Right, I've kept very quiet on here about this election. Not a murmur when the funny-til-you-realise-it's-true Labservatives campaign started. Not a peep as the warm and real man I have sat at a table with took to the podium last Thursday, to get a fair crack at airtime to explain who the Lib Dems were to 10 million British people who never did get told by the mainstream media before. Not even a triumphant crow as my party, of which I am SO proud, rose inexorably to the top of the polls over the last week.
I've got a lot invested in this election. I've got my faith in the humanity and the strength of the entire UK population hanging by a thread.
Do you remember 2005? The big election issues..? From where I was watching, I remember one huge campaign battleground from the point of view of a Lib Dem voter who as yet had never met a member of the party.
You know what I'm going to say. Iraq. Two years earlier, again as someone completely politically non-aligned, I had been pregnant with my daughter. I spent a certain weekend in February of 2003 in a little B&B in Llandudno, because I needed to be out of the urban sprawl of Manchester while everyone was watching and reacting to the million people who were marching through London to Stop The War. I couldn't take the chatter, and I couldn't afford to get to London and BE THERE, so I sat on a bed in a hired room and watched it on a small television, quietly, holding my tummy with mixed feelings of pride and trepidation. I cried happily to see so many people knew and felt so strongly as I did, that this action was badly wrong. Of course you know the next turn this story takes, and you must know how I felt when the Labour government, who had always talked of fairness and the importance of the little guy, led our country into war anyway, cheered on by the Conservative party to absolutely nobody's surprise. One in sixty of the entire population had taken to the streets to demand that the government not go to war, and they closed their ears to the noise and went anyway. That's not just wrong, it's totalitarian. As if to add insult to injury the totalitarian theme of current events in Britain continued.. I recall another day of my pregnancy with Alex. I was working for a telecoms company making dull postcode-checking phone calls to customers, when I had a different call to the run of the mill ones.
"I'm sorry love," said the elderly woman on the other end of the phone, "but can you call back later, there's a historic moment on my television, I'm watching them tear down the statue of Saddam Hussein, I don't want to miss this."
I hung up. As soon as practicable I found out what she'd been seeing. And it was this image, familiar I'm sure to all of you:
And since it's old news I'm giving you, you will also already know that the wide-angle version of this view, billed by CNN and the BBC as 'jubilant crowds' of Iraqi people celebrating the American and British saviours who had arrived to topple their savage leader.. turned out to look a little less far-reaching a celebration than it first appeared:
Our government and media started feeding us propaganda. And elderly ladies on the phone, and probably millions more people, lapped it up and never saw the websites that exposed it for what it was. And I saw more go on in the following years to make my thumbs prick - the Hutton report, then Ming Campbell asking the Prime Minister "Don't you understand ... that following the public response to the Hutton report that an inquiry that excludes politicians from scrutiny is unlikely to command public confidence...", and then the Butler Review happening as it did anyway. Do you remember all of that?
I thought everyone in the country could see what was going on, how led around by the nose we were. I actually think they did even now, I only give them the benefit of the doubt in not acting sooner to get us out of this authoritarian nightmare in 2005 because *just maybe* they really really didn't see how the Lib Dems were different. Some of them *did* anyway - 2005 gave us 63 Liberal Democrat MPs. 190 more seats where they were second place. In this screwed up electoral system as favoured and tweaked to their advantage by the two parties who have shared power in it for the last few decades of slowly turning us into a police state, that was bloody remarkable.
And *just maybe*, people believed that being ignored when they took to the streets was one thing, going back on a manifesto promise was quite another. Maybe they liked the look of the promises that the Labour Party were making in the 2005 election. After all, it was a truth universally acknowledged that once the country had gone to war in Iraq alongside America, it was impossible to leave with any shred of humanity or national pride until we had sorted out the terrible mess we had created. It couldn't be changed, and some people out there must have thought the government had learned to listen to the people who elected it. And nobody wanted Michael Howard as Prime Minister, the memory of his ineptitude and coldness in his reign at the Home Office was too fresh. People knew they couldn't trust the cash-for-questions, sleazy old tories, and they hoped that despite their mid-term hubris, Labour wouldn't go any further in taking the piss out of them. If that was the case, turns out they were dead wrong, doesn't it? Just have a quick google for 'Labour 2005 manifesto broken promises' if you need your memory refreshing at all.
In the last five years, this Labour government have had the support of the Conservative party in making sure you're all so whipped down that you wouldn't DARE take to the streets a million strong again even if you thought it would make a difference a second time around. WAKE THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE. You can now be arrested in this country and detained WITHOUT CHARGE for 28 days, if your government feels you *might* be a terrorist. Taken away from your family and interrogated for a MONTH without any need to explain to you what it is you're meant to have done wrong. Both Labour and the Conservatives made sure that would happen. That's because they have taken turns to run this country for so many years that they're realising they can get away with anything and they will always have another crack of the whip coming and a good number of MPs in the fallow periods.
Cash for Questions? The government will still win the election. Illegal wars? the government will still win the election. Gordon Brown and David Cameron are like two kids in a playground who are really best friends, arguing over whose turn it is with the toy. And you are the toy they're fighting over. So, this time around then - stripping you of your rights and liberties, and stealing your money to pay for second homes most of you couldn't afford as first homes: does the government STILL get to win? Please say they don't. Please say you're going to choose something else. I want to wake up on the 7th of May with tears in my eyes, knowing that I am free.
I think all Brits are liberal at heart, and definitely democrats. Our party does just what it says on the tin. Thanks to the fact that we're finally getting to set some of our plans and values before more people than ever before, I am actually cautiously optimistic at this point. Much moreso than I could afford to be watching the run-up to the 2005 election. Since then, I've taken the plunge and joined the good guys, the ones I knew I trusted to act on core british values of freedom and fairness. I have one eye on the horrific slurs and smears of the right-wing press, but I refuse to dignify them by reporting them and defending my party against them, because I hope they'll be seen for what they are - the desperate measures of a media/big business/state machine to blind the growing numbers of people who are realising that they all agree with Nick.