I haven’t really blogged about the election campaign since it started in earnest. That’s not because I haven’t been thinking about it, but rather because I’ve been talking about it and watching it on the television and tweeting about it to such an extent that it was all starting to get a bit much for me. Even I, who am more interested in politics than most and try to be well-informed, have been flagging at times in the face of the relentless onslaught of the campaign, and the conflict it creates when you discuss it with people.
Posts Tagged ‘general election’
April 29, 2010 by superlativeBut anyway, we are now just one week away from election day, so I thought I’d catch up a little bit on the stuff I’ve been thinking about and where I think my vote will be going (at the moment) when I reach the polling booth.The debatesI have watched the two leaders’ debates with interest, and will be watching the third one tonight. I’m so pleased that they have held them, because it has really changed some of the feel of this election campaign for me, and it seems to have sparked some additional political interest amongst people who normally wouldn’t care.I feel that the format is rather dry, which is unfortunate, and I blame this mostly on the fact that the audience aren’t allowed to clap or respond in any way to what they say. What’s the point of having a mute audience? It just means it’s the three of them talking to camera for long periods, like a party political. It gets much more interesting once they start debating properly and responding to each other, instead of just rattling off pre-prepared answers.I felt that Nick Clegg was the clear winner of the first debate, based partly on what he said and partly on the way it changed public opinion of the Liberal Democrats. I felt he was always going to have the most to gain from it, as he was suddenly depicted on an equal footing with the other two leaders and people had to actually listen to what he has to say. And what happened in the polls once the three candidates were giving an equal platform? Suddenly it’s a three-horse race, with all the parties polling around the 30% mark. That came as no surprise to me at all.The second debate had no clear winner for me; not because Nick Clegg did much worse, but because David Cameron and Gordon Brown did much better and seemed to settle into the format much more. It was a little bit samey towards the end when they starting talking about similar issues to the previous week, but it was interesting nonetheless.Stupid party political broadcastsOne of the things I really hate during any political campaign is scaremongering and negative campaigning. I realise that they’re always going to do it, but it annoys me intensely because it detracts from the real issues and is insulting to the intelligence of the electorate.There have been a couple of party politicals in the last two weeks that have riled me up in particular though.The first was an appalling Labour advert featuring Eddie Izzard, that made me think much much less of him. In it, he talked about the Conservatives (why bother talking about Labour policies, eh?) and said “These are Thatcher’s children! Be afraid, be very afraid!”Fuck. Right. Off.Seriously, how long are Labour planning on flogging Thatcher’s corpse (interesting image) as a reason to vote for them? She was in power THIRTY years ago. It’s fucking ridiculous! And contrary to the opinion of most uninformed socialists, she wasn’t the worse thing ever to happen to this country anyway. A modernised economy and inflation reduced from 18% to 4% during her time in office? Yes, DISASTROUS. Such a terrible effect on the country that she was re-elected TWICE with whopping majorities and therefore had a clear mandate for what she was doing? Yes, that really shows how the people hated her. Hated her so much in fact that even after the Tories deposed her, they STILL got re-elected the next time around. It’s not like everyone went running straight to Labour, desperate to be free from Maggie’s claws, is it?So anyway, I found that advert patronising, childish and irrelevant.The second party political that’s pissed me off is a recent one from the Conservatives, styled as a fictional advert from the Hung Parliament Party. Seriously, it looked like crap, like a GCSE Media Studies project, where it had been so hastily thrown together once the Conservatives realised a hung parliament was a distinct possibility. And it had a stupid noose logo everywhere, despite the fact that a noose would imply a HANGED parliament, not a hung one.But leaving aside the generally shitty aesthetic aspects of it, the content was what really annoyed me.A hung parliament would be undemocratic and would mean the country was governed via deals done behind closed doors, they said. It won’t be the utopia of cooperation some people would have you believe, they said.So they’re saying that the present system is MORE democratic are they? A system where only 60% of the electorate vote, and then a party is installed as a majority government having received only 35% of that? That’s 21% of the electorate backing the party that gains power, who then get to pick whoever they like to fill the cabinet and can spend five years legislating pretty much with impunity, even in the face of large-scale public opposition to any particular plan. How democratic is that?And on the question of cooperation, other countries seem to manage perfectly well with coalition governments, including Germany: the strongest economy in Europe. The problem actually is that our two main parties are very used to having all or nothing, and they don’t normally have to play nicely with the other children. They don’t have to negotiate or compromise to get legislation through, they can just force it through on the strength of a questionable public mandate and a large majority in the Commons. A hung parliament doesn’t necessarily mean an ineffective one, and the only way the Conservatives can guarantee there would be no cooperation is if they’re saying they won’t cooperate with any other party.Anyway, I can feel I’m getting more and more riled up as I write this, so I’m going to leave it there. My final point will be to describe where my voting intentions lie at present, so I can compare that with next week.At the moment I am voting Liberal Democrat. I would like to see them gain a much larger share of the seats in parliament, perhaps around 100, and for them to exercise that power to bring about political reform.I really, really wanted the Conservatives to convince me and win my vote, and I gave them ample opportunity. But at this stage, my principal feeling is that I can’t trust them. This is based particularly around the issue of gay rights, but has broader implications than that, and relates to the fact that members of the Conservative party don’t actually seem to agree with the official line we are fed by David Cameron. There have been too many homophobic views expressed, and it has been enough to put me off. How would these MPs actually vote in the Commons on gay rights issues, if this is how they feel? What value is the official party line if the party’s members don’t actually support it? And that lack of trust and credibility on gay issues has seeped across and eroded my support for them in other areas, and my whole opinion of them.My main disagreements with the Liberal Democrats are on issues such as the euro. I don’t want us to join the euro, I don’t think that we need it or that it presents sufficient benefits to us. However, as the LibDem pledge is to hold a referendum on the issue ‘when the conditions are right’, I can live with that. If we have a referendum, I’ll vote no. And if most people vote yes, I’ll just learn to live with it. It’s a democracy after all; if that’s what the majority of people want, then so be it.So that’s my political update and I’ll shut up now. Roll on election day because it’s all starting to get rather exhausting.
February 1, 2010 by superlativeI’ve been criticised a few times in the last few months for saying that I’m considering voting Conservative at the next general election. I have to confess that I do deliberately say it sometimes to people who I know will be shocked and appalled by it, just to see how they’ll respond. Even so, the reaction that you get for saying it, particularly when you’re gay, I think is somewhat excessive. It’s not like I’m saying I’m going to vote for the Kill Babies With A Spikey Stick Party. This is a mainstream political party, supported by a proportion of the population that’s either equal to or greater than that which supports the Labour Party (based on current opinion polls anyway).I don’t mind people saying “You shouldn’t vote Conservative”; in fact I welcome it. I do wish though that they would say “You shouldn’t vote Conservative because…” and then give me some sort of reason other than the rather childish “they’re evil” or “they screwed the miners in the 80s”. I’m looking for proper reasons to help me decide which party to support at the next election. I intend to be a well-informed voter who goes to the polls knowing which party they think would be best to run the country, and which candidate would be best for my constituency. I can’t accept “They’re evil”, with no follow up or evidence, as a reason.One person recently has drawn my attention to the voting record of the Conservative front bench on gay rights. Fine. Absolutely fine, because that gives me something to work with. As a gay man, it is rather distressing to see the attempts made to block the advancement of gay rights by senior Conservative MPs. I’m not going to base my vote on that one issue though; being gay is a very small part of who I am. I think I have a greater responsibility to vote for whichever party will be best for the country overall, rather than put the needs of my minority group first. If there were a Pink Party with a manifesto based solely around gay rights, I wouldn’t vote for it because it would most likely not have a clue how to run an economy, and I think that would be selfish and stupid of me.I did swing quite far to the right earlier in the year, and felt fairly sure I would vote Conservative in May (or whenever it ends up being). That was based in large part on my dissatisfaction with the way Labour has performed, and because of some of the core political principles I hold most dear. Those are namely that I believe in individual responsibility for your actions and wellbeing; fairly small government; limited intervention by government into people’s private lives; and a tax system that rewards people for working hard and for saving. These are all quite Conservative things.In addition to that though, I consider myself liberal socially. I believe in equality and equal rights. I believe religion should play no part in government or legislation. I believe in the right to express yourself freely, and I believe a government shouldn’t pass laws on what is moral and what is not, provided those activities aren’t hurting anyone.What has concerned me most recently about the Conservative Party is their increasingly obvious method of saying-whatever-they-need-to-get-elected. So yes you’ll hear them say grand things about, for instance, gay rights. They’ll proclaim themselves a friend to gay people (I’m just picking one issue here for the sake of argument), but their actions in the recent past and present don’t seem to tally quite with that statement. I’m not concerned particularly with what the party stood for in the 80s, that’s irrelevant to me now because I believe people should be allowed to change their minds over time. But some of what the Conservative Party, and David Cameron, have said recently has begun to sound quite hollow and contrived to me.I won’t vote Labour, as I really don’t approve of them. I find, especially with Gordon Brown, that they’ll just say anything, even in the face of it being completely untrue. An ‘end to boom and bust’, Gordon Brown said, during a period of happy prosperity for the country which was then followed by a massive bust that he hadn’t prepared for. A justified war, Tony Blair called the invasion Iraq, and which he maintained at this week’s Chilcot Inquiry, even though it is very apparent to most people now that it wasn’t justified, or at least wasn’t justified on the grounds they put forward at the time.So then I’m left thinking should I vote Liberal Democrat again, as I have done before (I’ve never actually voted Conservative). It’s true that I do respect them as a party; I think they have been the most plain-spoken and believable on the economy; and I agree with a good number of their policies. Even with them though it is hard to understand everything they stand for, because you end up in reams of detail on their website and there is too much to wade through. There is also the problem of ‘making my vote count’. My constituency is marginal, but it is still likely to be a Labour or Conservative seat. If I don’t want Labour, should I vote Conservative to ensure they don’t win in my area? That seems somewhat spiteful, and potentially stupid if I don’t agree with the Conservatives on enough of the big issues. It’s a great shame to me that the only reason I know who my Liberal Democrat candidate is is because I looked it up myself. Where is the campaigning? Where is the information to help me make my decision? I know it’s early yet, but I’ve already received some information from the Conservatives.So I don’t know, anyway. Some people will have read the first part of this post with horror at the very suggestion I may vote Conservative, and I might still do so. I did that deliberately to get people to read it really, as I knew it would hook some staunch lefties into an enraged excoriation against the Evil Tories. But if you did read it, and thought “God no, don’t vote Conservative”, please do leave a comment and tell me why. Constructive comments though please, with an actual reason.Thanks very much.