I started getting more politically engaged with the whole Scottish referendum thing last year. I was impressed by the passion of those debating. For the first time in a long time, it felt as though politicians were talking from the heart, putting their values first. The impact of voting one way or the other was real - votes counted and hearts and minds had to be won. Of course there was a bit of propaganda thrown in, but mostly the politicians were standing up for what they believed in because they truly believed it was in the best interests of their electorate.
It is hard to believe that all of our UK general election candidates have their electorate's best interests at heart.
The Conservatives said that with the scale of the deficit cuts were necessary and we were all in it together. In what way are the top 1% of earners in it together with the poorest in our society? They were given a tax cut on their earning, while vicious benefit cuts have been inflicted on the poorest on our society. The lowest earners, doing their best to make a decent living, have lost any safety net that was available to them.
You may not think that your vote will make a difference, but really, would any other party (save, perhaps UKIP) allowed such an expansion of the wealth of the elite at the same time dependency on Foodbanks has rocketed?
As for the promises they made about the NHS (no top-down reorganisation) and what happened subsequently... well, it beggars belief.
If you are asking the question 'who has the best policies for introducing the scale of change necessary to make a fairer, more equal society' I don't think the answer is Labour. If your question is simply how do we makes things a bit better and prevent another Tory government, then in this constituency, Labour is the answer.
In my opinion, Labour aren't taking a strong enough stance on TTIP, fracking and trident. They aren't radical enough about environmental, transport and welfare issues, and too recently they took us to war in Iraq. It won't surprise you that I think the Green Party most closely matches my values.
Some will say that a vote for the Green Party is wasted, but it will not be wasted to me because I know I will be voting for what I most closely believe in. Hopefully, there will be enough people in my constituency voting Labour as they are best placed to give the Tories a run for their money, but if they are unsuccessful I hope they will look more closely at some of their policies and campaign tactics. In particular, I disagree with the £bns proposed for Trident renewal, which could be so much better spent on things this country needs now.
Also, I was impressed with the women in the leaders' debates: strong, constructive, and supporting each other where their policies overlap.
In Scotland, the referendum engaged hearts and minds. It was a moment in history. I was excited about the prospect of a 'yes' because of the values the independent Scotland would have been trying to build its society on. I was fearful of a 'yes' because of the major upheaval and disruption to the whole UK, and the rift it could cause in communities on either side of the border. But I don't like the politics of fear.
Make a choice, make a choice for reasons you believe in and keep working towards a better society whatever the outcome. If you don't vote, you have no influence. Reducing the majority in a safe seat is still better than not turning out and allowing an even greater majority for someone you don't believe in. If you don't believe in any of them, keep voting for change until you get an MP who is voting the way you want on the issues that matter to you. Please.