When I sat down to write this blog an hour ago, I was going to ask the Brighton Pavilion candidates to help sway me, as I was completely undecided which way to vote. Now before I continue, please be clear on something - despite my constant Tory-bashing, I am equally suspicious of all politicians. For me, it's always a case of picking the best of a bad bunch. Personally I think the whole system needs an overhaul and fresh set of faces, but let's put that to one side and get realistic for a minute - that's not going to happen any time soon.
So I sat down with all the fliers that have dropped through my letterbox lately and worked my way through all the facts, figures, spin and hyperbole. In doing so I found that my decision is actually quite an easy one. Let me take you through how I got there.
Working in the community sector in Brighton and Hove, part of my job involves seeking out opportunities to work in collaboration with local businesses and people. This means I spend a certain amount of time on the popular social networking site Twitter. Now the thing about Twitter is that some people get it, and some don't. Some people understand the impact of the way they present themselves on Twitter, and some don't. The three main candidates for Brighton Pavilion can all be found on Twitter, and I have been watching them all closely for some time now.
Now I have to admit that Labour candidate Nancy Platts does have a slight advantage here, in that I have been lucky enough to spend some time talking to her face-to-face. Nancy contacted me through Twitter to discuss my work. I found her to be interesting and engaging, and refreshingly genuine. She explained the local political landscape to me without spin and she is both honest and humble. Take a look at her tweets - polite, engaging, factual and relevant.
Those same words can be used for the Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, who also come across very well. Of course I wouldn't expect less from a forward-thinking party such as the Greens. Ben Duncan, Green Party candidate for Kemptown, also comes across very well.
However, let's take a look at the feed for Charlotte Vere, the local Conservative candidate. Aggressive, irrelevant, bitter, defensive, isolating, and quite frankly - dull. But then, if she spent a little more time promoting her party's policies and less time whining at her followers she might actually risk connecting with people. That's not really the Tory way, is it? Well, not unless there's money involved.
I can only presume that Liberal Democrat Bernie Millam has given up the chase, as until I googled the candidate details I had no idea who their representative was.
I pulled together everything that has come through my door. Now clearly as leader of the Greens, Caroline Lucas is throwing everything she can into this campaign, include a whole lot of paper through my letterbox. Isn't that somewhat ironic, from the Green party?
Now initially I found myself being swayed towards the Green vote. After all, their fliers clearly state that unless we vote Green, the Conservatives will be voted in.
I have to say this is a particularly good piece of spin from the Greens, with a graph to "clearly illustrate" the level of support for the Green Party in Brighton Pavilion. The small print reveals that the figures are based on an opinion poll of 533 adults interviewed by telephone in December 2009. I note there is no clarification on where the phone numbers were sourced from, or that these are adults based in Brighton.
Now I really don't question the integrity of these figures, but they fail to tell the whole story. In 2005 the Green Party came third in the general election. They were 6,000 votes behind Labour, and nearly 900 behind the Tories. As far as I can see, this means that voting Green is actually a damn risky strategy that could in fact ENSURE that the Tories gain control, not prevent them from doing so.
Charlotte Vere sent me a very boring letter which I wish I hadn't put straight in to the recycling.
And as for the Lib Dems... well, they're a bit quiet around these parts...
I like Caroline Lucas. She seems genuine. The Green Party, on the face of it, seem to have the answers. They could very well be the fresh face of British politics that we so badly need right now. The only problem is that they fail to back it up.
I WANT to vote Green, I really do. So I checked out the policies page on their website. It makes great reading, it really does. However, I have to say that it really doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's all very well having a destination, but you also need to show us the route to get there.
I give the Greens great credit for campaigning positively, as sadly the same cannot be said of the Lib Dems. I'm sick of hearing constant critisism from Nick Clegg, when his tired old party don't show any sign of imagination or ability to provide solutions to the country's problems.
I've said enough in the past about my reasons for not voting Conservative, so I don't feel any need to expand any further right now.
Now, Labour. I've decided to support Nancy Platts in the forthcoming election, but I have to say that they're in the last chance saloon with me. I can't stomach the thought of a Conservative government and voting Green seems far too risky, but that doesn't mean that I'm anywhere near happy with the current government. Gordon Brown must surely realise that if they win the election a lot of things have to change, and quickly. However, locally I feel that Nancy has the ability to make a difference. I was very impressed with her understanding of social issues and as far as I can see she is the only candidate who is permanently resident in the area.
THAT is why, for now at least, I am supporting Labour.