General Election 2010: Declaration of Support
With a General Election now looming, probably only 2 months away, it seems now is the time for people to come out and state publicly who they are endorsing at these critical elections. I’m a firm believer that democracy works better when a secret ballot is accompanied by open debate amongst politicians, citizens and observers alike. And so today I’m announcing my support for Labour at the 2010 General Election.
I’m sure this will come as a surprise to some and no surprise to others. This has been the result of a long period of reflection that began at the European Elections last year, where a drop in Labour votes paved the way to the BNP winning seats in the European parliament.
To those who think this is a bizarre move for someone so untrusting of the state, its necessary to point out that I have little faith in party politics to create change. Change is a response to external pressures, and we the citizens have to spend every day of the next Parliament creating that change, but right now we have to decide what form that Parliament will take and thus how easy it will be to change it.
Two things have pushed me to declare now; first, today I shall be on the streets, knocking on doors or delivering leaflets, with my local Labour Party in another part of my own ward (it would seem odd to do that without first declaring). The other is the announcement of support for Cameron from Mugabe.
Now is not the time to play with fire, creating new parties from thin air at the risk of dividing the vote. Yes, one could support the Lib Dems or Greens hoping for a hung parliament. But around York the Lib Dem vote will likely collapse due to the unpopularity of the council, and the Greens can only win 2 or 3 individual seats (and I won’t be campaigning in these areas).
Yes, I want to see reforms in parliament. Do I think Labour will make those changes willingly? No. Do I believe there is any hope of the Tories making any meaningful changes at all? No. There is a quantifiable difference between a party that can be pressured into allowing change (one that has removed hereditary peers, for instance) with one that will likely only make the kind of changes that favour the already-rich.
Essentially, it comes down to this: whilst the Tories were in disarray, a new proposition from the Left was a possibility: either Labour would win, or the new party would win, or they’d have to combine to keep the Tories out. Now the Tories are supposedly on the ascendency, and either we act pragmatically to keep them out, or we risk finding ourselves in a situation 2 months from now where all the gains that have been made on the Climate, on International Development, on Sure Start and Maternal and Paternal rights and on the NHS and Education are all gone in a cloud of smoke.
Under the Conservatives, we will likely see a reduction in standards in the NHS, on the belief that people have a right to “Top up” their care by paying to visit private hospitals (this will likely cover advanced cancer treatments) further opening the gap in life expectancy between richest and poorest. We can be pretty certain that on immigration, where I find many grassroots Labour supporters dissatisfied with the present government, the Conservatives are far more susceptible to the BNP and UKIP ideology.
Its not just a question of who we trust less, of negative campaigning. On defence, Labour might be about as bad as either Tories or Lib Dems. But on International Development, they are substantially better. After all, its Labour who have invested so much in the NGO sector, and the grassroots Tories who are so determined to have their party shred the entire development sector.
I am broadly in support of the Power2010 5-point manifesto. Which party do I think is most likely to be both in power and susceptible to public opinion in this area? The Lib Dems won’t be in power, and the Tories won’t be susceptible. Even if the Lib Dems are in power, it will be in coalition and they are most likely to ally to the bigger party.
Labour pulled within 2% of the Tories in a recent opinion poll. It would give Labour a very small majority in the Commons. The 2% lead can be overturned; Britain doesn’t have to return to the days of Conservative rule, of the even more privileged few ruling in their own interest. I shall be supporting Labour at this General Election, and I encourage you to do the same.