I'm still having difficulty making my mind up who to vote for. And it's the first time I've every really tried. I've been eligible to vote for 15 years. That's 3 general elections that have completely failed to motivate me.
So this year I am determined to make an informed choice. Which way to go?
Warning. Long, boring, badly written politics bit ahead. US readers, feel free to slag me off for bringing up politics after I did it to you during your elections.
These are the things that will help me make my decision:
1) I believe in limiting the size of government and it's control over peoples day to day life. Government intervention has its place. People have to have rules. But you can go too far and I think the incumbent government is reaching that point.
2) Following on from that, I believe in limiting the amount of tax government should raise to pay for it's intervention.
3) I believe there should be limits to immigration and the amount that people who have not contributed toward our tax system can take from our state. I know nurses who spend large amounts of time caring for people who do not live here and "just happened to have been in the UK" when they fell ill.
4) I believe the West's failure to intervene in the Middle East conflict and to curb Israel's occupation of Palestine has contributed in large part to the whole Arab - Western conflict being created by the Muslim Extremists.
5) I believe that a certain amount of market forces within our public services would help to rid them of the rampant inefficiency that is sucking up our tax contributions with little concrete results.
6) I believe that a more integrated Europe, with the UK as part of the Euro, will benefit the whole of Europe in the long run. However, the EU is too socialist and to free with subsidies, especially agricultural ones at the moment and I'm not sure I'm ready for any more of my tax contributions to go toward funding French beef farmers to produce more product than the market demands. This leaves me confused and uncertain about my thoughts on Europe.
7) I think the residual liberal beliefs from the children of the 60s are damaging our society by preventing proper discipline and rule of law. Whilst I don't believe in capital punishment I think there's a basic truth in "Spare the rod, spoil the child" that can be applied to society as a whole. That said, rehabilitation should be more important than punishment where it stand a good chance of succeeding.
8) I think the rich should pay a higher percentage of their earnings in tax than the poor. But, the incentive has to remain to work hard and achieve riches. There will always be a need for the super-achievers. They drive our economy. They create the jobs that the rest of us need and there should be sufficient reward to make people want those positions. Otherwise we'd all end up working the easy jobs.
9) I believe the war in Iraq was justified, although I cannot support lying to the public to attempt to bolster that justification. I do not believe however that Tony Blair is guilty of anything more than some quite severe spin-doctoring of the available facts (which may in itself be bad enough not to support him).
Basically, I think I fall square between the 2 parties. I think the only way to achieve what I want in a government is for there to be regular changes between the two. Unfortunately, what I'll probably get is an implantation of the worst policies of each. But hey, we have to try.
So this year I'm going to vote Conservative.
Normal service may or may not be resumed in the next post.
I think there is so little difference between the two main parties that it comes down to personalities and who would you want in No. 10. And to be honest, the thought of Micheal Howard being in charge chills me to the bone. I am hoping that Labour come so close to losing that the party will 'encourage' Blair to step aside sooner rather than later.
Personally though, after debating whether to vote tactically or with my conscience i've decided to go with my Jimmy Cricket and will be voting Green.
1. I'm posting from Denmark, a country which taxes heavily, redistributes income and has good public services. People in this country are not only one of the highest scorers on the "quality of life" indexes in the world, but they are well off too.
2. See 1.
3. The UK pays its public sector workers so little that many of the country’s nurses are imported. We'd be screwed withought immigration.
4. The west’s well-intentioned collaboration in the creation of Israel is what got us here. Britain especially should know what happens when you try to colonise another peoples land (think: N Ireland).
5. My brother's training to become a doctor. Apparently there are more administrators than doctors. Fixating this should solve a lot of problems. Most of the MRSA "superbug" problems were caused when the government made hospitals outsource their cleaning services to private companies staffed by agency workers.
6. The EU is not "too socialist". The problem is that it's not democratic enough. We should give more power to our democratically elected MEPs in the European Parliament and weaken (or remove) the European Commission and their Commissioners who are appointed by national governments.
7. You forget that a lot of good came from the 60s (on race, gender and sexuality issues etc). We may have gone too far, but we don't want to return to the type of society we had before that.
8. Like I said, I live in Denmark at the moment where taxation is much more progressive. The country has a thriving business community and seems to do very well despite the taxes.
9. He lied to us. It doesn't matter what happens in Iraq, that fact will always remain.