One thing I see over and over again is that voting anything other than Conservative or Labour is a waste of time even if your chosen party wins. While this is understandable, my argument is that there is a very good reason for voting Liberal Democrat anyway, even if that means that your MP will be part of the third largest party in England. Is a vote for us a wasted vote? I don’t think so, and here’s why.
In our current system of First Past the Post, the long term system is such that the expectation is that there will be two parties largely sharing power. Indeed, this is shown by the fact that generally we refer to the government and the opposition in the House of Commons, where the opposition is entirely represented by the second largest party. It is vital for our democracy that the opposition is both credible and strong so that the government is rightly held to account for its actions or lack thereof. Given the rampant dishonesty and cronyism that we have seen over the last decade, I believe that the Conservatives in this role would be useless.
Because of how the current system works, the expectation for the next General Election is that Labour will be the single largest party, the Conservatives second, and the Liberal Democrats third (in England – the SNP are likely to continue to be the largest party in Scotland).
This means that, in official terms, the Conservatives are expected to be the official opposition. To me, this is intolerable. The Conservatives have shown themselves to be utterly incompetent in every aspect of running the country. I do not trust them to offer a credible opposition to the government following their near inevitable defeat in the next general election. I believe that it is time for another party to start making moves towards being the official opposition.
The Overton Window
The Overton Window describes the range of political views expressed within the legislature. With our existing system, that practically means the right- or left-wing tendencies of the Conservative and Labour parties, as it is mostly their positions which are expressed into national policy. The generally accepted understanding is that as the party in charge moves in one direction or another, the other moves in that direction to accommodate. Given the Conservatives are currently in charge and have largely become dominated by the lunatic frings on the hard right, the Labour party has responded by moving into the space left unoccupied by the Conservatives, making them much more right wing than they were under Corbyn in the hope that they can entice some of the swing voters from the middle ground to their cause.
As a consequence Labour will likely be the government, and based on their existing announcements, I believe that means that they will represent the centre, possibly even the centre-right of UK politics, as they have shifted in that direction in recent years. This leaves a vacuum for a genuinely left-wing parties who care about social issues, economic fairness, protection of workers’ rights, etc. To my mind, that wholly describes the Liberal Democrats.
Can We Win?
If the question is can we win nationally, while it is possible it is highly unlikely while we still have the First Past The Post system of voting. As such, we need to look at a strategy spanning several parliaments rather than focusing on whether we can win a majority at the next election. This is similar to the Japanese concept of kaizen, or little steps of gradual improvement.
Across the country you will see this type of strategy employed by local Liberal Democrat parties. Some seats are broadly unwinnable, others there is a strong chance. You will tend to see the party put more effort into these winnable seats than into those where the outcome is already nearly certain.
In the case of Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner, I believe this seat is winnable. I believe that the incumbant MP, David Simmonds, is tainted by his party to the point where his continuing role as an MP is untenable. Labour have not even announced their candidate for the constituency, showing that they do not care much about the area.
Campaigning in Eastcote
We have started campaigning already. We are getting out and seeing constituents in the areas and listening to problems that are caused by both the local Conservative council and the national Conservative government, and we are listening.
Help us win in Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner. Help us to become the voice of reason in Parliament.