A little bit of politics: if you want my vote…

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 21:15 | Filed in Politics

…you need to have policies supporting tutu wearing space aliens. No, that’s only a joke, and besides which, I don’t think it actually made it as far as becoming a Manifesto commitment for the Liberal Democrats.

It was just that now that we’re towards the end of party conference season, and the major parties have worked themselves up into a frothing lather about why they really are the best, after all, I thought I’d have a look at some of the highlights of each party’s conference and pick out one thing that I support, and one thing that I don’t. That way it’s fair.

My political nature is left-of-centre: colour-wise, I’d say I’m a reddish-green, so obviously my views will be … er … coloured … by my own political perceptions and beliefs, but I’ll still try to be as fair as I can.


Ah, the labour party conference. The first escape poor Gordon has had from Gordon-baiting and tormenting for the last six months or so. The global recession wasn’t his fault, but then again, if you going to declare that you’re bringing an end to “boom and bust”, you deserve to come in for some stick when it turns out that we’ve gone bust after all.

And that’s before we look at the savage attacks on civil liberties, the policing of protests, wars of allegedly dubious legality, the party seeming to kowtow to big business and so on. I can’t help think that this wasn’t what I’d wanted to sign up to in 1997. It might not strictly have emerged from the conference, but this is the millstone of negativity that hangs around Labour’s neck at the moment: disillusionment.

On the counter side to that, we have Labour’s social policies: the abolition of charging patients for hospital car-parking; the abolition of means-testing for home care for the elderly. This is a party which considers that sometimes a financial price is one better worth paying than a social one, and that represents the sort of society I want to live in.

Liberal Democrats

The biggest problem the Liberal Democrats face is that they are “the other ones”. You know, you’ve got Labour, Conservative and… the ones with Charles Kennedy. No, wait, Menzies Campbell. No, it’s er… Compo. Sorry, Clegg. They are not going to form a government. The best they can hope for is the influence that an alliance with them might offer in an otherwise hung parliament, which gives them a certain ability to say whatever they like because it doesn’t really matter. But of course everyone knows this.

One thing that for me the Liberal Democrats did well was to call for criminal sanctions on MPs who break the rules on expenses. Although while a good move, it missed the point somewhat: the country was very angry at those MPs who had broken the rules but they were also bloody furious at what MPs were allowed to get away with within the rules.

And for me the Liberal Democrats did something particularly wrong. First they allowed Dawkins a platform to spout his intolerant anti-religious views (I have no problem with people being atheists, or religious, I just don’t think it’s right that either should have a platform to say the others are bad people) and claim that faith schools are like child abuse. My son goes to a faith school. It’s a good school, with a good ethos, and well-behaved children. My job is to ensure that he gets brought up with the correct tools to make up his own mind, not having religious figures or Mr. Dawkins deciding on his behalf what he should believe.

But they did have a brilliant comedy moment:

I want to be prime ministerNick Clegg

…yes, and I want world peace, an end to hunger, a million quid in cash and x-ray vision. We’ll see who achieves their ambition first.


I did say I was going to be fair, didn’t I, which is why I dropped my original subtitle for this post. Let’s start with what seems bleeding obvious. Barring some calamity for the Conservatives, or Gordon Brown finding a cure for cancer, it seems that the next government will be a Conservative one. This worries me: I feel the Conservative party will support businesses and the financial industry at the expense of the working man (or woman), the single parent, and society.

It also concerns me because I feel that some of those who are the problem with the labour administration will escape relatively unscathed (in some cases shifting to the House of Lords, or the EU) while good, honourable, hard-working back bench MPs are the ones who have to pay the price. That’s not fair, but it’s the same regardless of which administration is in charge.

Anyway, what have the tories suggested that I like? Well, a rise in the state pension age. By the time I’m 70 — assuming I get there — I’ll likely have to work until I’m three hundred and forty in order to qualify for a state pension, since everyone is living longer, so why not bite the bullet and up the state pension age now. Or at least, as soon as possible. It’s going to have to be done, so let’s just get on with it…

But in comparison, there’s the public sector pay freeze which I really don’t like. What I don’t understand is how bankers drop the country in the economic shit, the public bails them out with public money, and then the public sector have to have a pay freeze. Before we even consider a slowdown in public sector pay rises (which haven’t exactly been great in the last few years anyway), we should be looking at a long-term pay freeze for bankers, and an outright ban on bonuses.

After all, it wasn’t the public sector that got us into this mess, so why should they be the ones who have to suffer? And that basically sums up my worry for a conservative administration: that the ordinary man or woman will be left to pick up the bill for the mistakes businesses make in bad times, and businesses will be allowed to get away with exploiting and gouging them the rest of the time.

Where Will My Vote Be Going?

My vote will be going, as it has done for the last few elections, not on a party ticket, but to the individual candidate whom I think will best represent me (this being three different parties in the last general, local, and european elections). This is based on a few factors: what I can tell or can find out about their beliefs, any voting record, their election literature, what (if anything) I know of them personally (tip: have an online presence) and (if they’ve been elected at something before) whether I think they’ve done a good job or not.

In other words, assuming there are no major surprises, I’ll be voting for Dave Anderson: not because of the party he represents, but because of what he stands for. Of course, if you can convince me that my vote would be better placed elsewhere…

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6 Comments to A little bit of politics: if you want my vote…

  1. The Goldfish says:

    October 6th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Dawkins may have anti-religious views, but doesn’t mean everything he says is problematic – the speech I read that he made was all about the libel laws and science journalism. The only anti-religious thing he said was “Blasphemy is a victimless crime”.

    One thing I think is both very sad and dangerous with British politics just now is that people think the result of the next election is inevitable. Which it isn’t. We each have a vote, we can have whoever we like! Of course, we are a little limited with our options, but we could have a Liberal Democrat government if we wanted. And why not? Because they’re funny? Compared to taking £25 a week of disabled unemployed people (over a quarter of their income) in order to pay for the abolition of inheritance tax for extraordinarily rich people? Thankfully, we do have a choice.

  2. Alen McFadzean says:

    October 7th, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I was totally opposed to this pension age thing, as I have been opposed to everything the Tories have said and done since the Three Day Week. But today, October 7, is my 53rd birthday and it’s opened my eyes. Yesterday I had 13 years left to work, today I still have 13 years left to work. It’s like George Osborne has the gift of bestowing immortality. I feel like Elrond.

  3. JackP says:

    October 7th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    …Elrond is fine. Although with your love of mountains and interests in mining, I’d have to say you’ve got hints of Gimli in your makeup :-)

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