Interesting things have been arriving by post lately. One was a cheque - nice!
There was also a card from the NHS which says "Happy 50th Birthday, would you please shit on this card and send it back to us?" It's a bowel cancer test. Well, handling crap is no problem, I do it most days. Where there's muck, there's brass, especially if it's the sort of muck few people are prepared to deal with. It's the reason I'm always paid by bank transfer or cheque - nobody dares pay me with cash in case I have to give them change.
The card has three sections. I thought, one me, one pig, one chicken... but that would probably result in a desperate letter telling me to get to a doctor at once. I haven't decided whether to play pass-the-poo with them yet.
Then there was a letter from someone called Vince Cable from a group calling themselves the Lib Dems. He included a handy list of some of the things the Labour party would prefer us to forget. He didn't mention that they promised a partial smoking ban, introduced a draconian total ban and are still extending it. I think Vince would like us to forget that one. Strangely, he omitted to mention that manifesto promise on a Lisbon referendum - the one that proved, in court, that no party is bound by their manifesto. Two very big issues for me, at least, and Vince doesn't want them remembered.
Neither does Dai Cameroid, whose manifesto includes a promise to work for a repeal on the hunting ban. Oh really, Dai? Surely everyone is happy with that ban and it's time to move on? Oh no, wait - you said that about the smoking ban, didn't you? So rather than promise several million smokers that you'll help them out and thereby steal a lot - a hell of a lot - of Labour votes, you decided to promise to help the foxhunters who would have voted for you anyway. Worse, you have made your priorities very clear. We ordinary smokers mean nothing to you. You, like all main parties, don't want our vote.
If you repeal your mates' ban and leave mine in place, Dai, I'm going to have to have a word with those hunt saboteurs. Their operation as it stands is grossly inefficient.
Back to that letter from Vince. It also included a little flyer which stated that 'in many parts of Scotland... it's a two horse race'. He means between the Lib Dems and Labour. Voting Tory, he says, will let Labour win again. I'd better be really careful not to mix up his letter with that NHS one.
All I see from the three main parties is 'Don't vote for them, they will make your life hell'. Well, main parties, I smoke, I drink, I like salt, I like to take photos in the street, I don't want to be ruled from Brussels, I don't like paying tax in advance, I don't like having my business regulated into the ground, I don't like having to be extra-careful about every little move at the end of every month because the police are short of arrests for the month, I don't like reading again and again that the police have arrested a real criminal and the CPS decide not to prosecute because they are Approved Righteous Pets (unless they were caught defending themselves against a criminal), and where they do prosecute, the courts just pat them on the head and send them home (unless they were caught defending themselves against a criminal).
So I won't vote for any of you.
SNP? Vince would rather we forgot them too. It's okay, Vince, I won't be voting for Al the Oily Fish either. He has put 'no smoking' signs in bus shelters that are far less enclosed than a legal smoking shelter and wants to raise the drinking age to 51, increasing by one year every year. He hates me too.
Even so, a lot of Labour voters here are thinking of voting for a slightly different authoritarian socialist party. Those two horses might not be as far ahead as you think.
As for me, I plan to 'waste my vote'. That's what it's called if you vote for anyone but the main parties. People once said that about Labour, you know. A minor party can't possibly win. You're wasting your vote.
Gandhi said 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world' and many, many people have quoted him on that one. Paraphrase it a little and you get 'You must vote for the change you wish to see...'
The only reason those minor parties are minor is that people believe the 'wasted vote' line, and that's why they don't vote for those parties. It can change. It changed for Labour. It changed for the SNP. It changed for UKIP and most recently, it changed for the BNP. Minor parties can get seats - it's up to the voters, not the canvassers.
If you like what a minor party or an independent is saying and you vote instead for someone who promises to beat you up as soon as they get into power, ask yourself why you're doing that. That minor party or independent will not get the seat unless they get the votes. Conversely - that's all it takes. Enough people 'wasting' their vote on that minor party will put them in the seat.
If you're not going to vote because it's pointless and the safe-seat holder will win anyway, think again. Turnout at elections is desperately low because many people think this way. If only five people vote, they decide who wins. That's how it works. If you don't vote then you are entirely at the mercy of those five people. Around sixty percent of people don't vote - imagine if they all turned out to vote for small parties and independents. Those main parties wouldn't get a look in.
If you really want a change, vote for it. Get your non-voting family, friends and neighbours to do it too. So what if it's a 'wasted' vote? What have you really wasted? A little time, the effort of marking an 'X'? It's not such a big thing to have wasted. And you never know what one little 'X' might achieve, if it's joined by a lot of others.
I'm going for a party that will break the cycle of banning we are locked into, starting with the smoking ban. If I was in Cambridge I'd be voting for the smiley face for sure. Where I am, my best bet is here, not least because their campaign slogan is the best I've ever seen.
As for you, you decide. Pick the candidate you like and vote for them. Don't let anyone tell you your vote will be 'wasted' unless you vote to ensure that safe seat remains a safe seat. It's only safe as long as you, the voter, make it so. You can break it just as easily.
Even if your choice of candidate doesn't win, you can at least bask in the knowledge that the safe seat is, this time, one vote less safe. One vote this time, two next time, ten, a hundred, a thousand... but people will never vote for a candidate who polls tiny amounts every time. They will vote when his share of the vote starts to rise. Who can make such a thing happen?