April 20th is Hitler’s birthday and the last day you can register to vote. Sometime on May 8th, VE Day, we will find out which weakly cobbled together coalition of sorts is going to attempt to govern Britain for the next five years.
We have a ridiculously and evidently broken first past the post electoral system. Only a small number of marginal constituencies truly matter.
In each only a small number of swing-voters (surely the last people who should have such power) will determine the outcome of the national election.
I have a friend who tells a story of his grandfather shouting at the TV every time he heard someone urging people to vote because so many had lost their lives fighting the Nazis for the right to do so. He said that he had fought the Nazis just as much for our right not to vote.
I didn’t vote for Tony Blair in ’97 or any other time because he’s a wacko Christian. I didn’t vote in 2010 because in Gordon Brown Labour had the wrong leader.
It’s tempting to sit this one out too. Labour have the wrong leader again, a self-serving, second rate supporting cast, a limp set of timid, only marginally attractive policies and a new and unattractive tendency to pander to nationalist instincts that are not their own.
But I will be voting this time and I will be voting Labour.
Some things are more important than how many kitchens you have, whether or not you can eat a bacon sandwich and the horror of having to put up with seeing a lot more of Ed Balls on TV. Even more important than the deficit.
1. I believe Britain should stay in the EU.
I think Britain is better off in the EU than standing alone. We stood alone against Hitler and then the EU was created so that we would not find ourselves fighting our neighbours again. I also think the EU is better for Britain being in it; wiser, cooler, with better bands.
In a frantically changing world the idea that somehow our best interests are served by standing alone again is an idea for fools who should get out more, see something of Asia and South America. More than ever Europe needs to stick together if it’s not to fall behind.
Scared of UKIP and the euro-sceptics in his own party Cameron is committed to offering an in-out referendum. A Labour government will not take that risk. (And the SNP will back them).
2. I believe that Scotland and England should remain part of the same country.
I don’t think there is any reasonable case for the SNP to expect a second independence referendum anytime soon (they lost remember, it really doesn’t matter by how much) and no Labour government will offer them one.
If Labour is to have any hope of ever again forming a majority government it needs to play a long-game, take the hit this time and then get on with winning Scotland back. The SNP are an idea whose time has come. But that will pass.
The Conservatives on the other hand (despite the ‘and Unionists’ name) could govern England forever were the Scots to leave and, whatever they say now, the Tories may come round to that idea.
3. Labour losing could be a good thing.
The worst possible outcome is that a second Cameron-Clegg rose garden not-really-love-in ushers in a second Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
This would be the most depressing and undemocratic result.
It’s even possible that Cameron might stay as Prime Minister having won a lower share of the vote than Miliband.
It’s certain that for all their new MPs the SNP would be out of the loop, condemned to five impotent years as Her Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition.
Lib-Dem voters would be massively over-represented, in terms of their number of MPs and their influence. UKIP voters would be massively under-represented.
It’s an outcome up with which we should not put. (Churchill said something like that.)
I’m voting Labour because I believe in British membership of the EU, I believe the nations of Britain really are ‘better together’ and I believe that the more votes Labour gets if they lose, the more fuel to the fire of electoral reform.