I am finally on the other side of a four-day headache and am here to share with you a party political broadcast. Because you definitely haven’t had enough of that already, right?
Last General Election I lived in Ilford North – a hotly-contested marginal seat. For those of you unfamiliar with UK politics – a marginal seat is one where it’s going to be close to call. In this case, it’s a contest between Conservatives and Labour. Labour suffered heavy losses last election, but I was pleased to see that Ilford North was one of their very few gains. They stand to lose that seat this election.
Now we have moved out to the Shires, and we live in an absolute Tory stronghold. It has been a Tory seat for about a hundred years. We have David Liddington, the Leader of the House of Commons. Just down the road they have it even worse. They have John Bercow – and as he is the Speaker, there is a “gentleman’s agreement” (“gentle person’s?”) that none of the main parties will stand against him. So there aren’t even any other candidates to vote for if you happen to live in his constituency. Welcome to democracy, folks.
I have been impressed by Labour this election campaign. I agree with most things that Jeremy Corbyn says. I understand that some of them may be idealistic and difficult or even impossible to achieve. But I would rather be aiming towards ideals that might ultimately fall short, than selling off hospital land, cutting school spending and taking money away from the people in our society who need it most. (Also allowing fox hunting again and reinstating the ivory trade, but there’s only so much unpleasantness you can fit in one list.)
May’s negotiating tactics seem massively weird. A few people I have spoken to say that they trust May more than Corbyn to negotiate Brexit. She does seem more hard-line. But actually, in a negotiation – particularly one where the other side holds most of the cards – you don’t really want someone who’s going to go in all guns blazing, pissing people off. She has told Juncker that she plans to be a “bloody difficult woman”. Great, nothing like setting the tone for a mutually-beneficial set of circumstances than telling them you’re anticipating a row before you even start.
Personally, if Labour were to win this election, it would penalise me financially. Laws governing buy-to-let landlords have already impacted on my income. I would also undoubtedly be paying more income tax. I am OK with this. We are not super-rich by UK standards, but most of the time, we don’t worry about money from a day to day basis (e.g. affording a weekly shop, new shoes for the children, paying our utilities bills). Lots of people do worry about money. It makes sense for us to be taxed at a slightly higher rate in order to help out those who rely on benefits, those with disabled children, to fund excellent healthcare – which one day we will all need. If you are already in the 40% tax bracket, honestly, would you really miss an extra £0.01 in every pound you earn? I wouldn’t.
Corbyn seems like a different sort of politician – like Thatcher in some ways – principled and not swayed by the public’s opinion. But a bit less evil. He seems to have a clear vision of what he wants to achieve. He does seem utterly humourless, but on the flip side, Boris is full of humour, and he’s a fucking liability. I can go to a comedy club if I want laughs. Charisma is helpful but not ultimately why we elect politicians.
But I won’t be voting Labour.
We live in a Tory stronghold. The next most popular local party is the Lib Dems. I have no strong feelings about the Lib Dems (though I did meet Nick Clegg once when he was still part of the Coalition government and he came across very well). So it’s a tactical vote for me. Try and reduce the Conservatives’ seat count by any means possible.
The area we live in is currently undergoing a vast demographic change. I would say 50% of the people I meet who live locally have moved from London – famously the “liberal elite” Labour voters. So I am hopeful things will change.
Honestly, honestly, it probably doesn’t matter if I vote or not. It is a blue-wash over here and I would be beyond astounded if the Lib Dems won locally. But every election at least 30% of the electorate don’t bother to vote. And if those people did vote, they could absolutely change the result. So be counted.
On Thursday, go out and vote for whoever you think you should. Vote, vote, vote.