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Thursday 5 May 2005

Election 2005 [Lurks]

We haven't had a nice juicy political blog for awhile so ... why start now? :-) Seriously, my morning of the 5th of May 2005 has begun thus:
  • Shower - check
  • Pot of coffee - check
  • Dressed - check
  • Stroll down to local polling station - check
  • Ass Fuck Labour - check

Which would, on the face if it, appear to be as simple as it gets but I've got an opportunity that's relatively rare and special, compared to that which most of you do. My constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green is on a knife edge between Labour and Liberal Democrats. The local Labour candidate Barbara Roche is a fat-necked Labour witch, not to put too fine a point on it, and pretty much a Blairite-yes-maam going on the responses I received from letters complaining about the net snooping bills they railroaded through a few years back.
However when you're faced with the limited selection of parties and candidates, exactly how you cast your vote is generally more complex than what party you support, isn't it?
My decision was comparitively easy. The local Lib Dem candidate Lynne Featherstone is very active in the region and I've had several conversations with her about issues with the busses and so on, and on my behalf she demanded answers from the operator bosses. Now the national Lib Dem policies themselves, however, I don't really support. It's kind of ill thought-out far left, tax/spend heavy claptrap which is about as far from my natural Conservative inclination as you can get. Forunately, though, I don't have to really worry about them being in power and a letter from that nasty ginger opportunist Charles Kennedy didn't sufficiently annoy me to go for my second option - not voting at all.
It probably ought to be in another blog, but after our marathon blog on the whole Iraq thing, I guess you recall that I supported the government in going to war in Iraq. I trusted Blair. He'd never shown any backbone before but he did on this, so I assumed that he knew things we didn't. His intelligence chiefs were cluing him in and I rested easy in that assumption.
Of course now we know that wasn't true. Blair simply decided he wanted to go to war and told the intelligence chiefs to go rustle up the evidence to support it instead. He also took one look at the legal advice from the attourney general (saying it was probably illegal) and decided not to show that to anyone else and then manages to persuade the attourney general to support the case (!!!).
For that alone, they must go. And yet... I still think they're the best party to lead the country right now. The best of a bad bunch, if you like. No wonder people don't bother to go to the polls. No wonder that this morning at 10AM, I was the only person in the poll station.
Depressing isn't it?
Interestingly, though, Labour have not sent our house of three flats, near as I can tell, a single letter. Earlier in the week the Tory candidate, who I'd never heard of but then that's little surprise when he's a distant third place, sent us a letter. A letter in which he hilariously accused Lynne Featherstone of an American-style electioneering campaign because she is apparently wealthy. I was so amused by this I tracked down his email address (which being a Conservative candidate, he obviously neglected to put on the letter) and sent him a nasty email. One sarcy reply back and the next day I get a spam to 'Mrs Bettinson' which is full of personal attacks on Ms Feathersone. Nice.
Is anyone else involving themselves to this degree in their local battles? What's your take on strategic voting or do you tend to just go with the party you support regardless of the local candidates on offer?


  1. I fucking hate the first past the post system. Im in Islington North (or something) labour majority of 20k plus over last few elections, other 2 Islington areas are also labour by country mile. My sitting MP is Chris Smith (chap with aids) He is not standing agian, I would have voted for him. So I have a dull choice of the 3 big parties with wimmin candidates - who all love everything and will make everything better in every way.
    So I dont vote labour (have not done), I may as well vote Monster Raving Looney Party; as your vote pretty does not count. At least if there was a 3 seat Islington area, I know I have a vague chance of my vote taking part in things at some stage, on the 4th or 5th count when its transfered from one bloke to another and maybe get in there with the 3rd seat.
    One of the sunday papers was saying the other day, Labour had a 4 million seat majority last time, and only 20% of the country actually voted for them - bah. Down with this shitty system :(

  2. I have to say, I voted Labour (again). This is despite, as is probably fairly self evident, I'm more of a Conservative at heart. The Liberal Democrats are a great party of moral conscience, but in my view not a party of government; that is not to say that I do not subscribe to many of their liberal ideals, but simply that I do not view the same as practicable in many areas.
    The Conservatives are a party once again in disarray; their chosen leader is someone I'd emigrate away from rather than see in power, and their overall tone and message is cheap, ineffective and nasty. You know they have hit rock bottom when their campaign starts name calling from the start and they keep banging on about tactical voting.
    I do not subscribe to the idea of tactical voting as a useful mechanism in terms of a General Election. I want this country to have a strong government, and as such whilst I was considering using my vote for the Lib Dems, on balance (i.e. the big picture) I'd rather have a strong Labour government than a weakened and ineffectual split parliament.
    As for the local issues, I cannot honestly say I've seen a single campaigner anywhere in the last few months; Islington South & Finsbury (my constituency) is a hard fought battle between Labour (the incumbent) and Liberal Democrat. The votes difference between the two is measured in the low hundreds; so it really is a close run thing - yet on my street (where there are approximately 80 houses, 40 each side) there are but two Lib Dem boards, and nothing else - at least where I live, you would be hard pressed to work out there was a general election even happening.
    This whole election has been won by Labour (and I suspect by a significant majority) from the off; Iraq is a red herring in terms of electioneering since when it comes to choosing a new government, voters concern themselves with personalities and domestic issues - and to give Labour their due, on the home front, they have delivered significant improvements across multiple areas.

  3. I tend to stick with the party I support, except when it comes to the local elections.
    Its just a shame I have never lived anywhere at the time of a general election, that hasn't been a strong seat for one party or another.

  4. Vagga, Chris Smith has HIV (he has been HIV+ for the past 17 or 18 years) and does not have AIDS (please take note). I rate Smith extremely highly, his stand on a whole range of issues has garnered my respect for years now - he is genuinely a bloody good bloke.

  5. My current constituency is a relatively close race between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, so there's really no question about where my vote goes. I'm moving to Vauxhall later this month though, which is a very strongly Labour area; that said, the local Labour candidate there is a frequent rebel in Parliamentary votes and seems to be an all-round good egg, so I'm happy enough with that really.
    I have to say though, I take the exact opposite stance to Brit on how I'd like to see the outcome of this election. What Britain needs right now, in my opinion, is a weakened government - one which relies on backbenchers and opposition support to push through legislation.
    Strong government sound great, but what it comes down to, except in times when really radical decision making is needed, is government that can do whatever the hell it wants. Witness the erosion of civil liberties and privacy under Labour, the decision to go to war based, it would seem, solely on the say-so of the Prime Minister, the wasting of parliamentary time over fox-hunting, the disgraceful railroading (no pun intended) of PPP on the tube... A government with a smaller majority would have been unable to do those things.
    Does a small majority result in a slower government and more time taken over legislation? Yes, of course. Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily. Britain is hardly falling apart at the seams, despite what the Culture of Fear tabloids would lead you to believe, and there's a fair case for arguing that the really BIG legislation of the past five or six years has all been to the detriment of the nation. A slower, more cautious government that had to fight for approval of its measures rather than forcing through whatever they like off the back of a huge majority and strong party whips would be very good for this country.

  6. Er Brit: Given that labour has a virtual monopoly on local issues and personalities, if Iraq was an electioneering 'red herring' as you say then I would expect them to do just as well as they have in years gone by. In fact that's not the case and their support has dropped dramatically. So I think the lack of of trust in the government following Iraq is a very real election issue.
    The only other one was immigration and the Torys polled well on the issue but overall still saw an overall slide in public support. Take a look for yourself.

  7. I don't expect Labour to retain the approval rating they had at the last election - but I do expect them to win with a comfortable majority that leaves no doubt as to the veracity of their past four years in power.
    Is it a trust issue, or is it (as described in most of the papers this morning) more along the lines of total voter apathy based on the appalling state of organised and credible opposition?
    We shall see; swing-o-meters and other polling mechanisms have been proved very wrong in the past... isn't that so, George Bush?

  8. If only they had the balls to say that Independence is still what they're all about, rather than pussyfooting throughout this devolved-parliament!Vote SNP!

  9. I voted Green. Fyi, i've been blogging the election:

  10. Ah yes, how to throw away your vote. Vote Green. Sigh.
    Fecking SNP. Classic case of be careful what you wish for.

  11. Sorry chris - I was told chris smith's HIV had become fully blown AIDs and that was why he was not running again. I stand corrected.
    Around central islington I have not seen anything, bar the odd sticker in a window. At home every lamp post has a banner on it, and local candidates are everywhere. Im on upper street right in the heart of islington, thousands of people out and about every night of the week, between 2 very busy tube stations - and no one in work has seen anyone campaigning around here.

  12. If Labour is the party of prosperity, why is personal levels of debt through the roof?

  13. I don't understand why that's Labour's problem? If people are signing up to debt, that's what they're doing. I know what I'd value most, personal debt levels vs highest level of employment ever...

  14. Well Mat for us lower earners stealth taxes appear to make it a very expensive society to live in.
    Being as I'm in the mosted taxable bracket, in the world evah, it feels like there's no end to it.
    Parent, mortgageholder, carowner.
    tax tax tax
    I've never earned more than I am now, conversely I've never felt as skint once all the bills are taken care of.
    I should really drop the motor to give myself more money month to month, but ffs what sort of industrial world is it I can't hang onto a motor?!
    I don't doubt the UK is awash with jobs, but for me far to many are in the service/entertainment sector to be tenable for the long term future.
    Unless you believe in a 2000ad like future where the UK is a massive holiday resort.
    People are spending on credit a lot, I've seen it mentioned several times that it's required to bolster up the economy. Surely that can't be good?

  15. Haha, you whine about high taxes, move to sweden!
    Now, if you choose cars, house and amount of kids thats more in line with what you make... Nah, that would be silly wouldnt it :)

  16. Hey look I agree we're taxed too much. I think it's fucking criminal what we pay for a booze, for a start, compared to our cousins across the channel. Although as alfa points out, some European countries have stupidly high unemployment and everyone taxed to the eyeballs to pay for their welfare state. I think we're much better off than that.
    Also, as a natural (though not practical) Conservative, I take the view that government should be smaller. More should be left to the market to take care of with standard competition between private enterprise.
    I still don't think it's reasonable to lambast the government for high levels of personal debt. There's been all kinds of legislation to make it harder to get, to have them explain terms in baby-talk and so on. It's very tenuous to suggest that basically personal debt is the government's fault because you're being taxed too much. Shout at them about tax! Personal debt is the responsibility of the citizen. You get into debt because there's something you want NOW, not to prop up your lack of income after tax. Unless you're an idiot.
    Some people want a nanny government that makes all your decisions for you but I'm not one of those. I do have issue with the consumer society of which personal debt is a good marker but that's not really something anyone can do anything about because it's just how companies work world-wide at present. It'll take the energy crash to make people reconsider.
    Oh and as to having jobs in service and entertainment... well, the days of the State-owned jobs for life are kind of over. Thank fuck too, because that sort of rubbish makes your country less competitive on the global market (like France, for example) and results in higher unemployment. Eg, rather than having several great car manufacturers pushing out fantastic cards being sold worldwide, you have... Rover. Great if you got a job at Rover. Less great if you're someone who works in the steel industry, for example, which is fucked because the only guys buying are Rover and they're not selling any of their shit cars. Thankfully those days, and Rover, are over.
    Our record low levels of unemployment are absolutely a sign of a healthy economy. Healthier than pretty much anyone else in Europe although bizarrely you seem to want to opt-out of that success by declaring Scotish independence which is a logic that continues to escape me.
    Your view sounds quite socialist to me in that respect and, despite the fact socialism appeals to low earners (because they fancy some of the stuff more well off people get, as a rule), it's actually a shit way to run a country and if you go down that road, the poor end up getting poorer - not more well off.

  17. Woo hoo! Labour witch booted out in massive 14.6% swing to Liberal Democrats in my constituency! That's a top result that is ;-)

  18. It looks like one of the highlights of the Election Night coverage was Paxman vs Gallowaydemagogue n : an orator who appeals to the passions and prejudices of his audience [syn: demagog, rabble-rouser]The transcript is amusing, but if you watch the video, it's quite unpleasant.

  19. It's highly unpleasant that the wanker got in really. Deliberately picked an electorate with the highest muslim constituency. You'd have hoped they'd have seen right through it... sigh.

  20. The local elections here were pretty much a Conservative landslide, for the nationals I voted Labour for much the same reasons as Brit. The tories for me just didn't put forward a credible plan for how they would run the country better. As far as the lib dems polcies go, I didn't agree with half of them. Funnily enough a couple of days before I voted (buy post) the front page of the Independent was devoted to how Blair was planning to build more nuclear power stations. A fact which I find most positive.

  21. Same here. There's very solid reasons why we need to look at this. It's just a shame that it's likely to run into public opposition regardless of the fact it's probably the only way we can get anywhere near our Kyoto commitments...