In the past, I've always voted LibDem, aside from the first London Mayor election when I voted for Ken Livingstone instead (a decision I later regretted). This time around, I've actually been wavering a lot more, although I didn't actually get round to reading through all the party manifestos in full. In particular, I seriously considered voting Conservative, mainly because of their attitude to law and order (although they have various other policies that I disagree with, e.g. fox hunting). I do remember a quote I heard a while back (Churchill?) - something like "If a man doesn't vote liberal when he's 20, he has no heart; if he doesn't vote Conservative when he's 30, he has no brain". And my views do seem to be drifting further towards the right as I get older. In the end, I voted LibDem again, partly because it seems safe to do so - even if they win in my borough, I really don't see them winning the entire election, so I don't have to worry about my council tax (or equivalent) shooting up.
The main thing I'm thinking about is that we need unified policies. E.g. I can see the arguments in favour of population control, but I don't think there's any point in putting a quota on immigration/asylum if people are still allowed to have 10 children each. Similarly, when I hear people talking, and every other word is swearing, I tend to classify them as being poorly educated. But when I hear about teachers being stuck with disruptive kids, I think it would be better to kick them out; these two views clearly conflict with each other. As another example, I've seen some signs up saying "If you live in a council house, and you don't pay your rent, you will be evicted". That sounds fair enough, but then you wind up with the homeless numbers rising - do you then put the same people back into free accommodation? So, what I really want to do is figure out my perfect solution to all of these issues, and then vote for whichever party comes closest to my views, but so far I haven't achieved that.
More generally, I'm aware of my ignorance in certain areas (e.g. economics), so I don't think I'm really qualified to make an informed choice about those policies. In theory, I shouldn't need to be (that's the point of representative government), but it is something that nags at me a bit. Back when I first moved to London, I used to have long talks into the night with my flatmate, where we discussed various issues like this - the term "benevolent dictator" did come up a few times. I remember him telling me once "We can't solve all the world's problems sitting in our flat", but I do miss those days sometimes, now that we don't see each other as often.
Anyway, although I voted LibDem in Croydon, I'll be rooting for the Conservative candidate in Brigg & Goole (one of my other Durham friends).