General Election 2015

Right, I’ve been pretty good so far about not flooding the internet with election froth, but there’s only a few hours now until the polls open, so…

Vote!

But don’t vote Conservative. They’re a shower of right-wing ideologues half-masked by a profoundly bland leader, and they’ve explicitly promised to be worse next time around. Don’t vote Ukip. They’re a shower of career-oriented former Tories hatefully manipulating issues they don’t care about for a moment in the sun. Don’t vote DUP. They’re a shower of homophobes. Don’t vote BNP. You’re not a cunt.

Beyond that, you more or less have my blessing. There’s a lot of things wrong with Labour, especially in Scotland, but they are ultimately the party we want to be heading whatever odd chimera of a government we eventually get, and they’ve inched in some good directions under Miliband. The Scottish National Party are a far more mainstream, establishment party than many of their supporters claim, but they too are reaching leftwards, aren’t all starry-eyed about austerity, and they have easily the most impressive leader of the larger parties. The Green Party have my vote this time around (see below) — I could wish Bennett was more forceful and their Basic Income policy was better costed, but I agree with them on most points. Plaid also talk a lot of sense (at least when they’re speaking English. They may be plotting an authoritarian coup in Welsh, for all I know), and I love that their leader cheerfully self identifies as republican, socialist and feminist, compared to Miliband and Sturgeon’s reticence about such labels. Smaller hard-left parties like TUSC, the SSP and particularly Left Unity are really valuable, and it’s a shame how they’ve been sidelined even further by the swell of the other parties in this paragraph.

The Liberal Democrats are hard to endorse after what they’ve done to themselves in this parliament, but they still stand on a lot of positive platforms — such as proportional representation — and the most positive note in the last Conservative budget, the raising of the personal allowance, was forced on them by the Liberals before being disingenuously claimed as a Tory policy. If by some nightmarish fluke we end up with a Conservative majority tomorrow, I think we’ll come to realise that the Lib Dems were occasionally quite an effective handbrake on big-business, Milton-Friedman Tory dogma in the last five years.

The other Northern Irish parties, and other local parties nationwide, I don’t know enough about to comment on. But there is no one party in this election who clearly have all the answers: the policy AND the mandate, the pragmatism AND the dreams. This election will be a long, long conversation into the night and the nights after that, and that’s not unhealthy. The pragmatic, social-democrat position and the fervent, people’s-revolution position have a lot to say to each other, and I don’t like the pretence, the arrogance, that they don’t; that only one of them has the jurisdiction to speak.

I’m voting Green. The Scottish Green Party candidate in my constituency of Edinburgh East is Peter McColl, who was previously rector of Edinburgh University. I liked his platform in the last rectorial election (which he lost), and I like the way that the Greens are dragging some quite radical ideas (such as the Basic Income mentioned above) closer to the ‘Overton window’ of mainstream acceptability. But I live in a constituency which, though it could be a very interesting tussle between the Labour incumbent and the projected SNP takeover, isn’t going to fall to the Conservatives or Ukip, and so I can cast my vote for a smaller party without wondering whether I’m playing into the hands of the enemy. Tactical voting is a sour taste of an idea, but I completely understand it in such constituencies as it might make a positive difference to the end of this whole weary process.

Whatever happens, we’re in for a long, weary drag over the next few weeks as horses are traded and red lines abandoned and alliances cast in brittle tin. I think Labour made a real error in letting the Tories bully them into promising no formal deals with the SNP, but I still hope for some kind of left-scented alliance, formal or informal, to come out of it all.

So do your research — both into the parties nationwide and your local MP, and the polling in your constituency. Don’t let the bastards win. And get out the vote.

(originally posted on Facebook, saved here so I can link to it elsewhere)

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