What's always been a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives has been opened up to the Liberal Democrats - as a true 'third party' for the first time - and a bunch of other smaller parties like UKIP and even the ghastly BNP.
What's clear in this election is that Britain is in a mess. Our budget deficit amounted to more than 10% of the country's GDP 2009/2010 and will still be a whopping 70 billion pounds after the economy recovers - if it ever does at all.
We're faced with unprecedented negativity against government welfare programs, how much power we've surrendered to the European Union and the elephant in the living room; illegal immigration. If recent polls have taught us anything - in which far-right groups like the British Nationalist Party and the UK Independence Party have scored alarmingly strongly - it's that our country's facing problems that the three main political parties are simply unwilling to deal with.
So how do we vote?
The stunning Joanna Cake posted the following guide, which I found remarkably useful:
It also matches up with what almost all of my friends are doing; voting for the Liberal Democrats.
In many respects, voting Lib Dem is an inspired choice this time around. For the first time, they have a (remotely) statistical chance of becoming a majority party; and a significant chance of creating a 'hung' parliament; in which no party has a full majority and the ruling government is made up of a coalition.
From the mouth of frequent commenter Mycroft, who I confidently describe as The Smartest Man in Britain, this would mean:
"If we are going to hell in a handbasket, at least all the faffing involved in a hung parliament will apply some sort of brakes. That is my choice, make them run in treacle."And he's absolutely right. It would result in those 'checks and balances' the founding fathers of America envisioned when they created the most modern incarnation of democracy. That's something that's always been conspicuously absent in British politics; as we Brits like to pride ourselves on conforming to the certainly of the 'first past the post' electoral system. As a result, we very rarely have to deal with the primordial electoral stew that is prominent in countries like Italy.
But there is a far more sinister possibility in this coming election. If the crowds turn out for the Lib Dems as expected, the electoral sweep might prove alarmingly capricious. Our voting system follows antiquated demographics, which result in the leading Lib Dem adversaries being disproportionately Conservative.
And what does that mean come election day? The very real possibility that the resurgent Lib Dems will steal so many Tory seats than neither they, nor the Conservatives, have a parliamentary majority - and Labour ironically does.
Yes, despite being the third party in the polls, Gordon Brown as his Labour party might still retain an alarming chance of coming in first; entirely due to the way the electoral system is set up. A vote for the Lib Dems isn't a vote against the status quo; in many constituencies it's a vote to preserve it.
So my advice for British subjects? Vote Conservative.
There are myriad reasons for voting Conservative in the face of the other parties. They're the only one of the three leading parties that has a policy regarding the UK's dire financial straits. It's a pathetic policy to be sure - with their first round of spending cuts tackling less than 1% of the deficit - but it puts the Conservatives a full year ahead of Labour and the Lib Dems.
[And remember the maxim of American politics; It's the Economy, Stupid. - Editorial Bear]
Secondly, they're the only major party that has a remotely sensible position on Europe.
Labour has sold us out to a federalist European Union - there's no mistaking that fact. The Conservatives have a much more realistic policy; one that retains the benefits of EU membership, but checks the surrender of our sovereignty.
The Lib Dems, regarding the EU, are nothing short of Labour collaborators. They've made no secret of the fact that they value stronger ties with the EU, and the adoption of the Euro. Whatever reservations you have about Labour's current EU policy, rest assured that the Lib Dems would magnify their wrongdoings tenfold.
Now personally, I'm a fan of the European Union; but a strict opponent of federalism. The Conservatives manage to hold a position somewhere between the isolationists of UKIP and the federalists of the Labour Party. Supporting them is a vote for retaining Britain's strengths, while continuing to benefit from what the EU offers us as a member.
And finally, the Conservative Party appeals to me for the same reason it always has:
I'm a country boy at heart. One of the first day's work I ever did was washing the foxhounds at the Hampshire Hunt. The fact that the Tories propose overturning the foxhunting ban - which was transparently implemented to divert from Tony Blair's support of the War in Iraq - is a huge victory for those who understand how an institution like foxhunting benefits the rural community.
The Conservatives have been the only party who has ever understood rural issues; and for that reason I've remained loyal to them.
That being said, I've been eligible to vote in four elections now; and this is the first one in which I've felt so strongly about one particular party. Britain is in one hell of a mess; and while I'm not convinced the Tories have all the answers about how to wriggle out of it, I do think they're head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
So if you're eligable to vote on May 6th, I'd vote Tory; if for not other reason than because our voting system means a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for Labour.
Unless you'd like to see Gordon Brown voted in for another term, get ready to tick the box for your local Conservative candidate.