Thursday, 23 April 2015

Two weeks to go. Hold my nose and vote for Labour? Or be brave and vote for real change?

Two weeks to go the general election. I bet most of you are sick of the coverage now and just want it over and done with so we know who our next government is.

Well it may not even be that simple. Given how close the main two parties are in the polls, it is very likely that we will see a hung parliament for the second election in a row. Given how both Labour and the Tories have said that they will not form a coalition with other parties, it is going to be interesting to see how either main party will try to reach out to other parties so they can form a minority government with support on a vote by vote issue. So although the votes will be counted by 8th May, we probably wont get another government formed for a couple of weeks.

For those that have read my previous blogs, you'll know that I've said I'm voting for the Green Party. Given that I've been a member since 2012, it would be a bit weird if I didn't.

Now given all the uncertainty surrounding the election and the fact that it is unlikely that either party will get enough seats to form a majority government, will I change my stance? A concern for those on the left of politics is that the more people vote Green, the more that splits the Labour vote, the less seats they'll get, and the more likely it is that the Tories get back into government.

Owen Jones has recently written an article urging people to vote Labour. He says that the main difference between Labour and Tories on the Bedroom Tax should be reason enough to vote Labour. He says that the fact that Labour have vowed to get rid of the Bedroom Tax will make a difference to so many vulnerable people's lives. He uses a case whereby a woman got her housing benefit cut because her daughter died and therefore she had a spare bedroom. That is the cruel idea behind the Bedroom Tax. You get your Housing Benefit cut if have a spare bedroom.

Owen also makes the point that campaigners have pressured Labour to change their stance on the Bedroom Tax, to promise a clamp down on tax avoidance and to get rid of exploitative zero hour contracts. Therefore us lefties are more likely to get concessions from a Labour Government than a Tory one.

There has been this idea mooted around called "vote swapping". So what you would do is swap your Green vote for a Labour one in a constituency where it is a Labour/Tory marginal. In return someone will vote for Green in a constituency that isn't so risky for Labour. The main problem with this is that it involves an element of trust with a complete stranger. How would you know whether they followed through on their promise as all voting is anonymous?

In the past I have rubbished the idea of tactical voting and said it is a scaremongering tactic from Labour supporters that know their party isn't offering enough of an alternative for people to be inspired to vote for them. However, I have softened my stance. I understand why people will consider doing this and especially those that are suffering from the pernicious attacks on the most vulnerable by this government. I do not judge those that go for the safe option of voting for a slightly less harsh Labour government.

So going back to the original question I posed, have I changed my stance and decided to vote Labour? After careful consideration I'm afraid the answer is no. Personally I can't vote for a Labour Party that still backs the horrible Work Capability Assessment (which they bought in 2009 along with the Bedroom Tax). I can't vote for a Labour Party that backs the destruction of our environment by promising to continue investment in fracking. I can't vote for a Labour Party that wants to keep Academies that are very selective schools that don't guarantee provision for SEN students. And lastly I can't vote for a Labour Party that supports limited privatisation of the NHS rather than none.

The Green Party opposes all these policies and offers a positive vision of the future which sees our public services run for the public not for private profit, which sees people paid a living wage and which sees an education system where children are taught genuine life skills rather than shoved through constant exams. It is why I'm voting green.

Will this vote be wasted in that all it will do is consign us to five more years of Tory austerity? Not necessarily. Miliband is getting more popular, especially with his "milifandom" (Look it up, seriously it is so weird). So it is likely that we could have a Labour minority government, that with pressure from progressive parties like SNP, Plaid and Green, we can help enact policies that we desperately need to change this country for the better.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A month to go to the election and Labour still aren't offering a clear alternative to the Conservatives. Time to vote for real change.

So it is a month to go until the general election. Things are getting exciting for those of us interested in politics. Now considering how close it is between Labour and the Tories in the polls, with the Tories on 34% and Labour on 33%, every vote really does count. So will I change my stance and vote Labour to keep the Tories out?

Well I'll answer that by quoting Ed Miliband in responding to what Leanne Wood said to him in the Leaders Debate about Labour supporting privatisation in the NHS. "My Two sons were born in a PFI Hospital, it was an old falling down hospital, but you are right, there need to be limits to privatisation." Notice the word limit. For me that shows that Labour support some elements of the private sector running NHS services, which is just wrong on so many levels. And he defended PFI? The very same initiative that has put so many hospitals into debt and being put into special measures. Any party that supports even limited privatisation of the NHS does not get my vote.

And when it comes to austerity, the economic policy that is destroying so many lives and widening the gap between the rich and the poor, what does Ed Miliband say? Again I'm taking this as a direct quote from the Leaders Debate "We will make common sense spending reductions and in areas outside Health and Education, spending will be falling". To put it in other words, Labour supports austerity.

When you put this to Labour supporters, they just respond negatively and tell you that a vote for Labour is a vote AGAINST the Tories and to get them out of government. How about I vote FOR a party I believe in?

When it comes down to it, yes they have policies on the 50p rate of tax and abolishing the bedroom tax which I agree with, but they generally support the idea of Austerity. They have given in to the mantra that it was the last government's overspending that lead to a massive increase in our debt rather than a global financial crisis caused by speculation in dodgy financial products.

You know how desperate Labour are getting when they jump on a dubious and it turns out false article that suggests Nicola Sturgeon prefers David Cameron to Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister. Yeah don't debate on the serious issue of Austerity, but just join a smear campaign which is completely false. This arrogant quote from a Labour candidate, who tweeted about this, says it all.

“I haven’t taken it down,” said Mike Gapes, who is standing for Labour in Ilford South. “There is, privately, an SNP agenda that wants Cameron to stay in office because it would speed up a second referendum on independence.”

So to sum up, do you really want to vote for a party that doesn't offer a real alternative to the Tories and just uses negative tactics to get people to vote for them? I'll just leave you with Natalie Bennett's closing Leaders Debate statement which sums up why I'm voting for real change.