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Barely a year ago, I would have shouted “yes” with all my might – the Labour incumbents were more into spin and surveillance than the redistribution of wealth, and the opposition Conservatives appealed even less. But AV would have helped the Lib Dems immensely, maybe giving them a shot at power. As the party of the young, in my eyes maybe more a party of the Left than Labour was, I was all for the Lib Dems having as much of a chance as possible to win seats in the House of Commons.
What a difference a year can make.
The Tories are decimating the public sector and somehow still believe that charity and the free market will make it all better. The Lib Dems are complicit and must be on course for breaking the majority of their election pledges. Labour have a new leader who doesn’t seem to do anything apart from offer the occasional doomful prediction about the coalition’s cuts.
The Greens would have me out of a job, UKIP are crazy, the BNP are evil, and I can’t bring myself to run as a Pirate Party candidate because I believe in far more than an end to abuse of copyright.
Who would I vote for if a general election were called tomorrow? Nobody.
In fact, the current political climate has almost brought me full circle on the subject of the Alternative Vote. Under a system like AV, smaller parties are likely to do better. But with a three-(major-)party system, it’s unlikely to be the case that we’ll see a Labour-Pirate or a Conservative-UKIP coalition or anything interesting – it’s still going to be Convervative-Lib Dem or Labour-Lib Dem, even with AV. And all that does is continue the last 13 years’ rush for the centre ground.
The Tories are rushing for it so fast that they’re alienating half their party. The Lib Dems, in theory, define the centre, and despite electing the younger Miliband, the Labour party has yet to decide if and how it’s going to stop its New Labour love affair with ‘Middle England’.
What we absolutely don’t need, for the sake of the next generation’s interest in politics, is an unending succession of coalitions, each one indistinguishable from the last.
So if it could happen, bring on the Labour-Pirate coalition and the Conservative-UKIP coalition. Anything to keep things interesting. But if it can’t – and unless the Lib Dems utterly toast their popularity, it can’t – then let’s have the next generation of Maggie Thatcher and Michael Foot, let’s have some people with real ideological differences fighting it out in the Commons.
Bring me someone I can believe in.
Until then, “meh” to AV.