Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Perfidious Politicians

The electioneering is under way and the parties are busy offering electoral bribes, to which history has shown we're particularly susceptible. We constantly accuse politicians of being hypocrites, but we too are equally hypocritical when we're standing at the ballot box and faced with the choice of tax increases to fund overstretched public services, or reneging on our values. We unfailingly choose for others to pay for increases, but not us.

I'm in a quandary over voting, as Brexit is a huge issue for me. Not one Leaver I've argued the Brexit issue with has managed to articulate a reason for leaving the EU that isn't based either on wishful thinking or a (possibly sincere) belief in the misinformation promulgated by the Leave campaign.

Hatred of the EU is an emotional and intuitive response and thus immune to reason or analytical assessment - the more evidence you present the more entrenched and furious they become. Psychologically this is quite understandable, as no-one likes being shown they're wrong when presented with facts and opposition tends to cross over into fanaticism. For the Leaver, the EU has become a scapegoat for all that ails this country, and Brexit the deus ex machina.

- How can it be said that EU immigrants are taking all our jobs when unemployment is currently the lowest in a decade?

- How can EU free movement be a problem when 50% of our immigrants are not even from the EU and it's manifestly within the power of the government to control that element?

- How can immigrants be swamping the NHS when, a) it's run by immigrants, b) the Tory government's cuts to social services have been proven to block the exit from NHS beds, c) the largest impact on the NHS is an ageing demographic along with new, more costly treatments and d) Tory cuts in health spending extend to us now being one of the lowest spenders, as a percentage of GDP, in western Europe?

- How can the EU be riding roughshod over our laws when we voted 'No' in only 2% of votes?

- How can we claim to be regaining our sovereignty when we're quite happy to cede it to the WTO?

- How can EU immigrants adversely affect our education system when a) the overwhelming majority speak excellent English as a 2nd language (unlike a lot of non-EU immigrants), b) the immigrants themselves are, in many cases, better educated than the natives and c) schools having large numbers of EU immigrant children (note the EU part, not non-EU) have been proven to outperform those with none?

- Yes, UK based businesses have received EU grants to relocate to other areas of the EU, but only when the other options were either complete closure or relocation outside of the EU. The UK being outside of the EU will make not one iota of difference - in fact it will probably provide an added incentive.

All the above are verifiable facts, but I can guarantee that no evangelical Leave voter will bother to check them as they're contrary to their deeply held, dogmatic beliefs.

To the choices laid before me:
  1. Theresa May, who is not a Brexiteer herself, is making the right noises to neutralise the UKIP/Brexit vote, but prevaricating and ensuring nothing happens until such time as the consequences of the Brexit vote really start to bite, as they already are doing with inflation, rising input costs and (consequently) jobs. She has her eye on the next but one election and doesn't want to preside over a calamity in the intervening time and risk being unelectable in another 5 years (of course, she will get the blame, not the perfidious electorate). All this demonising of the EU by Tory politicians will ensure a bad deal, and as she said; "No deal is better than a bad deal." However, no deal can also be interpreted as maintaining the status quo with no Brexit, as Brexit itself is the worst of all possible deals. I believe that, once the election is out of the way and it becomes increasingly plain that Brexit is the worst deal, she will use her mandate (in the instance of a landslide) to say she has a constitutional obligation to act in the best interests of the country, presenting the facts (which by then will be manifestly obvious) in plain language and not exit the EU, thus saving us from economic implosion and winning the following election. The problem is she's playing it very close to her chest at present for fear of losing the UKIP Tendency, so it's a risk to vote for her, plus I'm not a natural Tory anyway, as I place a high value on public services.
  2. Jeremy Corbyn has promised a parliamentary vote on any negotiated deal. More clarity, but still not what I want - I want a 2nd referendum on the deal as it will be the voters who are hit. His policies hold no terrors for me - I actually believe Labour is closer to reality on what ails the country than the Conservatives ever will be.
  3. LibDems have promised a 2nd referendum on any deal. The most obvious choice for me, but the LibDems are not likely to form a government in the immediate future.
Voting Conservative is a risk and depends on my intuition, but I don't really like the Conservative penchant for small government - which by definition means cuts to public spending and the attendant risk to the NHS. 

Labour would be close to my political beliefs and a guarantee of a parliamentary vote, although they are a tad further to the left of my natural position.

LibDem is closest to my political belief, but possibly a wasted vote - although, the LibDems are better positioned to oust our local Tory MP (our constituency had been LibDem for a very long time - Steve Webb, the ex Pensions Minister, was our MP up till the last election, when a 28 year-old Tory nonentity won the seat in a totally unjustifiable reaction against the Tory/LibDem coalition).

Hence the quandary. That said, I think it will be LibDem for both policy and tactical reasons - but that could change.


  1. Our system is and has always been one of compromise. We vote, or not, for the candidate (usually of the party) that offers the highest percentage of our views. We can do no more.

    1. I disagree. Most people don't even look at a manifesto. Of prime concern is the tribe (and possibly headline policy) and trustworthiness of the leader, certainly not the nitty-gritty.

    2. ...and, of course, how their favourite rag tells them to vote.

    3. You give your fellow voters not much sense as we are sometimes even clever enough to read between the lines.

    4. There was an item about it on R4 this morning. The average voter doesn't read a manifesto and half the time doesn't associate policies with the correct party.