Election '97: I'd rather have independents but it's not going to happen this time

HOW I WILL VOTE: TOM CONTI
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The Independent Online
How will you vote

Liberal Democrat

Have you always supported them?

I have for a while. There was a time when I didn't vote at all, as a kind of stupid protest. I'm sure the parties were all terribly upset. But I do still find the two-party system ludicrous. I find party politics ludicrous, really. I'd rather have independents, but that's clearly not going to happen this time.

The most impressive thing about the Liberal Democrats is their education policy; classes of 30 up to the age of 11, for example. It really should be classes of 10 up to the age of 12, if you're going to bite into the downward spiral, but I think the Liberal Democrat policies are the best.

Is education the most important issue in this election?

Yes. Absolutely, the most. If you don't have an educated population, then greater amounts need to be spent on the health service, the police, on insurance - everything. It all comes from education. People don't understand that for this penny extra on income tax, the cost of living will come down for them. People have children, they ought to think about those children as adults, and their children in turn. Education is not just about reading and writing, it's about how to get on together, and having respect for one another, which seems to have gone completely now.

Also the Liberal Democrat health policy is good; they have a recruitment plan for doctors and nurses, which I think is so vital.

You were born a Scot; do you have any feelings for the SNP?

No. But then, I don't live in Scotland and I haven't lived in Scotland for a quarter of a century, so I'm not going to make pronouncements for what I think they should do.

Have there been any particularly important influences on your political views?

Well, I've been through the whole thing. I was severely left in my twenties, but I started being brought up as a Tory, a middle-class Scot. Then after my twenties, disinterest, really. Which is still quite large . . . but you can't just stand by and wait, really. You have to vote.

Are you looking forward to 2 May?

The first day of the new Government? Well ... how much changes? Not a great deal. But that's one good thing about the parties at the moment. There's not going to be a huge swing to the left.

Are there any politicians you admire in other parties?

Yes, there are good people in the other parties, of course. That's part of the tragedy of the party political system, isn't it? If you could make up a cabinet of people like Gordon Brown, John Major, Kenneth Clarke, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell. ... these people are really good people.

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