I’ve noticed that, other than to discuss opinion polling (a post on which is overdue), I don’t tend to speak about British politics very much on this blog. This isn’t because it doesn’t interest me, nor because I don’t follow it. I just don’t tend to have much to say, for some reason or another. I think this may partly be due to the fact that, regarding Westminster at any rate, I tend to feel a general antipathy towards the entire system. I dislike our monarchical system, I blame the electoral system for a large number of problems our country faces – or, at least, for limiting our solutions – and I don’t feel inspired by any of the major parties:
The Conservative Party
My views tend to veer to the left so, clearly, the UK’s main right-wing party does nothing for me. I oppose our current Conservative-led government’s obsessive drive to enforce austerity upon us, thereby punishing the weakest of our society for a crisis they didn’t cause. While recognising the private sector has its place I oppose the relentless agenda of privatisation they’re enforcing upon us. Ridiculous assaults on people in need of benefits with policies such as the ‘bedroom tax’ are disgraceful. While I am thankful for David Cameron’s somewhat moderate leadership, trying to reign in the Eurosceptic backbenches and pushing through gay marriage, I still think he is a poor prime minister.
Same as the Conservatives, but worse. As someone who is pro-Europe, pro-immigration, pro-renewable energy but not particularly fond of pubs, I don’t think I have a single thing in common with this party.
I really want to like Labour. In theory the mainstream party of social democracy, my amateur opinion is that it abandoned this title long ago. New Labour did some great things – most of which were before I became politically aware – my favourite of which is introducing the minimum wage, but it seemed to bow to the concept of privatised, unadulterated individualism which Thatcher imposed upon the country. More shockingly, I’ve read a few criticisms from Labour supporters at the flimsiness of Labour’s policies which, after a whole 13 years of being implemented, are easily being torn away in a fraction of the time by our current coalition government. If Labour were to promise some real, left-wing progressive policies – nationalisation of the railways, ambitious cuts to carbon emissions, the scrapping of Trident and a proper, growth-focused alternative to austerity, to name a few – I might change my mind. As it is, we have a shadow cabinet which has stated it will more or less continue the coalition’s austerity drive and is currently tearing itself apart over the role of unions in the party. I’m not well informed enough about this issue to make a detailed comment but, without the unions, what would be the point of Labour? They’d simply be a less scary version of the Conservatives.
I think people have been too harsh to the Liberal Democrats at times. As a junior partner in a coalition, with less than 1/5 of the seats the Conservative party have (they should have three times as many but, you know, our electoral system…) they really can’t be expected to live up to all of their promises. That said, Liberal Democrat policies have taken such a beating in this government – tuition fees, changing the electoral system, reforming the House of Lords, etc – that I’m amazed any of their MPs see the coalition as still being worthwhile. I suspect they’re staying in only in the hope that their abysmal poll performance improves. The last three years has been proof that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is in reality a vote for either Labour or Conservative, depending whichever performs better. That said, of the four they would still probably be my preferred option, if only because they are the only party seeking to reform the electoral system and end this straitjacket upon British politics.
It’s not the only reason, but an electoral system which only lets our vote count for two almost identical parties is why I largely feel disillusioned with Westminster politics and why I have far more confidence in the Scottish system. I’m sure I can’t be the only person being pushed by this charade towards viewing Scottish independence as a positive thing.
Nevertheless, I will try to pay greater attention to developments in both UK and Scottish politics, and I’ll make an effort to blog about them a little more. I doubt that will do much for my lack of faith but it might make it more justified. If you disagree with any of this, please let me know why!