Election panel unmoved by campaign

Who will get your vote? (mock election paper)

Who will get your vote? (mock election paper) - Credit: Lucy Taylor

On the eve of the General Election, we have been back to members of our election panel to find out how they have seen the campaign. Paul Geater reports.

Christine Chudley pictured at her home in Wickham Street.

Christine Chudley pictured at her home in Wickham Street. - Credit: Archant

The campaigning is almost over and tomorrow people will finally be able to cast their vote. But our election panel has not been greatly impressed with what’s been offered by the party leaders.

Mark Sutcliffe, from Hadleigh, was the only one truly inspired by the campaign – since he joined the panel he has not only joined the Labour Party, but also become a candidate in the election for Babergh council!

He said: “For me this election has been the most interesting of my life and still has some surprises in store. I did decide during the campaign to put money where my mouth is and join Labour.

“I want a fairer Britain with no food banks or children in poverty and a strong NHS.”

Paul Gooch

Paul Gooch - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

He said the campaign seemed to have been rather sanitised – and he would have liked to see a straight-forward leaders’ debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

But he thought this could be a watershed election: “With the situation in Scotland and the likelihood of a hung parliament it looks to me as though the first past the post system is on its last legs.”

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Mike Western from Ipswich will be voting for Labour on Thursday, but only because – as he sees it – it is the “lesser of two evils”.

He said: “I am going to be a very unconvinced voter for the Labour Party. I am only going to be voting for them because they are the only party that can beat the Tories in this constituency.

“I wish there was an SNP candidate in Ipswich! That is offering a real alternative to the austerity we are facing.”

Mr Western was unconvinced by Ed Miliband’s claims that it was necessary to continue the policies of austerity. He said: “Overall I have found the campaign very poor. There really is little on offer.

Colin Maunder, from Martlesham, said: “When I joined the panel, I said that almost every party had something that appealed to me – even those on the fringe. That’s still true today.

“I can’t countenance voting for UKIP, I’m afraid. Yes, there are things that need to be changed when it comes to immigration and the EU, but the party’s irrational approaches really won’t solve anything.

“The other parties? Like many others, I’ve been impressed by the three leading ladies – Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett. They and Nick Clegg give straight honest answers.

“David Cameron and Ed Miliband prefer to duck, taking almost every question as an opportunity to peddle their policies and get their key messages across.

“So which way am I going to vote? My mind is made up, but it doesn’t really matter. Unless those who supported other parties in 2010 vote tactically for one candidate, the constituency I live in – Suffolk Coastal – is a safe Conservative seat.”

Christine Chudley from west Suffolk has still to make up her mind: “One of my main concerns is the future of the NHS but that doesn’t help my decision because all the parties want to safeguard our health service.

“Being newly disabled I was hoping one of the parties would say about helping people with disabilities eg helping them to get benefits they are entitled to and making further improvements to make more places disabled friendly.

“In short, I am more confused than ever but I do think it is important to vote. At this rate I’ll end up not knowing who to vote for until I get to the polling station.”

Paul Gooch from Stowmarket is edging towards supporting the Conservatives: “There has been a lot of talk about cutting back spending and it seems whoever gets in will have to make some cuts – but they’re all reluctant to say where.

“I actually like the way the coalition has worked over the last five years and I’d rather like it to continue. But I think I will vote Conservative in this seat.”

He said there had been improvements to the national economy over the last few years and he would like to see the government being given the opportunity to carry on with them.

“I’ve been really impressed by the Liberal Democrats, but there is no point in voting for them here,” he said.

For full election coverage see here