The Independent voters' panel
Deliberations of our random sample of electors
Friday 07 May 2010
Ashvath Kumar, 23, Finchley
2005 Labour/2010 Labour
"I voted Labour again. I was toying with voting Green. But I knew there was a going to be a problem with a lot of people voting Tory, so I voted to keep them out. But it wasn't really anti-Tory, it was based on Labour's policies. Out of three possible prime ministers, Gordon Brown appeals more. Despite all the nonsense that has been going on over "bigotgate", he holds more clout than Cameron. The Lib Dems never appealed. There is something about Cameron that grates, especially after a speech of his I saw where he seemed to contradict himself on a lot of things: about cutting public-sector jobs, cutting taxes. If Gordon Brown is forced to stand down as Prime Minister, I would support David Miliband – to head a Lab-Lib coalition.
Kay Wilkinson, 34, Pendle
2005 Labour/2010 Lib Dem
i'm going to vote Liberal. Labour took us to war; I can't forgive them for that. As for the Conservatives, I cannot be doing with Cameron. I just cannot stand the man. He is just too southern. I think the Liberals might stay in here, as quite a few people I have spoken to have said they are going to vote Liberal. Clegg seems like a fresh start; he is a passionate man. In the debates, he didn't have the calm manner of Cameron, the solid manner of Gordon Brown. But he seemed to care about what he was saying. He is more convincing than Cameron on the economy, too. I don't know how a hung parliament will play out. It didn't look like they would ever be able to work together, but they may change their tunes tomorrow!
Oliver Chapman, 18, South Derbyshire
2005 Not eligible/2010 Conservative
I went for the Conservatives in the end. The national debt is my main concern, ahead of any kind of spending programme. I compared Labour's high spending and high debt with the cuts the Tories will make, and I think their will be more beneficial for the country, in the long-run. David Cameron has proven to be a good leader for the Conservatives. I don't see why he can't be a good prime minister. The Lib Dem policy to cut student fees was initially attractive to me, but it's not the right time for such cuts because the country can't afford it. I think there will be either a hung parliament, or a small majority for the Tories. However, I think South Derbyshire will remain as a Labour seat.
Michael Wager, 25, Gloucester
2005 Labour/2010 Lib Dem
The debates have given the Lib Dems the oxygen to become a legitimate party. I think it will bring about genuine three-party politics again, and politics will become more progressive hopefully. I think people have to vote for what they genuinely believe in. If everyone voted for who they genuinely supported, we would have no need for tactical voting. I am voting for a hung parliament. I don't think the LDs are ready for government yet, but need time. A form of PR would be an important reform in this. Mervyn King said the next government will become unpopular because of the cuts that need making. If the Tories can carry the can and Lib Dems can develop then that might set things up nicely for a Lib-Lab coalition next time.
Margie Arts, 67, Barrow in Furness
2005 Independent/2010 Lib Dem
I voted Lib Dem for parliament and Conservative in the local elections. Barry Rabone, the Liberal Democrat, is a gentleman. I have his posters outside my house. John Woodcock [Labour] looks 15, I wouldn't trust him to hold a lollipop.
I like the Lib Dems' £10,000 tax-free ceiling, it means a lot for pensioners. Barry helped our campaign for a free universal bus pass, which we're campaigning for at the National Pensioners' Convention.
I watched all three debates. The first was inspiring. Nick Clegg persuaded me to vote Lib Dem a little bit, but it was mostly the local candidate. I have to vote for someone I can trust. When I lived in Chingford I voted for Norman Tebbit, even though I disagreed with him about some things. I knew he'd get the job done.
Roger Pass, 67, Redditch
2005 Labour/2010 Labour
I voted Labour. I sort of weakened. I was toying with the Lib Dems, because of Jacqui Smith's expenses, but I thought give her a second chance. She is a good local MP.
Not letting the Tories in was also very important. And I don't agree with the Lib Dem policy on Trident. I agree with Labour policy. I also agree with Brown on the economy, despite all his gaffes in recent weeks, he is the man to trust.
The Gillian Duffy incident was a silly mistake. You put it to one side. Cameron will get in, if the polls are right, but I don't know where we'll be in 12 months' time if he gets in. The economy could go the way of Greece and the other Pigs nations. If we don't get the economy right in the next 12 months we'll be in serious trouble. There will be cuts, but they need to target it correctly.
Ashley Evans, 25, Solihull
2005 Labour/2010 Lib Dem
Solihull is a Conservative-Lib Dem marginal. It is a tactical vote really, I am trying to help Labour. Last time, it was very close, so there is definitely a chance of overturning the Tories. I definitely thought Clegg won all the debates. Education was always a big one for me. What they're proposing about smaller class sizes would definitely improve results. Lorely Burt, my local candidate, wants to save the maternity ward at Solihull hospital.
I quite like the idea of a hung parliament but maybe the reality wouldn't be that great. Cameron looks like he will get enough for power. It certainly won't be a big victory. Labour needs a change in leadership. Had they gone with David Miliband as leader, he would have delivered a victory. Brown just doesn't have that likeability factor.
Melanie Viney, 37, Edgbaston
2005 Conservative/2010 Conservative
It was a tough call for me between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. The Conservatives are the lesser of the three evils. We need a change, and to get that we need to vote Conservative. If I vote Lib Dem, we might get a more Labour-style government and I don't want that.
There is no particular policy that attracts me; it was a tactical vote. I think Cameron has got the energy to put into making the changes.
I work in the NHS, and the freezing of public-sector pay worries me. But Cameron's pledge to protect the budget is important. If I'm there developing services, I want to make sure there's the money there for that. Cutting spending too soon will lead to a double-dip recession.
Ben Willins, 33, Derbyshire South
2005 Labour/2010 Lib Dem
I've been looking at the debates and waiting for something to come out and hit me. Clegg looked more assured: he had more points of view that seemed honest so I am going to vote Lib Dem pretty much because of the debates. I like what Nick Clegg said about no net tax rises, while making the tax system fairer. A hung Parliament is not necessarily bad: take some ideas from each party, put them into Government. Things might take a bit longer to happen, but if you get the right policy, that's good.
I think the Tories will come first, but Cameron won't get a majority. I am naturally left-leaning so wouldn't vote for Clegg because I want a new politics. The winner will find it hard with our huge debt. But a Lib-Lab coalition would be more caring in its cuts.
Will Workman, 65, Redditch
2005 Labour/2010 Lib Dem
The Lib Dems seem to be doing things the way they should be done. They represent the change we need, on tax, fairness and electoral reform. I think the debates this time round have obviously done Clegg's poll ratings a lot of good and I think it will show. I think a lot of people will support him from now on. I think there'll be genuine three-party politics.
I'm not really keen on Jacqui Smith any more. I am a Christian and don't agree with her on abortion or euthanasia, which she wants to make easier. I don't think the Tories will get in Redditch. I think Labour and Jacqui Smith will still get in. I am giving the Lib Dems a go this time.
Highlights of the day
Gag of the day
Armando Iannucci tweets: "Dear The Sun, Cameron is to Obama what Jive Bunny is to Elvis."
Unfortunate name of the day
Voters in Amber Valley sick of the three main parties were faced with a difficult choice at the polling booths: they were implored to "vote for change" but their Monster Raving Loony Party candidate is a Mr Sam Thing.
Backfiring joke of the day
Mr Thing's not the only candidate whose name is causing him electoral difficulties. The former boxer and wit Terry Marsh was probably quite pleased with himself after he changed his name to "none of the above" and decided to stand in the election. What he hadn't realised, of course, is that "above" begins with an A and, therefore, goes to the top of the ballot paper.
Advice of the day
We've watched the leaders' debates, seen the headlines and some of us will even have read the manifestos (maybe). But voters at one polling station were given a little bit of extra, last-minute advice. Staff stuck a sign pointing to the polling station under another which read "Please do not sit on the fence".
Plea of the day
There were some very nervous people at The Sun as the election results began rolling in. Having vociferously backed the Tories, the paper has seen its endorsement coincide with a steady decline in support for its "winning horse". So, it is in increasing desperation that the paper's front page dubs David Cameron "Our only hope". The editor's only hope, perhaps.
Teenage strop of the day
Manish Sood, the Labour candidate who described Gordon Brown as the country's "worst prime minister", announced last night that he would not be attending his constituency's vote count because party workers had been nasty to him. The North West Norfolk candidate said he would follow the progress of the election on television at his home in Leicester instead. Bless.
Poll of the day
After The Independent investigated alleged electoral fraud in east London, the blogger Guido Fawkes tweets: "Voter turnout in Bethnal Green looking like 114 per cent."
Campaigner of the day
The Conservative candidate for Old Bexley & Sidcup, James Brokenshire, might be asking some very serious questions of the staffer who put up one of his campaign posters next to a sign which warned: "Danger of death".
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