Election dilemmas.

January 10, 2010

So its New Year. A New Year which is very likely to see a general election, and a year in which I will be expected to vote.

Now you have to understand, from my perspective, this is quite an important election, because from where I am sat, we are not in a very good way. I have written, and rewritten a paragraph, which attempts to summarise my concerns, especially as they are quite relevant to who I choose to vote for.

Its quite difficult to write a paragraph which encompasses the global economic collapse, the tinder box of a situation, where the ‘war on terror’ appears to have created such a mess, that it could destabilise Pakistan, and where the ‘war’ appears to be have been renewed, after a bloke burnt his leg, on an airplane over christmas. The paragraph I wrote tried to weave in the fears I have for public services, and the most vulnerable people in the country, given the amount of funds that need to be frecouped, after our £850billian giveaway to banks. I felt it was only right to talk about the erosion of civil liberties the last decade has seen.It included my concern  that we had done nothing to regulate our financial system, since it brought us to our knees, and there didn’t seem to have been any real stimulation of the economy (although we didn’t appear to have really noticed this, due to the extra money we are printing, the near nil interest rates, and the VAT cut) so I was quite worried about how things were going to go. But no matter what I wrote, it sounded melodramatic. And prone as I am to hyperbole, this was not the mood I was going for today. It was also long.

Now, the way I see it, I am expected to consider the following options.

A) Gordon Brown

B) David Cameron

C) Someone, or something else.

So I reckon, given the context of the situation the UK finds itself in, this needs careful consideration. We should apply a bit of logic here. First things first, check out a party’s underpinning ideaology.

So we have David Cameron, and the Conservative Party. This is a party underpinned by a neo-liberal ideaology. Neo Liberalism is basically the idea that if we leave it to individuals, they will sort it. Individual responsibility. This means a fundamental opposition to state intervention, because if the state is helping, then people aren’t helping themselves. Its tied up with Free Market Values- if people want it, then there is a market for it, and the market will meet that need. State intervention bad. State provision of services-bad. Regulation of markets should be kept to a minimum, as should state intervention in peoples lives, provision of services, excessive taxation etc And if the market is providing, it is doing so through business, so this is the party of business interests.

Then we have Labour.

Historically, a more socialist ideaology- collective responsibility, state provision of services, redistribution of wealth-creation of the welfare state, NHS, underpinned by trade unionism, and the belief in some sort of social justice. Although that gets quite muddy, when you factor in that Tony Blair figured he would mash up labour ideaology, with the er…same free market values  and neo liberalism, that underpin the Conservative Party. He called it  Social Democracy. I am not sure I would use the same term.

Seems straightfoward to me. Am a wooly liberal. Am a social worker for a start, albeit an unemployed one. I am the walking embodiment of the nanny state. I believe that we need public services, that a society should care for its vulnerable, that society’s wealth should be distributed fairly, and that the state has a responsibility to provide healthcare, and education, to all of its members, not just the ones who can look after themselves. I see the market as a distributor of wealth, and I believe in prosperity through economic growth, but I believe that the market should be regulated, to make sure it remains a ‘free’ market in which many can prosper, which serves the people, and not one which widens the gap between rich and poor. It should be a no brainer. Labour. Its not an exact match, but its close enough. I think long term prosperity can only come, in a society where our valuable human resources are not wasted in poverty, and where a more equitable society is likely to be more prosperous.

But the party who most represent my views,  deregulated the financial sector, beyond anything Thatcher could have dreamed up. They stripped my civil liberties, so that I, as a british citizen,can be given an asbo, without ever having had any crime proven against me. I can be tried as a terrorist, and be sentenced, while never seeing any evidence against me.  When the council went through my bins, they told me it was legislation brought in on the back of 9/11.  The Tories wouldn’t have dared. A Labour government have undermined the unions, they have disregarded basic democratic principles, and have undermined the principles that underpin our justice system.

We have their’ war on terror’, where they forgot to define what terror was, and which subsequently appears to have meant anyone we didn’t like, or more notably, who the US didn’t like, and which a whole other bunch of religious fanatics, have interpreted as a war on Islam. Not in small part because of the willingness of Tony and his cronies, to whip up a bit of Islamaphobia when it suited, nor because when he and George W Shrub, wandered around waging their ‘war,’ they told anyone who would listen, that God told them to do it. Then, when they divided the spoils of this ‘war’, most of it went in the direction of Shrub’s friends.

A vote for the party who most represent my views, is a vote to say I want them to run the country. If I voted Labour, in this election, I would be saying that all they have done, is ok. And actually, I trust them to do more of it. Its not. And I don’t.

And on the other end of the scale, we have David Cameron, christening the conservatives as the ‘party of the NHS’. Which is really confusing for me, because he still seems fairly stuck on ideas of minimum regulation, individualism, and free market enterprise, at least when he talks to business leaders.  Or maybe he is being disingenuous about the ease with which he will abandon the very values, that form his party’s core? What about the party faithful, who have been paying their dues for a party which was diametrically opposed to the welfare state-do they want to be ‘the party’ of its  biggest arm? And is it just the NHS-what about social services, local authorities, schools, fire service, police, bins, grit…? Is it ‘the party’ of those as well’? And given that the policies which have caused the most damage, from this Labour government, have been the policies that resonated with the Tory faithful, do I really believe this is the party to get us, out of this?

His chancellor is a man, whose personal fortune is estimated to be over £4million, who has a major interest in a gas import company, who has connections with thinktanks like American Enterprise Institute, (committed to er..lack of regulation, free market enterprise, v close to George Bush)… blah, blah.), and he regularly receives hospitality to speak at corporate think tank forums, in the US. Throughout his admittedly quite short career, he has consistently argued for reduced and ‘simplified’ taxation for the richest few percent, has argued for the very deregulation which precipitated this economic collapse.  David Cameron may have momentarily forgotten where the roots of the Conservative Party are, but his Shadow Chancellor has made sure that the business community knows that this will pass.

If I want a chancellor who will stand up to the financial sector, impose stricter regulation, and protect as many public services as possible for those affected by this recession, who will protect my interests as a citizen- I am guessing that I don’t want someone who consistently argues for corporate interests, who shares those interests, and does not even seem to acknowledge that the policies he has been passionate about, are pretty much the policies that contributed to the mess we are in at the moment.

This makes me a swing voter, in one of the most important elections that this country has ever faced. Except I am not a ‘swing’ voter, I am not undecided. I go back to the paragraph about why I think this election is important, and I realise that there is the possibility I am not just being dramatic. I want to be able to elect a leader who can cope with this, who can lead this country out of this. That isn’t on offer. I have the Labour Party, or I give the keys to the economy, to Cameron and Osborne.

I suppose I have a few months to think about it. Someone else viable might turn up. Is apathy an option? No, because this election is my only say. And as the revolution I was planning, seems a lot of work for a single mum from Hebden Bridge, I am not expecting a vast amount to change.



  1. You sound to me like one of the many ex-Labour, now Green, voters I know. Not saying your local candidate will win the seat, but a good vote now makes that a lot more likely in an election or two’s time.

  2. I won’t vote for a single issue party. Also during last election, margin between conservatives and labour so fine, that a vote for anyone else was a vote that could have resulted in it becoming a tory seat.
    When did voting become about voting against someone, rather than for them, and choosing the lesser of two evils?

  3. I would be interested to hear your arguments for/against the libdems and Mr. Clegg? And I mean it, really interested – I like the way you argue and counter argue your points.

  4. It’s surely not your view that the Greens are a single-issue party? It’s not just saving the world, it’s about social justice, radical democracy, all the rest.

    • (Reply to both Nene and James)
      I think you both raise an important point to be honest. I have been blinkered about the smaller parties, what they stand for, and have taken the view that its pointless even looking at them, given that the next election will, in all likelihood, be won by Labour or Conservative. And actually, thats worse than apathy. Because there are smaller parties, who may not win a majority. But those parties are pretty much the most likely hope of longer term change. They may be very important in the next session, if the next parliament is hung(not that unlikely) or at least increase support, means they increase their level of impact on govt, and eventually(hopefully) they present an alternative to what is essentially two parties who are, pragmatically speaking, underpinned by neo liberal values. (and actually, if am being honest underpinned by a bastardisation of neo liberal values, where its not about individualism or free trade, but the interests of the very few) With a party like the Greens especially, given the scale of our environmental problems, our dependency on oil, and the fact that many of the issues that I talked about in my post-are directlty linked to the fact that we are functioning as an oil based economy, in a world where oil is about to become very scarce.
      I can’t answer either of you properly right now, because I think a bit of self education is in order, before I do. As ever, I have no doubt that a post will follow.
      It may be naiive, but I don’t want to vote for one party, to express dissatisfaction with another. I want to vote for someone because they represent me, and maybe I have to look at Libdems, greens, whoever.
      I think I am a pragmatist at heart, and have always taken the view that if only two parties are truly in the race, which is a natural by product of our electoral system-then voting for other smaller parties, was a wasted vote in practical terms.
      But look where that got me. Retaining support for a party who had openly, and completely, disregarded every single reason, I ever believed they were the party who represented me?

      • I certainly appreciate that response. One thing Nene and I will agree on for sure is that the current voting system for Westminster pushes people to choose the lesser of the two main evils, and no-one should have to feel like that.

        You should know, whoever you vote for, that it counts equally with everyone else’s vote. That awful situation is a failure of democracy, not a failure of the voter.

  5. Agree with James. When I lived in Denmark I voted for a smallish party with values similar to the libdems for quite a few years. For four years they were in government and it was all the better for it. The “social democrats” (largest party, similar to Labour) had sold out of my civil liberties to a point unacceptable to me. I can’t vote in a general election here, but for the local elections I studied the three parties and found both the Tories and Labour totally unpalatable. LibDems not perfect, but on line with my views on essential issues. So there…

  6. I’ve always taken the view that my vote is highly unlikely to be the deciding vote in my constituency, so it’s really not my responsibility if the “slightly greater evil” manages to win the seat from the “slightly lesser evil”. As a result, I vote for the party and candidate whose policies – and actions – most closely represent my own views.

    • I think that sounds sensible, and is more or less what I have realised I have to do.

  7. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by slummymummy1: http://wp.me/pyBFp-pt Blog post. Me wittering about who to vote for….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: