How I'm voting and why.
I imagine that followers of this blog will have guessed by now that I’m not voting New Labour. But here we are, the night before the election, and this will be the last of the series of posts that I committed myself to putting up during the election campaign. Thank you very much to the hundreds of people who’ve visited this site during the campaign, and thank you for your comments and pop music choices. The next time I blog, it will be Sunday night, and it’ll be all about electric bike racing, promise.
So I guess I should nail m’colours to the mast, and say what I’m going to do. I said at the beginning that if I lived in a Tory/New Labour marginal, I might be tempted to vote Tory. Not because I have any time for them, but because I felt that in a two-party system, there was no choice, if you strongly opposed one of the parties, but to vote for the other, no matter how distasteful you find them. And I do find the Tories distasteful, but not because their leadership went to public schools and Oxbridge. Some of my best friends went to public schools; my Beloved went to Cambridge. Nor do I find them distasteful because they are hate filled right wing nutters. However painful it may be for some of my readers, they are quite clearly not. Hate filled right wing nutters now have their own lovely parties, which hold the Tories in contempt. On some issues, such as civil liberties, the Tories are clearly to the left of New Labour. They have come a long way from Thatcher, and it is only a visceral tribal knee jerk reaction to say otherwise. David Cameron clearly ‘gets’ the NHS, for personal reasons. Nor do I mind the fact that they are only out to look after their own. As I’ve argued elsewhere, if the Labour Party had looked after their own, they wouldn’t be whimpering piss stained and broken in a corner. We KNOW what the Tories are; we THOUGHT we knew what New Labour was. That seems to me more honest. I come from a working class family. I expect my rulers to take money away from my family to maintain their moats. What I didn’t expect was to be paying for the husbands of Labour ministers, who are supposed to be defending the interests of people like my Mum and Dad, to be taking our money so they could have a wank. No, I find the Real Tories distasteful because they are out to grab power once and for all. By clinging to first past the post, reducing the number of MP’s, and refusing to reform the Lords, they think they have found a way to permanently exclude the majority of people in this country who don’t want them. As I’ve argued elsewhere throughout this month, their cynical machinations in Northern Ireland are a part of this attempted power grab.
But, there. Luckily, I don’t face this dilemma. I live in a Lib Dem held constituency. Our local MP, Roger Williams, has lived and farmed in the constituency his whole life. He is well liked. I’ve met him, because when he comes to Presteigne, he always drops into Elda’s Colombian Coffee House, and he seems a nice guy; the kind of down to earth Brecknockshire farmer you might meet any day at Knighton market. And the Lib Dems have been one of the great stories of this election. Clegg was good on the Prime Ministerial debates; as a commentator said, if Cameron’s USP was that he wasn’t Gordon Brown, here was someone who was equally not Gordon. Suddenly, there was the real prospect of a hung parliament; and maybe, just maybe, the chance of real electoral reform. Plus of course, the Lib Dems ‘get’ the environment; they stood up against the Iraq war, and they are opposed to Trident, ID cards, and the third Heathrow runway. Until yesterday, I had decided to ‘lend’ them my vote.
But in the end, I’ve decided not to. I’m taking the gamble that the Lib Dem surge is strong enough that Roger will get in. I’ve decided to vote with both my head, and my heart, and to vote for the party which I’ve supported for most of my adult life, the Greens. I was an activist in Brighton in the eighties, and it’s nice to imagine that one of the leaflets I helped write and deliver changed the mind of maybe one voter, and thus helped to build what really could be an historic result in Brighton Pavilion tomorrow night, if Caroline Lucas wins the seat. Like all Greens, the environment is, for me, the first and last issue, the one which should shape all the others. I don’t believe in ‘economic growth’, because I think it is founded on environmental degradation and human misery. I am a social libertarian, and, like the Greens, I believe there should be a Royal Commission on the Misuse of Drugs Act. I believe that the quality of human life is not dependent upon the accquisition of more and more stuff. I am, in short, a hippy. So my heart says Green.
And then I realised that there were head reasons, too. The BNP have announced today that their ambition is to take fourth place in the popular vote. By voting for my party, rather than lending my vote to the Lib Dems, however much I might hope they do well, perhaps I can play some small part in showing the BNP that they have no place in British political life. I’m voting Green tomorrow, because that won’t be a wasted vote, not if we can beat the Nazis to fourth place, and not if I follow my heart, and vote for what I believe to be right.
Thank you again to everyone who has read the blog and posted over the last month. Hopefully see you on Sunday for the bike race.