May 6th 2010

I have come back to a Britain in full election swing. It’s one thing to read on the bottom of page 6 of the New York Times that Cleggmania is sweeping Britain, it is another to come back to a country in which that overgrown public schoolboy is treated as a grown up. I have cast a postal vote for the Liberal Democrats. There is no Cleggmania in this vote but I hate New Labour from the bottom of my heart and I cannot vote Conservative. I have hoped for a hung parliament for the last three elections, this time I vote for one. During the day I feel unexpectedly sad that I have not been able to join my tribe. This is not any weakening in my feelings about New Labour – indeed my contempt for Gordon Brown has increased as his final speeches have bellowed beliefs that he has betrayed everyday for the last fifteen years. But Labour is my tribe and elections are tribal gatherings.
I think all day of my father for whom election nights were the high points of his life but I decide at my age I must be in bed by two at the very latest. I finally get to bed at six. A minority Conservative government and an election in six months. And another marker of my own insignificance. I was not the only ageing left intellectual to have voted LibDem – the vast majority of my friends have made the same decision. Even so, we would appear to have had no impact, the Lib Dem breakthrough has not happened. Although, on reflection, electoral politics make it very difficult to determine impact. The Lib Dem vote held up in the closest election for thirty years.

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