It’s 4 days now until the UK General Election and I’m still totally undecided as to who I am going to vote for.

At one stage I was sure that it appeared that the Labour Party would gain re-election, but I think the Liberal Democrats will make a huge gain in these elections. I don’t think it will be enough to win them the election, far from it, but I think that the Conservative will suffer the most from the Lib Dem gains. This is partly due to the much improved image that the Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has showed in this campaign, (and the birth of his new son must have won him a fare share of new voters). Michael Howard however still comes across as a smug faced over confident old timer. It wouldn’t put me off voting for his party, because I choose my vote on issues, not appearances. Meanwhile, Tony Blair seems to be in a nonchalant mood where it appears that he doesn’t care if you vote for him or not. I think is partly down the number of personal attacks he has had to face from Michael Howard in the past few weeks. Personally, I’d like to see that sort of thing banished from campaigning.

Many years ago when I was serving in the Royal Navy, we were sitting down the mess discussing an upcoming election. Despite the old saying of never talk politics or religion, the tinnies started rolling and the arguments started flying. I will always remember one guy, who was always fairly self opinionated anyway who really managed to wind everyone up that night. (Despite his views, but you always knew where you stood with him, and I spent over 3 years serving with him on ships and on training courses. Provided you avoided the North/South divide and politics, he was a great guy to be around. Extremely good at cricket, (being a Yorkshire lad, he often reminded you of this too) he was also a member of the ships football team along with me.

If I remember correctly, I think the Labour Party was discussing some pretty drastic cuts in the Armed Forces, and especially the Royal Navy. Bear in mind this was Falklands+8 years and around the time of the first Gulf War. You see this guy voted Labour, always has, and always would. He was a Yorkshire lad from a village where everyone voted Labour. He voted Labour because his dad voted Labour, his Granddad voted Labour and his great-Granddad voted Labour and so on and so on. When asked how he could vote Labour, when it could mean putting himself out of a job, it didn’t bother him. When asked what would he do if Labour suggested a policy of killing anybody with the name of XXXXX, from the village of XXXXX serving aboard HMS Southampton, which almost certainly would mean death for him. He just replied, "my dad votes Labour, my Granddad voted Labour and my great-Granddad voted Labour and so on and so on, so I will vote Labour too?”. This not only baffled most of us, but became quite heated, although he could not see what the problem was.

Now I am sure that these kinds of voters still exist, and I put them in the waste of a vote category. It would also exclude them from ever taking point against anything that the Labour party did while in power. I suppose you could vote Labour because of the principles that the party stood for, which in turn affects the types of policies that they make. In theory, they should be totally different from those that the other parties would offer.

Anyway, needless to say, Labour were voted in to power that year, and less than 3 years later on, both of us were laid off from the Royal Navy. In this case though, it wasn’t down to the present Labour government that we lost our jobs. The decision to reduce the size of the Royal Navy had been taken some 10 years previously, pre-Falklands in fact, but future governments never rescinded the decision. (Because of the way that these things work, what they actually did, was 5 years after making that decision, they made another one to begin a recruitment campaign to plan for a shortfall that was predicted. The fact that the shortfall was envisaged at the same point I was laid off was predicted with amazing accuracy for some reason. Proof of this was when on the Monday I was handed my redundancy notice a few days later I was given a new draft as happens when you are to leave the Royal Navy. My new draft was to join a careers office in Birmingham and man a careers desk at the NEC Center to hire more submariners. I refused to sign the draft form and was backup by my skipper.