Wednesday, May 06, 2015

General Election 2015

Like so many people, I'm not sure who to vote for tomorrow. I'm pretty sure what I want to vote for, but this time round, none of the options on offer marry up with what I'm looking for.

It's almost certain we'll have another coalition, but the thought of that being led by the Tories again is anathema to me. I fell for the con trick in 2010 that they'd "fix" the economy, yet here we are, five years down the line and all their austerity has done is delay recovery and nearly double the national debt while the annual deficit remains unplugged. Christ, if that's economic competence then come back Gordon Brown, all is forgiven.

For some people, it's all about the economy. That should come first. That means you vote for people who demonstrate little or no compassion or empathy. I'm indebted to the brilliant George Monbiot for this, but the irony of the Tories is that they are socialists at heart, except it's socialism for the very rich and an increasingly brutal, extreme form of capitalism for the rest of us. State-sponsored bailouts of the banks (and then allowing these failures to lecture us about the state of the NHS), subsidies for rich companies (under-valued sell-off of the Royal Mail, anyone?) - and all while slashing public services in the name of austerity and prudence when the sensible option is to ask us all - including the rich - to stop hiding money under our beds and pay a bit more tax. That's the problem with the rich, they won't find themselves lying on a bed in a crumbling NHS wishing they'd put more resources in because they'll be ensconced in a private hospital somewhere receiving the best care and screw the rest of us.

But ultimately, all the posturing and grandstanding the parties in this election campaign and yet the key issues are those being studiously ignored by all and sundry - the environment for one. Even the Greens seem incapable of delivering this message. Then there's electoral, political and constitutional reform. All brushed under the carpet. What happened to the Lib Dem? First Clegg squanders the chance to get rid of an antiquated voting system (ironically, it could be the chaotic outcome to this election that finally sees FPTP replaced with something - anything - more representative), and now he's stopped talking about it altogether. It's certainly not one of his "red line" policies.

I want to like Labour, but despite the doom-mongering from other quarters, it's not their economic competence that puts me off. I like Milliband, but it's clearly he's still in the thrall of New Labour, who are only slightly to the left of the Tories and who in past would have actually sat to their right. I can't vote for them after 13 years of wasted opportunities. I clearly won't vote Tory, and I can see right through UKIP. The Lib Dems no longer represent my views, and while I don't blame them for breaking their pledge on tuition fees (seriously people, the other parties have broken worse pledges over the years - Labour promised not to introduce them in the first place, remember?) their record in government has been shameful at times.

That leaves the Greens, who I thought I'd embrace with open arms, but even here I have reservations. Some of their policies are bat-shit mental and not thought through, but I guess they're not going to be involved in any coalition, so I suspect when the time comes I'll place my cross there to make a point more than anything else.

The system was broken in 2001, 2005 and 2010. Now it feels like it's broken beyond repair. I want a Labour-led government, simply to stop the Tories destroying what's left of the Welfare State. Economics be damned - I've seen little in the last five years to suggest Cameron and Osbourne can be trusted any more than Blair or Brown could have been (ironically, Brown's replacement Alistair Darling did impress me). But I also want a Labour-led government because it might - and this is said in hope rather than any expectation - lead to long overdue constitutional reform: end the House of Lords, implement a new voting system so you can vote for whoever you want without penalty, and perhaps rein in political donations to prevent parties being bankrolled by powerful, unelectable and unaccountable interests. Is that too much to ask?

No comments: