George Monbiot writes a lavish and diverse menu for the dinner party:
By choosing the Lib Dems, you are sending an equivocal signal. Are you voting for them because you think Blair is too rightwing, or because you fear old Labour might resurface? Are you choosing them because you are a liberal Tory who detests Howard, or is it because you can’t make up your mind, and they represent the middle position? There are, in other words, too many reasons for voting Lib Dem. Your voice is lost in the noise of conflicting intentions, and your decision becomes unintelligible. Whoever takes power after the next election cannot be sure why the votes fell the way they did.
If, on the other hand, you were to vote Green, Plaid Cymru, Respect or Scottish Socialist, you would send an unequivocal signal about the kind of politics you are rejecting and the kind of politics you are embracing.
The reason is that these parties, as far as Westminster is concerned, inhabit the political margins. It is precisely because none has the slightest chance of running the country that a vote for them is interpreted as a clear expression of intent: your choice must be ideological, rather than tactical. Paradoxically, a vote for a minor party can thus be far more powerful than a vote for a party with an eye on government.
All four of them are solidly to the left of Labour. They have been consistently anti-war, anti-privatisation, pro-distribution and pro-environment. No one who has read their manifestos can doubt that a vote for one of them is a vote against the current deference to wealth and rank.
……If you don’t have an opportunity to vote for them, I would suggest taking the first stop on the following line: 1) a strong radical independent, such as Reg Keys in Sedgefield; 2) an anti-war Labour MP; 3) a faintly credible micro-party; 4) Liberal Democrat. It’s a far from perfect choice. But it recognises that electing a new opposition might not be the best way of building one.
As has been noted before, there really is only this particular section of the middle class left who can convince themselves that the election is not actually about who will govern the country but is some sort of identity parade and ‘feel good’ therapy session. I’ve seen no better example of this than Monbiot’s fear that someone might misunderstand his reasons for voting Liberal Democrat.