IT’S with a heavy heart I will cast my post vote for Labour in Thursday’s General Election today.
That’s perhaps surprising from someone who wholeheartedly backs Jeremy Corbyn as our next Prime Minister.
But my voting form – and the little knowledge I have in my head – reminds me also of just why I have remained a resolute non-voter for 30 years and could just as easily plant my cross in the box of the Greens.
The problem lies with our appalling shambles of an electoral system.
I recall in 2010 young people being stirred up – and that’s a positive trait – by the leaders’ debates in that particular General Election.
On that occasion, many were very enthusiastic about supporting Nick Clegg, the youngish, fresh faced Liberal Democrat, who stood on a promise of abolishing student tuition fees.
I know for a fact that some were perplexed when either in the days before the election, or actually at the polls themselves, they realised Mr Clegg’s name wasn’t on the ballot paper.
Instead they were presented, via our curious, unwieldy system, with the choice of voting for another Liberal Democrat, depending of course on the constituency they were in..
Would that guy abolish student tuition fees? Was he or she even interested in the subject?
In the end it hardly mattered.
For Mr Clegg did get into power alongside his uneasy Tory ally David Cameron and, as we all know, didn’t abolish tuition fees either! In all honesty, he was probably overpowered by the ‘system’ as the Conservatives remained the senior partners.
I fear the same disappointment will happen for many first time voters on Thursday.
They have patiently listened to and taken on board the vision of a fairer Britain presented by this guy called Jeremy Corbyn.
But they like me could easily be presented at the ballot box by a Labour candidate from a multi-national company background whom I fear shares very few of Corbyn’s distinctive values.
Would this guy, if elected, back the leader and his brave, radical manifesto? Or would he become yet another of the knives waiting even now to stab Corbyn in the back?
I don’t know for sure. But the fact I have to ask the question is worrying enough.
The problem, you see, is there are two faces of Labour – the one Corbyn has presented so diligently in the last few weeks – seeking peace in the world, prepared to ‘rob the rich to pay the poor’ to create a more equal society, genuinely backing the many instead of the few; but there’s also the Labour I’ve found so personally unattractive, even abhorrent, particularly since Tony Blair swept into power – completely at ease with the rich and powerful, willing, even enthusiastic, to join in America’s campaign to regime change much of the Middle East, happy to do a deal with the current corrupt system that leads to a few fat cats at one end of the spectrum and an increasing number of people unable to feed or house themselves at the other.
And they are the almost certain winners of Thursday’s election.
Apparently big names in the Labour movement including Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown and David Milliband – to name just a few – have a double emotional investment in the result.
They will jump on the bandwagon of an unlikely Labour victory, or should Corbyn get sufficient seats to form a coalition; but they are also ready to jump on the back of Corbyn should he be well beaten and seek to take us back to the dark days when it didn’t even matter to Rupert Murdoch who was in power – they were both the same pro-establishment force anyway.
Is that what the vast majority of Labour members who have voted Corbyn in handsomely, not once but twice, want?
Is that the path young first time voters who will back Corbyn’s vision of change want to see in the future?
Corbyn may have to follow the lead of one of his idols, the manager of his favourite football team, who has clung on to power despite shocking abuse because he thinks what he is doing is decent and right. I think you can guess who I mean.
In many ways, the Corbyn phenomenon is a very young force in British politics. Although, as we know, he has been around in the wilderness for decades, his is a voice that hasn’t been heard in the mainstream for 30 years at the very least.
I will vote Labour today because it’s my sole way in this very partial democracy of ours to register my approval of a man who has given hope to many people in the last couple of years.
But I long for the day when we have an electoral system that allows my vote to really count.