Monday, 3 May 2010

So who would I vote for?

I've been asking myself this question and ruffling my hair over it for quite some time now. Even if in the end I don't have to make my mind up because at least for these general elections, I'm not a UK citizen and therefore not eligible to vote, but still. It's not as straight forward as many make you believe. Now, just a summary of who I am - I passionately (yes yes, an overused word, but it's the best one around) believe in a society which offers equality for all. My main concern for the future is our over reliance on fossil fuels for food production and what will happen if fossil fuels run out. In Germany, my vote usually went to the Green Party and I was overjoyed to see them form a coalition government (the one before the current German government) and having decision making powers.

So you should think I would just transfer that vote to the equivalent party around here. But stop, the UK operates on a first past the post system. I live in Glasgow South, a constituency where the Labour majority is so vast that nobody has even bothered to canvas properly as long as I can think. Our Labour MP, if you look at his record, and his blog, to my mind would be better placed in a different party. And of course he'd be annoyed by this judgement. Bottom line is that I don't feel represented by him, and would quite like the seat to go to someone different.

That would be where tactical voting sets in. If you look at Scottish Parliament, European and even Council elections, it seems that the SNP is doing rather well in our constituency so I believed naively that if there is an alternative, it surely must be SNP. I also agree with this party on many issues that are dear to me, though I'd always be extremely reluctant to support any party who carries the word Nationalist in their name. For historical reasons and because I think nationalism is a whole lot of useless rubbish. But of course, general elections are different, and most people who would vote for the SNP in regional and local elections won't do it now. Therefore a) it's unlikely that any party would beat the apparently 10,000 majority Labour has, and b) it could only be beaten if we all agreed on who the alternative would be. Which we do not. I could just as well vote Green then. Or anyone else because the majority is thus that voting for anyone other than Labour translates to a wasted vote.

Then there's the issue of avoiding the worst case scenario, which actually would put me awfully close to voting Labour.

Plus I always wonder if a tactical vote is a dishonest vote anyway. I mean, is it right to vote for a candidate just because you don't like the face of your current MP? It's about the party, not the candidate, right? If that statement was true (and it is to me, as I would always make sure I vote for the party that represents my views best), FPTP is really the wrong system. If it's about the party, PR is the right approach. I guess in the UK it's just a little bit about the party, I suppose in general terms for forming a government, but in specific terms it's about a person. And it matters pretty little what party that person belongs to.

And that's the point where I get a headache because my mind is starting to explode.

Maybe I would be voting Lib Dems because they want to introduce PR. Not enough of a reason? Hm, not so sure anymore. At least it would mean in future that I can vote for the party of my choice and not waste my vote by doing so.

So let's look at the result of my email requesting my local candidates to support a Robin Hood Tax (that's a tax taken from banks to support the poorest in this country). SNP got back quickly and fully support it. Green Party came back a few days later and fully support it. LibDems got back twice and sent me a much longer response, much more detail, about their support for a similar financial transaction tax to be introduced alongside similar international measures - the proceeds of which would go to developing countries. Not quite the Robin Hood Tax but something for sure. Labour and Tories: no response.

A similar picture if you look at the feedback Southside Happenings' initiative got. Labour and Conservative Parties join the LibDems in not being bothered. The SNP scores highest points on the communication table.

Again, not a reason in itself to vote for them, but it doesn't endear me to the big 3 that they are rather reluctant to speak to me.

So then, who would I vote for if I could?

I have no idea. My vote would most definitely be a swing vote.



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