It's official, on 6th May there will be a General Election, over the next week parliament will shut down and the business of selling the parties will begin. It could well be the hardest election to call since 1992, although I can't say I remember that one seeing as I was 1 at the time. This being the first election I can vote in makes it more interesting. So what are the choices to take us forward?
Then there's the incumbants, Labour, led by Brown. There big point is that the country needs to carry on supporting the economy to stop the possibility of a double dip recession and save jobs. They will be looking to rally the core vote which has become pretty quiet recently in light of the expenses crisis which was always going to hurt whichever party was in power more than the opposition. In contrast to the Tories presidential style campaign Labour will likely appear as a team, having strength in numbers as there leader isn't as big a selling point as Cameron without the Tory leaders flair and charisma. I think to win they need to play on the experience they have in their ranks and try to highlight the successes they've had over the years on crime and health. It will be tough for them to get an outright majority but there's certainly a good chance off them being the second party in a hung parliament.
And likely to finish 3rd place is the Lib Dems, led by Clegg. They will of course say that they have every chance of winning, but I think there role will be limited to determining the likelihood of a hung parliament and being king-makers if that is the case. There biggest selling point is Vince Cable, a man respected by almost everyone around the political sphere and by much of the population. If they can use him to gain votes from people who didn't previously think they were a serious enough party for government then they have a great chance of doing very well in this election, the debates are a great opportunity for their leader to be arguing with the 'big boys' of the other two parties and score some points without much pressure.
The smaller parties have got a good shout of gaining some seats this year due to the disillusion with mainstream politics. The sane of the country can only hope that the BNP won't gain any seats because for the good of the country their racist, bigoted views should not be allowed the time of day in a modern society.
As for myself, it might be a secret ballot but I can tell you now that I'll most likely be voting Labour, for several reasons. I think they made the right calls on the economy during the financial crisis, mistakes have been made in the past but the present government went in the right direction and are respected around the world for their handling. I think there future plans to cut the deficit, whilst not fully spelt out yet, are sensible and don't put jobs at risk and there plans for a National Care service are well overdue. I won't be going Tory because there ideas on the financial crisis were wrong, to put it bluntly, and there plans to reduce the deficit faster are short-sighted. Everyone would love to cut the debt as soon as possible, but if the economy suffers as a result of cuts then our ability to pay will be restricted and rather than lower debt we may be in a worse situation. There plans for education are perhaps the most worrying aspect, allowing parents and other groups to set up schools and have them operate on a free market system will be massively damaging to this countries education. They point to Sweden as a success story but look closely and although some Swedish schools have improved, many have been damaged, to the extent they are considering scrapping the idea. As for the Lib Dems, they have some great ideas, and I hope that this will be an election where they grow into a bigger party, but I just can't help feel that they aren't quite ready for government yet, they need to use this election as a springboard to launch a more likely campaign next time around.