Thursday, 29 April 2010

What do you have to do to vote?

As this will be the first time many people have cast their vote, I thought it might be useful to explain what actually happens when you go and vote.

If you are on the list of the people who can vote (the 'electoral register') then you should by now have had a postcard (a 'polling card') with your name and address on it and telling you either that you have registered to vote by post (in which case you should already have been sent a ballot paper) or telling you where to go and vote.

If you are voting in person, election day is next Thursday, May 6th. The polling stations are all open from 7am to 10pm. When you go and vote it is helpful if you take your polling card with you, but it doesn't matter if you've lost it or can't find it.

You go in to the polling station and give your name and address to the clerks. They will check that you are on the list and haven't already voted and will then hand you a ballot paper. This is a list of the people who want to be your MP, together with a description (eg "Liberal Democrats") and a part logo (eg in our case the 'bird of liberty').

You take your ballot paper to one of the booths and you put a cross in the box next to the name of the candidate that you want to be your MP. You then fold your ballot paper and place it into the ballot box (usually a big black metal box with a slit in the top).

That's all there is to it! If you haven't received a polling card or are not sure where to go and vote, you can check with the Council on 01454 863030.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Interesting times...

Astonishing things going on in the polls at the moment. An ICM poll taken *before* the debate had Lib Dems up 7 and two others polls have Lib Dems overtaking Labour and only a few points behind the Conservatives. Anyone's bet where we go from here.

Two reflections on the events of recent days:

- the biggest change seems to have been the not very extraordinary change of *giving the Lib Dems fair coverage* - for 48 weeks a year the BBC can largely ignore us but for four weeks they are obliged by law to give us a decent showing; and guess what? when people hear what we have to say, presented in an effective manner, lots of them like it!

- the polling people are really struggling to work out how many MPs each party would get if the voting figures stayed as they are now being reported; but what seems clear is that the current voting system could leave the party with the fewest votes with the most MPs!! If that were to happen, surely the case for changing our electoral system would become absolutely overwhelming

I must say I've been amazed at the number of people in the last 48 hours who have told me - unprompted - that they were impressed by Nick on the debate show. Especially encouraging has been that people who don't normally think of themselves as interested in politics watched the show and decided who to support on the back of it. Interesting times indeed....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

And they're off!

Probably the worst-kept secret in recent months is finally out of the bag - Gordon Brown has been to the Palace and there really will be a General Election on 6th May!

Like most people, I will be glad to get on with it. It has been more-or-less impossible to have any sensible discussion about anything in Parliament in recent months because everyone has had one eye on the Election. In my experience, the few months leading up to an election are always the worst time for any hope of parties working together in a mature way for the good of the country.

This election feels quite different to the previous ones that I have fought. There's clearly a mood for change, but not necessarily simply to swap from one of the old parties to the other. I suspect that the combined Labour and Tory vote share may be one of the lowest in living memory as people vote for parties, such as the Lib Dems, who want to do politics differently and break open the system.

We've already been knocking on doors and surveying for months now, so I already have a feel for the mood of the electorate, but I'm looking forward to campaigning in earnest and to seeking election to a new Parliament which will, I hope, be much more outward looking than the one which is finally coming to an end.

PS If you're interested in information about my campaign or want to help - the place to visit is - thanks!