started, but something very key struck me while I was reading through manifestos and election promises. It’s something that strikes to the very heart of democracy and demonstrates why a fairer system is required.
What I discovered was that I didn’t actually want to vote for any one party. There was no one party where I was even close to saying I agree with pretty much all of their policies. My ‘perfect’ party is a mix of policies from pretty much all the major parties, and some of the minor ones too. The problem I have is if I vote for one party on the basis of one or two key things which are most important to me, I have effectively compromised my views on other policies I might also think are important, but perhaps are secondary to those one or two crucial one that swayed my choice. It really does come down to working out which are the most important things to me and accepting that the price of voting for those is that I accept that other important items must be sacrificed, assuming my party of choice gets elected.
What do you choose? Is education more important than health? Is electoral reform more important than the environment? Do we lower base taxation or keep nuclear weapons? The first past the post system means that if you choose a party based on education policy, you have to accept their healthcare policy, their defence policy and so on. Do we really think that one party will have all the right answers in every area of policy making? It’s possible I guess, and based on manifestos I’ve looked at, none of them have all the right answers.
I still think that a system that actively encourages our elected representatives, who have different backgrounds, ideas and skills, to work together to come up with government policies which better reflect a wider range of views will be a huge step forward on the system we have now. No system is perfect, but some surely are better than others.