Time to Vote, But For Whom?

Michael Sheen’s recent fascinating documentary about the massacre of chartists in Newport in 1839, and in parallels to modern day voter apathy, ended with the caption:

On May 7th 2015, there will be a general election.

Will you use your vote?

The answer to that is simple: yes, obviously. It was a right fought for and should not be wasted. However, there remains the question of who to vote for, as I share much of the discontent with politics and politicians. If I end up voting Labour, it will be – as it was in 1997 – not out of any conviction, but more of a tactical thing; a desire to get shot of the current shower of bastards in the hope of getting a hopefully less odious shower of bastards.

The problem I have with Labour is twofold. On a local level, my MP was parachuted into the safe Labour seat with no previous connection to the area; and secondly, I don’t feel the party has much connection with what should be its core base: what you could call, at the risk of sounding patronising, the ordinary person in the street. Someone doing a normal job, perhaps struggling to get by on part time hours (or worse, on a zero hours contract) and poor pay; or someone forced through no fault of theirs into the pseudo-Victorian morality of the benefits system. Let us not forget it was a Labour prime minister (the odious Blair) who was proud that we had amongst the weakest labour laws in the western world. His government continued the previous Tory government’s policy of stigmatising those claiming benefits, and the current party echoes the even harsher language used about this by Cameron and co.

And of course, the party is – and it’s not alone in this – far too full of professional politicians. The sort of affluent type from the metropolitan elite who gets a PPE degree from a good university, works for a party then gets a safe seat. No experience of the “real” world at all. I’m sure many go into it with the best of motives, but I’m equally sure many do it simply as a career choice. (There aren’t that many jobs where you get to decide your own rates of pay and terms and conditions, rights denied the rest of us).

Then there is the question of the relation to business. For that, read big business. They are currently being attacked for being anti-business, or not pro-business enough. For me, pro-business means getting rid of regulations so business can do what the hell it likes with no accountability, and to get away with not paying their taxes. I would expect a Labour government to close tax loopholes, improve worker rights and make business behave in a socially responsible way. But will they? Sadly, I rather doubt it.

I’m not sure just where this leaves me. I suspect I will be still pondering this as I walk into the polling booth in May.

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