So, now the three suits have spoken, and a nation has shrugged, what have we learned? Three things really:
1) Whatever Nick Robinson says, this was about personalities and not policy. Because (a) there were very few substantial policy differences to discuss, and (b) this was a political beauty pageant, in which 3 men in suits were put up for 61 million people to gawk at, and then be asked what they thought about them (there was even a scrolling tickertape recording a live Ipsus Mori reaction to it, like the world's dullest lie detector test).
2) All three parties (a) hate public servants, and (b) hate them furrins.
3) The stare-eyed bloke who was sitting behind the BBC presenters discussing the real-time polling, looking like he's touching cloth, is probably already a YouTube hero.
Leaving us where exactly? I'm one of those who normally grits my teeth and votes Labour for fear of the other lot, but the MP in my constituency is such a massive cock that if I try to put the cross in the Labour box this time my own arm might rebel against me and punch me in the face for my presumption. Which leaves a choice of two, since TUSC aren't standing here.
CHOICE A: The Greens.
Not perfect but the best of a bad bunch by a long way, in that they have some policies I actively like, rather than am simply prepared to tolerate. Investment in public transport and raising taxation on the wealthy whilst lowering it for the poorest, for example, or abolishing PFI and decreasing class sizes. I'm prepared to ignore some equivocation in the preamble on immigration as the named policies are largely positive if limited, and a fluffily worded manifesto (cf Sarah Lucas' 'New Labour has its back to the wall in the far corner of the last chance saloon'). So inasmuch as anyone since RESPECT can meet this description, they're the ones I'd 'like' to vote for.
CHOICE B: Lib Dems.
Despite having only one policy that I actually like (and the Greens have that one too) - abolishing the ID card scheme - they're still not as bad as the other two in most respects. Their manifesto is quite annoying, lots of giving figures without references to projected receipts and borrowing, pointless pictures littering the document like a desperate financial pages editor, that sort of thing. Plus their policy on Royal Mail is clearly designed to privatise it, which is very shitty.
But here's the familiar old problem, the one faced by every voter with some kind of idea about the way they would like the world to be. Do you vote for the least of all evils or the least worst of the ones who might actually win?
Mark Steel summed this up neatly when commenting on Blair years ago:
'I know that there are those in the Party who still cling to the old-fashioned belief that we should at least aim to do something. Well let me say this: if you persist with this outdated rhetoric, you will lose us the election and we will never be given the opportunity to do nothing!'
If the Lib Dems do well, they won't do very much, but they might not be as bad as the other two will be.
On the other hand, there would be real change if there were a significant Green victory across the country (although there won't be). But, having been involved in fringe politics for a few years now, I know how important it is for the smaller parties for every increase in vote, because it helps when you're building your movement both to know that the support is there and to be able to show to those outside your base that the support is tangibly there.
In short, Meh.