Why I'm Joining The Lib Dems

by @edent | # # # # # # | 16 comments | Read ~526 times.

I'm a natural Labour voter.  As I explained several months ago, I went in to this election thinking I may vote Labour.  It's now become clear that my vote will be going to the Liberal Democrats.  More than that, I will be joining them.

I want to explain why - without resorting to attacking the other parties.

Voting Reform

As I've said, I was raised in a Labour household.  I went to university expecting to vote Labour.  Yet in ever constituency I've ever lived, the Labour Party haven't fielded a viable candidate.  It costs a lot of money to run an election, so naturally parties only focus on where they think they have a realistic chance of winning.

Because of the ridiculousness of "First Past The Post" any vote for a minority party would be wasted.  So I never got to vote Labour.  Instead, I read the Lib Dem and Conservative manifesto and picked the LibDems.

I dare say I would like to vote Labour again in the future, but I want to do it when my vote will matter.  If the only thing a LibDem coalition / government bring about is voting reform, I'd be happy.

Tax

I was always taught that you shouldn't vote for the party that benefits you personally - you should vote for the party that provides the best for society.  I would probably be financially better off under a Conservative government.  Their plans for tax (assuming they or any other party stick to their promises) would help me out.

But this election isn't about me.  It's about everyone.  I am a big fan of reducing the tax burden on people who aren't as lucky as me.  Essentially, the LibDem plan would eliminate income tax for anyone who was making the minimum wage (£5.80 * 35 hours a week * 52 weeks a year = £10,556. The LibDem plan is for the starting rate of income tax to be £10,000).

While I may profit slightly from this tax break - imagine how it would benefit hundreds of thousands of families who could then afford the things I take for granted.  Better educational opportunities, entertainment to keep their kids from running wild, the occasional holiday, better and fresher food, a computer, broadband, and reduced stress from financial hardship.

Digital Economy Act

So much has been written about the Digital Economy Bill / Act, it feels pointless to rehash it.  Despite the best efforts of some brave Labour politicians, the bill passed.  The Conservative front bench said how much they despised the bill - yet they voted for it anyway.  The LibDems were the only party to fundamentally oppose the bill. I felt they could have been stronger.  Their performance in the House of Lords was very dispiriting, with LibDem Lords inserting a clause written by the BPI.

The bill was written and debated mostly by people with no grasp on modern technology.  The LibDems are the only party that I have seen who have embraced the Internet and are trying to find positive solutions for some of the challenges it presents.

Nuclear Armageddon

As a child of the eighties, I was spared most of the horrors of "Protect and Survive".  I don't want to live in a country where - by accident or design - we could kill billions of people with a push of a button.  Maybe I'm a softie with no experience of how the real world works - but I think the world would be safer without a nuclear deterrent.

Traditionally, the Labour Party has been closely allied with CND - the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - but you wouldn't know it from their actions.

The LibDems are committed to not renewing Trident. However, they do want to replace it with a smaller nuclear arsenal.  I don't think they  are going far enough. We should join South Africa and completely disarm.

Regardless of whether Trident is scrapped or replaced with a cheaper option, the money saved can be better used for other things.

In October 1952, Britain successfully tested a nuclear bomb. It can be argued that our nuclear "deterrent" has been in place ever since. We cannot know which countries haven't attacked us because of our bomb, but we do know it hasn't deterred....

In each of those conflicts, our nuclear arsenal hasn't been enough to stop British troop being killed, British interests being attacked and infringement on our sovereignty.

With the rise in Christian terrorism and Islamic terrorism, there is a strong argument that we have no one to use these weapons against.  Would we ever be justified in staging a nuclear attack on a location from which terrorists may have originated?

Etc.

I could fill another several pages with my thoughts on ID Cards, civil liberties, libel reform, press freedom, sustainable energy, the environment, the recession, the wider economy, live music, Europe, Parliamentary reform, expenses.  Suffice to say, after reading and comparing the manifestos, I feel more closely aligned with the Liberal Democrats on most - but not all - issues.

What Do I Want?

Because of our unfair voting system, I think it's highly unlikely that the LibDems will form a majority - I doubt they'll even be hugely strong minority.  I want them to govern but - more than that - I hope newspapers, politicians, people and institutions will realise that there's more than two sides to every argument.  That the UK deserves the best government possible.  That our votes must be counted fairly.  That there is another way of doing things than flipping between two parties again and again and again.

I want the next government to set politics in a new direction.

I think that the Liberal Democrats are the only realistic choice for me. Both in the area where I live and nationally. This isn't a protest vote - this is a commitment.

I Agree With Nick.


16 thoughts on “Why I'm Joining The Lib Dems

  1. Welcome aboard!
    One thing I'd say as well is that we *are*, as a party, committed to nuclear disarmament - the party as a whole just want multilateral disarmament, and see retaining *some* nuclear weapons for a short time as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Personally I disagree - and there are a lot of unilateralists in the party like myself - but I can see the argument, and it's very different from the 'we need it to keep Britain important' crap...

  2. Kai Hendry says:

    I'm pretty sold on the Conservative's pledge for high speed Internet.

    http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://static.natalian.org/2010-04-25/Conservative_Technology_Manifesto2010.pdf

    We will be the first country in Europe to extend
    superfast 100 mbps broadband across most
    of the population. This is up to 50 times faster
    than Labour’s planned broadband network.

    Though they don't give a time or plan how the hell they are going to do this. At least I can't stuff very easily on the Con's Web page.

    Also locally the LibDems in my area have my a hash of Walton Road. Disgrace. 🙁 A fellow cyclist died on the road due to its incredibly poor condition.

  3. Terence

    A great article and all valid comments that resonate with me. In the past I've been a proponent of the wasted vote theory (although until recently I lived in a LibDem constituency - so I could vote LibDem and win!) but now I realise that in a Democracy no vote in a wasted vote and it's more important to vote for who you want to win rather than to engage in Tactical Voting. Only by voting correctly do we show the true sense of the failure of the two party system.

    So this time even though I know that the Conservatives might just beat Labour in my constituency I am going to vote on who I think should win, the Lib Dems.

    One more point. I often get the feeling that the local parties let the national party down as I keep seeing multiple comments complaining about the poor quality of local councillors. It worries me about them on a national level

    1. Unfortunately *all* parties have a lot of crappy councillors, because so few people care about local politics.

      That said (and this is honestly my experience, not just partisanship) while I'm sure we have our fair share of bad ones, I honestly think that we do better in this regard than the other two parties, precisely because our strategy for decades has been to get councillors first, let people see we can be trusted in *local* government, and then try to get MPs in regions where we've got councillors. That strategy wouldn't have been as successful as it has been, had our councillors been *that* bad.

      (Of course if we have bad councillors in your area, the obvious solution is to stand yourself!)

  4. Mrs CBR Eden says:

    As the bossy one in the labour household in which Terry grew up I totally respect his decision to follow his conscience and vote for the party that most matches his convictions. Living in such a Conservative strong hold as Woking means that it is neither brave nor foolish to vote Liberal. What concerns me most are marginal Labour/Tory seats where the anti Tory vote is now going to be even more fractured thus ensuring a Tory landslide as in 1979 when the SDP (a vacillator by any other name) helped Thatcher to victory. The problem is that Tory’s don’t change their spots whilst we real liberals, in the true sense of the word, have crises of conscience. I am so saddened by the current government’s Trident and nuclear energy policies but want to fight from within. I still believe that the only way to a true Socialist society is via the Labour Party. However I can see that tactical voting is the only way to stop Cameron and his cronies destroying our rights such as the minimum wage. To see how the split vote works look at the results of the London Mayoral Elections which resulted Boris raising public transport fares whilst the hooray henries have been spared congestion charges in the heartland of Kensington and Chelsea. I shall vote Labour in Holborn and campaign in Barking where it is vital to stop the BNP; wouldn’t it be awful if the anti-government vote resulted in Griffin slipping through as victors? Be careful what you wish for ....... (A proud mum)

    1. I understand your qualms (my own parents have the same ones, and in fact the memory of the SDP split was one of the things which made me put off joining for a few years). However, it wasn't the SDP split that helped Thatcher to get in - they didn't form until 1981.

      In this election it's definitely *NOT* going to be a Tory landslide - the very best they can hope for is to form a minority government. Have a look at http://ukelectiontrend.blogspot.com/ for example - it's just impossible for *any* party to get more than the tiniest majority this time round, and a Labour/Lib Dem coalition looks the most likely result.

      Remember as well that the Lib Dems are taking votes not just from Labour but from the Tories - the Conservative share in the polls has *plummeted* since the debates, since people who were thinking of voting Tory. In your own seat of Holborn And St Pancras, for example, the anti-government vote will likely go to the Lib Dem candidate, who has a small but real chance of beating Dobson, so those who were thinking of voting Tory will almost certainly now vote for Jo Shaw.

      (And as someone who unfortunately has Griffin as an MEP, I agree it would be terrible for him to get in in Barking. In the case of the BNP the important thing is just to get people out and voting at all - I've taken part in several Hope Not Hate events to try to get out the anti-BNP vote, and there I don't care who they're supporting so long as it's not the BNP. )

      None of this is to try to change your mind - you should vote for whoever you want to win in your seat - just to say that you shouldn't worry unnecessarily. This isn't 1983, and the very real concerns that existed then don't exist now...

  5. Tom Miller says:

    Well, I can't agree obviously. For me, the only way that any of these things can really be achieved is b having a strong party allied to the labour movement, which organises those most motivated to respond to social injustice and gives them collected clout.

    Good luck with getting involved though.

    Tom

  6. Tom Miller says:

    "Because of the ridiculousness of “First Past The Post” any vote for a minority party would be wasted. So I never got to vote Labour. Instead, I read the Lib Dem and Conservative manifesto and picked the LibDems."

    On that, also, any vote that loses is effectively wasted under FPTP. Afterwards, if you picked a loser, you might as well ave picked any of the others.

    With regard to upcoming stuff, surely it's better to vote for someone who will rule out a programme of cooperation with the Tories? Otherwise you vote against them just to keep them in.

    1. Exactly - I don't want my voice wasted; I want it to count. How can a party govern without a popular mandate unless they work with other parties?

      Theoretically, imagine if Labour got 40% of the vote in every seat, with the rest split evenly between the Tories and the LibDems. Would you really argue that was a sound basis for governing? 60% of the country being represented by someone they voted against?

      You know what - I'm not afraid of the Tories. Yes, I'm sure they'll do some stuff I disagree with and some stuff I'll hate. Guess what - so will the Labour Party and LibDem. Equally, I'm sure that they've got one or two good ideas somewhere. That's why coalitions are good. It prevents the excessive madness of a legislative program dictated by an "unbeatable" government.

      Labour can't win in Woking. I truly wish you the best of luck, but unless Woking has the most incredible swing ever seen - it won't happen. Given the swing to the LibDems (nationally), they are the best bet in keeping the Tories out.

      Don't you see the futility of this? I want to vote for you! But the voting system Labour has been propping up for the last 13 years means I have to vote against my wishes.

      Thanks for the comments - and good luck with your campaign.

      1. Tom Miller says:

        Well, let me be the last for making apologies for our absurd voting system. All the Surrey MPs are Tory. Yet 150,000 residents voted Lib Dem, and 80,000 Labour. Neither have any representation at a national level, which is absurd in itself.

        In terms of other conclusions, there are some things where I feel (predictably) different.

        "How can a party govern without a popular mandate unless they work with other parties?"

        This is true. But the question is which they would choose. Some parties (e.g. the BNP) are clearly beyond the pale. I think that a lot of likely Tory policies post election are damaging enough for any sensible progressive to rule out working with them entirely. Forgive my invocation of history; You will know of Ramsay MacDonald, and his 'national Labour' split from the Labour Party, made in order to go in with an anti-workforce, cut happy Tory government, after an enormous worldwide financial shock.

        It seems to me that history may repeat this; only now the left-of-centre party prepared to work with them is that which arose from the Liberals and the SDP, and Labour is more cohesively anti-Tory within its own ambit. We still may end up with a big chunk of the purported 'left' putting through their despicable budgets for them, a la 1931.

        For me, preventing heir measures from assaulting the population is absolutely key; for a variety of reasons I don't believe that a Lib Dem MP would make any contribution to that. As in the days of MacDonald, an independent alternative backed by those who would be most profoundly affected is the only thing that can solve the problem.

        Labour won't work with the Tories. And constituents have my personal guarantee that if the Labour Party did make such a decision (as in Germany), I would resign my membership.

        If elected, I would also work for a referendum on the various PR systems available to avoid people having this quandary in the future. In the meantime I shall be expecting all the Lib Dems in Labour/Tory marginals to stand aside for a tactical vote. Or perhaps that just won't happen... in that sense, in one this system actually plays rather well for them!

        Tom

  7. Mrs CBR Eden says:

    "Equally, I’m sure that they’ve (Tories) got one or two good ideas somewhere.
    " Name them!
    ("Did Mrs Thatcher steal Hansel and Gretel's money too?" )
    The Tories believe that only by feathering the nests of the rich can the "common man" prosper. The Lord of The Manor knows best. Trade Unions are evil and the minimum wage (plus holiday pay for temporary workers) has blighted business. Sure we survived the Thatcher years and we shall survive the Cameron Chaos but this cult of celebrity leadership is so trite and demeaning. If I lived in Woking I would vote Liberal with a heavy heart but in Holbron I'll work my socks off for Dobson and to regain the council from the sad lib/con coalition. But it is to Barking that we must look.

    1. “Equally, I’m sure that they’ve (Tories) got one or two good ideas somewhere.”
      Name them!

      Scrapping ID cards for one (assuming they would - but that's the same assumption you make with any manifesto). Expensive, illiberal, and not justified by evidence.

      I agree with you re the rest, though.

  8. Mrs CBR Eden says:

    Vote yellow get blue! So sorry for all the hopeful Libs that they were once again fooled by the hype. Do hope that pr does come into force as it is logical but not at the expense of morals. Labour regained many councils including my own Camden which demonstrates how the electorate really loathed the lib/con coalition of the past four years. Is there a lesson to be learnt here? Be careful with whom you sleep and use protection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.