Next week the British electorate faces a big decision: who should govern the country for the next five years. For many voters it could be a difficult decision because there are many candidates to choose from. For others it could be an opportunity to unseat someone who is judged to have under-performed – either in Government or Opposition.
There is every possibility that neither of the main parties will secure enough seats to command an outright majority in Parliament. If this happens, another coalition is a possible outcome – but if parties are unable to overcome their differences sufficiently to work together there could be no government and a further election would have to be called.
People must make up their own minds about where they will place their ‘X” on 7 May. But there are some key issues they all need to consider before they enter their polling station.
Increased choice of candidates in any constituency is likely to draw votes away from one or more of the main parties. This means whoever wins the seat may be elected with a much smaller share of the vote and a smaller majority than in previous elections. So, technically, the elected representative could be the choice of only a minority of voters.
Every seat that a major party loses could be a step towards a nation that is ungovernable – at least for a while. On the other hand, change can be good, as long as it is constructive.
So, what happens if a candidate from a new, smaller party wins a seat? Will he or she have enough clout in the Commons to make a real difference – either to life in the constituency or to major national issues such as health, education, transport, social welfare, government finance, and so on? If there is a hung Parliament, will this candidate’s party end up in a coalition, or in limbo? Is it therefore safer to support a sitting candidate who represents a party that has more chance of power – on either side of the House?
Pre-election promises and manifesto pledges are good for the media, but few are likely to come to fruition without massive expense and upheaval, so it’s not worth basing too much of a decision on them. We’ve seen plenty of inter-party posturing recently: sniping among party leaders makes for exciting TV debates, but it does little for the politicians’ credibility.
Ultimately, voters must consider each candidate’s track record and prospects and make the decision they feel is right.
Who should people vote for? That’s not for me to say – but if voters believe that the devil they know is better than the one they don’t, then the Status Quo party might be the best choice.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.