Today is a very strange day for me. If I had not got so disillusioned with the Lib Dem leadership I would be down in Eastleigh helping to get the vote out. As it is I'm sitting at home and wondering how it will all pan out, and I've come to a rather odd conclusion.
If I was in Eastleigh I would probably have voted NHA Party as a way of protesting about the privatisation of the NHS. However the by election has come too early for them and they are not likely to win it. Bizarrely as a life long Liberal and pro European I want UKIP to win and think they might actually do it. Let me explain.
I have hated this coalition with a passion since its inception. A UKIP win tonight could deal a fatal blow to it. If as seems likely the Tories come third it will throw the party into paroxysms, with the backwoodsmen braying that they have to steal UKIP's clothing. They might even be brave enough to mount a coup against Cameron. A more right wing leader would be very difficult to work with even if Clegg managed to survive.
If the Lib Dems lose the seat, I don't foresee an immediate coup, but when there is another wipe out in the County Council elections in May and the relationship with the Tories becomes horribly fraught, a lot of MPs and councillors are going to be looking for another solution other than the disastrous Clegg regime before 2015.
A UKIP victory will not mean a new dawn for them. I've had 40 years of being on the wrong side of that argument. But it could mean the end of the coalition and hopefully the beginning of the end of the Orange Book experiment in the Lib Dems.
So swallow hard, put on a Polly Toynbee clothes peg and "Come on UKIP!"
I am an ambulance medic and part of a two-man crew. We often get up at 4am, check over a 999 frontline ambulance, then drive anything up to two hours to our area of cover, all in our own time. Then follows a 12-hour intensive shift, where we deal with anything from multiple car pile-ups to seriously ill children. We are sometimes abused both verbally and physically. Sometimes we are threatened with sharp implements and have to negotiate or even physically fight for our safety.
Half-hour rest breaks are not always taken due to the demand on services. We then have the drive back, where we have to clean our vehicles before driving home. The stress is monstrous, but we are exempt from any legislation that makes sure we are not worked to death as we are an emergency service. Our average wage is about £15 an hour. We are life savers, counsellors and sometimes just company, as we hold the hand of someone beyond help. We have cultivated a black sense of humour so we do not crumble and, even so, often cry on the way home. I am sure there are many other professions which have their own untold stories of daily physical and mental hardship.
I would like to say to Sir Philip Hampton of RBS that our wages are "modest" for what we do (RBS chief underpaid, says chairman, 12 February). A multimillion-pound pay packet for a banker's success or failure is not "modest". We take home in a gruelling year of real blood, sweat and tears what Stephen Hester earns in six days. I wish that those who earn such sums would realise that their renumeration is not right. Perhaps they should not apply terms to themselves like "I have one of the hardest jobs in the world" (Fred the Shred) until they see what others do on a fraction of their wage. What comes out of their mouths undermines millions of hard working people in this country. If an ambulance turned up to one of their children severely injured on a country road, would we seem only worth £15 an hour? As they watched as we fought for their child's life, far from back up and hospital facilities, would they reconsider the value of jobs that do not make a profit?
Would they consider our wages modest as they apply this term to their own? Modest is a powerful word and has to be earned. Name and address supplied