In less than two weeks’ time, we go to the polls for the UK general election.

As a ‘floating voter’, I’ve been following what I can of the campaigns with interest, trying to focus on policies not personalities, while at the same time remembering that personalities are part of what helps or hinders policies becoming reality.

As a writer, I tend to steer clear of writing particularly political poems, mostly because my thoughts are often too complex, uncertain or every-possible-side-considered to easily make a good poem.

This weekend my poem ‘Of fences’ was published in the Here Comes Everyone Election issue. In the two years of its ever-changing existence, this has been a tricky poem for me – I know that it has lots of things to say, yet even now I’m never quite sure exactly what all of these things are, except that we are constantly faced by choices and have to make decisions.

I’m not great at making choices, I can see too many sides and possibilities to every option, while when I’m faced with something inevitable I can usually make the best of it and find a silver lining.

Nonetheless, life (and poetry!) is full of choices and just because decisions are difficult doesn’t stop them having to be made. Even not making an active choice is to choose passively. Sitting on the fence is a choice, a default one.

Shortly, we make a choice firstly of whether to vote or not and secondly who to vote for.

For me, the first choice is easy, to not vote would be to negate what has been hard-fought for and opting out of responsibility for the society I am part of and often benefit from.

But the second choice is about as tricky as it gets, as, for me, there is no ideal choice. Disillusioned is probably the most accurate description of my current political position. This isn’t helped by the ease with which the internet allows so many opinions to be shouted at us non-stop (as per my Annexe magazine piece). That said though, the world we live in is not an ideal one, so I will still be voting. I will be making the least imperfect choice for the imperfect world we live in.

A lot is made in elections about where political parties will be spending money (and where that money will come from). For me, a more important question is how it will be spent? It’s all very well pledging to throw vast figures at the NHS, education etc but a complete waste if that money ends up being used for schemes that turn out to be impractical, IT systems that don’t work, targets that leave large wads of such cash actually just being spent on the extra layers of admin created…etc.

As things stand at the moment, my choice is likely to be voting green. What has put me off in the past has been the fear that idealism in an unideal world can actually cause more problems than accepting imperfection and working with the best compromise.

The clearest example I can give is fracking. Every instinct and bone in my body says that putting the earth under huge pressure does not sound a sensible idea. (This, in particular having watched programmes about areas of America that seem overdue earthquakes and what could happen worldwide if these all domino into a super-volcanic eruption at Yellowstone.) Yet, there are scientists who say it is safe.

In a world of over-information and expert opinions, it’s hard to know who to trust. But, more than this, we live in a world where the ideal solution – to stop using so much energy – is unrealistic. So the question of fracking is not so much, for me, a simple yes or no but, given the unideal world we need energy, what is the least harmful way of obtaining it? (Wind, solar, nuclear, fossil fuels, fracking…all have economic, energy-level and environmental pluses and minuses, and finding the best compromise/balance between these isn’t easy.)

Voting green, then, is a big leap for me in trusting the party to be able to compromise and be realistic within a vision of ideals, but only when and where necessary.

This has also been tested by the non-manifesto suggestion on changing copyright, which seems to have some generally good reasons behind it but definitely needs some thrashing out on the specifics. That this is not in the part’s manifesto reassures me though that it isn’t a high party priority for immediate implementation and that there would be time for working this out before any changes were actually attempted.

One of the things, then, that has tipped me personally towards taking this leap is the Citizen’s Income/universal wage. It seems to me that people are increasingly doing jobs they are not suited to and do not enjoy because they need the money, and that the wage paid is not commensurate with the lack of enjoyment endured.

As a result, time has become for many a more scarce commodity than money. Also, as many jobs require entry into management to gain a pay rise, more and more people seek this even if they are unsuited to the role of managing. And once you have one bad manager in place, they are likely to make bad management decisions, such as hiring more bad managers.
Another downside to our current system, for me, is that more and more layers of unnecessary admin are being created to deal with the effects of bad managers, other admin decisions, sickness resulting from people doing jobs they are ill-suited to and perhaps also solely to provide extra jobs.

In other words, loads of people are doing jobs they don’t enjoy for a not significant wage and that wouldn’t be necessary under a more efficient system. Some people thrive on work or a career and others don’t. If people had more freedom to only do the jobs they are suited to and that are actually needed, then a more efficient system, and generally happier system, would be likely.

For me the “EC731 The Citizens’ Income will eliminate the unemployment and poverty traps, as well as acting as a safety net to enable people to choose their own types and patterns of work, “ hopefully has the potential to bring this.

These are just my current thoughts though. The most important thing about a week Thursday is taking the time to vote, and think about what that vote means.