There was a time when elections were straightforward affairs for voters, reflecting the binary nature of society and politics.

If you came from a working class background, or worked in the public sector, you were more likely to vote Labour; whereas if you came from a middle class family, or worked for yourself, you were more likely to vote Conservative.

If you couldn’t decide whether to vote for either of the two main parties, you might put your cross against the Liberal candidate or, in you lived in some parts of Scotland, against the box for the Scottish National Party challenger.

The world was divided into two blocs, each representing competing ideologies which were influential in shaping attitudes and deciding elections. In general terms, you were on the side of either the workers or the producers.

With the benefit of hindsight, that now seems like an archaic and quaintly tribal way of informing one’s world view, but at least voters knew where they stood.

With handling of the economy a dominant theme, you supported the party you thought best represented your interests and, although it didn’t always work out like that, you rarely switched sides.

In contrast, this general election might just be the most complicated ever in terms of the multiple forces, issues, personalities and parties competing for voters’ attention and support.

Reform threatens the Tory voteReform threatens the Tory vote (Image: free)

Ironically, given that Labour is predicted to win anything from a landslide to a super-majority, the tax and spending plans of the main parties have, at times, seemed of secondary importance to what, in the past, would have seemed highly peripheral issues.

From Brexit to gender issues, women’s rights, race, religion, immigration, corruption and extremism, what is most important to the greatest number of voters appears never to have been so diverse.

Is it helpful that voters will go into ballot booths tomorrow with so many different and competing pet issues informing their choices, perhaps more so than at any time in our recent history?

Should a pluralistic system naturally accommodate such a diversity of opinions and priorities, better reflecting the dynamism and disparateness of society?

Or are we seeking to shoehorn too many competing demands into a blunt, adversarial electoral system that will be unable to cope? If Labour does win an historically high share of seats, will that necessarily reflect fairly on how people have cast their votes?

Could we end up with a government that has an unprecedented mandate and yet is hugely unpopular with huge swathes of the population?

On the gender issue alone, it appears that the very politicians who have tasked themselves with legislating upon it are as confused as the average voter, if not more so.

Questioned on the issue on BBC Radio Five Live earlier in the week John Swinney gave “a very good impression of a teenager trying to bullshit his way through questions on a book he’s never read,” according to the author and gender critical activist JK Rowling.

Sir Keir Starmer has appeared equally flummoxed, unable to decide whether men or women have vaginas. Asked about the issue earlier in the month, he decided he agreed with Tony Blair, that a woman has a vagina and a man has a penis, despite earlier criticising the Labour MP Rosie Duffield for asserting that “only a woman has a cervix”.

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Perhaps the next time he’s questioned he will pledge that, under a future Labour government, all men and women will be entitled to both a penis and a vagina.

Back in the 1970s Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) was one of the few issues that broke through the ideological divide between Labour and Conservative, albeit for very different reasons.

Those on the Tory right favoured withdrawal on grounds of sovereignty, while those on the Labour left opposed membership of the EEC because they saw it as an elite, capitalist club that was antithetical to their party’s values and ambitions.

During the Brexit referendum campaign, the same dividing lines were evident and, while Jeremy Corbyn publicly backed British membership of the EU, every fibre of his being screamed the opposite and his “support” for Remain was so lukewarm as to be counter-productive.

While the issue has been avoided like the plague by mainstream parties during the election campaign for fear of muddying the waters, it remains an important issue to many voters, particularly those who believe Labour’s pledge to seek a better trading relationship with the EU will be used as cover for Britain to re-enter the single market.

On race and religion, Israel’s actions remain an obstacle to many naturally inclined Labour supporters voting for the party which, under Starmer’s leadership, failed to support a ceasefire in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader is still struggling to convince Jewish voters and party members that he has properly dealt with the pernicious antisemitism that was such a prominent feature of the Corbyn leadership.

For the first time the Tories face credible challenges on both wings, with Labour and the Lib Dems competing for votes on the left and Reform UK presenting a significant challenge on the right.

One of the most prominent drivers of voting intentions appears to be a desire to oust the Tories rather than to install a Labour government.

Independence has not played a huge role in election - but remains an issueIndependence has not played a huge role in election - but remains an issue (Image: free)

The emergence of Nigel Farage as a credible force during the campaign, and even as a potential future leader of the Conservatives, has further complicated matters in the minds of voters.

Every time one of his candidates is caught saying something extremist and off-the-scale outrageous, the party’s mask of respectability slips a little further, but will it be sufficient to deter enough voters who agree with so much of what he says about immigration?

With so many diverse and competing factors to consider, it would be unsurprising if people harked back to the simpler, more certain days of Labour versus Tory, capitalist versus socialist, trade unions versus bosses.

Unlike with other general elections in recent UK history, this feels like it will be the start of a period of division and turmoil rather than of settlement and stability.

Wherever you put your cross tomorrow, you’re unlikely to walk away convinced, irrevocably, that you’ve done the right thing.