The little grey cells are still going through the mill here at Pritchard Towers as I try and work out who it is I’m going to be voting for on Thursday morning. Actually, I’ll be voting twice – local election and General Election – and it’s probably safe to say that I’ll vote for different parties in each election.
In a previous post here on Joe’s Jottings I commented that negative voting is not the way forward, and I’m still maintaining that viewpoint. My current approach is to look at the policies that each party is offering, and the record of the parties in terms of ‘What they say against what they do’. The policies that matter to me are going to be very different than those that matter to my friends and colleagues, and the general confusion that all of us seem to be having this time around is reflected in the closeness and volatility of the opinion polls, and the intense and occasionally bad-tempered debate and discussion that I’ve witnessed between party activists and leaders in the media and amongst people who I know who are usually pretty much apolitical.
Passion is politics is good – provided it’s positive and focused and not just a knee jerk – ‘Against x because of who they are’, as I said here. When there is passion and nowhere to focus it, that’s often when the extremists manage to score points by creating policies designed to harvest the strong feelings from people who feel ignored and disenfranchised by the major parties. I have no doubt that any significant gains by extremist parties within the UK in the General and Local elections will be based on the harvesting of negativity rather than on affirmative votes for the policies they offer.
The question remains for a lot of people – who to vote for, when none of the major parties seem to offer what we want in it’s entirety. Whichever party gets in, I’m not convinced that there will be significant differences in the what happens in the UK in the next few years. One party’s cuts may be deeper and more rapidly applied; another party may spread the pain. Whatever happens, that pain is going to have be endured unless the Government of the day is happy to allow the IMF to influence the policy of the government as it is now doing in Greece (and is likely to soon find itself doing in other Eurozone countries).
So, what to do. First of all, I’m going to vote for whoever will do the least long term damage, with particular relevance to the policy areas that matter most to me – civil liberties and personal freedom, sustainable and environmentally sound economic development and a reduction is state interference with people’s day to day lives.
Then, I’m going to continue to stay involved with my community ‘on the ground’ by working with community groups to make lasting, sustainable improvements to my community. I’m not bothered about the politics of those I work with – I would just like to think that we’ll all be working for the long term benefits of our communities, rather than political parties.
Who knows – analysts have already said that whoever gets to make the decisions for the next year or so may well be out of Government for several years to come. Perhaps we’ll see massive cowardice from whoever is elected, in that they’ll put party before country. I hope not.
What’s best for the UK? A hung parliament, perhaps with some electoral reform, might be what we need to make a further long-term improvement in the political processes of the UK – the rise of ‘Independents’ in Parliament, who are loyal to know party but will vote for what’s best for their communities.