Well, the main voting papers for 8th June - the ones relating to the election of a Member of Parliament - arrived yesterday, and this time it all went very easily.
For one thing, there was none of that nonsense about tearing a big form into two bits along a line that wasn't clearly indicated. I got two smaller forms instead. That simplified the instructions at a stroke. In fact they were now reduced to a few short sentences, and everything was obvious:
There was still that odd quirk, where the smaller envelope was called Envelope A, and the larger one, the one you actually popped into the letterbox, Envelope B - and not named the other way around - but I coped.
There you are, one properly-sealed Envelope B. It'll reach its destination later today. So that's my General Election vote cast, for better or worse. It's no good anyone turning up on my doorstep to make me change my mind. Not even if they have a Hogarthian bribe to offer. The deed is done.
These were the Parliamentary Candidates for the Arundel & South Downs Constituency:
A pretty decent range of candidates. And how did I vote? Oh, it'll be no surprise!
That's how Dad would have voted. My Mum would have chosen the LibDem candidate, and on the first postal voting form - the one concerned only with local councillors - I put my Xs against the two LibDem people, ensuring that she too had her wishes represented in this most important of elections. (Most important? Think of the major events that will be taking place in the aftermath to these elections. The country is going to be repositioning itself not only in relation to Europe, but to the wider world also; and the economic and demographic effects will have a direct influence on what local councils will need to do. I am confident that the Conservatives will best represent Britain to Europe and the world, and therefore, in that sense, I've voted in what I feel are the country's best interests)
But I was also voting for myself. Given continued good health, I still have a twenty- or thirty-year future to consider, and it matters hugely to me who is in charge, what kind of person they stand for, what their policies are, and their competence to deliver on them.
I trust the LibDems to be sensible on local issues, but I think their national programme is a mishmash of middle-ground ideas, without dash or daring.
Labour's vision is Utopian: you can't fault it on concern for their own people, and its social fairness. But I am old enough to have seen past Labour governments come to grief for reasons that could have been avoided. Reasons such as financial mismanagement, vicious in-fighting between Hard Left and Moderates, wrong decisions on international defence matters, and a general unwillingness to depart from the worn-out principles and prejudices of another age.
Avuncular male chauvinism is still alive in the Labour ranks, and I resent it. Nor do I like their 'blame it all on the toffee-nosed better off' attitude. Do they mean me?
Like any party, they have their nice people, the passionate ones with hearts so warm and human you could toast yourself on them. That's what the Labour Party ought to be like, all the way through. But it isn't. There are others whose minds and motives are darker. And I can't help feeling that in the darkest hearts there lurks a hateful doctrinaire programme of radical social engineering. The awful scenarios described in George Orwell's 1984 and Anthony Burgess' 1985 come to mind as a warning of where such a programme could lead. I really don't trust Labour, however reasonable and likeable some of their front people may seem.
I admire the Green Party. What they say is right, and some of it will have to be the necessary reality at a future point. But not in the pressing here and now.
As for UKIP, I hear that they want to be a Better Labour, the party that truly represents the Working Class. Or maybe something else. They have lost their old raison d'être, and presently seem a spent force without a distinct programme.
So it's the Conservatives for me. They go lightly on top people and anyone entrepreneurial, to encourage them all to stick around and pay affordable taxes to HMRC. Unfortunately this also encourages the growth of a well-off class who don't give a damn for the less well-off. That's deeply unattractive. On the other hand, they also speak for the well-informed and socially responsible middle class - people like me. They are my natural party. The best fit. And I trust the Conservatives to pursue their programmes with conviction, and a willingness to adapt to changed circumstances. Above all, to cherish the welfare and freedoms of the individual.
I voted for Labour only once, in 1997, when New Labour was the thing, and a youthful-seeming fresh face, Tony Blair, was its front man, and the Conservatives were drowning in sleaze after too long in power. I expected so very much from New Labour. But it didn't materialise. Labour did nothing of importance, despite its massive popular mandate. It was a golden chance frittered away; and we now know that many wrong decisions were taken. Above all, we ended up as America's puppet in badly-justified and badly-planned foreign interventions.
So the local Conservative, Nick Herbert, gets my X. I've never met him. I have no idea what he may be like in his constituency work. Maybe one day I'll have a reason to find out. For now, it's a vote to add to many thousands, and it's the emphatic assertion of my right to influence national events at times like this. Voting is dreadfully important: if I didn't vote, I don't see how I could possibly express any opinion on the government that takes the reins after 8th June.