It is said that choice is a good thing. I am, like most people, often overwhelmed into indecision when confronted with the thousands of choices we seem to have in modern life, even with the most mundane things, and I am quick to moan that there is too much choice.
You would think then, that making a selection between five choices would see me in a celebratory mood rather than coming to the conclusion that five choices is no choice at all and, in this particular case, I want a sixth choice.
You will probably have concluded, or are hoping, that my cryptic opening is leading somewhere, and it is. For I write about the upcoming Local Council Elections in Salford on 5th May. In the ward where I live, Swinton South, I have a five candidates and parties to choose between - and for me as an individual voter, for differing reasons, my five choices have become no choice! The five parties standing are in alphabetical order:
• Conservative Party.
• Green Party.
• Labour Party.
• Liberal Democrats Party.
• U.K Independence Party.
In the last General Election I faced a similar voting dilemma, but this was on the more personal level of the candidate's behaviour. I promised myself in the polling booth as I put my cross on the ballot paper that I would never again have the same feelings of revulsion with myself when voting.
So twelve months later, here I am with one vote, five parties and no-one to vote for. I probably don't need to explain why there is no way I'd vote Conservative. I'm a union man, my father and brother were shop stewards and my grandfather who, like many in the 20s fought for workers rights, would be turning in his grave. Not to mention the fact that I don't agree with their policies.
The Green Party is next on my list. Whilst I have no problem with the party and what they stand for, my natural cynicism has kicked in. I don't know the candidate and have never met him, but having seen the antics of many politicians in the last two years I am distrustful of voting for someone who has stood on three different mandates in the last two, and this forthcoming election.
I cannot vote for the Labour Party, as on the local issues which are important to me, I feel they have shown a blatant disregard for the views of the local people and I feel extremely uncomfortable with the close cosy relationships they have with private business and the BBC.
The Lib Dems don't get my vote, not solely because of Nick Clegg because, let's be fair to him, all the Liberal MPs voted to get into bed with the Tories. But as Winston Churchill said, "an enemy of my enemy is my friend". Using that logic, `a friend of my enemy is my enemy'!
Lastly, we come to UK Independence Party. I don't fully subscribe to either the pro European arguments or the anti-European arguments so cannot vote for them because of this.
So, what do I do? Don't vote? Vote for the party I have the least problems with? I don't think any of these are acceptable. To not vote in my view is a crime. It annoys me when people who don't vote moan… `How can you?' I say `You didn't even vote'.
To vote for my least disliked party is hypocritical so therefore it leaves me with one choice and that is to spoil my paper, which I will do when I write that I am voting for "NONE OF THE ABOVE".
Yes, people argue it is a waste but at least I am making my protest known and maybe if more people in my situation do this we may have a section on our ballots to show we do want to vote but we don't feel any candidate represents us.
I am sure though that whatever the outcome of this election. Whichever of the three main parties loses seats will blame those in Westminster. Let's face it, Labour will blame `Tory' cuts, Tories will blame the previous government's `reckless' spending and the Liberals will say that this was a popularity contest and not one based on issues.
Maybe the UK Independence Party has missed a trick and should change their name and manifesto to revolve around the independence of Salford from the hands of Westminster!
With budget cuts, job losses, reductions in services, increased congestion on the Crescent, Media City, the Salford Community Stadium, school building projects, urban regeneration farces etc. There are a lot of local issues to consider. And on a national level, which does affect people's votes, there's the coalition, the sell-out of many liberal voters, the unfair distribution of cuts, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, immigration, European bailouts…
You would think people will be queuing to cast their vote. But I seriously doubt that this will be the case and there will be around the one voter in three turnout of previous non General Election years. We will hear the usual rumblings of voter apathy and discontent. But I doubt we will hear the reason being that there is no-one to vote for.
Maybe I am on my own in my protest and, if I am, so be it. But you will know who in Swinton South wrote NONE OF THE ABOVE on his ballot.
Come 6th of May, I will be able to hold my head up high and know I voted for what I believe in. I want a choice to make a protest on my ballot. Maybe there is a lot of truth in the maxim we get the politicians we deserve and by protesting in this way I'm wasting my vote. I'd like to think I deserve better and have to make my own stand.