Petty, small-minded, always one to bear a grudge. Yes, that’s me. Not on everything, but certainly when it comes to politics. A slightly reconstructed Blairite, although I still believe that Tony Blair and new Labour did much to make Britain a far better place, I know that things have changed. Labour needs to change dramatically in order to get near Boris Johnson’s populist, spend, spend, spend Conservative party, never mind defeat it and people are coming up with ideas on how to do so. Prominent in discussions is what people are calling a ‘progressive alliance’, including pretty well anyone to the left of the Tories, which is to say everyone, getting together under one electoral umbrella. A kind of grand coalition of everything left of right. Can it work? Possibly, but given my pettiness, small-mindedness and grudges, not with me on board.
My problem is that I don’t like the Lib Dems, the Greens, Plaid Cymru or the Scottish Nationalists. Obviously, living in England, I am unable to vote for a nationalist party but I am eligible to vote for the others. But as things stand – and I can’t honestly see how things can change enough for me – I am not voting Lib Dem or Green under any circumstances whatsoever, except for one set of circumstances for the Lib Dems.
I can say with absolute certainty that I would never vote Lib Dem after what they did in 2010, going into government with David Cameron’s austerity-heavy Tories. The Lib Dems piled misery upon misery on the worst off, made life hell for desperate refugees, attacked the pensions of public service workers, slashed funding on schools and hospitals and, when their disgraceful period of service was over, most of them, including current leader Sir Edward Davey, were awarded gongs. Sir Vince Cable, Sir Steve Webb, Sir Nick Clegg, Sir Danny Alexander, Jo Swinson CBE also benefited from David Cameron’s grateful patronage. Unless they apologise without qualification, this petty, small-minded, grudge-carrying individual will ever support being in a ‘progressive alliance’ with them.
For different reasons, I can’t support a progressive alliance with the Greens, either. It is not their overall message I oppose, but it’s the road they are taking. As of 2020, the Greens supported:
- Congestion charges
- Charges for workplace parking
- Road pricing
- A 25p a litre increase in fuel duty
- Introduce a carbon tax (which will be levied in fuel)
- Massive new taxes on flying
- Make bus stops look nicer
How on earth can I support that? I work in the care sector, alongside millions of minimum wage folk, who are on the move all day delivering vital frontline services to the most vulnerable people in society. The gentrified middle classes, who by and large appear to be the biggest supporters of the Green Party, don’t seem to give a toss about these people, possibly because they don’t need them. For those who do it would be catastrophic. Unless the Greens have a transport offer to those they doubtless see as the lower orders, I won’t be supporting them.
And how can Labour do a deal with nationalists and separatists who would, if successful, subject England to permanent Conservative rule? Christ – we’re close enough to that with them.
I’d do a deal with the minor parties on one issue and one only: proportional representation. I would support an election whereby the non Conservative parties would campaign for fair votes and once having secured a parliamentary majority introduced PR. The PR question would be the only one on the manifestos of the parties. No subsequent referendum would be needed: just another general election.
Yes, if PR was introduced, we would probably have permanent electoral coalitions, with compromise being the only way forward, but what’s wrong with that? It has to be better than the current system whereby governments win a landslide majority in parliament on the back of a minority of the public vote and for many people their votes are worthless.
Of course, if Davey and the Lib Dems were to offer a full, unqualified apology for the five years they served in a nasty Tory government, I might reconsider my position but until then it’s PR or nothing. The privately educated, ex Oxford university, Lib Dem leader Sir Edward Davey, can do one without that. He’ll always be a friend of the Tories in my eyes and so will all the Lib Dems.