Today is one of those rare days in which I do something which makes me feel like a proper grown-up. I went to the local polling booth and voted in the local elections.
I have my doubts about just how democratic the process is anymore (a discussion for another post, maybe), but nonetheless that feeling is dwarfed by the sense of importance attached to voting itself. It's a hard-fought-for right, after all, and we're seeing enough of those being eroded (legal aid for those on welfare benefits; a health service free at the point of use thanks to NI contributions, etc) by the smash-and-grab tactics of the coalition government.
I'm well aware of the difference between local elections and the general election, yet it's hard not to want to vote according to my view of the political situation nationally.
So I looked at the ballot paper.
Conservative? Never. Never have, never will. I couldn't ever, and my levels of sheer disgust at Conservative policy - their attacks on the poor and less fortunate, their elevation of monetary value above that of society, their use of austerity as an ideological lever - are higher than they've ever been.
Lib Dem? Before the last general election, they seemed like one of the few remotely credible choices. Untainted by any association with the recent interventionist policies (i.e. wars) of the last decade or so - but then, untainted by any association with office. Seemingly left of centre, and certainly left of New Labour. Obviously since the election it's been a totally different story and they are forever tainted as the enablers in the coalition government, over and above any restraints they claim to have brought to bear on the Conservatives.
Labour? No. See above in terms of interventionist policies. Also, I always considered myself a "natural" Labour voter, if not necessarily a tribal one. Left of centre, from a working class background, and hence feeling all the more betrayed by the last Labour administration in its abandonment of the working classes and social democratic principles to the extent that so many of their policies are barely distinguishable from those of the Conservative.
UKIP? Don't make me laugh.
Any others on the ballot paper I confess to remaining ignorant of, and therefore don't consider it a good use of my vote.
So, for the first time in my life, I spoiled the ballot paper. I'd rather not have, but I didn't feel I had any choice. Again, what the respective parties offer on a local level does not do enough to deviate from my thoughts about them in principle and I couldn't vote for a local candidate if I have such strong feelings about their party on a national level.
So today I rendered my vote invalid, as an expression of my sheer disgust. I'm not happy about it, but I felt I had no alternative.