Dear Nick Clegg,
Today is voting day and I wanted to let you know what happened on May 6th 2010. You may remember the day as there was a real buzz around the country. People were generally disaffected with politics and longing for change. We had moved into a modern era of politics where image was the puppet king and Alastair Campbell had been pulling the strings. We yearned for a political arena that actually stood for something. We yearned for a politics that stood for people. This was our Bastille and we were storming it with our democratic right to vote. This was our opportunity to get the politics we deserved.
We awoke to the news that there was no result. Well there was a result but it was that no one was in charge. Suddenly you as the leader of the Liberal Democrats were a big player. You had the power to pick one of three options:
- To keep the current regime in place by forming a coalition with the centre right New Labour Party. You could have joined with Gordon Brown and helped a party who had lost the heart of what they stand for limp on for another term.
- You could have stuck to your principles as the Liberal Democrats and been the voice of those of us who long for a fairer society. You may have found yourselves in a place where you could have had real power in British politics. You could have had power in your own right and chosen which party to support on any given issue. It may have resulted in another election but you know what, maybe more people would have voted for the Liberal Democrats the second time around because they had…. principles.
- Or there was of course another option: random option three. You could have jumped in bed with the Conservatives. You could have handed power to the party who people like me, your core support, would least like to see in charge. You could have elevated to power the party who stand for the polar opposite of what I voted for on that day. But then how likely would that be?!
Well Nick, in one fell swoop, you handed away my vote for “the politics we deserve” to someone else. If it was closer to Christmas this paragraph would probably be filled with WHAM lyrics. In one fell swoop you managed to turn my political engagement on its head. I used to know what I stood for, now I merely know what I stand against. I still stand for those things. I just don’t think there is a political party who share those views any more.
I voted tonight. In fact I voted twice in both of the elections in our area. I voted tonight because ten years ago a man with a number tattooed on his arm told me how he ended up in a concentration camp. Not the guards taking him away but the rise of the far right in a time of financial difficulty and the vote that eventually led to the death of his family. But I stare at a ballot paper not knowing where to put my X. My faith in politics has gone. I have been consigned to voting against the far right instead of voting for what is right.
You did that Nick. Just thought you should know.
Revd Robb Sutherland
Vicar of Mixenden and Illingworth