Who To Vote For
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
ELECTIONS for a new UK government are to be announced within the next few weeks.
My subscribers and lurking readers will know that I am not convinced that we have the best form of government, regardless of what party wins (See What is The Best Form of Government); I am not a democrat.
I know that this can be quite a stunning remark, but I try to explain that democracy is impossible to define, and a myth at the end of the day in “What is Democracy Anyway?”
However, we are where we are, and we live in a country that will delude itself into voting at the forthcoming elections. This article is aimed at such people.
First of all, let us look at the expenses scandals that affected all political parties. From the 2006 expenses scandal in Scotland to The Daily Telegraph’s Exposé in May 2009, the public have been a bit fed up with politicians.
Let’s understand politicians and public figures better — regardless of political party — those politicians who have been through the expenses scandal are less likely to abuse expenses in future, aren’t they? (see How To Learn lessons). We don’t need to forget, but we can forgive (see Why Not Forgive?), because hypocrisy is not what it is made out to be (see Why Hypocrisy is Good).
OK, so now that we are square with politicians, we must be wary of the way that media represents them and their parties — see How Words manipulate (Part Two) — and especially the amateur or free press that is the blogosphere (see What Is Free Speech?).
- Now that we have decided to vote, forgiven politicians and recognise media manipulation, who ought we to vote for?
That may possibly come down to “The Issues”. However, many issues are now based on financial considerations rather than political ideology, ethics, morality or common sense (see When Politics Died).
Given that is the case, we’d be better looking at differences; we want to vote for one party over the others.
This is a weird political entity. The country of England & Wales has allowed an “assembly” in Wales since 1998. Wales is not (and has never been a country); it is a principality led by the Prince of Wales.
- The United Kingdom is the uniting of two crowns — the crown of England & Wales with the crown of Scotland. It happened when King James the sixth of Scotland took over the English & Welsh throne as King James the First. As a result, England & Wales and Scotland have different political parties, even the Conservatives and New labour have distinctly Scottish versions north of the border.
The Scottish National Party is a political party dedicated to the break-up of the United Kingdom’s two crowns. They stand for independence from England & Wales, and a Scottish Nation on it’s own. Without Scotland, there can be no “United” Kingdom.
Since 1998, as a result of the political and terrorist situation in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were allowed a tier of local government voted in using a form of proportional representation. The Scottish Executive was renamed The Scottish Government in 2007 by the SNP, who presently lead a hung Scottish Parliament. The SNP once wanted independence from Britain, then independence from Britain in Europe, and lately they want to run Britain as a minority swing party in coalition with Plaid Cymru in the event of a potential hung UK parliament.
- SNP voting is exclusive to Scotland, Plaid Cymru is exclusive to Wales. The population of Scotland and Wales together is nothing compared with England.
The clues are in the name — this is a party dead against the break-up of the UK (unionist), and a party for traditional, safe, steady, (conservative) British values. The principal feature is keeping Britain together and distinct from Europe. They see their traditional allies and trading partners as the British Commonwealth and the USA.
They are the oldest political party in the UK, and they stand for minimum government. They removed a tier of politicians and government (The GLC, Strathclyde Regional Council etc), reduced the civil service, shrunk the armed forces, and sold off all the post-war nationalised industries back to the private sector.
They do not believe that the government should be employers, and that a small government means less overheads and lower taxes.
Small government also means free market, capitalism, monetarism and personal responsibility (ultimately, private schooling, private healthcare, and other insurance-based systems). Small government also brings conflict internationally — especially with Europe, who can pass laws, overturn our courts’ decisions, and make governments less minimal and more “caring” — whether it be subsidising new European joining countries, or having to have social equality legislation (as opposed to free market forces).
This is the party in Government at the moment. The Prime Minister is Rt. Hon. Dr. James Gordon Brown, MP. He was voted World Statesman of the Year 2009 . Dr. Brown ceased to be Chancellor of The Exchequer and became The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, The First Lord of the Treasury, and The Minister for the Civil Service on 27 June 2007. He is also Leader of The New Labour Party and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.
Since the World Wars, of the twelve PMs, six (including Dr Brown) have inherited the role, rather than winning at a General Election.
Dr Brown and his Chancellor (Alistair Darling) are Scottish.
New Labour is financed by Trades Unions. Ultimately controlled by workers — and workers are represented by the union and the party at lots of different levels — local, regional, national and European. So they are happy with Scottish, Welsh and Irish devolved governments and with Europe t0o. They reinstated the tier of government removed by the Conservative and Unionists, but instead of “Strathclyde Regional Council”, it was “The Scottish Executive” (now known as “The Scottish Government”).
- They believe that workers do not mind paying the government (paying taxes) for services the government provides.
The Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats are the new kids on the block; they were formed in 1988. Again, there are clues in their name; they are democrats because everything in their manifesto is voted upon, and liberal means freedom and equality. They are the third major political party in the UK, and they are the most pro-European and most radical.
From the ancient origins of the Whigs and Liberals, the Lib-Dems are radicals — and this remains today; they want proportional representation, a reformation of The House of Lords and of The House of Commons, and a complete change of politics in the UK.
A win for the Lib-Dems would change the political system forever, so that other parties — such as The SNP, The BNP, The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Irish parties would have a more representative voice, and the electorate would have a more representative government.
So it is clear that you have choice, that while the main parties may all be fairly centre of the political spectrum, and agree on a lot of issues, there are fundamental differences.
- If you want a UK government that is more about “Britain” and less about Ireland, Wales, Scotland or Europe, if you want less taxes and a smaller civil service/ larger open uncaring free market, then vote Conservative and Unionist.
- If you want a lot of nanny state government — ID cards, databases, CCTV, large police force and NHS — if you want lots of representation: MSPs, MEPs, local councillors and trades unions, and if you don’t mind paying higher taxes for schools, hospitals and armed forces, then vote New Labour.
- If you want a complete change of political structure, revamped House of Lords, new ways to vote, an end to the expenses scandals, sleaze and safe seats corruptions of the past — if you want a different style of democracy then vote for the Liberal Democrats.
It actually doesn’t matter what other policies the Lib-Dems have, because their electoral reforms will decide on policies on the new representative bases.
Let’s say you want to vote the present government out (rather than vote for a party on merit).
The vote is NOT-LABOUR, so what do you do? If you are Scottish or Welsh you could vote for Plaid Cymru or SNP, but not where most folk live — in the English region. So those votes could be wasted.
- To be sure of removing the present party, you need to think Tory or Lib-Dem.
You want Labour out, so can you vote Tory? That’s difficult for an SNP or Plaid Cymru tactical voter, so they’d probably have to go for Lib-Dems or not vote again.
Traditional Labour voters simply cannot vote Tory, so they might go for Lib-Dems or not vote again.
It’s looking good for Lib-Dems, so what would the Tories and Labour fight this with? The obvious one is the spectre of an hung parliament. So what’s so bad about an hung parliament and proportional representation? The Lib-Dems do not mind a hung parliament, neither do the SNP and Plaid Cymru, but New Labour and The Conservative & Unionists don’t want a hung or coalition parliament. The following countries have PR and hung parliaments right now:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- New Zealand
- Netherlands Antilles
- New Caledonia
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- Wallis and Futuna
It is far more common than one would have imagined, it seems to work just fine, so it is nothing to fear.
The Lib-Dems want change, so do the SNP and Plaid Cymru, but New Labour and The Conservative & Unionists don’t. The question is whether the people want radical change or not; if you don’t want to change everything, but you do want to change the government, you cannot vote Lib-Dem, so you HAVE TO VOTE TORY OR ABSTAIN. Only floating voters can entertain voting Tory.
If you are fed up with scandals, radical change might be the pay back. So this time you could vote Lib-Dem and get real change. It all depends on whether you think that a Lib-Dem vote is wasted.
The bottom line is that for the Lib-Dems to not be a wasted vote, the leader, Nick Clegg, has to galvanise the county to want radical change — and not just to want rid of Dr. Brown. He has to show people that they don’t have to make an anti-European Tory vote to be rid of Brown, that there is an alternative, and that an hung parliament is OK.
Lib-Dem support has to come from floating voters — from stealing votes from the Labour and Tory camps. Sadly, it is unlikely that Mr.Clegg will be capable of convincing the public of a third-party alternative, to embrace radical change.
Even though a Lib-Dem vote in Wales and Scotland would empower Plaid Cymru and the SNP, their voters would feel that they would be betraying their national parties by voting for a Westminster party, so these votes will almost certainly be wasted, weaking the Lib-Dem situation. The same is true of all — including the Greens.
If the radical change doesn’t sell the Lib-Dems, then the floating voters will switch to Tory to change the government. The died-in-the-wool Labour voters who want rid of Brown will have to abstain or vote Green/ other.
So the picture is fairly predictable:
- If Dr Brown is unpopular, if people just want a change, the Tories will win (most likely as all the polls for ages suggest that Dr. Brown is unpopular);
- If people don’t really want a change, if things are not all that bad, or if David Cameron blows it, then Labour might sneak in a small majority win;
- If people are sick of p0liticians because of expenses, the Lib-Dem vote may increase dramatically, but they are very unlikely to win outright. The most hopeful outcome for them is a hung parliament. The most likely outcome, though, is that Labour voters switching to Lib-Dem will let in the Tories (remember Tories are unlikely to vote for radicals simply because they are “conservative”).