General Election 2010: Declaration of Support

Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 8:00 UTC 18 comments

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.


Entry filed under: democracy, Elections, Labour Party, Participation, Party Politics, Personal, Politics.

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18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Neil T.  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 9:59 UTC

    Mugabe’s comments amused me, as it’s just the sort of endorsement that Cameron doesn’t need right now.

    I’m probably voting LibDem in the election, but still not fully decided. I’m outraged that a LibDem peer has managed to push through a lousy censorship clause into the Digital Economy Bill. And I agree that we’ve been better off over the past 13 years for having a Labour rather than Conservative government. When it comes to my constituency in Bradford, the LibDems are apparently a close second to Labour, so it’s possible for them to win there – therefore a vote for them probably won’t be wasted – especially if the voting reforms somehow make it through before the election. Nice as they are, I doubt the reforms will be passed in time.

  • 2. Helen  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 10:00 UTC

    The election is really depressing me, I must say. Whatever happens, this isn’t going to be another 1997.
    On that note, I have to say this post both impressed me and made me sad. I’m impressed because you’ve assessed the situation realistically and chosen the course of action which you feel will bring the most good. But it’s sad that feels so like the ‘lesser of two evils’. Unfortunately, that’s life I suppose. Best of luck.

  • 3. Andrew Collingwood  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 10:20 UTC

    Good post. I am a member of the Green Party but as they are not running in York Outer I will be voting Labour.

    Although a vote for the Lib Dems may more likely keep the Tories out in my constituency, I do not trust Clegg not to strike a power sharing deal with Cameron. Ergo vote Lib Dem get Tory.

  • 4. jonathan  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 13:26 UTC

    what constituency are you in? and who’s your MP? I’d vote for one of four parties depending on that. hardest decision would be lib dem labour marginal, but would depend on the sitting MP

    • 5. Graham Martin  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 13:28 UTC

      I’m in York Inner, Hugh Bayley is my MP. York Outer was given as Lib/Con split, but Lib Dem council is getting less popular by the day.

  • 6. Andrew Collingwood  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 13:36 UTC

    I have a good sitting MP in John Grogan, and respect him a lot more than Hugh Bayley. Unfortunately the boundaries are being re-drawn and I won’t have the opportunity to vote for him again.

  • 7. Steve th  |  Saturday, 6th March 2010 at 18:20 UTC

    If greens stand they might get my vote, if Bnp stand i may feel forced to vote for someone just to knock them back. Lib dem maybe if no green. If on greens or Bnp then spoilt paper i think. Tory s would be bad but i’m not supporting the current labour lot. Local mp is labour and good chap but he steps down this time. Next ward over have lib dem i’d happily buy a pint maybe even vote for. Best realistic outcome prob either minority gov by lab, or a lib lab pact. Lib s could just take the edge off lab and sink their most stupid ideas.

  • 8. Steve th  |  Sunday, 7th March 2010 at 17:43 UTC

    Surprised you haven’t had abuse for this post yet g. Personally i see a difference between voting for the lesser of two evils ( a short term pragmatic decision we can debate) and actually campaigning for the gits. Unless your local mp is some real party radical i think your making a mistake. ( And if your mp is the exception to the rest of the party your blog needs re wording) to campaign for labour now will be seen as giving approval to the last 13 years. Yes they’ve done some good but come on actually campaigning for another 5 years of brown? Ace. Lets have more police checks, id cards, paranoia, token gestures at solving any real problems etc. It might be better than camaron but like hell is this govt continueing thinking it has my approval.

  • 9. Andrew Collingwood  |  Sunday, 7th March 2010 at 17:54 UTC

    I would not be able to bring myself to campaign for Hugh Bayley. He is a New Labour loyalist who voted for war with Iraq, foundation hospitals, tuition fees etc

    York Central does have a good Green candidate in Andy Chase.

    I will vote Labour in York Outer because there is no Green or left alternative standing.

  • 10. Greg  |  Monday, 8th March 2010 at 20:11 UTC

    Andrew, please don’t vote for James Alexander, his cliquey year in office as YUSU president was not a good one. It’s a shame as I would also vote for John Grogan if I still lived in Selby constituency.

    Graham, do you really want another five years of Brown? If we continue with this government that is tearing itself to pieces, other countries simply won’t be confident enough to invest in or deal with Britain. This is at a time when we need all that we can get. Also, if Labour win by a whisker this time, the next election will be a 1997 style election with a massive swing to the Tories, ushering in yet another 20 year government.

    The worst result could be a hung parliament. At that point, the foreign investors would probably clear off completely as the nation was paralysed, unable to silence the bickering between parties and react to any of the unknown situations that will undoubtedly arise.

  • 11. Greg  |  Monday, 8th March 2010 at 20:52 UTC

    By the way, what on earth have Mugabe’s comments got do do with anything? For all I know, a tinpot dictator who lives half way round the world may also be saying something about me right now, it doesn’t affect my life one bit. These are the elections for the UK, not for Zimbabwe.

    • 12. Graham Martin  |  Monday, 8th March 2010 at 21:15 UTC

      Mugabe has publicly declared for Cameron, Cameron knows this, newspapers know this, all of Westminster knows this, and yet he’s not come out with the “thanks but no thanks” statement. I’ve run an election campaign and had to ask someone to withdraw their endorsement from me, thankfully they did. Morally, I had to make that request, regardless of whether they did it or not.

      By the way, Cameron is already signed up to raise funds for the Republicans in September, potentially by meeting a club of Republican donors in Downing Street.

      Your idea of a world in which politicians are so parochial they can’t even work out who their friends in neighbouring countries might be is complete failure.

      Geert Wilders was in Westminster last week. Le Pen will probably be back before the elections. Even the most xenophobic politicians are better at networking than you either credit or allow them.

      • 13. Andrew Collingwood  |  Monday, 8th March 2010 at 21:28 UTC

        It is also worrying to see Cameron’s alliance with the Ulster Unionists. If he became PM he would hardly be seen as an neutral party in the peace process.

        Re James Alexander. I don’t see how his time as YUSU president has anything to do with his parliamentary candidature. I feel Labour is the best option in York Outer.

  • 14. Greg  |  Tuesday, 9th March 2010 at 12:27 UTC

    Graham, are you suggesting that Cameron asks Mugabe to cooperate nicely? That’ll really work. [rolls eyes]

    • 15. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 10th March 2010 at 10:07 UTC

      Er, no. Don’t be stupid. You can go on record as refusing someone’s support without them cooperating.

  • 16. Greg  |  Wednesday, 10th March 2010 at 14:06 UTC

    Graham, are you seriously saying that David Cameron welcomes Mugabe’s support? Frankly, that’s a loopy suggestion. Most people in this country are not fussed by what tinpot Zimbabwean dictators think about moderate British political leaders, so why should Cameron bother with this?

    You’re clutching at straws here. Why bother implying any sort of league between Cameron and Mugabe unless you haven’t got anything better to throw against him? If that’s the best you can come up with, you’re quite a good advert for the Tories.

    • 17. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 10th March 2010 at 15:28 UTC

      Er, no, David Cameron’s claim that he won the cold war, or his failure to keep his cool in PMQ’s today whilst Brown looked the more professional, his assistance for the American Republican party.

      Back to the Mugabe point, nothing has happened to make me think he doesn’t accept the support. It just doesn’t look good.

  • 18. Greg  |  Wednesday, 10th March 2010 at 15:49 UTC

    Are you sure you don’t have too many negatives in that post?

    Either he accepts the support and is in some sort of league with Mugabe, or he knows that everyone else knows that’s a silly suggestion, so ignores it. I say ‘everyone else’ but there will always be a few extreme leftists who have such a desire to smear Cameron that they take every opportunity, regardless of whether it’s justified. That sort of smear politics doesn’t make anyone look good, least of all you.


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