This is the most difficult voting decision I have ever had to make. I am not even sure what I should be using my vote for, not least because of the political landslide that is going on in Scotland right now.
Any notion that a Westminster election should be fought on Westminster issues seems utterly futile at the moment. Witness the disappointing Scottish leaders’ debate broadcast by STV, in which most of the audience contributions were a woefully ill-informed hodgepodge of devolved matters aimed at the wrong targets.
In this febrile post-referendum atmosphere that currently pervades Scottish politics, the idea of voting tactically has become appealing to many who voted no last year. I am among those considering holding their nose and voting for a party they wouldn’t normally support.
But while the independence debate looms large, it is just one dimension that will factor into my decision.
It seems fair to say that for most people (with the exception those lending their support to the SNP), this election will be about voting for the least uninspiring option. As noted by Nick Robinson, the detail of the parties’ policies are actually radically different, but all their rhetoric and spin seeks to obfuscate that.
The promises are vague and the language is woolly. This makes what is actually a major decision for the UK seem as mundane as mulling over buying ready salted or salt and vinegar.
But here is an introduction to my thinking so far.
My opposition to independence would rule me out of voting for the SNP or the Greens. The SNP in particular would have you believe that this election is nothing to do with independence. But independence is the party’s sole raison d’être — they view everything through that prism, whether they admit it or not.
I can’t remember a single election where the SNP told voters that it wasn’t about independence. Yet we ended up with the expensive and divisive referendum anyway.
Can a party that seeks to break up the country be trusted to govern in the interests of that country? I doubt it. The nationalists have already succeeded in splitting Scotland into two. Their next goal will be to split up the UK, and I can see no reason why their influence across the UK would be any less poisonous.
Meanwhile, my distaste for the Labour party long predates their current Caledonian cataclysm. I would find it very difficult to vote for them, particularly since it seems likely that they would end up in a coalition with the SNP anyway, thereby letting in the separatists through the back door.
Governments generally should be opposed rather than supported in my view. You wouldn’t want to encourage them, after all. This would rule out voting for the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats.
In my constituency, this leaves just one option remaining: the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. And since I am not a socialist, I am highly unlikely to send my vote that way either.
So if I decide to vote, my thinking will have to be deeper than usual. Whoever I vote for, I will be compromising on one principle or the other. If time permits between now and the election, I will write some more about my thinking on each of the major parties standing in Dundee West. Just now, I find it unlikely that my decision will become any easier before polling day.