I know several people who voted for the first time last June, in the Brexit referendum, their intention being to send a message they'd had enough. Enough of what I found it difficult to pin down both then and now; not one of them will admit to racist tendencies, well aside from the pensioner my wife encountered outside the polling station: 'Finally, a chance to get rid of the darkies,' she said. My wife said nothing. What a wasted opportunity, on any level.
A conventional protest vote has a target, and last year's was no exception. A conventional election though has an opportunity to change the effects the next time around, by ousting the subsequently-unpopular people who raised the subsequently-unpopular policies. In any event the 2 terms of each government repeats, in general, 2 terms later. But nothing changes apart from the cuts and the discontentment.
The upcoming General Election provides the best opportunity to change UK politics and thus the direction the country takes for the better, for the long term. Conventional wisdom and the tactical voting spreadsheet doing the rounds online dictate that a Labour vote in all-but secure Liberal Democrat areas is the only way to rid ourselves of the troublesome Tories.
Voting Liberal Democrat across the board would elect Liberal Democrats who would implement Liberal Democrat policies. It really is that simple. Why is this concept so opposite from ingrained, monotonous behaviour?
The party's devastating loss of face after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was a predictable consequence of the larger party's ability to dictate terms, to insist on, for instance, the humiliating climb-down on increasing student tuition fees. Ask people to name one issue that would preclude voting for each party and this would be the most popular in the casual observers' response to the LibDems. Given the choice between, for example, raising the minimum tax threshold with the benefit of taking the nation's lowest-paid entirely out of tax, or raising those university fees, the choice was plain. I can't begin to feel the sense of loss most Liberal Democrat politicians must have felt; the inability to explain why the choice had to be made. Appeasement.
So what do the Liberal Democrats actually represent, whose lives will be made better were they to be elected?
The easy bit first, making lives better: how's about me, how's about my family, everyone I know? It's a party that aims to not intrude into people's lives or business decisions, and to encourage freedom and tolerance. Not in the manner of the Conservatives' 'Big Society' project (removing funding and support), not by any means.
The hard differentiating bit, the biggest in-the-news-today bit: Brexit. In common with the other smaller parties not called UKIP they're opposed to disturbing the common notion that to derail Brexit would subvert the whole Democratic (big D for definition) process.
People who voted for Brexit don't, in the main, realise that shouting down those who 'lost', calling them 'losers' and demanding they stop moaning is not democracy in action, it's paving the way towards a bleak future. It's a future in which everyone agrees there'll be disadvantage for some in the UK. As long as it's not themselves, but the reality is nobody knows how this'll all play out.
This brings me on to an interesting point. Interesting to me, so I'm writing about it. Someone I've know for a long time, who won't tell me how they voted last June, has definite ideas on how Brexit will play out. It involves showing our current partners that we can indeed be great again, have lots of things that we can sell that the rest of the non-European world wants, we don't need Europe at all, and finally that we should cut our ties just to see the looks on their faces. Really, that's it. The futility of discussing it at all is evident in 2 areas:
- As a 'loser' any argument I make is automatically diminished, even dismissed, simply because I lost. Unless we're discussing Turkey's 51%/49% vote margin, to turn their premier into a de-facto dictator for maybe the next 12 years. That's not democracy is it!
- Any point I raise in response to a politician's obvious lie or inability to effectively communicate is deemed "just your opinion." Yeah.
I can imagine what it'll be like when the to-be-elected politicians decide to impose more cuts, real austerity measures; the inevitable tax rises and service cuts won't be popular. But I'm rambling again…
The Liberal Democrats are, to me, the obvious choice. Everyone who votes Liberal Democrat is making a choice to move away from the bit of the status quo we have direct control over: a move away from the Conservative Party, a move away from the once Conservative-lite now ostensibly Marxist-lite but still Parliamentary Conservative-lite Labour Party.
So go on then, why, specifically the LibDems?
I read the document linked to in one of my previous blog posts, the document itself is the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution. My blog post, though almost inconsequential, at least provides some sense of my interest. The document is not, you will note, a Manifesto. I'm not linking to that. Why? Rhetorical question: When was the last time all of a Manifesto's promises were implemented?
How long have we got to restore sanity to the UK? 6/7 weeks.