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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April 2005, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
UK voters' panel: John Devenney

MEET THE PANEL
John Devenney
Name: John Devenney
Age: 39
Lives: Norwich
Works: Nurse
Current voting intention: Liberal Democrats
In 10 words or less:
"Analytical, caring, disappointed with Labour, patriotic, hard working, fair, honest"

I was previously a passionate Labour supporter. I was delighted with the landslide in 1997 and, although pleased that Labour won again in 2001, I soon started to have misgivings.

For me, it is now a question of trust. We were taken to war on the mandate that we must urgently do something about Saddam's WMD.

Tony Blair asked us to trust him and I thought he was sincere. After all, the majority of his party was with him.

So much has happened since then however, including the particularly nasty David Kelly affair and the ongoing deaths of servicemen in Iraq.

Blair has since changed his reason for going to war and now says the world is a better place without Saddam.

I now simply disbelieve everything he says and his style of government is most disquieting.

VOTERS' PANEL INTRODUCTIONS
He now asks us to trust him when he says we must have new terror laws such as arrest and detention without trial and ID cards.

The reason these new laws are needed are based on intelligence, he says. Is this the same type of intelligence that said there were WMD in Iraq?

I have found myself moving towards the Liberal Democrats, as they seem to be the only party with honest and fair convictions.

They have been consistent in their views towards the war, Europe, personal freedoms, and taxation issues such as local income tax, and tax increases for high earners.

All of these views resonate with me, as I feel they are the most important issues in the forthcoming election.

The Liberal Democrats somehow seem very grown up and credible, something they lacked in the past. I will be voting for them on 5 May.


Your comments:

I naturally share John's views - he is in a caring vocation and has to make honest judgements about those he treats. He also appears to make honest judgements about those who have treated him.
John Weston, Taunton, England

I am sick and tired of hearing how wonderful the Liberal Democrats are. They oppose the mandatory life sentence for murder (what message does that send to criminals?), want to stop prison sentences for drug dealers, propose go-karting lessons for car theives, legalising prostitution and want to charge hard working families up to 400 a year more with their new local income tax.
Rob S, Langford

I feel John hits the nail on the head with his comments. There is an increasingly positive perception of Lib Dem integrity and credibility and their message resonates well with a large section of the disillusioned and disenchanted electorate. Success seems inevitable, but to what degree?
James, Bournemouth

This is a compelling view and Lib Dem policies do appear good. Oddly, even though Tony Blair has shown he can't be trusted, he still seems more acceptable than most other politicians. I am not so troubled by the Iraq issue but I am determined not to vote for a party that introduces or supports ID cards.
Alex, London UK

John, I totally agree with everything you say. I do worry about Lib Dem local income tax plans in terms of it will cost me more. The real problem is the cost of collecting it and those who will escape paying it (houses do not move, people do - remember the poll tax). Not a well thought out policy.
Chris Parker, Bucks

People might be surprised by the extent of Lib Dem support. I certainly think they will capture a significant proportion of the younger vote - especially students. If they are not strongly attracted by their policies, then they might at least be drawn to them as the least of three evils. Labour has alienated us with the war in Iraq, and the Conservatives are not seen as credible at any level.
Jonathan Mallam-Clark, York

The Lib Dems are "the only party with honest and fair convictions"? They are also the party whose Cornish literature promises to abolish the Barnett formula which guarantees a set proportion of government spending for Scotland, while their Scottish literature promises a massive uplift. But then that's nothing new. Do you think the Lib Dems winning Tory seats like Guildford have the same policies as those winning Labour seats like Chesterfield? "Honest and fair convictions"? "Grown up and credible"? Not in this household, they aren't.
Steven P Thomas, Coventry, UK

How come no-one in the UK looks at things in the long term? Although everyone is disappointed with Labour, it was always going to take 10 years at least to even start to rebuild schools, hospitals etc. and their record on the Economy is exemplary. A Conservative government would be a catastrophe in the long term (e.g. low taxes, move out of the EU), although short term it may be a better option.
James Walker, North Devon

John, you've hit the nail on the head. I voted Labour in 2001, simply to give them a second chance. I regretted it within a year, and have now returned to my Lib Dem instincts. With Charles Kennedy, the Lib Dems have found their footing again, and have started off well - not shouting down the opposition.
Steve Brereton, York, UK

I think it highlights the real lack of choice in our politics. In Leigh (Wigan & Warrington) we have a local party - the Community Action Party - standing giving people another choice. The absolute majority enjoyed by Labour has been to the detriment of the country so people should vote tactically - whilst remembering they can make a difference.
Jonathan, Leigh, UK

With respect John, the Liberal Democrats will never form the next government. A vote for them is a wasted vote. Here in Derby they support the right wing Conservatives in the city council. So much for progressive politics!
Martin Rawson, Derby

John is quite right. Parliament has failed to hold Mr Blair to account for the deception over the war and the Labour Party has failed to hold him to account so we, the voters, must do so.
Rufus, London, UK

The Lib Dems have consistently provided the only opposition to the present government. Labour and the Conservatives are forever trying to out-bid each other on the same policies. How can we think about letting either of the main parties off the hook for Iraq?
Ken, Wilts

I agree with John, they do seem more credible. I fail to understand why people think the Lib Dems are opportunists on everything. If you read some of their policies they are not all popular such as increasing tax on high earners, supporting the EU, and increasing congestion charges on roads. The party is more united than Labour and the Tories.
Chris Bird, Staffs

I agree with John almost completely as an ex-Labour supporter. They can no longer be trusted. We need politicians who say what they do and do what they say. Plus they have sensible policies - a local income tax instead of flat rate council tax and ridiculous rebates.
Colin Smith, Glasgow, Scotland

Whilst I can understand some of John's disappointment with Labour, no-one who opposes the war has suggested an alternative strategy for keeping the US even slightly engaged in international institutions. The relationship between Blair and Bush is a vital one if we are to keep open even a slim glimmer of US action on climate change or third world debt. Remember, John, that to pass in the US legislature, any treaty needs a two thirds majority - that means the world needs US Republicans to support it. I can't see where Charles Kennedy's policy of disengaging from our relationship with the US would leave us, or more importantly the future for our children.
John Erskine, Leeds, England

Fair comment, but it's hard to get the populace to vote with thought rather than old habits. I hope I am wrong.
Phil, Herts, UK

I can understand John's disillusion. The lib Dems should be picking up a swathe of people just like him, and they appear from the opinion polls at least to be not doing so. It appears that whilst a large proportion of the electorate detest both main parties, they are unlikely to punish them, as in Italian elections. They simply withdraw from the electoral process altogether. If we go below 50% voting then the government is going to have a severe 'legitimacy' problem. I am sure that won't loose them sleep though. Politicians only worry about keeping their perks, they won't let a little thing like democracy get in the way.
Richard Smith, Arundel, UK

John Devenney states that the Lib Dems are very grown up and credible. He fails to see that they are simply a ragbag of opportunists. Many of their policies, outlined in the Orange Book, are very right wing. They can't even agree on fox hunting with the party completely split voting whichever way they think will help them keep their seats.
Colin, Kingston, Surrey

I agree entirely with what John said there. I'd like to add that Labour is becoming glazed over with technology instead of tackling the real issues. I'd much rather have more police, which police forces desperately need, rather than have a complex national identity register with far reaching possible abuse.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK





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