I live in West Ham, which fivethirtyeight.com predicts as having a 67% Labour vote share. My vote in this election does not matter at all, so I can vote for who I like without any fear of my action influencing the nation at all.
In 2010, the Lib Dems had a whole raft of good policies. Almost everything they said was broadly sensible, except their policies on nuclear power. In 2015, they are in tatters after having played a risky hand poorly, with their voters feeling like they voted Lib Dem and got Tory. Nick Clegg summed it up really well in 2011:
Firstly, of course when you say you want to do something in politics, particularly during an election campaign, you do it on the assumption that you can get elected into office in your own right. If people want a Liberal Democrat government, they should vote for one. They didn’t. We came third. We didn’t win. (2011 on the Andrew Marr show)
So I am tempted by the Lib Dems; they were worth a punt then (plus I had the privilege of voting for Julian Huppert, one of the few politicians with basic numeracy). On the other hand, they mishandled AV referendum badly, and raising tuition fees was political suicide. On the first hand again, they’ve had four years in power to learn from their mistakes. On the second hand again, they’ve not managed to blame the Tories for everything going wrong this election campaign so far, and blaming everything on the Tories is very easy, so it’s alarming they haven’t managed.
Zooming out of those two hands to reveal one larger hand labelled “Lib Dem”, we also have another big hand labelled “Greens”. The Greens also have some sensible-sounding policies and some obviously-wrong ones. I’m mildly tempted to vote Green, because I recall feeling utterly disgusted with the three main parties in around 2012 (can’t immediately recall why – drones, maybe) and deciding never to vote for any of them ever again. The TV debate with – finally – the leaders of seven political parties going head to head was great to see, and hung parliaments better represent the democratic will of the people. If I vote Green, it would be a vote for more political diversity rather than a vote for their policies.
(The other parties: I have not forgiven Labour for Iraq, the Conservatives are wrong about economics and how the NHS should be run, and UKIP’s opposition to Europe rules them out immediately. I cannot vote for either the SNP or Plaid Cymru because of geography.)
So should I vote for something I want now, in the form of the Lib Dems, or should I vote for a more abstract ideal of healthier politics (together with some policies I don’t really want) in the form of the Greens?