April 13, 2005

Oh Right! That's Who I'll Vote For

Pending the local issue for local people I'm voting Labour. Yeah yeah, they hurt me, they upset me, but I only get upset because I feel letdown. I expect the Tories to propose things which make my stomach turn. But Labour I don't. I am, for it all, a Labour person at heart and it's just galling to see the, inevitable, drift to the Right though I still see enough Left in Labour to identify.

It's a vote against.

I want to register my unhappiness but I can't risk a Tory victory. As I have said before, a Tory government is like getting a cold to avoid work. It seems like a good idea beforehand because you'll be missing work. But then you get one and you realise that actually a cold is much worse.

If people were to listen to me I'd say this. People of Britain vote Labour except where your Lib Dems stand a chance of winning. The ideal outcome is Labour being forced to rely on the Lib Dems, a Lefty balancing act. This applies to all except Sedgefield. Voters of Sedgefield vote for anyone but Labour. Get rid of your MP. Chuck him out. If we tip Tony Blair out of power then we've made a point. We like Labour's good work. But we don't like the rampant egomania at the top. A warning to all to behave and listen to the voters.

True story at the end of 6th form we had a vote and an awards ceremony (of sorts) I won two awards, one of which was Most Likely To Become Prime Minister When Older. It won't happen. The top job goes to whoever can occupy the centre ground, economically conservative and socially liberal, with the most vigour. There are variations over time of course. Thatcher, a woman whose politics I detest held power for a long time. But we also threw out our 'beloved' wartime leader Churchill after the war. The fickle electorate doesn't want to be upset. It wants stability. It's the Romans and their circuses all over again and again.

I sometimes wonder if the point of History as a course is to ensure that those who have ideals, have designs on changing things, never do. They are faced with the endless replication of past mistakes and the certainty that, in this country at least, there are no revolutions, only painfully slow evolutions built on the whinging of those lose power as a result and the toil of the perenial losers, the ordinary people.

I heard about the NUS Conference recently, the party magnates overlooking the floor, indicating to their minions in student colours how to vote, and the minions obeyed, hungry for advancement.

I'm too angry to be safe as a poltician. Too determined to get things done my way. Too sure I know best. The best I could ever hope for is one term, in an unsafe seat, arguing from the backbenches, only to be ditched when the tide turns and the unsafe seats fall.

So why do I care?

Because I can't not care. It's not possible. I am not built to be a misanthrope and give up. I hate people in theory but have never met one I could find redeeming features in. I've met far too many good people to give up entirely.

Whatever. I'll vote Labour and hope. It's got to be better than allow the Tories in and fear.

- 25 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Steve Curran

    A mate of mine from back home was at the NUS conference as an independent delegate for Durham. If it makes you feel any better, he says it looks like things there might be getting better; they did manage to wreck a few of the more stupid proposals and some of the people elected look like they actually care about stuff. Oh, and Durham's non-Labour delegates are formally complaining about the Labour leader for being an ignorant toady who voted how she was told to by the central committee.

    13 Apr 2005, 21:21

  2. no-one votes lib dem coz noone ever thinks they stand a chance of winning. If more people actually went out on a limb and voted for them then they might actually stand a chance of getting more votes. Don't base your vote on who you think may get in, vote based on whose policies you support.

    13 Apr 2005, 21:39

  3. Good point Helen, but I am as much Labour as I am Lib Dem and in Leam the Lib Dems trail by so much it does seem like it is more sensible to go Labour. I always voted Lib Dem at home for the same reasons, Labour were no where to be seen. So I'm cynical in my votes. Can you blame me? When there's nothing really passionately inspiring to vote for there will always be something to vote against.

    Told you this was a depressing process.

    13 Apr 2005, 21:59

  4. Thomas Paine

    The election will probably be a hot topic for a while, so here are my thoughts….
    1) There are more parties out there than New Labour, the Tories and the LibDems. The choice that these three parties represent is actually rather narrow. Other parties, such as the Greens and the Socialist Alliance propose far more radical policies, which might reverse the current trend of more power being given to big business and the gap between rich and poor increasing. I realise that voting for one of the so called 'fringe parties' is a wasted vote, but I do think the electorate have a duty to vote for the party which most closely represents what their political opinions.
    2) Surely only students from a wealthy background could vote for New Labour anyway, after the introduction of tuition fees and the general belittling of degrees which won't contribute to the betterment of the UK economy. And has everybody forgotten the war in Iraq? And the reduction of civil liberties and the encouragement of fear as part of the 'war on terror' (and this even though in three and a half years since 9/11 there have been no attacks on British soil.
    3) I believe a forgotten issue in every election is that of proportional representation. At the moment, each party's share of the vote nationwide is not refelcted in its share of seats in the house of commons. This can only benefit the bigger parties and be detrimental to the growth of the smaller parties, thus restricting the range of political debate.
    Well, that's quite enough for now.

    13 Apr 2005, 22:00

  5. Just as an addendum to your point about NUS, apparently one of our delegates to the extraordinary conference earlier this academic year got sent a text message by some Labour bod telling him to clap louder for someone's speech. The spirit of Stalin lives. Anyway, personally I won't be voting Labour, but as I'm going to be voting in Coventry South, I can do so without worrying about a Tory being returned.

    Thomas Paine (the Tom Paine?), just to set you straight, the Socialist Alliance is no more as far as I know.

    13 Apr 2005, 23:01

  6. Bluey

    Just thought i'd add that my ex-leamington dwelling, current-politics student, very opinionated friend says that the labour candidate for leamington and warwick James Plaskitt is a 'sycophantic careerist'. Something to consider..

    14 Apr 2005, 00:21

  7. Bluey, from what I can see he's the worst sort of careerist – one without a career to excuse his sycophancy.

    14 Apr 2005, 00:33

  8. I'd never have countenanced it even four years ago, and still don't ideologically, but I'm giving very serious consideration to spoiling my ballot paper.

    14 Apr 2005, 01:56

  9. Have you seen the conservative guy's posters? they are a bit like this:

    vote chris



    …do you reckon there's some kind of subliminal message going on there?

    14 Apr 2005, 18:16

  10. …doh… and I thought i was being so clever using * things to make it bold

    14 Apr 2005, 18:17

  11. If you press preview first it can save you embarassment. Although I sometimes forget as well.

    14 Apr 2005, 19:14

  12. Vote Lib Dem if they have a chance of winning. Es pecially if like me you live in the most marginal seat in the country. 33 vote swing and the Tories get back in, and I won't be happy with that.

    14 Apr 2005, 22:57

  13. I disagree with you all. There is only one party for me.

    15 Apr 2005, 17:30

  14. A few things you might want to bear in mind:

    a) Labour hasn't done a bad job over the last 8 years, but then they haven't had much to do. Technically the UK economy is on autopilot, and only the arrival of the Lib Dems could push it off course.

    b) All the "social" economies of Europe are currently languishing in near recession with unemployment rates of ten percent plus. In the UK, a mere 2–3% of the working aged popualtion has no job.

    c) The Conservatives are probably more left wing than New Labour. The thing they lack is an enigmatic leader. Bring back Thatcher, I say.

    d) As a student you are more or less guaranteed an above average salary (ok, maybe not arts students…) and so a widening gap between rich and poor is only going to benefit you. It is, in any case, essentially the rich that drive the economy. Do your part in making capitalism work, and become rich then start a business. You'll be doing a lot more good than by crippling the economy by striking three times a month because you're not being paid enough, or because the office toilets aren't plush enough.

    17 Apr 2005, 23:59

  15. "It is, in any case, essentially the rich that drive the economy."

    You're kidding. This is a devil's advocate, wind-up post isn't it? The rich drive the the economy? Alone? I suppose the millions of people who have to eat, pay rent/morgages and bills as well as having the occasional good time are just flukes in the statistics. The rich are rich because the poor buy their products, no other reason. To claim the rich are somehow more important is a tremendous arrogance which completely ignores the fact that society doesn't function in that way. After all a rich person can just buy the top of the line in everything so why do products remain even as their prices drop? Surely the rich have it all already? Or maybe it's because after the initial rich fad buyers have gotten bored there is the huge wealth of the masses.

    The gap between rich and poor has narrowed under Labour and I don't see that as a bad thing. Surely for a capitalist a happy, slightly better off workforce is preferable as they'll be more productive and more likely to buy products rather than hording their funds? Strikes are an important human right which, contrary to what you seem to suggest, are rarely abused in that way. I am genuinely intrigued about what your thoughts on the minimum wage are.

    Sadly, as has been blogged before on here, I have no desire to get rich and start my own business. I realised a long time ago that I just don't need huge amounts of cash to be happy and I don't see why I should try to attain anything more than reasonable happiness (i.e. happiness which does not impinge on that of others). Why should any widening of the gap between rich and poor be of benefit to me? Appealing to my selfish instincts isn't going to work because I come from a background which imprinted the principals of sharing and equality. I wouldn't accept money if I knew taking it was going to result in someone else going without (a simplification of the situation I know, but that's how it feels sometimes).

    Your opinions are of a rightwing economist, which is fair enough, I generally reserve the majority of my bile for those with rightwing opinions on social and personal issues. But I don't subscribe to your mentality, I don't come from the sort of background which breeds it. Please do not take my earlier comment about point d) being a wind-up too seriously, I accept you are being serious and I have ansewred your points with my own views rather than being hytserical, although…

    "The Conservatives are probably more left wing than New Labour. The thing they lack is an enigmatic leader. Bring back Thatcher, I say."

    That's a wind-up, surely?

    18 Apr 2005, 00:41

  16. Warren

    Well, shall we say that some of my opinions were exaggerated, but I will gladly stand by a more moderated version of them…

    With point c, I was merely bemoaning the lack of enigmatic Conservative leaders. Churchill and Thatcher at least stand as dynamic personalities, whether you agree with their policies or not, whereas no Conservative leader since the '80s has had enough charisma to get anywhere near Tony Blair. The Thatcher comment was merely tongue in cheek, although she was the last Prime Minister to make a significant change to the economy, even though it maybe didn't work out in all cases. Take the trains, for example. Well, you might take one if there was a chance that it would turn up. Ever.

    Anyway, on to point d, which you took a particular dislike to. I realise full well that the consumer is as important as the investor, as the economy is essentially circular.

    However, who would invest in the economy if there were no chance of getting richer? A very few people who want to start up a business for the passion of the job. Myself in fact (I'd like to start up my own record label at some point) but only when I have sufficient money to cover the initial haemorrhaging of funds that is the normal practice in small independent labels.

    Most people would, however, expect to be rewarded for the risk that they are undertaking. Without the inequality in the capitalist system there wouldnít be sufficient motivation to start up a business and no new jobs would be created, leaving people in unemployment and placing more of the burden on the state. Need we ask who pays the most in tax? Although, this rather affluent group of people can clearly afford it.

    As for the minimum wage, you might want to read up on Ford. Along with the production line, he also introduced a high wage for the working class, giving them greater buying power and creating the mass market. So, essentially, the minimum wage is a capitalist invention. Itís almost ironic.

    So, as I have rambled on for long enough, Iíll leave you with the thought that our parents, let alone our grandparents, didnít grow up in as privileged circumstances as any of the youth of today. Is that not progress?

    What is your view on globalisation, just out of interest?

    18 Apr 2005, 19:46

  17. Warren

    By the way, I am also a liberal and fully respect all of your views. I just may tend not to agree with many of them ;)

    18 Apr 2005, 19:48

  18. Warren, I can tell you are a liberal in the classic historical sense of it and I do respect you for having a proper debate here. It's nice to argue with someone who's not going to resort to name calling.

    I am not a socialist in the sense of wanting level playing fields for all. I want to make that clear. I know it doesn't work, some people are more motivated than others, some are smarter than others. I guess I would describe myself as a wannabe compassionate capitalist, hampered mainly by my constant flirtations with being broke. The inequalities are necessary, that much is true, but I feel they are disproportionate these days and can be a major blockage towards future growth. Is it better to have the children of entrepeneurs take over companies just because their parents are who they are have the money to private school them into Oxbridge, or to invest in state schools and the like to level the playing field where it should be level and as a result find the real market geniuses of the next generation? Investment in public services and equality of opportunity can help capitalism. That's what I want to see.

    There's no denying progress. But I wonder how much of it built on community spirit, the spirit of helping each other as well as helping ourselves. Speaking as someone who owes their life to being able, despite not having a wealthy background, to having had access to the best children's hospital in the country thanks to the NHS, I am in favour of public services and their positive impact on life. And yes, capitalism drives the innovations which made my illness treatable. It's a balance.

    Globalisation is just another form of capitalism. It has the potential to be a fantastic idea and help everyone if we can just get it right. I don't think First World salaries are currently necessary in the Third World where many things are cheaper anyway. But maybe through globalisation we will reach the stage where they will be through market development. What must be guarded against is exploitation and the rich nations must be aware that they can't continue abusing the relationship with the Third World as some of them do at the moment. It's a tightrope, but there's potential for good and bad. Same with everything really.

    I will read up on Ford (when exams are over) and it does not entirely surprise me that such an incidence has occurred. I am aware there are some rich capitalists who've done good, Bill Gates and his massive donations to charity, Carnegie and the like. It's that sort of thing which means I'm not a raging communist. After all, equality is very subjective, is it not?

    18 Apr 2005, 21:27

  19. My god, I don't half rant on sometimes…

    18 Apr 2005, 21:27

  20. :-) Good post Hol

    18 Apr 2005, 21:52

  21. Warren

    I am also a liberal in the new sense of the word… an economic one! And it's because of people like me that the French will probably vote no to the European Constitution.

    I will agree that having (large) businesses passed down through families is less than fair, as it keeps people out of the system. However, the majority of large companies are owned by shareholders and are run by third parties. This also presents us with the good side of bureacracy (and not in the "amount of time I've spent filling in forms this morning" sense of the term), as recruitment processes are more geared towards equal opportunities – ie. employment on merit rather than because of who you know. You'll find that this is the case the vast majority of the time in the UK, whereas there is a significant active social hierarchy in France (despite the fact that it generally considered a more "social" country)

    I am thus definitely in agreement with you on education needing to be open to all parts of society. I'm a firm believer in the fact that diversity breeds creativity/innovation, which drives profits, so it can only be a win-win situation for all involved.

    I will also agree that many services need to be publicly run, such as hospitals and public transport. The American healthcare system is hugely unjust, and our public transport is a shambles. The trouble is that they're badly managed, and the management positions are (comparatively) underpaid, meaning that top managers are rarely attracted.

    I am glad to see you have a balanced view on globalisation. The trouble is that you cannot compare a developing country – let's be politically correct ;) – to its more developed counterparts, even at a different point within their development. For a start, most multinational companies that set up in a country such as China do so to benefit from cheaper labour rates and a growing market. Without these factors, in the majority of cases they wouldn't bother investing. They do, however, more often than not, take First World principals with them (although this is arguably because they would be ripped apart by their home press if they were to engage in the likes of child labour, for example).

    This means that they provide much better conditions than other companies from the host country do, making them much more attractive employers. Although, as you say, giving them a salary equivalent to £12,000 a year would make them unbeleivably rich in loacal terms and would throw the economy into chaos. It all depends on local cicumstances.

    The only thing that I would bemaon about globalisation is that there is no international environmental regulation that stops our planet from being destroyed, either by cutting down rainforests in South America or by consuming vast amounts of fossil fuels in China.

    It strikes me that, despite our differences in views, we can agree on a lot of points. I also very much like your point about equality being subjective. I am assuming that you mean that given material equality, the personal value that each person attaches to each item is still different leaving some "better off" than others? This is why I would fight against being trapped in a communist state until the death.

    What do you think about the idea of income assessed university fees?

    19 Apr 2005, 10:32

  22. Warren, it's funny how despite our different viewpoints we can agree on so much. I think this is why democracy works, many people think different things but ultimately the majority want to same thing. I didn't consciously intend to say that "given material equality, the personal value that each person attaches to each item is still different leaving some 'better off' than others" but that is a point I agree with. Personally I'd be much more angry if I lost my bass guitar than if I lost my laptop which is of equal monetary value. That's why the economy works, because there are so many tastes to be catered for.

    Income assessed fees? Good in theory, but I am concerned about the cut off points for family incomes. I pay full tutition fees but not by much, if my parents earned slightly less I wouldn't pay the full whack. I'm concerned that those who earn relatively good wages but have little actual disposably income might suffer, especially at places like this which intend to charge the maximum for most courses. It's a very complicated issue because some students do get a lot of parental support (mine pay my fees) and some don't. I think I need to know more about to comment further.

    I'm glad to see you have concerns for the environment as well. I sometimes despair of what is being done to this planet and it's nice to see someone else who believes that there should be a balance. Pity it's not an election issue this time around.

    19 Apr 2005, 11:52

  23. Warren

    You don't want to get me started on democracy ;)

    And ditto with my hi-fi! Hmm… how I miss that when I'm all the way over here in France!

    We could always vote Green, could we not? Not that it would get a government elected (and that is probably for the best considering their lack of other policies) but it would at least show that voters care about a specific issue. The trouble with voting Lib Dem (other than the fact that they'd be rubbish in power) is that you're not really saying anything in particular.

    Still, I'll probably vote Conservative (even though they wont win) just to protest against Labour and the fact that they essentially lied about the war and because of the top-up fee issue. I don't really care that Labour will get back in, there is no real plurality in politics anymore so it doesn't make much difference.

    Anyway, nice to discuss it with you. And vote C… :P

    19 Apr 2005, 20:47

  24. :P

    Enjoy France.

    19 Apr 2005, 21:28

  25. Warren

    If you've got a bit of free time (which you probably haven't given the upcoming exams) check out the Financial Times from Wednesday the 20th (yesterday) in the library.

    You'll find an interesting piece on page 11 about health and education spending, as well as income inequality.

    21 Apr 2005, 12:52

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