When I was younger, I was big on politics. In 1990 I was perhaps the only kid on the playground actually interested in who would succeed Margaret Thatcher (I think I was batting for Douglas Hurd). At the 1992 election, I was only 12, but convinced that the Conservative Party was the only party anyone should vote for. Of course this had much to do with upbringing, and little (if anything) to do with policy.
Fast forward 13 years and I have formed (or at least continue to form) opinions on the way I think this country should be run, and those policies now directly effect me and my day to day life. At this, my second general election, I need to look at what the parties are standing for and make a reasoned choice.
There is one party that has seen it’s popularity sore over the years—‘none of the above’ and frankly I’m as attracted to voter apathy as the next man. Why should I bother voting?
I have always believed that we should not take the right to vote for granted, especially when people have died campaigning for it, and those in other countries long to have such power. But do we actually have any ‘power’? It’s no secret that the only voters that matter are the swinging type in the marginal constituencies. Regardless of who wins, it’s a sure bet that a government will make everything a.) more complicated and b.) more expensive. In the end I have come to the conclusion that whether it is worth anything or not, I should still exercise my right, if only to show I’m still watching what Whitehall is trying to get away with.
Labour: Blair’s War
What was once their greatest asset is now undoubtedly their greatest weakness. I find it quite ironic for a Prime Minister that’s big on words followed by little or no action, to take this country to war with Iraq—a war that was shaky at best. This time his words were followed up with as much action as close-buddy-old-pal Bush required. An apology? He can’t even accept he was wrong.
Add to this list the relaxing of practically everything the state should be aiming to protect its people from (gambling, drugs, alcohol), continued destruction of every constitutional institution, reducing trials by jury, student top-up fees, continued taxation (usually on the quiet)… where do I stop? Needless to say I think me voting for Labour is a non starter.
Conservatives: Did We Mention Immigration?
I was slowly warming to my former party, but as the campaign rolls on, I can’t help but get the felling that their 5 key pledges are essentially desperate attempts to keep hold off it’s diminishing section of the vote.
Liberal Democrats: A Real Alternative?
As political parties go, I’m impressed. I have always admired Charles Kennedy as a politician, and the campaign he’s leading is very sensible. It’s refreshing to see honesty (well, in comparison to the other main parties).
Taxes are going to have to rise post Brown, and the Lib Dems are at least trying to find solutions as to how to do this. I like the ‘green thread’ that runs through their manifesto too—even if it is just a good excuse for further taxation.
Would I want a Liberal Democrat government. Not a chance—their views on Europe are the exact opposite of mine. Would like a Liberal Democrat opposition, an opposition that has been lacking for the last 8 years. I’m thinking yes.
Given the opportunity to have a candidate from the Green Party standing during this election, my decision would be a whole lot harder. Again, I’m not sure about this party forming government, but the UK is one of very few European countries not to have green representation in it’s debating chamber. I certainly think we need it.
As to UKIP (and the Freedom Party)—one issue parties are much like a stopped clock. They tell the correct time only twice a day, but the rest of the time they are useless. I’m all for independence from Europe, and maintaining our currencies independence too—but sadly, that choice is for another day.
Whatever your thoughts on the election are, make sure you take them to the ballot box. If only to show that the electorate still exists.