karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
Karen ([personal profile] karen2205) wrote2010-04-28 09:46 pm

UK politics/election

Cutting for likely boredom due to politics overload.

For the past few years I've found it difficult to get excited about politics, I think because of a combination of me being reasonably happy with the status quo and a sense of helplessness about my current inability to alter things. Being ambitious and specifically having political ambition is generally frowned upon, but it's still true that I'd love to be an MP; from the perspective of being able to use my power to assist my constituents and from being able to use my skill to lobby ministers and represent my constituents' interests in Westminster.

I don't identify strongly with any of the political parties at this point in time. A lib-dem+conservative coalition would be my preferred result this time round. I'm a social liberal and economic conservative, which creates a weird meld of beliefs; I'd like to see much better government funding for childcare, because it's a supply side policy, removing a barrier to employment *and* because I want to see parents having a real choice about how to structure their paid work. At the same time, I'd like to student loan style funding made available to parents who choose to take career breaks to raise children.

I think the Iraq war was in principle a good thing. I don't think the implementation was carried out well and I think there was insufficient courage on the part of Blair; going into Iraq to depose a dictator causing enormous suffering to the people and posing a security risk to the region was justifiable just like that. Going into Iraq on the basis of a lie to Parliament about a potential threat to the UK was wrong. Going into Iraq (as appeared to happen) without a clear plan of what to do next once Saddam had been deposed was downright stupid. So much unnecessary suffering because the mission was unclear and there was adequate space for unrest to grow.

I think the UK should maintain a nuclear deterrent for now. I don't think the world is quite stable enough yet to give it up.

I was 15 at the general election in May 1997. It happened during my final couple of weeks at school before taking my GCSE exams. I was born under Thatcher - perhaps my first political role model? I remember watching her losing power and feeling really sorry for her. I then remember being a bit surprised John Major won in 1992. In 1997 I didn't think there could possibly be a result other than John Major winning - there had been so much Tory government, I didn't see any of the Labour lot appearing to be ministerial. I was surprised at the Blair victory, but kind of pleased, (much as there's much Labour policy I disagree with) as I was caught up in the hope and joy of those early days of the Blair government.

I feel that the current Labour government has gone on too long and has become arrogant and complacent, in a similar way to the Major government towards the end of its time. For that reason alone I want Labour to lose this time round.

I want to like David Cameron, but I'm not willing on a national level to vote for a man offering a tokenistic £150 tax break for some married couples/civil partners. It's none of the government's business whether people marry or not and certainly not something that ought to be reflected in the tax system. And it's of incredibly limited value to those its aimed at helping ie. couples where one person doesn't work. I have my concerns about the homophobic comments being attributed to Tories at the moment; if people are actually making them, then I cannot in good conscience vote for them, but I do wonder whether there's an element of press manipulation going on here as it's an easy place to target. My sexuality is none of the government's business.

I've not yet seen any of the election debates; from what I've read about them I am surprised Cameron isn't doing better. He's an Etonian who went to Oxford; he should (and I'm saying this bearing in mind my own experiences at Oxford) be good at this kind of thing. He should have had lots of opportunities to practice answering questions, concisely explaining his own point of view. I will hopefully get the chance to see the debate tomorrow, but my current suspicion is that 'someone' is trying to spin too much, so we don't see the genuine article; we get too many anecdotes and not enough confidently held beliefs.

On a local level, my own Tory candidate was heavily involved in the expenses scandal. I do not wish to vote for someone so politically unsavvy. I do think MPs are underpaid and that to attract talented people to the role the salary should be commensurate with what people could earn in the private sector. But I also think that anyone with the intelligence and integrity to become an MP should know better than to be exploiting the expenses arrangements for personal gain, even if their activities are within the letter and spirit of the rules. How the public would react to the expenses revelations was perfectly obvious.

I am therefore currently most likely to vote lib dem.

I am not keen on PR for Parliamentary elections (I think it has much more use for local elections) as I think having a government with a reasonably clear majority able to implement its manifesto pledges and be judged on those is generally a good thing. Some forms of PR break the link between MP and constituency, which is not a good thing. I still dislike STV because it is so complicated and I don't think we should be using an electoral system for our national Parliament that is only truely understood by a handful of election geeks. I have fewer objections to the AV system within a constituency. Other systems I don't know much about.