I live in the Leicester West constituency, with Liz Kendall as my MP. Leicester is a one-party state, with very little organised opposition that is capable of challenging the grip of the Labour Party on local politics. There are fifty-four councillors, all except for one are Labour. This makes for a pretty sterile political debate in the city, and there is little immediate prospect of this changing as long as local elections are contested with first past the post.
I used to be a Labour campaigner when I lived in Melton Mowbray, and stood in a number of local and county elections. I was supportive of Gordon Brown, but I lost faith when the party’s response to austerity after 2010 became timid and introspective. Ed Balls spent more time running marathons and learning to play the piano than he did campaigning for a renewed economic settlement based on investment.
I have no love for the Conservative Party, who I regard as mendacious, duplicitous and contradictory. There is nothing conservative about ideologically driven free market fanaticism. I had no time for the Liberal Democrats either under Nick Clegg. Perhaps only second to David Cameron as a poor judge of political reality and basically a self-serving opportunist.
Brexit reset this problem, and as an insurance against the worst effects of the referendum to leave the EU, I decided to join the Liberal Democrats. I’ve not been active. I’ve not made any particular statements other than to share an occasional tweet. I felt that there needed to be a strong remain party in Westminster that can push the remain agenda.
If I lived in a marginal constituency, I would be voting tactically and doing whatever I could to ensure that the Tories don’t win. I am less tribal in one way than I used to be, but my contempt for the Conservative Party runs deep. I came of age in the 1980s and have lived with the damage that Thatcher’s individualistic and selfish agenda foisted on the country, and I’ve always wanted to reverse it.
Two things have changed my mood in recent weeks as I’ve been watching the election campaign from afar. I’m only getting my information from news sites that I trust. I read the Guardian and the Independent, because they are not propaganda sheets. I’ve given up on the BBC, because it has lost any sense of independence and accountability. Tony Hall is quite possibly the worst Director General that the BBC has had in a long time. Weak and timid with no independent mind. Which flows down into the organisation and defines the news and editorial decisions that follow.
First thing to change, then, has been the publication of the Labour Party Manifesto. I can’t really find any fault with it. I agree with its principles, and the way that it will go about implementing them. There is nothing revolutionary or wasteful about it. It is measured, guarded and well thought through. The manifesto has helped me to overcome much of my dislike of Jeremy Corbyn. I’m not a fan of the man, I don’t appreciate some of his stances, and the people around him seem to lack integrity. However, the overall design of the manifesto and it’s social democratic objectives I welcome.
The digital broadband for all proposal is inspired. It cuts through much of the blather about public services, and it kicks the ball, to use a metaphor, up the field. We’ve become used to the cry that there is no alternative in British politics, and many people have internalised that belief. It’s a form of the Stockholm Syndrome that leaves the victim of a nasty and abusive regime feeling beholden to the perpetrators.
The Conservative Party are the perpetrators of a massive scam, and they will do all they can to blame their victims. As well as being a liar, Boris Johnson is probably a sociopath. He has no regard for anything but his own self-interest, and he will tell anyone what they want to hear, he will promise anything, and then he will blame them when he lets them down and breaks his promises. Which he is destined to do.
The second thing that has changed my mood has been the awful campaign of the Liberal Democrats, and particularly Jo Swinson’s performance as leader. Yes, she’s been given a hard time about her role in the coalition government, which ironically the Conservative’s are not given by the media. But what’s come off badly is the pretence that she might be Prime Minister. This moved the party away from articulating their values and into the realm of games-making and ambition that is characteristic of a PR-led communication strategy.
Swinson is too inexperienced at this point to be an effective leader, however impassioned she might be. Her time will come, but not at this election. Her refusal to rule-out support for the Conservatives has become the biggest block for me. I could not countenance a party that would put the conservatives back in power for five years, either as a coalition or on a confidence and supply basis. Even worse, refusing to deal with Jeremy Corbyn is ill-judged and petulant.
So, I’m in a position where, once again, I am questioning my political allegiance. I support a second referendum. In fact, I think it is essential. Brexit is a catastrophic problem for the UK and future generations. I actually think that Corbyn’s decision to remain neutral in any referendum if he is elected to office, and can renegotiate a deal that is satisfactory to all nations in the UK, not just the little Englanders, is the most sensible of all the party leaders.
Give people a real choice, based on a deal that protects the economy and doesn’t damage it, and the option to remain. This in my view would get Brexit done, not the waffle and lies of Johnson and the Conservatives. I’m not a fan of Corbyn, but I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he would be like in office. As I agree with the Labour Party’s programme of reform, and would like it to go more in the direction of the Nordic social democratic countries, and less in the direction of the United States, and their free-market fanaticism, then I’ll be voting for Liz Kendal and the Labour Party at the election.