Who, then, is prepared to look at the plain facts when choosing who to vote for in the UK General Election this Thursday?
Of course, the facts look very different from varying standpoints and everyone has their own agenda. Nonetheless, I can't help but feel people have blindly jumped on the 'not Labour' bandwagon, and for all the wrong reasons.
Who is the most personable candidate? Well I admit that it's definitely not Gordon Brown. But that's a poor reason for not voting Labour. We don't need someone slick or popular. We need someone strong and experienced. Neither Clegg nor Cameron meet that prerequisite.
Gordon Brown caused the recession? No, our bankers made the greedy mistake of getting involved in the American sub-prime mortgage market. It was the banks that caused the recession and it couldn't have been foreseen.
Gordon Brown should've stopped the banks! Perhaps this a good time to remind you that Margaret Thatcher and the Tories de-regulated the banks. Gordon Brown has been trying ever since to add more, multi-lateral failsafes. Besides, very few people in the world could really see what was happening.
OK, what about the MPs' Expenses scandal? This wasn't a Labour mistake, either. Labour MPs were involved, yes, but so were the MPs of all other parties.
But it happened under Labour governance! It's always been happening! It's an age-old problem. The lid has only just been blown off, however.
Fine fine. Afghanistan? All three main parties are committed to staying in Afghanistan until the Afghan Army no-longer need support.
Immigration. I agree that Labour has made mistakes here. They should never have stopped counting-out immigrants. They're bringing that back in, though. Moreover, most immigration is from the EU -- and we're not allowed to legally cap that. It's one of the problems that come with being part of the EU. David Cameron couldn't cap European immigrants even if he wanted to. Without withdrawing from the EU. And he doesn't want to do that.
Crime, Health, Education. All of these will be continuing problems under any government. Especially considering the global recession has hit hard our ability to pay for related services. I don't want to say that Labour will necessarily do any better than anyone else but I really don't believe the Tories or the Lib Dems will be able to make significant improvements under the circumstances.
So, what have Labour done exactly in the last 13 years? This possibly requires more research than I'm prepared to do right now but here's some examples:
Scottish Parliament and assemblies for Wales and Northern Ireland -- the former and latter are, in particular, massive achievements
Equal age of consent
Repeal of Section 28
Equal adoption rights
House of Lords reform
And here's someone else's (more comprehensive) list: http://www.barrygardiner.com/en/2010-campaign-blog/117-100-labour-achievements
Have Labour had a bad run? Far from it. There's always going to be much more work to do, and no party or leader is infallible, but I'm more than prepared to let Labour continue pushing things forward.
I'd like to be able to say vote for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats if you've aligned yourself against Labour, but the truth is that seats for Lib Dems are seats lost by Labour meaning the Tories have a chance of reaching the majority. That'll be a disaster for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Northern England, Women and Gays everywhere. Guaranteed.
t*i*w*y What would you say to the idea that something equally as important, if not more important, is making sure that the Tories do not get in to government?
In which case do you think people need to look at the history of their constituency and the strength of the campaigns locally to decide if Labour or the Liberals are in a better position to keep the Tories' mitts off the seat? Whether or not Labour form the best government, some people's votes are in constituencies where a vote for Labour is as pointless as a vote for the Monster Raving Loonies. Like mine.
g*u* Well yes, indeed. I'll give you that. It does make sense to vote Lib Dem if your constituency is a Lib Dem safe seat.
t*i*t*d I don't live in England any more, but I still worry very much that the nasty party may get back into power. I detest them so...
M*s*N*o*l*s I'm just missing out on the vote this time (almost 18 *sob*), but both my parents are voting Lib Dem. They see that, after the scandals and everything else, despite them involving every party, Labour probably won't get voted back in this time. So they're voting Lib Dem in order to keep the Tories out.
(Besides, in our constituency, it's almost always a battle between the Lib Dems and the Tories, so voting Labour would be pretty pointless anyway.)
t*i*w*y Mine's not a Lib Dem safe seat, it's Tory safe. If anyone else gets in I'd be less surprised if I woke up in bed with Angelina Jolie. But in terms of the last few years, the Lib Dems had about half the votes of the Tories, but Labour had half of the Lib Dems'. My point isn't that you should vote LD in a LD safe seat (which you should), it's that if you're not in a Labour safe seat you should look at the numbers to see if LD or Lab have a better chance at winning, and go with them. The most important thing is to keep the Conservatives out of government.
g*u* Yep, I agree. I should re-word my blog to assert that a vote for Labour is a wasted vote if it'll definitely be a two horse race between the Tories and the Lib Dems in your constituency. Tactical voting against the Tories is more important.
If the polls are anything to go by though, there's no avoiding a hung parliament with the Tories having the most seats. That's largely down to the public's poorly reasoned shift from Labour in my opinion.
Even in the unlikely event that Clegg and Brown form a coalition, I'll be surprised if we end up with anything other an ineffectual, infighting government.
t*i*w*y I'm confused as to how that doesn't happen already ... or at least how that's against the spirit of democracy. With no clear majority people will vote as individuals representing their constituencies and less with a party. That's democracy, right? It might not work, but it's the theoretical paragon in a way.
I want to say that I agree with everything in your blog. I'm not in the stoopid "not Labour" camp, and I've not been "driven" to the LDs because Labour are bad; Labour are not bad. Labour are good. I've come to believe that the Liberal Democrats are better is all. Ideologically, and in terms of how their ideology is now reflected in policy, compared with Labour. I'd be perfectly happy with a Labour government, elated with an LD one, and fairly delighted with an L/LD coalition.
To make my point about ideology and its reflection in policy, let me touch on immigration. I'm pro-immigration, I don't see a single problem with it in principle. It may have lacked the management to avoid negative outcomes, but in principle I want people to be able to come to this country, and I see equate worrying about immigration with worrying about immigrants, which I equate to bigotry. Mr Brown obviously does too - "she's just a bigoted sort of woman," (#suesfault) but yet the immigration policy he's talking about is reactionary and not progressive. The LD policy, one has to admit, is progressive.
Incidentally, as a total sidebar, there's this "they're taking all our jobs" mentality from the anti-immigration people ... If you're not getting the jobs you're applying for it means someone else is better at it than you. And somehow that's a matter for public debate, outrage and international law if that someone is foreign? You're a bigot.
g*u* I feel like we are both pretty much preaching to the converted, here. I also agree with everything you've just said. I've voted Lib Dem before and I'm sure I will do again. I too support most of their ideologies. I just can't help but feel, in this particular election, the swelling of support for the Lib Dems is a contributory factor to the potential hung parliament.
Some people actively want a hung parliament I admit, for those ideological reasons. I don't think it's in our best interests though; our political parties rarely show any ability to work together. Watch this space though, I guess.
e*m*t*_*x I have next to no knowledge on the politics in the UK, but this was interesting to read.
Actually when I say next to no knowledge I mean the only thing I know about UKs political system is that Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister. lol
m*r*i* I've been watching the coverage of the UK elections with especially keen interest this time around. I'm not sure I've ever come across a politician with less charisma than Gordon Brown, seriously the man has negative charisma if such a thing is possible.
Although not all is lost, I look to my own backyard though for examples. As much as I dislike the man and his politics, John Howard remained in power by seeming to be a safe, boring and unrelateable figure.
I believe I am right in pointing out that it was Thatcher who relaxed the rules on MPs expenses? In any case it is hardly new, a whole segment of Yes Prime Minister is dedicated to it.
Hung parliaments are not the end of the world, if all else fails Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth may take some time away from Australian affairs long enough to fire the UK government, install a caretaker government and direct them to call a snap election. The only downsides being the expense, inevitable question of the Monarchs role in politics and boring everyone to tears.
In any case, good luck with that keeping Tories out of office business. I'm not overly keen on living in a country run by them.
C*o*k*d >I don't think it's in our best interests though; our political parties rarely show any ability to work together<
This is conventional wisdom, but doesn't always hold up in practice. Coalition governments in other countries are just as effective in passing legislation as largely two-party systems like in the UK or here in the US. While obviously in the UK the party who controls the Parliament is the party who controls the executive, that's not the case here. There is, along the same lines, a conventional wisdom in the States that a split between Congressional control and the presidency means that nothing ever gets done (i.e. Republicans control Congress and there's a Democratic President). But the truth is that even when there is divided government, just as many pieces of legislation make it past the President's desk and most of the same issues get decided.
I don't think a hung Parliament will slow things down in the UK any more than a divided government does here in the US. Sure, some things might not get done that otherwise would, but by and large it's not as big of a deal as people paint it to be.
g*u* Let's keep our fingers crossed for that being the case.
The UK isn't accustomed to hung parliaments so the main parties here have rarely needed to co-operate. Indeed they spend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions taking jibes at each other. As it stands, Governments can find it difficult to pass legislation without large majorities and that's perhaps because it can be difficult to get support for your bills from the vast majority of your own MPs, never mind the MPs from other parties. If the second house, the House of Lords, rejects a bill then it can still be passed later on. If the first house, the House of Commons, whom we're electing tomorrow, reject the bill prior to it going to the Lords, then it doesn't get a second chance.
So there are valid concerns regarding a hung parliament and the likelihood of it being effectual. The biggest stumbling point for a coalition will be the first budget which will either make or break the Government I reckon, and if the latter then we'll definitely be seeing a snap election.
I think we'd all love to be proved wrong regarding our politicians' ability to work together. There's certainly potential for a Lib/Lab coalition being a more positive scenario than a Tory government.
> I believe I am right in pointing out that it was Thatcher who relaxed the rules on MPs expenses? <
Ah now that would be interesting. Will need to go check.
> In any case, good luck with that keeping Tories out of office business. I'm not overly keen on living in a country run by them. <
Yeah, indeed. It's going to be an interesting 48 hours!
s*k*s*o*i*t* I'm a few years under the voting limit, unfortunately. If I could vote, though, it would be Anti-Tory, for many obvious reasons.
I know that everyone above voting age in my family is going to vote this time around, though (which makes a complete change), and they're all going for Labour or Lib Dem.
T*e*l*e*a* In one sense, it would beneficial if the Lib Dems didn't exist, at least the progressive vote wouldn't be split. On the other hand, I suppose you'd have a bigger swing to the Tories.
Anyone else having a pancake day style party on election day? (Last day of excess before the coming scarcity :D)
s*k*s*o*i*t* ^ Dario - pancake style party? You're a genius!