Vote Labour!

I would describe myself as a Conservative. Very much in the British sense, not the American. Where my views would go down in certain redneck circles as Commie. I stand just to the right of centre. I believe everyone should not just be born equal but also provided the means and education to enter adult life on an equal footing. I don’t believe in an enforced equality in life. But I do believe in an enforced system to prevent inequality. They might sound a contrary pair of ideals, but they are not.

My grandfather was a Labour supporter and union member. My dad quite the opposite. I’ve switched sides myself on a regular basis. I voted Conservative in 1992 and 1997, because I believed in John Major and Ken Clarke and was thoroughly sceptical of Neil Kinnock’s manifesto. I abstained in 2001, unable to bring myself to vote for a Conservative party headed by William Hague that had run to the Tory extremists corner.

In 2005, the Tory’s went further to the right with Michael Howard, and that was enough for me. One of my final acts before setting off to Mexico was to cast my first vote for the Labour party. Even one lead by Tony Blair was a better option. I was still in Mexico in 2010. Had there been an option to cast a vote for ‘None of the above’, I would have done so. There should be that option. I wasn’t going to go to the considerable trouble of registering as a foreign voter just to spoil my ballot. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to vote for either the Tory party or Labour. Brown or Cameron? Which turd would you least like to step in?

I will vote in 2015, or earlier if an election is called. My choice has, bar any major event occurring, been made. It won’t be for David Cameron. He’s not necessarily the worst Prime Minister we’ve ever had, although he probably is the worst in my lifetime. Phrases like ‘out of touch’ and ‘attention seeker’ stand out. They are the more polite phrases. I am right of centre. He is right of right.

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The Liberals would have been an option. Had they not chosen to put their lot in with Cameron in 2010. I understand their decision. Labour would only enter into a coalition if Brown stayed as PM, and that was a simply ridiculous proposition. They could have refused to enter a coalition at all, and forced the Tories into a minority government. We would have had another election by now if they’d gone that route.

But they jumped into bed with Dave and George, which was a piece of very short term thinking. You never know what you might catch when you jump into bed with a new partner, and the Liberals now have a nasty, unsightly blue rash all over them. Most unappealing. They should have jumped straight back out of bed the moment they saw the infectious policies that Dave and George were planning to poke the general public with.

So I will, of course, vote Labour. That will even the score. Two votes for the Tories, two for Labour. I might even become actively involved. It would be fun. And an experience. I’m not currently intending to become a signed up, paying Labour party member. Although I might. I can’t say I’m completely enthralled with Labour and their own policies. However, they are closer to my own views than are the alternatives. Most importantly of all, though, they are not the Conservative party. Or, at least, the current Conservative party. Which also answers the question Labour asked me when I signed up to their website – why do I support Labour? But what are my views, exactly? Well, my basic principles…

  • A free education to Degree (or equivalent) level. But with places limited to what is needed in the workplace.
  • A free NHS at entry point for all. But with some serious changes to the running of it. I’m not adverse a small charge to see the quack.
  • A clampdown on abusive and unfair employment practices. But an easier route out for employers needing to move on employees.
  • If it is too big to fail, it is too big for the private sector to manage.
  • The National Minimum Wage and the Liveable Wage should be the same thing.
  • Decent pensions with decent benefits. But you’ll be working till you’re 70. Because you’ll be living till you’re nearly 90. It’s about the maths.
  • Investment into a justice system that should be more about rehabilitation centres rather than retribution and punishment.
  • Governments and unions should be on the same side, doing the same job at different levels. Just making sure everything is fair and lawful.
  • Society should be secular, neutral and free from discrimination. What people do in their private time is up to them, until they inflict it on anyone else.
  • National infrastructure belongs to the nation not a corporation. What runs on that infrastructure is another matter.
  • Go green and clean.
  • The Social Security Safety Net is to catch people when they fall. Not for use as a hammock.
  • Government should lead the way with policies and investment with regards the direction the country takes in the future. But the government should never ‘be the future’.
  • The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland doesn’t sound right. If the Scots declare independence, we rebuild Hadrian’s Wall. Maybe.
  • We’re in Europe. We should stay in Europe. But Europe should be a leaner less intrusive bureaucracy. We can guide it there.
  • God Save the Queen!
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17 comments

  1. Very interesting post! My only real difference to everything you’ve said was on social security but only because I don’t believe the majority are scroungers.

    1. I don’t believe the majority are scroungers. Not even close. I’ve read figures from both sides of this argument, which range from ‘the huge drain on the taxpayer’ down to an ‘insignificant percentage of social security expenditure’. The answer is probably somewhere in between. It usually is.

      Perception is also defined by our surroundings. I live near Boscombe, which wasn’t that long ago the ‘heroin capital of Britain’. I find it annoying to see so many wasters buying cheap whisky or Special Brew at half eight in the morning.

      But my opinion is more wide ranging than simply those who may, or may not, be scrounging. Social Security payments are (and have long been) greater than revenue through Income Tax. We do, perhaps, try to do too much for too many. Going through each aspect would take longer than I have to write this! But we do need to be more efficient and effective with our social security system.

      I do believe, though, that we are intelligent enough and capable enough of making sure that our population doesn’t go hungry, go without shelter, go cold or grow up without the best education we can provide.

  2. Nice post. Not a hint of the rant that is so common on my side of the pond.

    I did politics for thirty years through the steelworker’s union, door to door at election time as a youth, lobbying and policy meetings as I got older and better educated. To be honest, I’m glad to see the backside of it now that I’ve retired from the mill. I still go door to door at election time and I love political rallies but sitting through thirty political meetings a year, you can have it.

    On your education to degree: The science and math majors should get a free ride and a bit to live on, an investment by a nation in its future competitiveness that would pay off in spades.

    The paying a bit when seeing the doctor is good as well, it would help keep the people who are just bored, out of the waiting room.

    And: You and my current state senator, Sherod Brown are pretty lined up politically as far as how you would run our system; he is considered one of our most liberal senators here in the US. Again a well done post.

    1. This was far more of a ramble than a rant! I’d been thinking about what to write for a few days – I should have made notes! But the more I think about it, the less I think I’d want to be a politician.

  3. I started voting in 1983, with a clear choice between the long term planning, and surprisingly, modernisation of Thatcher, and the frankly outdated pure socialism of Foot. (That last sentence leaves not doubt which way I voted!)
    In my view what has changed since then is an unstoppable downward spiral of image politics, which has left conviction politics by the wayside.

    Upon the death of John Smith, B-Liar put together his marketing plan, became the everyman, maintained many Thatcherite policies that would have been anathema to his party years before, and fooled the public (i.e. The Sun) into thinking there was a brand new dawn. From there, Cameron adopted the same strategy, and Millipede continues to plan in the same way. Frankly, I don’t believe that if Labour is re-elected, his “Red” credentials will come to the fore, although it is depressing to think that he was elected as Labour leader over his brother on the back of the union vote, but that’s not how politics works these days; he would continue with the same bland dead-centre policies of previous administrations since 1990.

    I have to disagree with you about William Hague. I think he will be seen by the thinkers as a kind of Rab Butler figure, i.e. one of the best Prime Ministers we never had. I know he divides opinion, as did Thatcher, but in my opinion that is an asset in a politician and he was at least standing as a the kind of clear choice candidate I mentioned earlier, and his election would have nipped that downward spiral in the bud.

    Let me address some of your principles:

    Free education: I agree in principle, but I think limiting places would be difficult, as the working life is around 45 years, and it’d be near impossible to forecast demand that far ahead. I’d like to see the establishment of alternative private sector universities (as in Mexico), as I believe that if you have excellent universities in the public sector, there is no problem with having private ones too. It isn’t elitism, it is just giving choice. Public demand demand would show whether it’s a good idea or not.

    “Society should be secular, neutral and free from discrimination. What people do in their private time is up to them, until they inflict it on anyone else.” – A tough one for me! In my opinion, Great Britain has become a little TOO diverse, and anyone who stands up and speaks against the “fashionable” view, is labelled as a bigot or a crank. Great Britain was, is, and should remain a unique and great country (or collection of countries). I am extremely proud that by accident of birth, or destiny, I am British, and believe that our uniqueness stems from a strong moral base, a strength of character and a willingness to defend our heritage. As a “foreigner” in Mexico, I am constantly reminded that I should adapt to the culture, and not expect it to be the same as my own country. Is it not acceptable that I should expect the same in my own country? I’ve never accepted the term “multicultural society”; we are merely a country with many people from different cultures, which is not the same.

    Another problem is not particular to Britain, but to democracies in general. I wonder, for example, if the gay “marriage” law would have been passed if it had been put to a one-person, one-vote referendum? (Not stating a view, just asking a question!)

    In conclusion – and I hope to be back living in Britain sometime in the next ten years – I seem to come from the same political background as you, and that shaped my politics, but unlike you, I would never consider defecting to the other side. If you want to get involved, I’d urge you to get involved with your Conservative candidate at local level, as I did just before Mexico called me; in fact I was just sowing the seeds of my own political career at the time, and it is one of my biggest regrets in life that I was unable to continue.

    I know one man’s opinion is not going to change the course of British history, but what I got out of it was a feeling that I was actively involved and if I had continued I could have made bigger noises. I also had that great feeling that comes from knowing one is true to one’s principles, which for me is probably the best way to contentment. Even if Britain takes the wrong path, the greatest Britains will always know that they are the cream of the crop, and can patiently wait for Jacob Rees-Mogg (who would have been my local MP!) to become Prime Minister (OK, that was mischievous, but I actually believe it!).

    God Save the Queen, indeed!

    1. Thatcher had her time and place. She should have stepped down in 1987 though, and passed the job on to someone more moderate. Her policies had by then countered the socialism of the 50′s and 70′s. Passing it to Hague would most definitely not have been passing the torch to a moderate. Politically, he is at least as far right as Thatcher. Probably more so. What direction do you wish the UK to take? I don’t imagine the US of A is the ideal system of many Brits. That’s where we’re heading. Hague would take us there that little bit quicker. Cameron is just as bad.

      Every PM since Thatcher has been rather obliged to follow the path she laid down. After all, she privatised that path, and we’ve never had the money to buy it back. Major tried, and failed. Blair would have been a half decent PM had he not been saddled with Brown, and had he not decided to go off on Middle Eastern military jaunts. That defined him. Conservatives can’t grumble. They whole heartedly supported him.

      Britain has always been a multicultural society. Personally, every time I encounter ‘foreigners’ I rather wish we had more of them, and less of us! Although I do understand that people do not like change, and immigration will bring change, It is also keeping our society afloat, but there you go.

      As for whether gay marriage would have passed a referendum. I suspect that dismantling the Empire would have passed a vote in the 50′s. Decriminalisation of homosexuality would have been a close run thing. Adoption of a decimalised currency would have been iffy.So, in short, the right thing to do is not always the most popular thing. Perhaps thats the best thing about our democracy. We elect (in theory) smart people to make the right decisions, due to the inability of the general population to do the right things themselves.

      We’re really not the cream of the crop. We’re unique, as is every nation. Some are better and some are worse. Politically, we should adopt one policy and one policy only – do whatever it is the Germans are doing. They’ve been getting it right on a more regular basis than anyone else for the last 68 years….

  4. I have looked at politics from many angles and seem to feel the “none of the above” is often the best choice. As an American citizen I finally voted in a Presidential election this time, voting for Obama because I thought him the civil rights advocate and thought that he has a passion for doing things and doing t hem right. Wrong! Well that is getting a bit off topic but my point is that label such as conservative, liberal and what have you do not mean anything if you are not there to serve the common folks. Good article Gary!

    1. I’m a huge supporter of the None Of The Above option. A huge supporter. At the moment, all we can do is spoil our ballots. And that doesn’t say anything much. Intelligent enough to realise they are all crooks? Or too simple minded to be able to put an X in the right place?

  5. I consider my political stance to be just somewhere over the top of the bottom. :P I might also be called an elitist with sci-fi political leanings (most notably Asimov’s The Foundation trilogy). And I could very well be sent to some possible future gulag for being anti-democracy — if I were to live that long, which I won’t — just because I am tired of stupid people being allowed to vote.

    1. Sci-fi and politics – it’s a good mix! Did you watch Star Trek the Next Generation? I used to love discussing the political make-up, statemnt and predicaments that the show created!

      There is an argument to be made for preventing stupid people to vote. But it would be abused to fix elections. Perhaps the compromise is to give simple folks half a vote….

      1. Yeah that was a good show, made you think about what the world/galaxy/universe might be like. Only ‘normal’ and expected almost thing about it was the Borg — same old Good vs. Evil blah blah blah. Of course there may in fact be bad people out there. Of course also there are bad people here.

        “Perhaps the compromise is to give simple folks half a vote….” LMAO.
        It’s not so much I am against stupid people voting, even though I love putting it that way, as it is just letting smart people run things. Of course, there have been some downright evil smart people in history. So the group I envision — doctors, physicists, and engineers — would have to police themselves some way. Well, I’ll let them figure it out. You know, the smart people. :D

  6. Great post! I agree with much of what you write. Moreover, it seems merely sensible, not polemic. I wish we could have a clear discussion of policies in the USA vs the incessant name-calling that we have instead.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    San Francisco, CA
    Where we almost despair of US politics.

    1. I’m pretty sure we can name-call here in England as well as anyone in the US. The biggest difference that I can see is that we don’t end the sentence with ‘conservatives/liberals/commies/fascists/collectivists/right wing nuts’. We prefer the sane alternative. Which is, of course, ‘the bloody lot of you!’.

      (Because we do despair of British politics).

  7. GB was run into the ground by Socialism. Thatcher somewhat resuscitated it but it is still far from a free society and that is its reason for lower prosperity. Socialism is just a way of buying votes. Labour sheds crocodile tears for the poor. Just see how little the left wingers give to charity. Its just a ploy to get votes from boobs and it works.

    1. You probably didn’t vote for President Obama, did you? Nevermind!

      I’m not sure you fully appreciate what socialism is, and is not, or what political systems have been utilised in the UK. Post war, the UK economy has always been a mixed economy. The same is true in the US.

  8. I grew up in Cuba so I am well familiar with Socialism. The US economy is about 40% govt spending. I imagine the UK is close to 55%. Both qualify for Socialism in my mind. The problem with Socialism is the loss of rights and increasing totalitarianism that comes with it. Just think. Countries electronically spying on their citizens include Cuba, N Korea, China and Obama’s (and Bush’s) USA. I imagine the UK may also. Not my idea of a free society. Of course I did not vote for Obama/Democrats (the evil party). But I did not vote for the Republican (the stupid party) either.

    1. I looked it up. The US is a bit below 40% govt spending/GDP. The UK a bit above 40%. Therefore both economies are more capitalist than socialist. In other words, if they qualify as socialist ‘in your mind’, that is because you have invented a new meaning for the word socialist. You aren’t the only one of course, and there are others who share your point of view. I’m surprised that someone who grew up in Cuba is unable to differentiate a mixed economy from a socialist one.

      They also tend to live in black and white worlds where labels such as ‘evil party’ and ‘stupid party’ etc are used with great enthusiasm but little intelligence. The world is actually more complicated than that.

      I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of government agencies who spy on their own citizens. You’ve also missed out a list of countries where private organisations spy on their citizens. But I feel your roster of guilty nations seems rather short. I’d like to invite you to look through the complete list.
      I’d wager that each country in the below list has both government and private entities using any means at their disposal to obtain private information about citizens.

      Please let me know if you think I missed one out.

      Afghanistan
      Albania
      Algeria
      American Samoa
      Andorra
      Angola
      Anguilla
      Antigua and Barbuda
      Argentina
      Armenia
      Aruba
      Australia
      Austria
      Azerbaijan
      Bahamas, The
      Bahrain
      Bangladesh
      Barbados
      Belarus
      Belgium
      Belize
      Benin
      Bermuda
      Bhutan
      Bolivia
      Bosnia
      Botswana
      Bougainville
      Brazil
      British Indian Ocean
      British Virgin Islands
      Brunei
      Bulgaria
      Burkina Faso
      Burundi
      Cambodia
      Cameroon
      Canada
      Cape Verde Islands
      Cayman Islands
      Central African Republic
      Chad
      Chile
      China, Hong Kong
      China, Macau
      China, People’s Republic
      China, Taiwan
      Colombia
      Comoros
      Congo, Democratic Republic of
      Congo, Republic of
      Cook Islands
      Costa Rica
      Cote d’Ivoire
      Croatia
      Cuba
      Cyprus Czech Republic
      Denmark
      Djibouti
      Dominica
      Dominican Republic
      Ecuador
      Egypt
      El Salvador
      Equatorial Guinea
      Eritrea
      Estonia
      Ethiopia
      Faeroe Islands
      Falkland Islands
      Federated States of Micronesia
      Fiji
      Finland
      France
      French Guiana
      French Polynesia
      Gabon
      Gambia, The
      Georgia
      Germany
      Ghana
      Gibraltar
      Greece
      Greenland
      Grenada
      Guadeloupe
      Guam
      Guatemala
      Guinea
      Guinea-Bissau
      Guyana
      Haiti
      Holy See (Vatican City State)
      Honduras
      Hungary
      Iceland
      India
      Indonesia
      Iran
      Iraq
      Ireland
      Israel
      Italy
      Jamaica
      Japan
      Jordan
      Kazakhstan
      Kenya
      Kiribati
      Korea, Democratic People’s Rep
      Korea, Republic of
      Kosovo
      Kuwait Kyrgyzstan
      Laos
      Latvia
      Lebanon
      Lesotho
      Liberia
      Libya
      Liechtenstein
      Lithuania
      Luxembourg
      Macedonia
      Madagascar
      Malawi
      Malaysia
      Maldives
      Mali
      Malta
      Martinique
      Mauritania
      Mauritius
      Mayotte
      Mexico
      Moldova
      Monaco
      Mongolia
      Montenegro
      Montserrat
      Morocco Mozambique
      Myanmar
      Namibia
      Nauru
      Nepal
      Netherlands
      Netherlands Antilles
      New Caledonia
      New Zealand
      Nicaragua
      Niger
      Nigeria
      Norway
      Oman
      Pakistan
      Palestine
      Panama
      Papua New Guinea
      Paraguay
      Peru
      Philippines
      Poland
      Portugal
      Puerto Rico
      Qatar
      Réunion
      Romania
      Russia
      Rwanda Saint Barthelemy
      Saint Helena
      Saint Kitts & Nevis
      Saint Lucia
      Saint Martin
      Saint Pierre & Miquelon
      Saint Vincent
      Samoa
      San Marino
      Sao Tomé & Principe
      Saudi Arabia
      Senegal
      Serbia
      Seychelles
      Sierra Leone
      Singapore
      Slovakia
      Slovenia
      Solomon Islands
      Somalia
      South Africa
      Spain
      Sri Lanka
      Sudan
      Suriname
      Swaziland
      Sweden
      Switzerland
      Syria
      Tajikistan
      Tanzania
      Thailand
      Timor Leste
      Togo
      Tokelau Islands
      Tonga
      Trinidad & Tobago
      Tunisia
      Turkey
      Turkmenistan
      Turks & Caicos Islands
      Tuvalu
      Uganda
      Ukraine
      United Arab Emirates
      United Kingdom of GB & NI
      United States of America
      Uruguay
      US Virgin Islands
      Uzbekistan
      Vanuatu
      Venezuela
      Vietnam
      Wallis & Futuna Islands
      Yemen
      Zambia
      Zimbabwe

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