Sunday, May 01, 2005

A Heartwrenching Vote

The British General Election will take place this Thursday, May 5th. I've mentioned before how much agonizing I've been doing about this particular election. Stories about the Labour leadership's deliberate misleading of the public about the Iraq war continue to come out, even today. I think that, to a reasonable extent, it has been established that the government both lied about the evidence, and ignored expert advice about the legality of the war. I remain disappointed and furious about this. To reward a Prime Minister for such duplicity with a third term is almost unthinkable, and to play a part in that would leave me feeling in need of a good shower.

But I'm going to do it anyway.

Although I've given this a lot of thought, and have considered as many of the issues as I can, my ultimate reasons are not subtle at all. The next Prime Minister will either be Tony Blair or Michael Howard. Despite my deep dislike of Blair and of his lies over Iraq, I can't contribute in any way to a Conservative victory.

For most of my life in England I lived under a Conservative government. In fact, an article I recently read about the Conservatives' use of some of the same political consultants as the Bush campaign, brought to mind the role of Saatchi & Saatchi in propelling the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher to power in the late 1970s. I can't overstate what a disaster that election was for Britain. In the North West, where I lived, unemployment rose to percentages in the 20s, and some people committed suicide they were so depressed with their lives during, and about their prospects after, long-term unemployment. I was thinking this over tonight, while hanging out with my Mum and Dad, both of whom struggled and sacrificed mightily to raise my brother and me during my Father's many years of unavoidable unemployment under Thatcher. My parents made a wonderful childhood for us during those years, but the thought of what they went through to make that happen angers me even today.

When I read the Conservative party manifesto, I see nothing to make me think that today's Tories are less likely to wreak havoc on working people than Thatcher's did. Granted, Labour no longer presents as clear or attractive an alternative as it did when I was growing up. Nevertheless, when I look at the economy, the attempts to battle the class system, the attitude to Europe, the fight for workers' rights, education and healthcare, I'm convinced that life, for most of the population, will be better under Labour than under the Conservatives.

For me, at least, I need to vote in a way that will make a difference to the world as it is, not as I wish it were. So I will swallow my bile, vote for Blair, and get out a big bar of soap.

(At least, I would, if I hadn't realized too late that my Dad would be here when the election took place, and therefore wouldn't be able to cast my proxy vote.)
| | (0Pre-Haloscan) xmlns:trackback="">

<< Home