Time to decide

  • So, after what seems like months of campaigning it is now decision time.

    The Conservatives have the clearest and most favourable policies for business and if my vote was to be cast on that alone, it would be an easy choice.

    But, of course, it's not. A few pounds off the tax bill and perhaps a little less red-tape pales into insignificance when placed alongside the broader impact of a possible return to recession.

    The central issue is how to deal with the structural debt. Labour says we must continue to invest to ensure a return to growth. The Conservatives say we need to put the breaks on and take the pain now. If your business was in a similar position, what would you do? The answer should guide your vote.

    Throughout the campaign, Brown has been the strongest performer when it comes to the numbers. Close your eyes and listen to the content and it is evident that Gordon Brown wins hands down on substance. He knows that some of the promises made by the other parties won't work and has been straight when saying that NI must go up to allow spending to be slowly, not rapidly, constrained.

    Cameron, a polished performer backed by a successful and well funded marketing campaign, promises the change that many feel is overdue. The PR machine has worked well and he has campaigned tirelessly.

    The promised change though is a risk. Cameron conceded in the Marr interview on Sunday that only 20% of the necessary expenditure cuts have been highlighted, blaming the Government for not detailing its spending plans. Are we being softened up for broken election pledges already? - it feels like it.

    The argument that the Tories don't know what they might inherit is ridiculous. The Institute of Fiscal studies has been able to produce a detailed analysis of the economy for all to see.

    I worry too why Cameron won't be drawn on who he intends to appoint as Chancellor - no doubt fearing a backlash against Osborne. Surely, as his potential employer, we have a right to know what the team will be.

    We then come to The Lib Dems who's star has risen too early. Their policies are ill-prepared and weren't written with Government in mind. Their time will come though. This election has shown that Clegg and his team are the party of the generation that is now under 30. They will have to be taken more seriously next time and are still likely to have a significant influence on this outcome.

    So, where does that leave us. The Lib Dem balloon will be pricked if not popped and they will secure around 25% of the vote. The electorate will give Labour a bloody nose in the marginals leading to the loss of many key seats.

    If all this happens, we will be looking at a narrow Tory victory and I suspect Cameron will try to lead a minority Government.

    I find myself, like many others, torn between the Tory promise of a new impetus and Labour's dour pragmatism on a measured return to growth.

    When I enter the ballot box tomorrow, my pencil will hover between red and blue. A hung parliament might have attractions for those that genuinely can't decide, but it would be a recipe for stalled policy making at a time when we need action.

    Time is running out and it is now our duty to decide. I'm veering towards playing it safe.

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