Voting for the first time – June 4 elections
With the country ripping its gizzards out with financial scandals and whatnot, our first-time voter looks at the three main UK parties and what they say they believe in. National policy? Foreign policy? Is there any difference between the parties at all?
“Amy,” my mother said, in a slightly taken aback manner, whilst watching news of more political scandal, “you’ll be able to vote at the next general election!”
“Yes. I know.” Her astonishment was not because she’s amazed at how fast I’m ‘growing up’ (no; that’s my Grandad). It’s because she’s pondering whether I’ll vote the way she’d like to hope I will. I have been brought up with politics from an early age (as you will see), so there’s no question of my not voting as soon as I can. Suffragettes didn’t die for me not to vote.
But she’s right to ponder who I’ll vote fore. The scandals in Westminster at the moment are enough to make any history student shudder; as I watch them, I am mostly feeling sorry for students 200 years in the future who will have to study whatever reforms we eventually end up with, the way that I’m currently suffering the Great Reform Act of 1832.
As a consequence of this, however, I have become immensely interested in what everyone has to say. I thought I’d better investigate what the three main parties have to say on the issues at hand. (I would look into the smaller parties, but, to be frank, a lot of them make me feel a little bit sick. Well, okay, the BNP.)
Starting at the top, then…
I have always been a Labour girl. I remember being dragged away from my colouring, aged three, to watch the Blessed Blair on television. My parents knew what they believed in and they wanted me to believe it, too. But, to be honest, even I am struggling to believe some of what I am hearing at the moment; the Chancellor requiring an accountant to sort out his expenses? Excuse me, what?
However, they are disciplining any MP who falls below their standards; “The [Labour Party] has agreed today… To interview any Labour MPs where there appears to be evidence against them. The panel will have the power to recommend… That MPs are not allowed to stand… At the next General Election.”
But – what are they going to do in Europe, then? As the elections are on June 4th? It’s hard to sift through the spin on any party’s website, but Labour appear to be holding firm on their original, socialist values: Supporting “hard-working people” and assisting “families and businesses” through the hard economic times that are apparently still to come. Nothing new, though.
I read somewhere today that the word “Tory” derives from the old Irish for “thief”. I’m not sure whether to believe it, but it does amuse me.
Anyhow, Cameron was the first party leader to agree that all of his members’ expenses would be looked through. He appears to be disciplining more strictly than Labour – but his MPs have done some very silly things. Duck houses… moats… it could only be a Tory, right?
In Europe? The Tories want to take back control; where Labour are staunchly supporting international democracy, the Tories seem to be saying that Britain’s say comes first: “If the Lisbon Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next general election, and a Conservative Government is elected, we would put the Treaty to a referendum of the British people, recommending a ‘no’ vote.”
Oh. Not quite so much a case of what Britain believes, then?
Their leader looks uncannily like Cameron. It’s bizarre. Anyway…
In the Guardian on Monday, Nick Clegg’s ‘100 day plan’ to ‘reform parliament’ was described. Despite the likelihood of a LibDem loss, they’re still advocating a General Election. Despite the fact that it would probably not do them any direct good, Clegg is holding firm on his belief in Proportional Representation – the political system which saw Hitler elected (see “Smaller parties” making me “feel a little bit sick”) – but also a system successfully operated in over fifty nations including Australia. “Why on earth, if you were Labour or Tory leader, would you say ‘Yeah yeah yeah, change a system that has benefited us massively, and enabled us to govern with no mandate and almost no scrutiny or checks and balances.’ Of course they’re not going to give that up!”, Clegg told the Guardian, but would the same not be said of them if they were in power, or opposition…? We can only wonder.
In Europe, the Lib Dems seem to be pretty much the same as Labour (but that might just be my inability to read political jargon for any great amount of time and make sense of it).
On the plus side, they do have the prettiest web site.
So, what’s the conclusion?
It’s down to you, I guess. All I can urge you to do is use your vote on June 4th – I will, next year, as soon as I can.
To be fair, I trust people on the site to make the right decisions. Certainly the right decisions for them.
May the force be with you. Put a cross in the box you believe in. Or the one you think will do the country the least harm.