Political

Apr. 30th, 2015 11:50 am
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
So I have received my ballot for postal voting. I'm going to put in the first post tomorrow morning, so you have approximately 20 hours to convince me to vote for an outcome that you favour, if you like that kind of thing.

I'm registered at two addresses. Yes, this is entirely legitimate, and no, I'm not going to commit electoral fraud by voting twice. I live and pay council tax and use local services in two different places, one where I work and one where my home is.

Constituency A is where I work. It's mostly a deprived, ex-industrial town in the west Midlands, and a safe Labour seat. Constituency B is my home, a thriving university town in the south-east, within commuting distance of London, and with a politically engaged population who tend to the left of the national consensus. It's a Lib/Lab marginal, a heavily targeted constituency and somewhere where it's not implausible a third party might turn up a surprise. I'm anonymizing slightly, not because you can't figure out from reading my journal which constituencies I'm talking about, but because I would like to gather some views without getting stuck in people's preconceptions.

The two options I'm considering most seriously are: 1] Vote Green in constituency A, the Labour safe seat. Or 2] Vote for the incumbent Lib Dem MP in Constituency B.

Option 1 is pretty unlikely to change the eventual make-up of parliament, but it might contribute to the smaller and left of centre parties being taken more seriously in future. It does something to reflect my disillusionment with the two main, and increasingly indistinguishable parties. Given that Option 1 rules out Option 2, it's indirectly casting a vote against the Liberal Democrats. Also, there is a substantial Green presence in the (Labour led, but fairly mixed) local council in A-land, so voting Green in the local elections at least might in fact make it more likely for the Greens to accomplish their goals.

I'm leaning towards Option 2, on the grounds that the incumbent is a really good MP, both locally and in Westminster. He's even voted against the Coalition on several issues that I care about, but not the one that is most important to me, which is disability rights.

In many ways I'm a natural LD voter anyway, on a pure vote-for-policies basis they are the most closely aligned with my ideas. Also I have many friends who are active in the party and at a grass roots level I think they're pretty good. But they have a horrible track record when it comes to actually implementing their policies; they formed a coalition with Scottish Labour when I voted for them in the 2000s specifically against Labour, and they formed a coalition with the Westminster Conservatives after the last election and this coalition abandoned the pre-election promises of both parties. So I feel like voting Lib Dem means essentially saying, either of the mainstream parties is fine by me, whereas in reality I have quite strong reasons to dislike both Labour and Conservatives.

I disagree with some of the Green party's policies; they're economically way to the left of me, for a start. But there's nothing in their manifesto that horrifies me the way I'm horrified by the Conservatives' attacks on disabled people (which the Lib Dems have never effectively opposed, even my "good" local MP in constituency B, and have often actively supported), and Labour's stated intention of making our already horrific immigration system even worse. I am not prepared to vote for more killing of disabled people or more killing of migrants, refugees and foreigners. The problem is that I don't see much way to vote against these things, in the current system; I only wish I had the luxury of voting based on things like economic policy or science funding, let alone little things like copyright terms.

I find myself very strongly in agreement with [personal profile] nanila's wishlist. I mean, unlike her I am not myself an immigrant and I am white, and I want to be very careful of being the sort of annoying white liberal who claims to be targeted by xenophobic policies because their grandfather immigrated from Canada or something. But equally I am Jewish, and yes my recent ancestors were immigrants, economic migrants who primarily came here looking for opportunities for a better life, which only incidentally included a slightly lower chance of anti-semitic violence, they were in no way refugees. I find it impossible to believe that a political consensus towards denying rights to Muslims and Eastern Europeans (many of whom are, you know, at least as white as I am), or even removing them from the country or encouraging racist violence against them, is somehow going to continue to be safe for Jews. And quite apart from the fact that I have loved friends and relatives who are disabled, it's pretty clear to me from history that once you start thinking of PWD as just a drain on the economy and not as people, you make space for dehumanizing other out groups too.

I mean, it's not just disablism and xenophobia, this so-called austerity (which really isn't) system is leading to plenty of white, British, able-bodied people being deliberately driven into extreme poverty, starvation and homelessness. The Lib Dems have been somewhat effective in making things better for poor but stable working class people, with things like the raised income tax threshold, free school meals etc. Labour also have some stated policies that might be good for this demographic. I think the unlikely event of Lib Dems or Greens holding substantial power in the next parliament would make things somewhat better for middle class people like me and somewhat slow down concentration of wealth in the hands of the ultra-rich, and maybe I should vote for that. But there's no party I can see who are actually going to end this system of punishing people who can't earn enough to live on through their own labour; Labour have overtly distanced themselves from people who receive benefits, which really negates any motivation I might have had to vote Labour (or refrain from voting against Labour) as a better alternative to the Tories.

I want to vote for a party that will actually help disabled and long-term sick people, people who live in areas with chronic job shortages at their skill level, children, retired people, people who use their labour for caring for children, disabled and elderly family members rather than for companies who pay them a wage, people newly arrived in the country who don't yet speak English well or have contacts to help get jobs and support. People who are marginal and at risk of severe poverty, not just ruddy "working families," those who have a low but dependable income and a strong social network. That's the point of having a state after all, if we can't even manage that basic minimum of food, shelter and medical care for everybody, why should the government take a big chunk of my money in tax and interfere with how I live my life?

Oh, and the NHS. Is there any party at all that's (realistically) going to reverse the current asset-stripping of the NHS and head even vaguely in a positive direction of preserving a nation-wide, publicly and sensibly funded health service?

So, given that's how I feel, and that's my particular voting situation, how should I vote? I should note that the least effective kind of arguments for me are along the lines of how "people like us" have always voted Lib Dem or have always hated the ebil Tories. If I have a political identity at all, it's as a swing voter, I see myself as someone who considers the issues and the current situation and doesn't just pick the team they've always picked.

I am increasingly feeling like things have got bad enough that I need to get politically active beyond just voting, which I am reluctant to do because I'm very busy and I don't like politics. It's starting to feel like a moral obligation to do something more direct against attacks on disabled people and immigrants, though. That should probably be another post, because it's way complicated; let's start with casting my vote in the most useful way available to me and see what happens after next week.

My predicted outcome for the election: Labour plurality, no party achieves a majority, everything ends up in chaos even worse than in 2010 because we basically suck at coalition-based governments. I predict that everybody will step down from their ridiculous blustering about how they're going to win the election outright and refuse to consider any coalitions with anybody, because any chance at (shared) power is always going to be too strong a motivation to stick to that nonsense. Which makes it even harder to know how to vote because it's really hard to tell what compromises the small parties will make if my prediction is true. Or how the regional nats will play into this; I have talked about England cos I'm voting in England, but I think Plaid Cymru and the SNP will likely be important in the mess that I predict to ensue once votes are counted. I only hope that whatever emerges out of this doesn't end up giving power to UKIP or other extremists.

As I'm thinking along these lines, I do recommend [livejournal.com profile] smhwpf's very interesting analysis of the current hung parliament situation in Sweden, including discussion of where the UK is similar and different.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 11:54 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Really good analysis. And if it's the sitting Lib-Dem I think it is, then I'd rate him best of a bad bunch, but I still wouldn't vote for him.

My analysis:
UKIP - this way lies extremism and horror.
Tories - this way lies slightly less extremism (or better disguised extremism?), but a horrific stepping up of the austerity agenda, no matter the cost in disabled lives.
Labour - significantly to the right and significantly more authoritarian than I am (I do like the Political Compass's left-right/authoritarian-libertarian two axis analysis of parties), and I don't think their disability policies do nearly enough to correct the damage they and the Tories have caused via ESA etc. I'm dismayed by their shift to the right on immigration, but hope that will be watered down in power.
Lib-Dem. I know a lot of people here are Lib-Dem supporters, and that there is a distinct step change between attitudes in the grass-roots members and the actions of the parliamentary party, but that can't get me past the fact I despise them for allowing everything the Tories have done, and that I despise them even more for the 'it wasn't us, it was the Tories, that's the cost of Coalition' argument. If you don't have the moral courage to accept responsibility for the things you enable, and every single act of the Coalition was enabled by the Lib-Dems allowing it to form, then how can I believe you would have the moral courage to act wisely in any other situation?
Greens: I'd love to be able to vote Green, as a symbol of my discontent with Labour's shift to the right/authoritarianism, but when I look at their defence and foreign policies I see policies I consider actively dangerous to the country. They're dangerous not in the way of dragging us into extremism, as is the case with UKIP, but in dragging us into a situation where our national security is essentially dependent on every other nation state being similarly good willed, and with Russia lurching back into extreme nationalism, that isn't a place we can safely go (ditto in a different way with ISIS - which is not to say I'm comfortable with the current surveillance state response). I genuinely think that whoever wrote the Green's defence policy didn't have even a basic understanding of our vulnerabilities as an island nation.

So I'll be voting Labour, on the grounds they'll do least damage, and my argument for you would be that even one extra Labour MP might keep the Tories out of power, whereas one extra Lib-Dem, even one we know is one of the best of the bunch, probably can't be guaranteed to have the same effect.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 02:58 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
I can't really argue with any of that, my political instincts are pretty thoroughly traditional Labour, so we'll come at things from slightly different angles, but as I say, my assessment this time is based on which party I think will do least damage, and I think Labour are likely to be marginally better on disability and NHS, while no worse than the Tories on immigration. Equally I think any coalition is liable to make a Labour-led government better, while a Tory-led government worse.

our Labour PPC in constituency B thinks Nazi jokes are funny, which doesn't exactly endear him to this Jewish voter

*headdesk* or this disabled one. And there was that slightly unfortunate suggestion from the Tory candidate if I have the constituency right.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 10:31 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Can you expand on your idea that "any coalition is liable to make a Labour-led government better, while a Tory-led government worse"?

Arrgh, my original reply seems to have gone astray.

Likely Tory Coalition partners: UKIP, DUP, Lib-Dems. UKIP and DUP are both openly bigoted against various other groups, so would clearly drag a Tory government further into the mire. Meanwhile we've actually seen how much influence a Lib Dem coalition has (little to none), and their likely loss of seats as a result will reduce that further.

Likely Labour Coalition partners: SNP, PC, Greens, Lib Dems. SNP and PC are both to some degree closer to traditional Labour sentiments, so likely to drag 'new' Labour back towards its roots. The Greens have areas of policy I disagree with, but they're in areas they're unlikely to have substantial influence (defence and foreign policy), whereas areas they might influence Labour, such as support for renewables, are areas where I'm more comfortable with their position. And similarly for the Lib Dems.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-19 10:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alextfish.livejournal.com
Obviously reading this thread after the election is very different. And obviously nobody was expecting the eventual result we ended up with. Just wondering whether you still held to "we've actually seen how much influence a Lib Dem coalition has (little to none)" given the new Conservative majority government's plans now they're free from Lib Dem meddling.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-19 11:33 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
It's the difference between utterly disastrous and utterly, totally disastrous. if you're at ground zero, as I and many disabled people are, it doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference. I already had zero eligibility for benefits before the election (time-limited contributory ESA), it's difficult to make that worse.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 02:50 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
I'm interested, though not surprised, to learn that you find the Greens weak on defence.

Probably inevitable, given my professional background, and that also means I likely give defence a greater weight than most people. (Ironically it also makes me less likely to vote Tory, as the Conservative record on defence is actually pretty dire and has been since at least the '50s).

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 02:09 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
Vote the rascals in.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 03:05 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
"Vote the rascals in" was author Norman Mailer's campaign slogan when he ran a quixotic campaign for mayor of New York City in the '70s. My grandmother aleha shalom gifted me one of his campaign buttons. It's a joke at once universally funny and very specific: The 'rascals' of incessant campaigns over the prior 50 years to "vote the rascals out" had been the Democratic machine at Tammany Hall, who had been repeatedly voted out and replaced by 'reformist' leaders to little apparent effect.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 02:36 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
*hugs*

the current hung parliament situation in Sweden, including discussion of where the UK is similar and different.

Oh, that's fascinating (and a little positive and also a little depressing).

It reinforces my habit of describing parties by general type (centre-left, extreme right, etc) rather than trying to remember all the acronyms as there are notable similarities between many parties in different countries. Although obviously, only up to a point, there's often parties which combine policies in ways you don't usually get in this country, but can be approximated with a slightly longer description.

I'm boggled by the idea of SNP as a pariah. I've heard that second hand, but it's really creepy to see people and press actually pushing it :( But I sort of assumed that it was in Con's interest to scaremonger, and Lab's and SNP's interest to deny they'd ever work together -- but also that after the election, they WOULD be willing to work together (if not a formal coalition). It's true, if parties actually stick to their pledges not to work with various other parties, no government at all may be possible, but I didn't think it was actually very likely.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 03:03 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
*claps*

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 07:40 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
The DUP will hold more seats than UKIP, unless something very odd happens, and will be the Unionist/conservative bloc kingmakers. This is cold comfort, I know, but at least the political wing of the 17th century don't think letting people die for want of food is a good plan, so there's that at least.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 08:25 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
It's been an interesting ride, watching them find ways to wriggle out of implementing the welfare cuts while keeping in with our lords and masters but not appearing to work with Sinn Fein.

Mostly they're opposed because they are fully aware that we need approximately 300% more investment to even start being able to move people out of benefits, but also they have a healthy fear of their constituents coming round with pitchforks and torches. Something I suspect the English parties could do with more of.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-01 02:09 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
I've spent the last three years really confused by the lack of it, honestly. When you think how Thatcher had them out on the streets over the poll tax and such, and then this government run roughshod over basically everything on a similar scale and nobody's even been egged.

I am not encouraging rioting, as such, but there's been such a lack of reaction among the general public that it's getting slightly eerie.

ETA: Re: DUP, they are, unfortunately, also racist, sectarian, homophobic, and generally unrepentant bastards, but yes, not starving people is the one point all our parties are agreed upon.
Edited Date: 2015-05-01 02:12 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 03:08 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
It is my understanding that you can vote in *council* elections at both addresses, but only once in general or EU elections.

I would go with 2. But I'm obviously biased, having been trudging around delivering leaflets; not because I think the Lib-Dems have been shining beacons of righteousness for the last 5 years; but because I think that Westminster needs more people with a science-y background.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 03:56 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I have been talked into doing the GOOD MORNING leaflets. Ugh. If there is another election is October I might be Cross.

I think you are right about Disability Benefits and how they ought to be a much much higher priority. I'm not very convinced that Labour would do substantially better than the Conservatives at implementing a Benefit system that actually worked (indeed Labour have been distancing themselves from the idea that they are the party "for" people on benefits). The Green policy seems much better, but has next-to-no chance of being implemented, plausibly worth a vote anyway, because the howls of protest might be heard even if the Greens don't get any seats.

http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/register-to-vote/students says you can vote in both councils as does http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/faq/voting-and-registration/i-have-two-homes.-can-i-register-to-vote-at-both-addresses which notes that you do need to actually *be resident* in both locations (which you actually are, but many people with second homes are not).

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 07:00 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I think the LD incumbent is likely to be personally persuadable, he's a nice chap, but whether he can be persuaded to *make it a priority* worth giving up on other goals for, or worth rebelling against the party whip for... that's less certain. There's a lot of things the LDs might hold out for in coalition negotiations; in opposition of course there's more space for saying "no" to everything you don't like.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-05 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
But actually, a vote for different councils is considered different elections: the election covers the body you are electing to, not the type of body. So, if your two seats are in different councils, as they are, you can vote in both, but if you lived in, day, Queen Edith and Arbury, they're in different Parliamentary constituencies but the same council so you'd only get one council vote. And you only get to view once for parliament because it's the same parliament.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 10:37 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
And the canvassing guy told me with great enthusiasm about how the Lib Dems plan to implement an evidence-based system for recording all the problems with pavements so they can fix the ones that are the biggest accessibility problems first.

*headdesk* Not exactly whitewashing the real issue, but getting there! Or just really, really clueless.

Unfortunately I'm not sure our local Labour bunch were any better informed on their own disability policies, and the guy canvassing me was head of the Labour Group on Medway Council!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 05:16 pm (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
I'd be inclined to vote LD in B. Because the candidate is reasonable on many things, and if he's got a clear mandate from his constituency, is reasonably amenable to changing his mind and thus may be persuadable to vote in favour of better policies for people with disabilities.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-01 01:56 pm (UTC)
silveradept: The emblem of the Heartless, a heart with an X of thorns and a fleur-de-lis at the bottom instead of the normal point. (Heartless)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
That is a dilemma. Being Stateside, I can't meaningfully comment about the intricacies of the parties in question, as there's no crosswalk at all between our conservative and rabidly conservative parties and the main parties there.

I'm generally in favor of putting a liberal a person in a riding as can be achieved in places where you might be able to achieve that, and voting for as liberal a person as possible in ridings that are safely going elsewhere, so I'm guessing Lib Dem in B is the way to go, especially if you feel you could push them properly leftward.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-01 04:33 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
We get a small overview of the creation of Parliament, coalition government, and the like in our required schooling, as Canada is still a Commonwealth country and our historical narrative basically starts with "rar, evil British Empire" and transforms it into "the UK is one of our besties" around the end of World War II, when it became more important to fight Nazis and Commies instead of thumbing our noses at old colonial powers. Which is a long way of saying MP is fine. (The Representative is the closest analogue, though)

I'm also assuming there aren't benefits to voting Green like "if we get 5%, then we automatically qualify for future ballots", because if there were (or some form of proportional seat distribution), then it might be with voting Green anyway. But I think it's all first past the post, anyway.

So yes, tactical voting is always tricky. I think it would be better to have a system that allows people to both vote what they want and then ensure their tactical decisions are also recorded, but there's a lot of money invested in making sure people can't actually vote how they want.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-01 04:37 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
I didn't expect this post to be extremely useful for overseas friends

I appreciate it may not make much sense if you don't already know the background, and many people may be sick of anglo-centricity, but FWIW, one of the things I love about friends in different countries is learning how the political system is the same and different.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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