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The Surprising Thing I've Learnt About Politics

05/05/2015 15:43 BST | Updated 04/05/2016 10:12 BST

The big day is almost upon us. So I thought I'll tell you something really rather surprising I've learnt about politics.

I haven't posted on here for a little while. There's been so much excellent stuff written about the election - by real, proper experts - and I thought I'd leave them to it for a bit. If I'd got involved too, I would only have waffled on in a slightly pretentious, political pundit-type way - and that's just what I wanted to avoid when I started writing about politics.

The point, you see, was to make it interesting and relevant to anyone and everyone who might want to get involved - not just people who were already interested in the subject. To look at things from an outsider's perspective - to take you on an little adventure with me, if you like, and see what we might find.

How it all began

In fact, the whole thing started rather by accident. One day, a while back, I went to a meeting in the Houses of Parliament (I work as a wildlife journalist, too, and that was what the meeting was about).

After the gathering was over, I got horribly, irretrievably lost - was rescued by a complete stranger - and somehow tripped over a load of great people. Hang on. I thought. Whoa there Nelly. There are some interesting folks in here!

And so it began. In the last six months I've spent a fair bit of time stumbling about Westminster, chatting to researchers, journalists, MPs, lords, clerks and doorkeepers. I've tried to work out what it's all about, and often made a complete nuisance of myself. People have been extremely kind.

The great truth I've stumbled across

In many ways this has been an unsatisfactory election campaign. It's been widely criticised as being too 'sanitised' and stage-managed, and by and large I think that's fair.

I've heard it compared to a rather poor, defensive game of football, where no one wants to let in a late goal. (The exception, of course, is Scotland - which is why the Scottish campaign has caught fire while its English equivalent has smouldered away like a damp rag). It all serves to make politicians seem remote, untrustworthy and indifferent.

All that's a bloody shame. Because - and here's the thing, the great truth I've stumbled across - politicians are actually doing quite a lot of good.

Sure, there are some idiots and scoundrels. Just like there are in the population at large. But there are also lots of men and women struggling to make things better while trying, bluntly, not to feck up. And I don't single out one party or another - because (shock horror) every party has them.

When I started this blog, I suppose I thought it would be all very light-hearted and irreverend. And there's been a fair bit of that, of course - goodness knows there's plenty you can poke fun at if you choose. Writing The Thick of It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

But if I had only ever described situations in this way, I would have been selling politicians - and politics - short. Because what I've actually found is lots of good, intelligent sorts working very hard. I mean - my god - someone needs to tell people!

Here's the sort of thing I mean...

It turns out that - away from the debacle of Prime Minister's Questions -

interesting, constructive, intelligent debates really are taking place.

I've learnt that some MPs will go above and beyond to cheer their constituents up at Christmas time.

I've found a new respect for grass roots campaigners. And I've come to believe that it's the enthusiasts who will beat the fanatics - if we let them.

I've learnt that sometimes, just sometimes, dogged perseverance in the face of adversity really can make a difference.

If politicians put their trust in ordinary people, really engaging with them rather than running away, the effects can be profound. It turns out that there IS a Queen Beyond The Wall, and she's leading an army of hearts and minds in our direction whether we like it or not.

I've realised that a speech in the House of Commons can move you to tears.

And finally - I've met people who I'm now very proud to call friends.

So - give them a chance?

I'm not going to suggest who you should vote for. It's none of my business.

I'm not going to talk about who I'm voting for, either. You probably don't need to be a detective to work it out - but that's not the point of this post.

A couple of months ago, I told you what I thought was going to happen on May 7th. (My prediction is looking, well, *brave*). But this post isn't about that, either.

I suppose what I'm asking you to do on May 7th is just to give them a chance.

Sure, this electoral system is far from perfect (and that's being polite) but it's the one we've got to make do with in three days' time.

So much more needs to be done to communicate the way democracy works (and the fact that it does, often, work rather well).

And yes, every party's policy package has holes in it.

But the parties and their policies are certainly not all the same. And I do think you should vote if you can. Because, apart from anything else, voting is like making any other choice in life. Sometimes, you've just got to look at the information on offer, hope for the best and put your faith in someone.

Yes, perhaps you'll be disappointed. But at least you're giving them the chance to live up to your hopes and be deserving of your trust.

Who knows, they might even take it.

Read more of Serena's articles: Cowdy Calling