All entries for Tuesday 12 April 2005

April 12, 2005

Who To Vote For? Part 2

There are always more issues. Why can't the world run smoothly?

  • Immigration/Asylum
    Daughter of a white, English speaking immigrant. Worried about racism. Studies history. Passionate dislike of the Far Right. Wants to see Nick Griffin thrown into the lake at Lakeside for being a twat.

Oh boy…

This one is a minefield and a half and so relevant, only the other day the papers (some of them) were full of the UNHCRs request that Howard stop inflaming the situation over immigrants. He himself was crap at dealing with them when he was Home Secretary, so why does anyone give this man the time of day on this issue?

Because we're ill-informed. How many of the world's refugees does Britain take? For some reason many people here think it's somewhere in the region of 24%. Europe as a whole takes 3%. Misinformation spread by boderline racist tabloids has been stolen by the Tories, scared of the BNP stealing votes. When you pander to racists you have no credibilty. Labour may not be perfect but it's got to be better than the obnoxious Tory policies.

It's all bound up in other issues (aren't they all) but immigrants are needed and stopping them will hurt our economy more than we realise. I'm not advocating unlimited immigration but I think a sensible debate (unlikely) is needed to address the legitimate concerns. However as things stand all that's being addressed is the latent racism of the minorty in this country.

On this issue… Labour, Lib Dems, Monster Raving Loonies anyone except the Conservatives, the BNP and the other Right wing nutters.

  • Europe
    Pro-European but with reservations about how the EU is run. Likes the Euro.

Remember the good old days when this is what we argued about? I'm pro-European but I haven't alawys been. I used to be quite anti-Euro but I've decided I'd like it, maybe not now but soon, preferably after the teething problems are sorted. We can complain all we want about Europe but we can't affect it from the outside, better to be in and have a say. It's not really a major issue this time round but I would still like to say I would give an ear to any party prepared to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.

On this issue… Labour.

  • Transport
    Pro-public transport and car pooling. Anti-privatisation of services. Wants to see railways re-nationalised though isn't sure of the practicalities of this.

Oi, Blair, stop privatising stuff. Yeah, yeah, call it part-privatisation if you like, do I look stupid (don't answer that). Didn't the Tory cock-up of the trains teach you anything? Public transport should be publically owned and maintained to good standards not cheapest bidder levels. Labour want to centralise the trains. Good. If it wasn't such an expensive bugger I'd be all in favour of renationalisation but I think that will have to wait for now.

The Conseratives are apparently focusing on Labour's 'war against motorists'. You make it sound like a bad thing. We need fewer cars on the road. More people on buses, bikes and in car pools. If more people use them, there'll be more money and they'll improve. Basically loads of things the Lib Dems are promising.

On this issue… Lib Dems or anyone who will get Stagecoach to be helpful just for once.

  • Education
    State school educated, student at Warwick (natch). Thinks more should be done in state schools. Anti-top up fees. Not keen on these new academies and faith schools, though willing to give the reasonable ones the benefit of the doubt for now. Pro-sport in schools and thinks there should less assessment and obsession with league tables, and fewer exams for younger kids. Would have liked to have had Jamie Oliver as school cook. Doesn't think the exams are "getting easier". Thinks As Levels need reforming.

No top-up fees, we need a graduate tax based on income. And it should be retrospective. It smacks of hipocracy to see these grant recipients who got nice free degrees pontificating about top-up fees. The illiteracy problem needs sorting, the exams are clearly in need of reform, if only to stop the constant denigration of pupils achievements by the press and opposition (so my AAAAD at A level was achieved through easier exams Mr Daily Mail? Bite me, I'm smarter than you are). None of the parties are promising me enough in this area. The Lib Dems have some good ideas but there isn't quite enough there to convince me that they can achieve what they promise. Everyone else is flapping around as usual. Typical.

On this issue… Lib Dems but no one gets higher than a C grade here. Now where's your homework?

  • Pensions/Families/Equal Rights

I feel like these don't affect me. I know they do but it's so hard to get passionate about them at my age. Sorry, politics is a big matter and I can't cover it all without some issues getting left behind. In general more pension (achievable through cough higher taxes cough some method) and more paternity leave and provisions to proctect the jobs of parents who take it. And equality please. But that's a whole other argument for which there is not time here.

On these issues… I'll admit, on the first two I haven't read enough to judge, but on equality anyone but the Tories who are getting too Righty for my liking.

  • Constitutional Reform

Here's an idea. The second chamber, i.e. the new House Of Lords, now that it's being purged of its anachronisms, sorry, hereditary peers, should be chosen on election day. By Proportional Representation. But with the additional option of voting for specific independents. There could be a register you can join and people can vote for you by name or for a party which then picks its people. Sure it won't be a simple process but it could work.

  • Northern Ireland

After the events of the end of last year where a perfect chance to end it all was blown away (pardon the phrasing) by the Unionists refusal to back down in any way, I am really quite exasperated by the lot of them. Sinn Fein have to condemn the IRA when they do illegal stuff which can't even be qualified as 'struggling against the British oppressor', the Ulster Unionists have to try and reach out to the Catholics and calm the more hystrerical Unionists, the SDP has to get vocal and Ian Paisely should just fuck off right now and stop being a twat. I really dislike that man.

As for the Westminster parties… Labour or Lib Dems, the Tories don't know how to deal with the Northern Irish situation and never have done.

Coming soon... more ranting!

Who To Vote For? Part 1

Oh joy [sarcasm] a general election is called and the campaigning 'starts', as if it hasn't been going on for months anyway. Unfortunately this is bringing all my latent political tendencies to the surface. Why oh why can't I have the sweet indifference of my 18 year old brother who, if he votes at all, will vote Labour in a safe Tory seat purely because his mother (my mother…) will tell him to. I don't want to care but I do. I'm the one whose ability to go off on one about politics brought about the football team's tour ban on discussing politics.

So who to vote for? This is not an easy question in the slightest. I guess the only way is to look at the issues and these have been helpfully (mmm) soundbited (new verb) into the following categories:

  • Health
  • Crime
  • Tax/Economy
  • Immigration/Asylum
  • Europe
  • Transport
  • Education
  • Pensions/Families/Equal Rights
  • Constitutional Reform
  • Northern Ireland
  • War On Terror/Iraq
  • Local Issues

I'm not going to blog them all in detail but I think if I put down my thoughts on each here then I can get across why I will vote the way I will (probably) vote.

In the name of vested interest and all that, this is who you're dealing with.

Holly Cruise, 20.

  • Health
    Owes life to NHS after severe illness at birth. Mother recently successfully treated in hospital. Shortsighted, on perscription drugs for migraines and needs chiropractic stuff to correct problem with legs. Also prone to getting horribly mangled whilst playing football.

Ok, so choice is apparently the word here. Labour are promising you will be able to choose between several hospitals for treatment and the Tories are planning to allow more public money to be spent on private healthcare.

Mmm, surely I'm not the only person to wonder if maybe instead of offering choice the parties should consider the possiblity of making all hospitals good? I have no desire to see any more public money going to the private sector as the outsourcing of auxiliary services has done quite a lot of damage to the NHS. I think at heart I am too much of a fan of the NHS to ever go with Tories on this. They want rid of it, there are no two ways about it. The problem here is we don't spend enough on it, in Europe they spend way more of their GDP on healthcare than we do. But then again that would require tax rises and, as we all know, this country is far too selfish to consider that.

I've always been a Lib Dem over health. They are the only ones to consistantly tell me what I want to hear. They think this choice obsession is silly and I can only agree.

As an aside I don't think MRSA should be such an election issue. It has developed through our whingy culture where everyone wants antibiotics for everything. You've got a cold! Stay in bed for three days with Tricia on the TV. Ok, so cleaner conditions in hospitals will help the issue but these have been outsourced the lowest bidder (oh yeah, that's gonna be quality) and so we suffer.

On this issue then… Lib Dem

  • Crime
    Never suffered crime personally but knows people who have.

Well slap my thigh and call me a woolly minded liberal but wouldn't it better if we didn't stick absolutely everyone in jail. Just a suggestion.

Typically the Conservatives think this is a good idea and as we've all seen the government isn't adverse to nice bouts of tabloid pleasing sensationalism by on-the-spot fines and all that. But does it work? Does it hell!

Root causes citziens, root causes. Why is there crime? Why do people rob? Why is there more violent crime? More drug gangs? No one wants to answer these questions and therefore we are hurting milions of victims and criminals by turning a blind eye and hoping incarceration is the key. Most of the time it isn't, it's just a learning ground for petty criminals to become real problems. Although they aren't perfect I do think ASBOs are, in theory, a good idea, giving troublemakers a chance to avoid the devastation of jail without making the victims feel like nothing is being done.

Quick message to Labour and Tories- Leave cannabis as class C. I do not use it myself but it's hardly a major danger to society. Making it class B won't stop those who will use it, it'll merely criminalise a, usually young, generation who will be harmed for life by having a criminal record. Make it legal. Publish health warnings (I have the same feelings about E and mushrooms and no I haven't taken those either). It's apparently losing it 'coolness' since it was downgraded. Illegality can be enticing for kids.

On this issue… as things stand Labour although they have to stop listening to the Sun and the Daily Mail.

  • Tax/Economy
    Doesn't earn enough money to pay tax though the Inland Revenue need reminding of this from time to time. Would like to believe in resonsible capitalism but doesn't think there are many of those in existance. Socialist tendencies would prefer higher tax bands for the rich.

People complain about stealth taxes but if we accepted a fairer form of income tax then we wouldn't have so many. But the dream of a 50% band for the highest earners is, no doubt, in vain, such is the selfish nature of society (damn you, 1980s). No one, and I mean no one, needs 47087589 sports cars, 43782849 luxury villas and 2391191 gold Cartier watches. But we all need a health service, a police force and the like. If only people would realise that this has to be paid for.

Gordon Brown is a good Chancellor (and would make a good PM, hint hint) and I wouldn't want to hand over power to Letwin and his secret, hidden, Flight-y public spending cuts. This is what the Tories are, cutters. And I won't have it. Ok, so everyone else is planning cuts, but theirs are less biting and seem to involve more restructuring rather than simply cutting money and cutting taxes. We are quite lightly taxed in comparison with much of Europe and I think that's fine. I may not pay tax at the moment (apart from NI contributions) but I'll be happy to when I have to.

On this issue… Labour, I just don't feel the Lib Dems have enough grasp of the economics yet, though I would prefer more direct tax on those who can afford it (though getting them to pay and not hide all their money offshore would be a bitch).

Coming soon, asylum, Northern Ireland, terrorism and cheese.

I'll blog a funny when I can bring myself to laugh.

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