It’s quite a rarity to be able to say this, but next Christmas is now 366 days away because next year is, as far as I can tell, a leap year. Next year will also most likely see a General Election, unless Rishi Sunak decides for some bizarre reason to have an election campaign over Christmas. Barring the more minority parties, the current system for voting means that people realistically have a choice of Conservative (currently Steve Tuckwell in Uxbridge & South Ruislip), Labour or Liberal Democrats.
Scientists are hard at work as we speak trying to determine whether 2024 will be a leap year.
Here’s why you should vote Liberal Democrat, and perhaps more importantly, why you shouldn’t vote Conservative or Labour. In this article, I am going to refer to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and if you fancy a bit of a challenge, you can try to predict which of those descriptors I apply to each of the major parties.
Just as a surprise for everyone, this is of course the Liberal Democrats. I kid, I kid, it’s obviously the Conservatives. Since coming to power 13 and a bit years ago, they have systematically made almost every aspect of life worse for UK voters. Schools are literally falling apart, doctors and nurses are regularly going on strike, inflation has been allowed to run rampant, and the Tories have spent their time focused on petty issues like the small boats “crisis” and London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone.
When it comes to small boats, we are talking about 100,000 migrants arriving in the last five years, meaning around 20,000 a year compared to a population of around 70 million. To put the number in perspective, that’s around 0.03% of the UK population each year, which might as well be a rounding error.
On top of that, of the 100,000 migrants arriving by small boat, some 92,000 of them submitted asylum applications, making them – by definition – asylum-seekers. In case you are wondering, that means they absolutely are not illegal migrants, but instead they are refugees with a legal right to be here until their application is reviewed and their case decided.
In terms of the ULEZ, it is vital to remember two things, namely 1) that this was a Tory initiative introduced by Boris Johnson while he was Mayor of London, and 2) that MPs have absolutely no say or control over ULEZ, as this is a power deferred to the Greater London Assembly. As MP, Steve Tuckwell has no more power to influence ULEZ than literally any random member of public, therefore running his campaign on this basis was utterly despicable.
I firmly believe that Uxbridge & South Ruislip have had enough of ugliness and will oust the Tories at the very next opportunity.
In this category, I am going to put Labour. This isn’t for any specific policy at this time, as they have not yet released their formal manifesto for the next election. Rather it is for what they have already said they will do, or more specifically what they won’t do.
As those of you who have read my blog previously will already know, I am a huge believer in the idea of Proportional Representation. At its heart, this is the principle that the amount of legislative power enjoyed by a party should be proportionate to the amount of votes they receive in an election. Hopefully this isn’t a particularly controversial statement, but the important thing to remember is that our current system doesn’t do this. Instead, votes cast for smaller parties are ignored, while votes cast for the largest party are magnified. This is why the Tories are currently enjoying 100% of the legislative power in Parliament despite only receiving 46% of the votes in the last election.
So why am I talking about the Tories in a paragraph about Labour? The answer to that is in the position that Starmer and the Labour leadership have adopted, namely an opposition to Proportional Representation. Ultimately this means that it doesn’t matter what policies they have in the short- and medium-term, they are committed to handing absolute power back to the Tories at some point in future.
This makes them part of the problem, not the solution. In my opinion, this is bad.
Without question, the Liberal Democrats are going to have some policies that you disagree with. Importantly, however, the main focus is on changing the electoral system so that your vote matters and your voice is heard. You can fundamentally disagree with me on everything else that I believe in, but I very much doubt that we disagree on the idea that you should have a say in who makes the law.
Likewise, one of the objections I hear regularly is that switching to Proportional Representation will allow far right parties into Parliament. Unfortunately I think that objection is outdated – the far-right are already there, and our First Past The Post system helped them to get into power.
We Liberal Democrats believe in a fair society for everyone rather than just the rich or just our supporters. As such, we will always fight for fair representation in parliament and fair treatment of everyone no matter their status of birth.
To my mind, that makes us the Good in this analogy. We are clearly not the only good ones out there, but we are the largest truly progressive party, and unfortunately if we collectively want to see a more proportionate system of elections introduced, the progressive parties need to stand aside for one another.
I’ll see you on the campaign trail next year. Come and talk to me if you want to discuss any of my points or my wider manifesto.
Merry Christmas to those celebrating, and a Happy New Year.