So today is election day, (and oddly enough our TV reception has gone down the pan!)
In Durham the build up to the election has been rife with negative campaigning. I have voted Liberal Democrat all my life and was frustrated by the choice I faced today, their local campaign being marred by so much negative campaigning.
It's not often I'll start a sentence the following way, but here goes..... As a Christian, I really struggle with the whole negative campaigning thing. It frustrates me; it's like gossiping through letterboxes. Wave after wave of ridiculous bumpf has made its way through our letterbox since the election was announced.
The bumpf has been saying things along the lines of, 'the Tories can't win here' (which actually they could, it's very very unlikely, but they could, if everyone voted tory, they'd win... wouldn't they?)
Alongside this there have been the 'what have they achieved since they have been in power' argument (rather than the more positive "what I'd like to achieve if I was in power...")
Where are the policies?
And so at a local level the candidate for the Lib Dems has alienated me as a voter (and four others I know of, some from different communities within the constituency.)
So who can I vote for? My choices are to vote more centrally or vote more to the fringe. Sadly the fringe in Durham appears to be made up of UKIP and the BNP so that wasn't an option. The Green Party didn't have a candidate so I couldn't vote for them (don't get me started about "tactical voting", how tactical voting plays out across a democracy like ours is more complicated than just making sure the lesser of two evils wins.)
Nationally the candidates for PM add a further layer of confusion. Locally, no, I can't vote Lib Dem, my own scruples about negative campaigning and reinforcing negative patterns of behaviour stop me. Nationally, I'd like the Greens to have a reasonable showing (an encouragement to them and a sign of national agenda change). I'd like the Lib Dems to gain more seats (but maybe not Durham). I would like the Conservatives to lose badly (negative campaigning and where are the policies? and quite frankly, just no!)
So who do I vote for?
Who did I vote for?
When I went to the poling booth I stood for quite a long time with pencil in hand, praying to God that my vote would be one of integrity and a genuine desire for kingdom values to take their place in the political agenda. I prayed that I would not live to regret my decision about who to vote for and who not to vote for. I prayed to God for some insight as to how best hold in tension my hopes for Durham and my hopes for the UK.
I prayed for a few minutes and I did then wonder how long you had to take before they removed you from the premises.
And then I voted.