Sunday, May 02, 2010

The British General Election; and why you should Vote Conservative

In four days, Great Britain holds what might be the most historic general election in recent history.

What's always been a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives has been opened up to the Liberal Democrats - as a true 'third party' for the first time - and a bunch of other smaller parties like UKIP and even the ghastly BNP.

What's clear in this election is that Britain is in a mess. Our budget deficit amounted to more than 10% of the country's GDP 2009/2010 and will still be a whopping 70 billion pounds after the economy recovers - if it ever does at all.

We're faced with unprecedented negativity against government welfare programs, how much power we've surrendered to the European Union and the elephant in the living room; illegal immigration. If recent polls have taught us anything - in which far-right groups like the British Nationalist Party and the UK Independence Party have scored alarmingly strongly - it's that our country's facing problems that the three main political parties are simply unwilling to deal with.

So how do we vote?

The stunning Joanna Cake posted the following guide, which I found remarkably useful:

It also matches up with what almost all of my friends are doing; voting for the Liberal Democrats.

In many respects, voting Lib Dem is an inspired choice this time around. For the first time, they have a (remotely) statistical chance of becoming a majority party; and a significant chance of creating a 'hung' parliament; in which no party has a full majority and the ruling government is made up of a coalition.

From the mouth of frequent commenter Mycroft, who I confidently describe as The Smartest Man in Britain, this would mean:
"If we are going to hell in a handbasket, at least all the faffing involved in a hung parliament will apply some sort of brakes. That is my choice, make them run in treacle."
And he's absolutely right. It would result in those 'checks and balances' the founding fathers of America envisioned when they created the most modern incarnation of democracy. That's something that's always been conspicuously absent in British politics; as we Brits like to pride ourselves on conforming to the certainly of the 'first past the post' electoral system. As a result, we very rarely have to deal with the primordial electoral stew that is prominent in countries like Italy.

But there is a far more sinister possibility in this coming election. If the crowds turn out for the Lib Dems as expected, the electoral sweep might prove alarmingly capricious. Our voting system follows antiquated demographics, which result in the leading Lib Dem adversaries being disproportionately Conservative.

And what does that mean come election day? The very real possibility that the resurgent Lib Dems will steal so many Tory seats than neither they, nor the Conservatives, have a parliamentary majority - and Labour ironically does.

Yes, despite being the third party in the polls, Gordon Brown as his Labour party might still retain an alarming chance of coming in first; entirely due to the way the electoral system is set up. A vote for the Lib Dems isn't a vote against the status quo; in many constituencies it's a vote to preserve it.

So my advice for British subjects? Vote Conservative.

There are myriad reasons for voting Conservative in the face of the other parties. They're the only one of the three leading parties that has a policy regarding the UK's dire financial straits. It's a pathetic policy to be sure - with their first round of spending cuts tackling less than 1% of the deficit - but it puts the Conservatives a full year ahead of Labour and the Lib Dems.

[And remember the maxim of American politics; It's the Economy, Stupid. - Editorial Bear]

Secondly, they're the only major party that has a remotely sensible position on Europe.

Labour has sold us out to a federalist European Union - there's no mistaking that fact. The Conservatives have a much more realistic policy; one that retains the benefits of EU membership, but checks the surrender of our sovereignty.

The Lib Dems, regarding the EU, are nothing short of Labour collaborators. They've made no secret of the fact that they value stronger ties with the EU, and the adoption of the Euro. Whatever reservations you have about Labour's current EU policy, rest assured that the Lib Dems would magnify their wrongdoings tenfold.

Now personally, I'm a fan of the European Union; but a strict opponent of federalism. The Conservatives manage to hold a position somewhere between the isolationists of UKIP and the federalists of the Labour Party. Supporting them is a vote for retaining Britain's strengths, while continuing to benefit from what the EU offers us as a member.

And finally, the Conservative Party appeals to me for the same reason it always has:

I'm a country boy at heart. One of the first day's work I ever did was washing the foxhounds at the Hampshire Hunt. The fact that the Tories propose overturning the foxhunting ban - which was transparently implemented to divert from Tony Blair's support of the War in Iraq - is a huge victory for those who understand how an institution like foxhunting benefits the rural community.

The Conservatives have been the only party who has ever understood rural issues; and for that reason I've remained loyal to them.

That being said, I've been eligible to vote in four elections now; and this is the first one in which I've felt so strongly about one particular party. Britain is in one hell of a mess; and while I'm not convinced the Tories have all the answers about how to wriggle out of it, I do think they're head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

So if you're eligable to vote on May 6th, I'd vote Tory; if for not other reason than because our voting system means a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for Labour.

Unless you'd like to see Gordon Brown voted in for another term, get ready to tick the box for your local Conservative candidate.


One Salient Oversight said...

As a bit of a leftie, I am nevertheless happy for a conservative government in the UK. The Conservatives are not the same variety as the US GOP and have some moderate positions. They are unlikely to be as right wing as the Thatcher years and even during those years Thatcher was never able to abolish the NHS or downgrade public education. A conservative government under David Cameron is thus unlikely to remove too many social pillars beloved by the majority of Brits, so I'm happy for them to be in power.

UK Labour, by contrast, has failed miserably. They ran as a more centrist party after the ideological debacle of the 1980s but have ended up too incompetent to run the country properly. The whole "New Labour" thing that Tony Blair introduced was populist but delivered neither left wing outcomes (better social services, education, etc) nor right wing ones (immigration control, fiscal responsibility). If UK Labour dies a nasty death after this election and ends up closing their political office I would not shed one single tear.

I mean, who are you going to trust? The party that says "Vote for us because we're evil!" and has a history of evil (Conservatives) or the party that says "Vote for us we're the good guys!" but has a history just as evil as the conservatives? (Labour) You'd obviously pick the party that tells the truth!

My personal desire is for the Lib Dems to gain a majority. They're a centrist party and are not too ideologically left nor right to make stupid decisions. Moreover they can't be blamed for Britain's woes over the last 30 years. It is unlikely that the UK will vote in a Lib-Dem majority so I would much prefer a Conservative plurality government with the Lib Dems holding the balance of power.

The Guardian is encouraging its readers to vote Lib Dem but they're hoping for a Lib Dem / Labor coalition to beat the dreaded conservatives since anything conservative will obviously and inevitably lead to armageddon. I like the Guardian normally but some of the crap I've read from them in the last two weeks makes me wonder if they're just a leftist version of Fox News.

What really needs to happen, though, is a change in the electoral system. The whole system of pluralist voting is grotesquely undemocratic, as is the presence of an unelected legislative chamber peopled by the rich and snooty (ie The house of Lords). Hare-Clarke or MMP needs to replace the current system. The good thing about the Lib Dems holding the balance of power is that they will force electoral changes in return for passing legislation proposed by the minority government (who will hopefully be the Conservatives).

Once a decent electoral system is in place, really important decisions (eg Britain's place in Europe) can be made by politicians who are more likely to have gotten into parliament by the will of the people than the current mob (Labor and Conservative both).

I personally like David Cameron. He will make a good PM. It's likely that he'll give the UK some much needed medicine, no matter how bad it might taste.

Susanne said...

I enjoyed this. Now I'll be looking to see who gets the vote over there! :)

Lloydie said...

Oooh I've only just seen this. I'd have had SO much to say about this at the time but I'll bit my lip.

That said, if you're a country boy at heart, look at Tim Farron's result in Westmorland and Lonsdale, read what HE has to say about the countryside. He's charismatic, he's clever, he represents a rural constituency which last time had a majority of just a few hundred but has just been elected with one of the biggest Lib Dem majorities in the UK. He's a country boy at heart and he's proper brill.*

*Actual phrase I learnt in Govt and Politics A level.