The General Election: 99 Days To Go

by Ray_North on January 28, 2015

Unknown-4Yesterday, Charlie declared his intention to vote Green at the next election. I sympathise with his view, and I may yet join him – but, as things stand, at the moment, with 99 days to go, I am undecided.

So, here’s my thinking, from a personal as much as a political perspective.

And let’s start with some background: my world revolves mainly around three things: first, being a father to three young children; second, being a public servant (in as much as I’m paid for what I do by the state), and third, being a liberal. And those three elements will influence me as much as anything else when it comes to deciding where to place my cross.

My political journey can be described thus: born into a traditional old fashioned Lloyd-George Liberal household, I dabbled with left- wing politics in the youth, then worked for Ashdown’s Lib-Dems in my twenties and, indeed, stood as Lib-Dem candidate in 2005 (I was inspired as much by opposition to the Iraq war and tuition fees as anything else). I watched agog as events unfurled between 2005 and 2010, voted Lib-Dem out of loyalty as much as anything at the last election, then regretted it, the moment I saw Clegg and Cameron holding each others hands in the Downing Street Rose Garden.

Since then, I’ve found my politics veer down what could be described as leftward avenue (though personally, I believe the terms left or right to be unhepful) – and there are good reasons for my leftward lurch: first, following the near collapse of the banks in 2008, I came to realise that if it came to a toss up between the needs of the people or the needs of the City of London and other global financial institutions – then, the people will come a bad second; and second, as I watched the public services disappear under the guise of austerity, it became apparent to me that the economic orthodoxy that had grown under Thatcherism and been maintained by Blair, that is that allowing those who ‘create wealth’ to horde their capital and their wealth, has failed. The outcome is that we now have, as we enter this period of electioneering a democratic and social deficit, a nation where the gap between the richest and poorest is widening and the opportunities for social advancement is diminishing.

And, I’m not alone in thinking this.

One of the main issues during the Scottish independence debate was the clear belief that many in Scotland had lost confidence in Westminster because they felt that Government was more intent on pursuing the interests of the wealthy few than the average Jock. The rise in UKIP is similar in many ways – only those who are attracted to Farage, find it easier to blame foreigners and Europe for their feelings of disenfranchisement rather than the fact that economic and democratic inequality has been caused by the government’s policies.

So far, one of the most striking aspects of the election campaign has been the convergence of the three main political parties. All three have embraced austerity, all three continue to follow broadly similar policies about public sector funding, education and the NHS. The differences are often contrived or just distinctions in micro-management. None of the parties are willing to enter into a proper, honest and intelligent debate about how to redistribute wealth or ensure that public services remain first-class and universally available; about the influence of global capitalism, the importance of environmentalism, the flaws in Europe and the socio-economic effect of immigration.

What I want to see is an intelligent debate between the political parties and a clear choice; what I want to see is leadership and courage and at least someone offering me hope that my role as a public servant will not continue to be reduced and that my children will have every opportunity I had and maybe more.

What I don’t want to see over the next 99 days, is petty bickering, gimmicks and a procession of photo-ops interspersed with faux disagreement as the media try desperately to try to find something to talk about.

As I say, I have some sympathy with Charlie’s declaration that the Greens will be getting his X come May 7th, but, I’m not sure – I’ll keep you posted.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie Kaye January 29, 2015 at 11:02 am

I am just getting used to the impending nightmare that the following will happen:-

1) David Cameron will still be PM
2) George Osborne will still be Chancellor
3) The Lib Dems will scrape enough to maintain their foothold in a renewed Coalition. If not, they will be replaced by UKIP

Given that I live in one of the safest Labour constituencies in the country, I cannot see my little X making a difference. Suddenly I start to move to the abandonment of First Past the Post. Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. If we are going to have perpetual coalition, it might as well represent the share of the vote rather than the wheeler dealer bent that seems to run through our political establishment. You never know, it might even attract a better class of politician if they knew every vote counted!

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John Stone January 29, 2015 at 9:45 pm

I think it was a tragedy that the last Labour Government rejected a move towards PR. Unfortunately, they’re now likely to be hoisted by their own petard.

Ray, my political journey isn’t that different to yours. But ultimately in my constituency I’ve voted tactically for the best positioned party to beat the Tories every election since 1992. I hate the Tories more than I like any other party. Normally that has meant voting liberal democrat but in 1992 it was SNP. But given the Tories will win my constituency this year and the main opposition is Lib Dem I’m going to vote Green this time. It’s closest to my philosophy. When Labour stop triangulating and stand for something I might vote for them but that looks to be some way off yet…

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